Comments Support FAA ICA Policy Proposal

 - December 14, 2011, 1:30 PM

The deadline for interested parties to submit comments about the FAA’s proposed policy statement regarding “Inappropriate DAH [Design Approval Holder] Restrictions on the Use and Availability of ICA” closed December 5. Two aircraft manufacturers–Boeing and Gulfstream Aerospace–commented, as did two associations, the Modification and Replacement Parts Association (MARPA) and the Aviation Suppliers Association (ASA). “The FAA policy was written in response to the growing practice of manufacturers licensing their manuals on the condition that the licensee repair station or air carrier/operator pledge to refrain from using competitive products like DER repairs or PMA parts,” MARPA wrote. “The FAA policy makes it clear that it is not acceptable for manufacturers to license their ICAs [instructions for continued airworthiness] using restrictive licenses that preclude competition. For example, an engine manufacturer may not license its ICAs on the condition that the licensee agree not to purchase PMA parts for the engines.”

Gulfstream commented that it “is not aware of any restrictions on ICA material that we provide to the owners of our aircraft and agrees with the policy statement that there should not be any restrictions in the ICA that would prevent the owner/operator from supplying the ICA to the repair station for maintenance work. Gulfstream, however, has no way of guaranteeing that the owner’s ICA is up-to-date, and it is the owner’s responsibility to maintain up-to-date ICA material.” More…

Boeing’s comments also indicated that it has no problem with the FAA’s proposed policy. According to Boeing, “We have reviewed our internal policies and procedures regarding the development and distribution of instructions for continued airworthiness (ICA) and can confirm that they are in compliance with the proposed FAA policy. Specifically, Boeing does not: require the use of Boeing-sourced replacement parts; require that alterations or repairs be performed by Boeing; authorize repair stations or verify their rating; or unreasonably restrict the ability of the owner/operator to provide the ICA to their maintenance provider.”

Earlier this year MARPA president Jason Dickstein identified Goodrich-Messier as requiring operators to sign an agreement not to use parts manufactured under FAA parts manufacturer approval (PMA) regulations. Goodrich-Messier’s agreement also tells operators that if they use FAA-approved PMA parts instead of Goodrich-Messier parts, that their warranty will be voided. Goodrich-Messier did not submit a comment regarding the FAA’s proposed ICA policy.

According to MARPA, the FAA determines how ICAs are distributed. “The FAA retains the power to influence the method of distribution for ICAs, because the regulatory appendices that describe the minimum standards for such ICAs require the ICA publisher to have a mechanism for distributing the ICAs and their amendments, and to submit that mechanism to the FAA. This permits the FAA to establish standards for what will be considered acceptable or unacceptable among such distribution mechanisms.”