Avionics News July 2020 - 61

THE VIEW FROM WASHINGTON
Continued from page 15

(including the maintenance and alterations performed
by a repair station's contractors) are consistently
performed in accordance with all applicable
requirements."
So, when you ask the question "what do I do," the
answer is simple: How did you say you would do it?
What do your manuals tell you?
One of the classic questions is about the authority
to alter (modify) an aircraft. Where does it say you
can perform "this" alteration? Well, let's start with the
regulations. A certificated repair station may perform
alterations in accordance with Part 43 on any article
for which it is rated and within the limitations in its
operations specifications (§ 145.201 (a)(1)). Interesting.
What does Part 43 require? Again, let's look to the
printed words. First, § 43.7(c) tells us that a repair
station may approve an aircraft, airframe, aircraft
engine, propeller, appliance, or component part
for return to service after maintenance, preventive
maintenance, rebuilding, or alteration as provided in
Part 145. We have already addressed the privileges
and limitations of Part 145 earlier in this article.
The remainder of Part 43 address the data, materials,
equipment, tools and processes necessary to perform all
maintenance and alterations.
So the only real unanswered question about alterations
is the perpetual one: Is it a major or minor alteration?
Again, let's look at the printed word. The first question
might be, what is an alteration, and what is a repair? For
this, we go to the Civil Aeronautics Regulations Part
18 (Title 14, Chapter 1, Subchapter A, Part 19). Here,
the regulations contain the definitions of repair and
alteration. As defined by regulations, an alteration means
"any appreciable change in the design of an airframe,
powerplant, propeller, or appliance." The regulation
further states that a repair means the restoration of
an airframe, powerplant, propeller, or appliance to a
condition for safe operation after damage or deterioration.
Now, going back to the federal aviation regulations,
Part 1 tells us that a minor alteration "means an
alteration other than a major alteration." This is
regulatory!
So how do we determine what is and is not a major
alteration? For this, we turn to ASTM International. Its
guidance, F3361-18, Standard Guide for Classifying
Alterations for In-Service Aircraft under FAA Authority
Oversight, provides a checklist for evaluating and
classifying aircraft alterations for in-service aircraft.
I can already hear the comments: Yeah, but it isn't an
FAA advisory circular. It is not an FAA policy. True;

however, in a July 12, 2019, answer to a petition
from the AEA, the FAA declared "we find use of
ASTM standard F3361, Classifying Alterations for
In-Service Aircraft Under FAA Authority Oversight, to
be an acceptable means of compliance in classifying
alterations." A copy of the FAA letter is available to
AEA members on the association's website. Before I
start getting emails about how ASTM documents are so
expensive, ASTM standard F3361, as well as all of the
ASTM aviation standards, are available free of charge
for member companies on the AEA website as part of
the annual membership.
The final element comes after a determination of
a major alteration. We know that § 145.201(c) (2)
prohibits a repair station from approving any article
for return to service after a major alteration unless the
major alteration was performed in accordance with
applicable approved technical data.
Does that mean a field approval? And if not a
field approval, does this mean a supplemental type
certificate? Well, maybe. Part 1 tells us that approved
means "approved by the FAA or any person to whom
the FAA has delegated its authority in the matter
concerned, or approved under the provisions of a
bilateral agreement between the United States and a
foreign country or jurisdiction."
The regulations state that approval of the data for
a major alteration can be by the FAA directly (field
approval), a delegated person (ODA, DER or DAR),
or a bilateral aviation safety agreement. And to further
simplify the search for data, the advisory circular
describing a standardized procedure for requesting
approval of technical data associated with major
repairs/major alterations (AC 43-210A) contains a list
of resources for approved data relevant to major repairs
or major alterations.
Effective performance-based regulations and policy
strengthen the connection between compliance and
safety performance (FAA AIR Transformation). In the
2001 final rule to Part 145, the FAA established the
requirement for a repair station to set forth procedures
and policies for the repair station's operation in its
repair station manual. In addition, Section 145.211
requires a repair station to maintain a quality control
system that ensures the airworthiness of articles on
which the repair station or any of its contractors
perform maintenance.
To conclude, the safety standards are captured in the
regulations; how you show compliance is documented in
your manuals. The FAA defines the safety objective. By
regulation, you have been given the opportunity to define
your prescriptive processes.
Be careful what you ask for! q
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Avionics News July 2020

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