The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) could, by year-end, publish proposals to clarify and simplify approval procedures covering design and production of some non-critical parts by companies other than original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Such parts manufacture approval (PMA) processes could increase competition in a market that provides North American carriers access to thousands of less-expensive replacement parts.
The EASA is considering a better balance between U.S. PMA procedures and European regulation of replacement-parts design and manufacture, comparing methods, acceptable means of compliance (AMC) and any need for rule changes. Non-OEM provision of engine parts accounts for more than 50 percent of the $400 million/year PMA business, according to aerospace consultancy AeroStrategy.
Historically, Europe has resisted use of PMA parts, but prospective cost savings stimulated an aggressive industry campaign that prompted the EASA in 2007 to recognize FAA-approved PMA parts as non-critical components. Now, PMAs could become part of the EASA approval processes.
The EASA attributes little use of existing procedures permitting European design and production of such parts to differences from U.S. practice, or misunderstanding of rules. Europe cannot simply copy the U.S. because the authorities base their respective certification systems on different principles, most notably Europe separates design from production.