FAA has released the new Part 21 manufacturing rule, which will take effect on April 14. You can view the complete rule here.
ASA analyzes its potential impact on distributors in the latest edition of its UPDATE Report. It changes the standards for when a part must be produced under FAA approval, negating a loophole provided under previous regulations that allowed parts produced in other industries to be used in aviation, the association says.
The new rule prohibits the production of parts unless they fit within more tightly defined guidelines, ASA explains, using light bulbs as an example.
Under the old regulations:
For example, if a light bulb company makes a light bulb that is used in a variety of industries, and has no specific intent that the light bulbs be used in aviation, then the fact that a TC holder like Boeing selected that light bulb for use in its aircraft would not mean that the light bulb manufacturer needed to obtain a PMA... The company can reasonably claim that they did not intend for any specific light bulb to end up in an aircraft, and thereby avoid FAA regulation under the old standards.
But under the new regulations:
But under the new standards, the producer has a much harder time arguing that they did not know of the reasonable likelihood that some light bulb among their production run could end up being installed on a type certificated aircraft. Therefore, all the FAA needs to do to force such a company into the requirement to have a PMA is to put them on notice that one of their parts was installed on an aircraft, and that there is a reasonable likelihood that this could happen again.
In such a case, the light bulb producer has two options. The first option is to obtain FAA production approval, such as a PMA, but this is expensive and may not be worthwhile from a cost-benefit point of view (particularly for articles that are traditionally sold in the industry for a very low value). The second, more reasonable option is for the manufacturer to take proactive steps to prevent its parts from being purchased for aviation use, like labeling the parts “not for aviation use” and refusing to sell to aviation industry companies.
ASA points out that this could have an adverse impact on distributor, and it could negatively impact parts availability levels--particularly for hard-to-find or obsolete parts. You can read ASA's submitted comments here.
FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in an October statement that the new regulations improve safety. “We want to make sure that all aircraft and parts designed for them meet the highest standards no matter where they are manufactured or who makes them,” Babbitt said. “These changes to our certification rules will help us do that.”
FAA says the major changes to the regulations include:
- Standardization of quality control system requirements for all aviation manufacturers.
- Updated export requirements to facilitate global acceptance and documentation of parts.
- Standardization of part?marking and identification requirements so they align with other countries’ rules, and consolidation of the requirements into one regulation.
- Updated and standardized language in the regulations for production approvals, exporting and identification marking.