Bilateral Working Group Reviewing Parts Documentation Issues
On March 15, ARSA received an interim response from EASA Flight Standards Director Jesper Rasmussen regarding new parts installed by U.S. repair stations during maintenance subject to the U.S.-EU bilateral agreement. The EASA letter referenced an industry request delivered on Jan. 31 (see below) concerning misinterpretation of parts documentation requirements.
Rasmussen indicated the FAA and EASA have established a dedicated COB and JMCB working group to review the matter and conversations had begun. The letter also stated: “Pending the outcome of this review and possible amendments to the applicable texts, the TIP and MAG in their current revision/change remain strictly applicable.”
The industry’s argument in the Jan. 31 letter was the “strictly applicable” language in the TIP and MAG actually does not require an FAA Form 8130-3 (or EASA Form 1) accompany all new parts to be consumed in maintenance. However, the agencies referral to working group deliberation leaves American repair stations facing the same squeeze between European rules and the FAA’s regulatory system.
To read the interim response, click here.
More on the MAG...
January 31, 2023
On Jan. 31, ARSA coordinated submission of a letter to FAA and EASA executives seeking to correct misinterpretation of aircraft parts documentation requirements under the U.S./EU bilateral aviation safety agreement (BASA).
The letter to the FAA-EASA Joint Maintenance Coordination Board (JMCB) and Certification Oversight Board (COB) members established by the BASA was signed by 14 organizations, including industry trade associations and aerospace companies. The industry has been pressing American and European regulators since 2015 to correct problematic guidance that erroneously requires U.S.-produced aviation articles to have an FAA Form 8130-3 issued by the production approval holder to be fitted during maintenance performed in the United States subject to the bilateral.
The problem emerged when the form was mandated by Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG) Change 5 verbiage and has endured through subsequent changes. In 2016, the FAA applied its regulations which allow repair stations to inspect new parts, document the inspection on an ARSA-designed form and issue an FAA Form 8130-3 with a right-side signature. However, in 2022, after almost six years in use, the FAA bowed to EASA pressure and rescinded its policy.
“The agencies’ misinterpretation has resulted in the inclusion of improper, impractical, and unnecessary parts documentation requirements in the MAG. Repair stations are in an untenable position, squeezed on one side by [EASA] documentation rules for European Union PAH’s and on the other by the FAA’s regulatory system, which does not require an FAA Form 8130-3 for new parts…. As a consequence, new parts from U.S. PAH’s received without an Form 8130-3 are supposedly ineligible for installation in work performed under the MAG by U.S.[-based] repair stations. This has created considerable inefficiencies, undermined the effectiveness of the bilateral relationship, and added to challenges resulting from recent supply chain disruptions,” the letter said.
The letter requested the following to correct the situation:
- Confirmation by JMCB that the applicable EASA Special Condition in the BASA (Annex 2, Appendix 1, Sec.1.1.1((b)(iii)) requires the FAA Form 8130-3 be used as an approval for return to service document for maintenance performed.
- Confirmation by both the COB and JMCB that a repair station’s installation of a new article is maintenance, not an export of each article installed therein.
- Amendment of the MAG, which merely interprets the plain language of the Special Conditions, to align with the language and intent of the BASA.
To read the full letter, click here.
In addition to ARSA, the letter was signed by representatives of the following organizations:
Airlines for America
Aircraft Electronics Association
Aviation Suppliers Association
Cargo Airline Association
Helicopter Association International
International Air Transport Association
Modification & Replacement Parts Association
National Air Carrier Association
National Air Transport Association
National Business Aviation Association
Moog Aircraft Group
To review the chronicle of industry efforts related to the MAG, review the content below.
June 14, 2022
On June 10, ARSA responded to the FAA’s reversal of its 2016 acceptance of the association’s E100 Form as a means of compliance with parts documentation requirements under the privileges of part 43 for the U.S./EU Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG). In a letter to Acting Administrator Billy Nolen, ARSA took the FAA to task for capitulating to EASA on a paperwork issue with no safety benefit, requested reconsideration and sought action to encourage production approval holders to provide required documentation.
“The agency’s failure to stand up for its own rules is disappointing,” the letter from ARSA Executive Director Sarah MacLeod said. “The E100 results in a safety outcome fully consistent with FAA’s regulatory system, which EASA deemed equivalent to its own when entering into the underlying bilateral aviation safety agreement. It is up to the FAA to interpret its own rules; acceding to a foreign regulator’s demand for paperwork with no additional safety benefit does a major disservice to the hundreds of U.S. facilities with EASA approval (which are regulated directly by the FAA, not EASA).” (Emphasis in original.)
ARSA’s letter also challenged the FAA’s inconsistent interpretations of its own rules regarding the responsibilities of exporters. In 2013, the FAA told industry that export occurs when a part is sent to a repair station with EASA approval. The most recent correspondence said it occurs when the approval for return to service is issued. The question is central to the discussion of the E100; if export occurs when the part is sent by the PAH, it puts the burden firmly on it to provide an FAA Form 8130-3.
“The agency has thus simultaneously eliminated the two most practical avenues for a U.S. repair station to obtain an FAA Form 8130-3. On the one hand, the agency will no longer allow repair stations to exercise privileges granted by the agency under parts 43 and 145; on the other hand, U.S. PAHs are not obligated to provide the EASA-required documentation when sending parts to those repair stations. This puts U.S. repair stations in an untenable position,” ARSA told the FAA.
ARSA asked the FAA to:
(1) Reconsider its early June decision and accept the E100 Form.
(2) If not (1), then withdraw its position that export occurs when the release for return to service is issued and confirm export takes place when the part is shipped to an EASA-approved repair station.
(3) Confirm the agency could enforce § 21.335(a) against any person who transfers a new article and/or product to a domestic repair station with EASA approval under the above circumstances.
To read the full letter (including attachments covering all relevant exchanges with the FAA going back to 2013), click here.
June 2, 2022
The ride is over. Despite best efforts to convince the FAA it could stand behind its own regulations allowing a repair station to perform maintenance to identify an article and its condition and issue an approval for return to service for that work, the agency capitulated to EASA and removed its support of the ARSA-developed E-100 form.
The form was created in 2016 when EASA demanded new parts be accompanied by the proper “form” (i.e., EASA Form 1 or FAA Form 8130-3) from a production approval holder (PAH) (see updates below) even though an FAA Form 8130-3 is not required by the U.S. regulations.
The “requirement” for a PAH to issue the proper form is contained in the Technical Implementation Procedures (TIP) between EASA and the FAA. That document makes the transfer of a part from one national aviation authority to another an “export” under 14 CFR § 21.331. That fact has not penetrated the U.S. PAH to the extent necessary to ensure every part shipped to a repair station with EASA approval is accompanied by an FAA Form 8130-3.
While the FAA encouraged repair stations to continue including ARSA-recommended language in purchase orders to the effect that new parts ordered would be installed in articles subject to the FAA-EASA Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG), the agency stated that an export occurs when the dual release is signed. This suggests that the agency will not enforce the requirement that the PAH issue an FAA Form 8130-3 when it ships a new part to an EASA-approved repair station, even if the repair station includes export language in its purchase order. The latest FAA letter contradicts the 2016 letter from the manager of the Aircraft Maintenance Division as well as an earlier letter issued by the Executive Director of the Aircraft Certification Service.
To read the FAA’s letter rescinding the acceptability of Form E100 to meet the requirements for use in work that will be issued a dual release, click here.
ARSA is reviewing its manual compilation and tools for member use – including the E100 – and will update members regarding new versions. The association will also continue to press the FAA to implement the requirements of the TIP through 14 CFR § 21.331 or to remove the requirement if it cannot be enforced.
April 12, 2022
Update: The FAA provided an interim response acknowledging receipt of ARSA’s letter and promising a review, but did not, as ARSA requested, clarify whether the E100 remains acceptable pending FAA’s analysis of the issue. ARSA sent an additional letter on May 3, repeating the request for that clarification.
Some U.S. ARSA members with EASA approval have received pushback from FAA inspectors about the use of the E100 form to document new parts for installation under the U.S.-EU bilateral.
ARSA created the E100 form in 2016 to face the Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG) requirements that a new part be traceable to the production approval holder (PAH) and that a release be documented on an FAA Form 8130-3. When new parts are not accompanied by the proper documentation, the E100 form requires an extensive inspection process that assesses the part, its packaging, records, physical condition, identifying information, conformity with manufacturer data and other attributes.
The manager of the FAA’s maintenance division advised ARSA that under U.S. regulations, the E100, “is an acceptable method of compliance with Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) sections 43.13(a) and 43.9 when inspecting new parts received without the documentation requirement by the FAA-EASA Maintenance Annex Guidance.” As a result, the E100, which is provided free to ARSA members, has been in widespread use for years.
Recently, however, at the apparent prompting of EASA, FAA inspectors at local flight standards district offices have begun disregarding the division manager’s 2016 statement. In at least one case, an ARSA member was forced to remove the E100 process to advance its EASA renewal application.
While EASA has long indicated its preference that the FAA Form 8130-3 come from the PAH, the MAG contains no such requirement. It is the FAA, not EASA, that interprets and enforces FAA regulations and the requirements of the bilaterals within the United States. The FAA inspectors in question are apparently unwilling to either abide by the plain language of the regulations and international agreements or stand up for their own agency’s application of the U.S. rules.
On April 7, ARSA sent a letter to Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen asking for confirmation the E100 is still an acceptable means of compliance with U.S. regulations. The letter explained why ARSA believes the E100 is fully compatible with 14 CFR and the MAG. ARSA told Nolen that, “[i]t seems that some FAA personnel are more committed to enforcing EASA preferences than the FAA regulations and the bilateral agreement’s Special Conditions. We are also concerned that FAA personnel below the level of division manager have apparently ignored FAA policy.”
The association also reminded Nolen that under FAA regulations, the bilateral and the Technical Implementation Procedures, a new part sent to an EASA approved repair station is considered an export and must be accompanied by an FAA Form 8130-3 .
As ARSA awaits the FAA’s response, members are encouraged to report to arsa.org/contact instances of inspectors questioning the use of the E100 form.
To read the full letter to Acting Administrator Nolen, click here.
January 14, 2021
Update: On Jan. 14, 2021, ARSA distributed a member alert providing general guidance for U.S.-based repair stations with existing EASA supplements reviewing MAG 8. The alert provided access to a pair of cross reference documents to be used for confirming compliance with each element of the Special Conditions and for comparing manual systems to the MAG’s guidance in Section B (these documents do not include a “side by side” comparison of MAG changes 7 and 8). Contact ARSA if you are from a member organization and did not receive the alert.
On Nov. 19, the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) between the United States and the European Union was amended. As anticipated, the maintenance portion of the agreement now applies equally to all EU countries similar to what occurred in 2019 with respect to Annex 1 (i.e., the certification and export airworthiness portion of the agreement). The various EU Aviation Authorities will continue to play an important role in overseeing repair stations located in their countries on behalf of the FAA although several more European authorities will be involved than before.
On the same day, change 8 of the U.S.-EU Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG 8) was signed; the public copy was recently published on the EASA web site. It will enter into force 120 days after signature, or March 19, 2021. Consistent with the BASA amendment, MAG change 8 removed previous references to the list of EU countries.
Other changes in MAG 8 are:
(1) Consistent with the “G” in MAG, the sample supplements are now officially titled “Guidance for the [EASA or FAA] Supplement.” (However, both continue to be referred to as “samples” elsewhere in the MAG.) Although this is not a substantive change, maintenance organizations continue to be advised to customize their supplements to their particular maintenance operations.
(2) With respect to repair data, rather than having the MAG chase the Technical Implementation Procedures (TIP) on this topic (since approval of repair data is handled under the TIP), MAG change 8 simply refers to the TIP for these provisions. This change was previously requested by ARSA because the TIP and MAG were occasionally “out of synch” on this subject. Repair stations are responsible for knowing the contents of the TIP as it relates to repair (and alteration) data since those provisions are no longer repeated in the MAG.
(3) Similarly, change 8 contains the MAG’s first reference to alteration data, which is also handled under the TIP. This did not address the ARSA-led industry coalition request of Sept. 24 (for EASA to accept FAA minor alteration data for non-critical components other than those installed on an aircraft being imported into the EU). We continue to look forward to a reply from the agencies in the near future (see below for more on that effort).
(4) There were several changes in Section A of the MAG, which covers authority-to-authority communications. The section added two new appendices including Definitions (Appendix 10), procedures for the authorities in exercising initial oversight on behalf of the FAA and other provisions relating to the integration of additional EU countries into the agreement.
There were no clarifying changes to the single EASA release language for U.S. repair stations as requested by the U.S. industry coalition in its Sept. 24 letter. Similar to FAA minor alteration data as described above, the association looks forward to the agencies’ reply in the near future.
To download MAG 8, click here.
If you have specific questions or would like to discuss specific elements of MAG 8, visit arsa.org/contact to submit a query.
To see ARSA updates related to MAG between 2012 and 2020, visit arsa.org/mag-historical.