Dec. 4, 2018
FAA Information for Operators (InFO) 18012 states that before an operator can include an item installed under a supplemental type certificate (STC) on its master minimum equipment list (MMEL), the Flight Operations Evaluation Board (FOEB) must evaluate the component, system or appliance as early as possible during its certification process.
Only after receiving this approval can the item be added to an MMEL for operators to obtain MEL relief.
Correctly following this process is not only important for safety, said Brian Koester, NBAA’s senior manager, flight operations and regulation, “it is something EASA looks for during ramp inspections.”
The InFO noted that operators have been “exercising MEL relief…for a significant time, affecting numerous STCs” not yet evaluated through the FOEB process or first getting concurrence from the Aircraft Evaluation Group (AEG).
To rectify this, the FAA has issued a policy deviation to all safety assurance offices that remains in effect until April 30, 2019. During that time, the offices will give operators 60 days to submit a complete list of all installed STCs that have not been evaluated for MMEL relief following the process described in MMEL Policy Letter 109.
The safety offices will work cooperatively with the AEGs to evaluate each STC for MMEL/MEL relief. Operators may continue to exercise MEL relief for unevaluated STCs during this deviation period. But the operator’s principal inspector can immediately terminate this relief when an STC, pending FOEB evaluation, presents a safety hazard.
To avoid further accumulation of STCs in the FOEB queue, and the associated delays, the FAA has developed an interim process for operators to exercise newly approved MMEL relief, unless the STC requires specialized relief. Applicants with STCs not yet installed or in the installation process may follow the interim process described in the InFO.
NBAA urges operators to review their MELs and evaluate the STCs already installed and determine if they have been evaluated for MMEL relief. They should coordinate this review with the PI with oversight of their operating certificate. During the evaluation operators can concurrently compile the list of unevaluated STCs and provide it to their PI upon request.