Unapproved Parts

We will take a look at what can be done to identify suspected unapproved parts as well as steps you can take to keep unapproved parts from entering the parts inventory.


On Nov. 13, 1995, the FAA opened the Suspected Unapproved Parts (SUP) Program Office in order to address issues related to unapproved parts. Since then, there have been more than 2,500 SUP investigations. We will take a look at what can be done to identify suspected unapproved parts as well as steps you can take to keep unapproved parts from entering the parts inventory.

Approved parts
The following are examples of approved parts:

  • Parts produced in accordance with a Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA).
  • Parts produced in accordance with a Technical Standard Order (TSO).
  • Parts produced under a type or production certificate.
  • Parts produced in accordance with an approval under a bilateral airworthiness agreement.

Notes:

  1. Parts which have been maintained, rebuilt, altered, or overhauled, and approved for return to service in accordance with parts 43 and/or 145 are considered to be “approved parts.” Parts which have been inspected and/or tested by persons authorized to determine conformity to FAA-approved design data may also be found to be acceptable for installation.
  2. Military surplus parts (defined as parts which have been originally released as surplus by the military, even if subsequently resold by manufacturers, owners/operators, repair facilities, or any other suppliers of parts) may fall under this condition.
  3. AC 20-62, Eligibility, Quality, and Identification of Aeronautical Replacement Parts, should be referred to for information regarding eligibility and traceability of replacement parts.
  • Standard parts (such as bolts and nuts) that conform to established industry or U.S. specifications. Keep in mind that standard parts are not required to be produced under an FAA Approved Production Inspection System, therefore it is important for the installer (and the producer) to determine that the part conforms. The part must be identified as part of the approved type design or found to be acceptable for installation under part 43. (You can refer to AC 20-62, for additional guidance on this matter.)
  • Owner-produced parts — parts produced by an owner or operator for the purpose of maintaining or altering their own product.
  • Parts manufactured by a repair station or other authorized person during alteration in accordance with an STC or Field Approval (which is not for sale as a separate part), in accordance with part 43 and Order 8000.50, Repair Station Production of Replacement or Modification Parts.
  • Parts fabricated by a qualified person in the course of a repair for the purpose of returning a TC product to service (which is not for sale as a separate part) under part 43.

What is an unapproved part?
According to the FAA’s handout on Suspected Unapproved Parts, an unapproved part is “A part, component, or material that has not been manufactured in accordance with the approval procedures in FAR 21.305 or repaired in accordance with FAR Part 43; that may not conform to an approved type design; or may not conform to established industry or U.S. specifications (standard parts). Such unapproved parts may not be installed on a type certificated product unless a determination of airworthiness can otherwise be made.”

Basically, an unapproved part is a part that is not approved (does not meet FAA regulations). Here are a few examples of unapproved parts.

  • Counterfeit parts. These could be parts that are deliberately misrepresented as being designed and produced under an approved system. Counterfeit can also include parts that have reached a design limit (flight hours for example) but are altered and misrepresented to defraud the purchaser.
  • Rejected parts. Parts that are rejected during the production process are unapproved parts.
  • Surplus parts. Unapproved parts sometimes come from surplus situations. For example, if a supplier that produces parts for an approved manufacturer directly ships parts to end users without the manufacturer’s authorization or a separate PMA, that is not an approved part.
  • Improper maintenance. This includes parts that have been maintained or repaired and returned to service by persons or facilities not authorized under FAR Parts 43 or 145.
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