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USA v. Europe - relevance of Type Certificate status?

Something I've been realising, hopefully correctly, is that in the USA if the TC owner vanishes, you can carry on flying. You maintain the plane (FAA Part 91 i.e. private flying assumed) as per the various FAA guidelines, repair/mod in accordance with AC43-13, etc.

But in Europe, it seems, if the TC owner vanishes, the aircraft is grounded until somebody takes over the TC. I recall going to a presentation by somebody from this firm which if I understood it correctly specialises in supporting some such types, which would otherwise have been grounded.

Why is this done differently in Europe from the USA? What relevance can there possibly be in the TC owner being around, given that the typical GA plane is maintainable using practices established over best part of a century?

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Something I've been realising, hopefully correctly, is that in the USA if the TC owner vanishes, you can carry on flying. You maintain the plane (FAA Part 91 i.e. private flying assumed) as per the various FAA guidelines, repair/mod in accordance with AC43-13, etc.

Good topic. Your understanding of FAA regulation is correct. The FAA TC is a government document that does not expire unless the FAA itself were to expire, and is not contingent on the existence of any private organization. Were it otherwise the Government could in essence arbitrarily confiscate the aircraft owners property rights. The owner of any N-register aircraft therefore operates in a direct relationship with FAA under the TC, no triangle with any third party. Thousands of N-register aircraft operate in the situation you describe, in standard category - including many or most antiques.

The design and documentation for the affected aircraft are generally neither comprehensive or critical, and when they are the people concerned take their work seriously. The maintenance and repair history for unsupported aircraft and engines is fine without regulation that prescribes how the aircraft should be maintained within the FAA TC, only that it must be so.

In collaboration with that situation used parts can be sourced, repaired under AC 41.13 and installed with only a logbook entry, no traceability or specific approval. Its been that way since the aircraft were new, and decades of experience in the field helps. Finally, if an owner can source all the required engineering drawings and documentation, he can produce parts for an FAA certified aircraft he owns, no PMA is required as long as its his own aircraft.

What relevance can there possibly be in the TC owner being around, given that the typical GA plane is maintainable using practices established over best part of a century?

Your line of questioning is good. Why its done differently in Europe I cannot answer! It is true that the existence of FAA DERs (serving as potential on-call engineering resources) and FAA field approvals can help occasionally as decades pass, in addition to the publicly owned approved data provided by AC 41.13

Merry Christmas! (I'm heading east tomorrow)

Silvaire explains the North American situation well. The TC or even and STC, is the government document, which names a "holder". The holder can disappear, and the TC is still valid (though difficult to act upon). Transport Canada has recently changed the rules of issuing a TC/STC, such that only a prospective holder who accepts the responsibilities of holding the certificate, will receive one upon issuance. I agree with this. Though it does not completely absolve the government of responsibilities, it gives them a party to point the first finger at when something goes wrong. "Goes wrong" is usually a service difficulty, which will need some engineering support to resolve. The government does not want to be in that business, and as a tax payer, I don't want them in that business.

I remember being on the periphery of a discussion in which a well known UK aviation company was actively trying to divest themselves of any responsibility for product support of a well known two seat Canadian/British trainer. That UK company was hoping that the associated Canadian company would take on the TC for the type, and all the responsibility. The Canadian company was equally distant from product support of that class of aircraft (which is how I was drawn in). But, happily, an arrangement was worked out, and the type still happily flies.

This will be an increasing problem as time passes. The Teal I own has a traumatic TC status, of which I have first hand knowledge. But I am reassured in that I know where ALL of the original drawings and spare parts are kept (and it's a really simple plane).

Home runway, in central Ontario, Canada

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Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

“But in Europe, it seems, if the TC owner vanishes, the aircraft is grounded until somebody takes over the TC.”

Not quite correct. EASA can directly manage aircraft that don’t have a current type-certificate holder via the list of orphaned types. We’ve just been going through the process of adding many of these to an existing AML STC.

Avionics geek.
Fairoaks. EGTF

Interesting… what are the EASA charges for that service? For example De Havilland didn’t perform that service for nothing.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

wigglyamp wrote:

Not quite correct. EASA can directly manage aircraft that don’t have a current type-certificate holder via the list of orphaned types

So in essence, when the TC holder disappear, EASA becomes the TC holder. More precisely EASA is always the TC holder, only it normally delegates the practicalities of responsibility to the appropriate (existing) organisation.

Silvaire wrote:

The FAA TC is a government document that does not expire unless the FAA itself were to expire, and is not contingent on the existence of any private organization. Were it otherwise the Government could in essence arbitrarily confiscate the aircraft owners property rights. The owner of any N-register aircraft therefore operates in a direct relationship with FAA under the TC, no triangle with any third party.

This is just a play with words. The FAA, or EASA is the third party here if you look logically into this (although this is not a very precise view). The FAA works pretty much as the AAs use to do in “the old days”, before EASA by the looks of it.

The way pretty much every government agency works in Europe now (in Norway at least, this is the case), is the agencies oversees each individual and each organisation. This is done by mostly by issuing standards for licenses and certifications as well as making regulations, while leaving the rest up to the players in the field. The agencies can even delegate the responsibility to issue licenses and certifications. This is done for gliders in Norway and Austria, where neither EASA nor the national AA has any direct involvement, other than overseeing those competent authorities. The are basically self managed, but are of course not in position to make new rules and regulations, and not in position to oversee itself. I guess the LAA in the UK is also in a similar position as the gliders, but not quite, gliders are EASA aircraft, requiring EASA licenses and EASA TCs and certificates , the LAA concerns with Annex II (non EASA).

The responsibility for practicalities are simply delegated downward in the system. This delegation can be done for everything, except the creation of rules, regulations and standards, and only the national aviation authority can oversee. This is basically how the rest of the industrial world works today. With EASA, it also becomes part of aviation as a whole. This works just fine, and when there is no one to delegate to, then EASA or the national authority has to do the job itself. These cases are only special cases though.

ENVA ENOP ENMO, Norway

LeSving wrote:

This works just fine, and when there is no one to delegate to, then EASA or the national authority has to do the job

FAA controls the airworthiness status, ADs etc of all type certified N-registry aircraft in a direct relationship with the owner, with FAA using the Type Certificate holder as a resource. The TC holder, if it still exists, does not issue anything mandatory, or of legal consequence to the owner, and the existence of the TC holder is therefore irrelevant to the owner. If you need engineering done to back up some repair or modification approval, you select one of many FAA Designated Engineering Representatives to do the work.

The only exception for N-registered aircraft is Light Sport Category and it’s a big reason that many people aren’t aren’t attracted to those aircraft – you are at the mercy of the manufacturer. To make that more reasonable, and by FAA design, it is possible for the owner to move a factory built LS aircraft into FAA Experimental LS category, thereby removing the manufacturer from the loop.

Last Edited by Silvaire at 25 Mar 14:10

To sum this up, I can’t see any reason for being forced to have a “TC holder” other than a result of industry pressure to have one, to create extra work for all those downstream, and a big part of that is to make wholly-freelance maintenance difficult.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I think the reason for a Type Certificate holder is to have a commercially salable asset that represents the right to produce new aircraft of that certified type. There is no proper justification for the owner of an exisiting aircraft to be forced into doing business with the TC owner.

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