I vs. We

Questions and answers regarding owner-produced parts


Baffling admission
About 25 pounds ago and when I had hair, I worked in the real world and I specialized in making engine baffles for Lycoming engines. Before someone accuses me of bureaucratic ventriloquism, my weak defense is, I made the parts because I thought I could. It never dawned on me that I could not legally make a part. Some of you may be astounded that I make this confession freely. It’s no big thing because I know the statute of limitations has run out years ago and a jury of my peers would never look me in the eye and convict me.
So here is our problem that we must solve. Since mechanics cannot legally make parts for aircraft and aircraft need replacement parts, how are we going to keep the fleet flying?
If we cannot find PMA, TSO, standard, or production holder replacement parts; we are left to make the part under the owner produced option under Section 21.303(b)(2). However, we must remember that the part is for the owner/operator’s aircraft only and is not manufactured for sale to other TC aircraft.
To get through confusing regulatory policy with our pride intact, let’s try the question and answer routine. Note: This policy is taken from FAA’s AGC-200 policy memorandum to AFS-300 on the definition of "Owner Produced Parts" dated August 5, 1993.

Q1: Does the owner have to manufacturer the part himself in order to meet the intent of the rule?
A1: No, the owner does not have to make the part himself. However to be considered a producer of the part, he must have participated in controlling the design, manufacturer, or quality of the part such as: Provide the manufacturer with the design or performance data from which to make the part, or provide the manufacturer with the materials to make the part or, provide the manufacturer with fabrication processes or assembly methods to make the part or, provide the quality control procedures to make the part or, has personally supervised the manufacturer of the part.

Q2: Can the owner contract out for the manufacturer of the part and still have a part that is considered, "owner produced?"
A2: Yes, as long as the owner participated in one of the five functions listed in Answer 1 (A1).

Q3: Can the owner contract out the manufacturer of the part to a non-certificated person and still have a part that is considered "owner produced."
A3: Yes, as long as the owner participated in one of the five functions listed in Answer 1 (A1).

Q4: If a mechanic manufactured parts for an owner, is he considered in violation of Section 21.303(b)(2)?
A4: The answer would be "No" if it was found that the owner participated in controlling the design, manufacture, or quality of the part. The mechanic would be considered the producer and would not be in violation of Section 21.303(a). But, if the owner did not play a part in controlling the design, manufacture, or quality of the part, the mechanic runs a good chance of being in violation of Section 21.303 (b)(2).

Q5: What kind of advice can you give on how a mechanic can avoid even the appearance of violating section 21.303(b)(2)?
A5: First, a mechanic should never make a logbook or maintenance entry saying that he made a part under his certificate number. This faux pas will send up a flare and get you undue attention from your local FAA inspector. The mechanic, however, can say on the work order that he helped manufacture an owner-produced part under 21.303 (b)(2). Second, the owner or operator should be encouraged to make a log book entry that is similar to Section 43.9 maintenance entry that states: The part is identified as an owner-produced part under Section 21.303 (b)(2). The part was manufactured in accordance with approved data. The owner/operator’s participation in the manufacture of the part is identified such as quality control. The owner must declare that the part is airworthy and sign and date the entry.

Q6: Is there anything else a mechanic must do?
A6: The mechanic must ensure that the owner-produced part meets form, fit, and function, and within reasonable limits; ensure that the part does meet its approved type design (e.g. like looking at the approved data used to make the part). Then, the mechanic installs the part on the aircraft, makes an operational check if applicable, and signs off the required Section 43.9 maintenance entry.

Q7: What is the owner responsible for, and what is the mechanic responsible for, concerning owner-produced parts?
A7: The owner is responsible for the part meeting type design and that the part is in a condition for safe operation. The mechanic is responsible for the correct installation of the owner-produced part, the installation is airworthy, and a maintenance record for installing the part is made.

Q8: How does the owner or operator get the approved data to make a part if the manufacturer and other sources are no longer in business?
A8: The owner or operator can petition the FAA Aircraft Certification Directorate under the Freedom of Information Act for the data on how the part was made. Or, the owner or operator can reverse engineer the part and have the data approved under an FAA field approval. Or, if it is a really complicated part, have the data approved by an FAA engineer or FAA Designated Engineering Representative (DER).

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