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FAA Issues AC 21-44A, Leaves Unanswered Questions

AC 21-44A, Issuance of Export Airworthiness Approvals Under 14 CFR Part 21, Subpart L was issued on Oct. 1, the same date the FAA published a final rule allowing production approval holders (PAH) to issue FAA Form 8130-3 as an Authorized Release Certificate (ARC). In spite of having taken great pains in the preamble to the part 21 amendments to distinguish between an airworthiness approval (something only the FAA or an authorized designee can issue) and an ARC (something the PAHs will be able to produce effective March 29, 2016), paragraph 8 of the AC states there are three kinds of “Export Airworthiness Approvals”: (1) Form 8130-4, Export Airworthiness Certificate issued by the FAA or its authorized designee for aircraft, (2) Form 8130-3 issued by the FAA or an authorized designee for aircraft engines, propellers and articles, and (3) yes, you guessed it … an ARC issued by the PAH without a designee!

Now that the issue of whether an ARC is an export airworthiness approval is “resolved,” the FAA and EASA will have to clarify the Technical Implementation Procedures (TIP) because currently the certification required on Form 8130-3 for articles imported by the EU must be made by the FAA, which, of course, will not be the case when it’s issued by the PAH after March 29, 2016.

The remainder of the AC primarily addresses the requirements for exporters under part 21, subpart L.

ARSA recognizes there are many unanswered questions about how the authorities are going to roll out these Form 8130-3 changes in view of the current Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG) Change 5 implementation date of Dec. 8. The transition period for the new requirements was the subject of an Oct. 7 letter to the FAA and EASA signed by ARSA as well as 12 other trade associations. There are other issues such as how the requirements will interface with Order 8130.21H, which the FAA reaffirmed in the preamble is guidance and therefore not mandatory. Nevertheless, that won’t stop individual FAA offices from holding their designees to that order.

One key issue: in view of the agencies’ position that domestic shipments from PAHs to U.S. repair stations are exports under the TIP, how will the PAH know which country the article is being exported to when even the U.S. repair station ordering the part won’t know until the part is installed in a top assembly? Order 8130.21H contains the permissive “should” when describing the recommended statement that the article complies with the importing country’s requirements. Undoubtedly, Order 8130.21H will need to be revised once the agencies figure all this out. There is NOTHING in the regulations that requires the form to state that it meets the requirements of a specific country UNLESS that country requires it. Whether the statement is there or not, it still has to meet those requirements.

Certainly, the fallout from the new MAG 5 requirement is significant as PAHs and repair stations cope with the new mandates and the uncertainty of when the changes will take effect. In the meantime, the two agencies can start by giving the industry the transition period requested in the trade associations’ letter of Oct. 7.



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