Av8 PMA (Booth U90) says parts manufacturer approval (PMA) items are set to become far more popular and widespread as operators realize that an alternative exists to OEMS, PMA parts are acceptable, and there are small engineering companies that can produce them and even provide an upside for aircraft owners and operators.
Mike Washburn, principal of the Houston, Texas-based company, says Av8 PMA is a new company created in 2017 as an offshoot of Av8 MRO, a specialist in Hawker 125 landing gear overhaul. Last month it opened a new dedicated engineering facility in Dallas to act exclusively as a facility for the engineering and certification work on PMA parts. Soon the center will have “laser scanners, a 3D printer, and other high-powered equipment that will increase efficiencies related to the reverse engineering process of parts and prototype development,” said the company.
Av8 PMA has some 500 parts certified by the FAA (PMA) and EASA (STC), said Washburn, adding owners and operators are increasingly approaching the company to secure lower-cost replacement parts. Companies were also realizing that they could be the owner of the approvals for the part, and sell the parts to other owners/operators of the type, he said. Pointing to the airline world, where operators of legacy types club together on such projects, he suggested that this was an emerging model in business aviation as well.
InEurope, EASA does not recognize PMA. But Washburn said all the same processes are applied, just under the guise of an STC. The new company has already put through its first PMA parts for EASA approval, “plunger tubes” and a few other parts. “It could be something very simple that costs $5,000 to do the drawings and get through, or could be $30,000 or more, for example for landing gear parts."
He gave an example of a Cessna Caravan operator in Belize who needed bayonet plates for doors, and Av8 PMA was able to re-engineer and gain approval for the part on the operator’s behalf. This means they don’t always run out of stock and don’t have to wait two years for the OEM. In addition Av8 PMA “manages the PMA for the customer–so they absolutely can get the upside” of selling to other operators.
“The bigger PMA providers don’t want to touch this kind of thing,” he noted, due to the relatively low volumes and not making enough money out of it. Washburn dismissed the notion that PMA parts could affect residual values and claimed that AV8 PMA parts are “the same quality or higher” than the original parts.