Import and export

Nov. 1, 1998

Import and Export

By Brian Whitehead

November 1998

Brian Whitehead is Transport Canada's chief, policy development for the Aircraft Maintenance & Manufacturing branch in Ottawa, Canada.

The Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) differ from the previous requirements for the import and export of aeronautical products. The most noticeable change is that the terms themselves have lost much of their relevance. They are retained for complete aircraft, because aircraft are registered to a given country, and this identifies which national airworthiness standards are applicable. However, no actual crossing of international borders need be involved. It is the transfer of responsibility for the aircraft's airworthiness that counts.

Aircraft components are not entered onto any national registry, and only become subject to the CARs when installed on a Canadian aircraft. The question becomes therefore, not one of "import" but rather of determining whether a given part is acceptable for installation. The acceptance of parts is covered in CAR 571 Aircraft Maintenance Requirements.

Requirements for new parts are found in CAR 571.07. Parts obtained from a foreign source must be certified under a bilateral agreement that recognizes the approval system of the producing country, or by a manufacturer who holds a Canadian Type Certificate for the aircraft on which the part is to be installed. The release document must attest that the part conforms to its applicable type design, and is in a safe condition.

Used parts are addressed in CAR 571.08. It must be possible to trace the parts to a state with which Canada has a bilateral manufacturing agreement, or an aircraft type that has a Canadian Type Certificate. Provided this traceability is present, no conformity statement is required. Instead, CAR 571.08 calls for a maintenance release for work performed on the part. This work could be as extensive as a complete overhaul, or as limited as a visual inspection. The release may be signed either under Canadian rules, or under the rules of a state with which Canada has a bilateral maintenance agreement. The installer is responsible for ensuring that the part is of the correct configuration.

No separate maintenance release is required when a part is removed from one aircraft for immediate installation on another. In such cases, the release for installation of the part on the new aircraft will cover entire transfer operation. A reference to the identification of the source aircraft must be entered into the technical records of the aircraft on which the part is installed.

The term "part" applies to any product other than a complete aircraft, and includes engines and propellers, which were previously considered "Class 1" products. The CARs no longer assign products to a "Class," and Canada no longer issues Export Airworthiness Certificates for engines and propellers. Instead, like other parts, engines and propellers are certified using an Authorized Release Certificate, Form 24-0078. Please note that while an AME can sign this form for the maintenance of a part intended for domestic use, if the part is destined for the USA or Europe, the FAA and the JAA will only recognize certifications made by an Approved Maintenance Organization (AMO).

Apart from this limitation, there is little difference between the processing of a part intended for domestic use and one leaving the country. Therefore, form 24-0078 can be used for either. The same applies in reverse, so the equivalent FAA Form 8130-3 and JAA Form One are acceptable for parts coming from Europe or the USA.

Procedures for the export of complete aircraft are contained in CAR 509 Export Airworthiness Certificates. These certificates may be issued by a Transport Canada Civil Aviation Safety Inspector (CASI) or, for new aircraft, by an Airworthiness Inspection Representative (AIR) employed by the manufacturer. A key step in the process is a declaration that the aircraft conforms to its certified type design and is in condition for safe operation. This must be signed by an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer (AME) or, if the aircraft is a new one manufactured in Canada, by an authorized representative of the manufacturer.

Depending on the circumstances, the declaration may make reference to the Canadian requirements, or to those of the importing country. Certain countries have notified Canada of their requirements, and the details can be found in the Airworthiness Manual, Chapter 509, Appendix B. Where it is not possible to meet all of the applicable standards, the authority may provide a written statement accepting the deviation. This statement should be referenced in the export certificate, and should accompany the export documentation. Despite the similarity in the titles, an Export Airworthiness Certificate is not a Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A). Therefore, unless the aircraft is to be disassembled and delivered by surface transportation, a valid flight authority must also be issued by the state of registry, to enable the delivery flight.

An export airworthiness certificate issued by a foreign authority is one means of demonstrating the aircraft's eligibility for a Canadian C of A. The procedures for acceptance of export airworthiness certificates are located in CAR 507 Flight Authority. The C of A for an imported aircraft may be issued by a CASI or an Airworthiness Inspection Representative - Maintenance (AIR-M).

Before the C of A can be issued, an AME must certify that the aircraft conforms to its certified type design and is in safe condition for flight. This certification probably represents the broadest scope of responsibility undertaken on the authority of an AME license, especially when the aircraft is a used one. The AME assumes responsibility for the entire aircraft. He must not only have a detailed knowledge of the aircraft's condition, but also of the type design, and the differences between the Canadian requirements and those of the country of origin. The AME should not assume that the later issuance of a C of A by a CASI or an AIR-M will this lessen his own responsibility. The C of A is issued, in part, on the basis of the AME's certification, and Transport Canada will hold the AME accountable for it.

Do not sign a statement of condition and conformity unless you are confident that you have the required level of knowledge, and have personally inspected the aircraft and its records to the degree necessary. In addition to the obvious safety aspects and your responsibilities under the CARs, you could also incur serious financial liability to the aircraft owner if it should later be found that the aircraft did not in fact qualify for a Canadian flight authority. This is not a responsibility to be taken lightly.