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Summer* Briefing on EASA Technical Matters

On June 5, Marshall S. Filler, ARSA managing director & general counsel, represented the association at the bi-annual meeting of EASA’s Engineering and Maintenance Technical Committee (EM.TEC) in Cologne, Germany. The committee reports to the EASA Stakeholders’ Advisory Body (SAB) established for industry to actively participate in the agency’s activities.

After returning from Germany, Filler provided the following updates for the maintenance community regarding topics addressed by the committee:

Parts Documentation

EASA staff briefed the EM.TEC on the status of the agency’s rulemaking activities affecting continuing airworthiness. Of particular note is Rulemaking Task (RMT) 00-18 relating to the documentation of new parts to be installed during maintenance. Earlier this year the association filed comments to Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) 2017-19, which would authorize (but not require) design approval holders to determine the criticality level of each part in their approved designs. Only those parts with higher criticality levels would have to be accompanied by an EASA Form 1.

The outcome of this rulemaking is potentially important for U.S. and European industry as changes to EASA rules may impact the parts documentation requirements in the U.S.-EU Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG). Currently, the MAG requires that an Authorized Release Certificate accompany all new parts to be installed during maintenance subject to the MAG, except for standard parts and parts fabricated during maintenance.

Industry comments are currently being reviewed and EASA hopes to publish an opinion during the last quarter of 2018, after which the document will be considered by the European Commission (EC). Because the NPA would change the current Implementing Rules, or “hard law,” the agency does not have the legal authority to issue the amendment as this is the exclusive province of the EC. While the briefing indicated that the EC’s review of the opinion should be completed by the last quarter of 2019, there are several EASA opinions still awaiting action by the EC, which is obviously pre-occupied with Brexit.

SMS Requirements

Another important rulemaking project discussed at the meeting is RMT.0251 relating to SMS requirements for EASA Part-145 organizations. An NPA is expected in the third quarter of 2018 with an EASA opinion expected next year. Although this rulemaking will not apply directly to U.S. repair stations holding an EASA Part-145 approval, it could very well become a special condition (similar to mandatory quality assurance) unless the FAA implements SMS for repair stations. (For now, the FAA is encouraging voluntary SMS programs for design, production and maintenance organizations.)

During the EM.TEC meeting EASA representatives sought the committee’s feedback on the desirability of implementing voluntary SMS programs in advance of rulemaking. Both ARSA and the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) expressed reservations that voluntary SMS programs are being designed for large aerospace companies and will be unduly burdensome for small to medium enterprises (SME) to scale down to fit their more limited operations. Both associations advocated a slimmer voluntary SMS program more suited to the SMEs which represent a significant majority of aerospace companies, while encouraging the larger companies to scale up as appropriate.

Working Outside

Another topic of interest for holders of EASA Part-145 certificates in the EU and those countries not covered by a bilateral agreement is whether an organization with an aircraft base maintenance rating (A1) may perform work outside its hangar in circumstances that would not impact the airworthiness of the work performed. This is currently allowed under FAA rules; however, EASA and several EU Competent Authorities have issued interpretations that require all base maintenance activities to be performed in a hangar.

The EM.TEC committee approved a draft Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) for posting on EASA’s web site clarifying that certain base maintenance tasks may be performed outside a hangar. EASA will evaluate the draft and advise the committee following its review. ARSA encouraged EASA staff to distinguish between the requirements for obtaining an aircraft base maintenance rating vs. whether certain tasks may be safely performed outside a hangar in accordance with procedures set forth in the organization’s Exposition.

Standardization

The committee also received a briefing from the General Aviation Manufacturers’ Association (GAMA) on the ongoing standardization challenges faced by industry in their dealings with the EU’s Competent. Standardization has always been one of EASA’s primary focus areas; however, as U.S. readers will readily appreciate, regulatory compliance decisions are often made based on factors other than the regulations and guidance, such as inspector opinions, past practices, personality and the like. Standardization is a big enough challenge for the FAA; imagine what it’s like under the EU system!

Brexit

Finally, the EM.TEC received a briefing on Brexit from EM.TEC Vice Chair Erik Moyson (Airlines International Representation in Europe) based on the EC’s Notice to Stakeholders dated April 13, 2018. While the terms of Brexit are in the hands of the politicians, industry must develop contingency plans if a “hard Brexit” occurs as currently scheduled on March 30, 2019. ARSA has previously informed members of several options for mitigating the risks of Brexit and will continue to do so in the months ahead – stay tuned to member newsletters as well as the association’s Brexit resource page (arsa.org/regulatory/easa/brexit). EASA also has a web page devoted to this issue.

Stay tuned for more updates on EASA technical and regulatory issues.

*The meeting occurred prior to the summer solstice (Thursday, June 21), so it technically was a spring event. However the issues covered in this piece will play out during summer 2018 and beyond, so the editor of this piece chose a title that looked ahead.

Previously from ARSA...

5/24/17 - ARSA’s Filler at EASA STeB: Rulemaking, Personnel Moves and 'Hard Law'

May 24, 2017

On May 9, Marshall S. Filler, ARSA’s managing director & general counsel attended the EASA Engineering & Maintenance Stakeholder Technical Body (E&M STeB) in Cologne, Germany.

The meeting was chaired by Juan Anton, maintenance regulations section manager of the Flight Standards Directorate with the assistance of several of his colleagues. They covered a lot of ground, including the status of several EASA Opinions that were now subject to review by the European Commission (EC) because they involve changes to “hard law,” meaning amendments to the Basic Regulation or Implementing Rules under the EC’s jurisdiction. These included:

(1) Control of maintenance suppliers.
(2) Changes to Part-66 B2L and L licenses.
(3) Basic examinations by Part-147 schools.
(4) Part-ML and Part-CAO.
(5) SMS for CAMOs.
(6) Technical records.
(7) Maintenance check flights.

EASA staff also presented a compilation of the survey responses submitted regarding the proposed changes to Parts-147 and 66. ARSA and the Aviation Technician Education Council (ATEC) had submitted a joint response to the survey in February of this year (click here to read the associations’ response).

Of particular note is that EASA has prepared draft Terms of Reference (ToR) for a new SMS rulemaking affecting Part-145 maintenance organizations and Part-21 design and production organizations. The pertinent STeB members are reviewing that document as part of their consultative responsibilities. The ToR precedes the issuance of a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) which is similar to an FAA Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

A copy of the complete May 9 STeB agenda may be found here.

Mr. Anton announced that, effective July 1, he will move to a Cybersecurity position in EASA’s Strategy and Safety Management Directorate. He will be replaced by Ms. Eugenia Díaz Alcázar, senior regulations officer for continuing airworthiness. Mr. Anton will retain his position as chair of the ICAO Airworthiness Panel which is improving Annex 8 (Airworthiness) and related guidance to support a greater degree of mutual acceptance of certification and surveillance findings by civil aviation authorities regarding approved maintenance organizations.

12/6/16 - ARSA Finds New but Familiar Territory at EASA Stakeholder Meetings

December 6, 2016

On Nov. 29 and 30, ARSA’s Managing Director and General Counsel Marshall S. Filler and Executive Director Sarah MacLeod participated in two EASA-hosted maintenance industry stakeholder meetings.

The pair was in Cologne, Germany primarily for the November 30th meeting of the Engineering and Maintenance Stakeholder Technical Committee (E&M STeB). The association had announced during its Strategic Leadership Conference in October that it had been invited by EASA to join this body.

Composed of industry groups and other interested parties, the STeBs’ role is to provide strategic advice and guidance to EASA and its Stakeholders’ Advisory Committee (SAB) on a wide range of issues including regulatory standardization, risk management and safety assurance. ARSA’s membership further formalizes the association’s growing role in transatlantic regulatory compliance, which was previously demonstrated by its year-long leadership of efforts to deal with parts documentation issues in the U.S.-EU Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG).

The E&M STeB meeting provided further details on EASA’s new structure for its stakeholder advisory groups, the status of ICAO’s efforts to encourage the mutual recognition of approved maintenance organizations and a recently-initiated survey (similar to an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the FAA system) to review and revise EASA-Parts 66 and 147. The survey is seeking industry input in advance of EASA issuing a Notice of Proposed Amendment. The STeB attendees also received a briefing on cyber security issues and additive manufacturing (i.e., 3D printing), the latter focused the committee’s attention on the importance of adopting performance-based regulations since they are better suited to accommodate regulatory oversight of “new” technologies.

Filler and MacLeod made the most of their European travels by also attending EASA’s Maintenance and Production meeting on Nov. 29th at EASA headquarters. Agenda items included updates on EASA’s bilateral agreements, recently-adopted rulemaking on critical maintenance tasks, EASA’s new regulatory structure for managing continuing airworthiness issues and its plans for implementing regulations requiring Safety Management Systems (SMS) for holders of design and production approvals, maintenance organization approvals and maintenance training organizations. EASA reiterated its commitment to expediting Rulemaking Task 0018 dealing with parts documentation. There appears to be a consensus building among the robust regulatory authorities that the Form 1, Form 8130-3 and similar certificates are not needed in the vast majority of cases. ARSA is hopeful these changes will reduce the regulatory burdens associated with the installation of airworthy parts during the performance of maintenance subject to one or more bilateral agreements.

Of particular note, Julian Hall, EASA’s Head of Maintenance and Production (in the Flight Standards Directorate) will become the Deputy Certification Director, effective Jan. 1, 2017. On that date, Ralf Erckmann, currently Acting Deputy Certification Director, will replace Hall as Head of Maintenance and Production. These personnel changes are significant because they are intended, in part, to help EASA improve its communications between its Certification and Flight Standards Directorates (sound familiar?). This isn’t the first time that managers have made the switch between the two directorates but it is a welcome development for those, like this association, that prefer to view the regulations as a system rather than a series stand-alone requirements.

For Filler and MacLeod, it was a familiar experience – grappling with the universal challenges in implementation and consistency of aviation safety regulations. Just as the FAA struggles to enforce its rules across a vast network of regional and district offices in the United States, EASA must operate through and navigate around the pressures of member states spread across a continent.

As the only association dedicated to maintenance organizations, ARSA’s expanding global presence is key to its service of repair stations doing business in a worldwide market. Members should not only stay tuned for more updates as association executives travel the world on their behalf, but also be prepared to support efforts that expand ARSA’s work.

10/6/16 - At Its International Conference, ARSA Announces New Global Engagement

October 6, 2016

On Oct. 6, during its annual Strategic Leadership Conference (SLC), ARSA announced it would be nominating a representative to the Engineering and Maintenance Stakeholder Technical Body (E&M STeB) overseen by EASA’s Management Board.

The STeB’s role is to provide strategic advice and guidance to the management board on a wide range of topics. Focus areas include implementation/standardization issues, risk management and rulemaking impact assessment. EASA is developing similar boards to support aviation safety oversight and gather input from stakeholders across the aviation community. Each board, composed of industry groups and other interested parties, operates in support of EASA’s newly-established Stakeholder Advisory Board (SAB).

Through membership on the E&M STeB, ARSA will further formalize its growing role in transatlantic regulatory compliance. Since September 2015, the association has led an industry-wide effort to address issues stemming from new parts documentation requirements in the U.S.-EU Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG).

“ARSA is very pleased to receive this invitation and looks forward to further collaborations with EASA and other members of the E&M STeB,” said Marshall S. Filler, the association’s managing director and general counsel. “ARSA will continue its advocacy role on behalf of the global maintenance industry and appreciates the opportunity to participate in this important advisory body.”

The SLC was the perfect platform for ARSA to highlight its expanding global impact. The annual roundtable-style meeting provides senior maintenance executives from around the world an open forum with representatives from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the FAA, EASA and other aviation community stakeholders.

Having received a formal invitation to join the STeB, ARSA’s focus turns to selecting its nominees, determining logistical needs and rallying support for its participation.

To see what else happened in Montreal, visit arsa.org/slc-2016.



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