Operators under FAA jurisdiction are responsible for ensuring that repairs are accomplished according to all applicable regulations under U.S. Code of Federal Regulations 14 CFR Part 43. Airplane repairs of damage can be classified as either “major” or “minor.” This assessment is based on the scope and complexity of the repair and the experience and capability of the operator.
The responsibility for determining whether a repair is major or minor rests with operators, repair stations, and holders of an inspection or maintenance authorization. Because the classification of a repair as either major or minor is not a 14 CFR Part 25 requirement, this classification is outside the scope of FAA authority delegated to Boeing. In the U.S., all operators have authority to use acceptable repair data for minor repairs without additional FAA approval.
FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 43-18 describes acceptable data as data acceptable to the FAA that can be used for maintenance, minor repair, or minor alteration that complies with applicable airworthiness regulations. Acceptable data can be provided by a type certificate (TC)/supplemental type certificate (STC) holder or third-party operator or MRO qualified engineer.
FAA AC 120-77 defines approved data as: “Technical and/or substantiating data that has been approved by the FAA” or by an FAA delegate such as a FAA-designated engineering representative (DER) or FAA-authorized representative (AR). If the operator’s qualified personnel determine the damage necessitates a major repair, then FAA approval of the repair data is required. Operators have many ways to obtain FAA-approved repair data:
- Accomplish the repair per the Boeing structural repair manual (SRM) because all repairs in the Boeing SRM are FAA approved.
- Apply to the FAA directly.
- Use a DER, who has a “special delegation” from the FAA, to approve data for major repairs using an FAA form 8110-3.
- Where FAA authorization has been delegated to Boeing under delegation option authorization (14 CFR Part 21.231), a Boeing AR may approve the engineering repair data on an FAA form 8100-9.
EASA regulations (Commission Regulation European Community [EC] 2042/2003 Annex I Part M) require “approved” data for both minor and major classifications of airplane repairs. This policy is in contrast to the FAA system that requires “approved” data for major repairs only and “acceptable” data for minor repairs.
Additionally, EU operators under EASA regulations cannot make determinations of minor or major for repairs unless they hold an EASA design organization approval (DOA). EU operators without an EASA DOA must rely on EASA directly or contract with an EASA-authorized DOA holder to have the repair classified.
There are different levels of EASA DOA authorization. For example, Basic DOA allows the holder to classify major or minor repairs and approve minor repairs only. A TC/STC holder with an EASA DOA can also approve both major and minor repairs.
Regulations similar to EASA’s are being adopted by global national aviation authorities outside the EU, including Australia and India.
U.S.-EU BILATERAL AVIATION SAFETY AGREEMENT
Both the FAA and EASA continue to work to harmonize regulations with joint principles and processes. To minimize the impact to operators resulting from two distinct repair data approval systems, a special interim provision from the U.S.-EU Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement was released on April 1, 2007.
Amending the Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness (IPA) in existing Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) bilateral agreements between the U.S. and six EU member states (France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom), this provision clarifies the mutual acceptance of repair data, between the FAA and EASA. This allows acceptable structural repair data from TC/STC holders under the FAA system to be automatically approved by EASA.