July 28, 2020
The NBAA GO Maintenance Conference ended July 27 with a detailed look at maintaining airworthiness when installing equipment through supplemental type certificates (STCs), including a notice for operators to be aware of potential compliance issues related to ADS-B systems.
Originally scheduled to take place in Hartford, CT, from May 5-7, the Maintenance Conference pivoted to an online format in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the course of 13 weeks, the conference featured 11 education sessions covering a wide range of aviation maintenance topics, each supplemented by a live Q&A session.
“During this remarkable journey, we’ve been able to offer Certified Aviation Manager (CAM) certification credit, FAA Inspection Authorization renewal credit and 32 scholarships worth $450,000,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen, who opened the live event by praising the efforts of all involved in putting on the conference.
During the discussion of STC impacts on airworthiness, presenter Rick Ochs, CEO of Spirit Aeronautics, advised operators to be aware of potential compliance issues related to FAA pairing requirements for installing the ADS-B system’s transponder and WAAS GPS sensor.
The pairing must be approved via STC, meaning there can be no software or hardware changes to either device throughout life of their pairing without subsequent engineering reviews and FAA approvals of amended STCs. This can cause headaches if issues are found with either component unit – or are inadvertently caused through regular software adjustments – requiring major OEM changes including “rolling the part number” and replacing it with a new number on the revised unit.
“After a manufacturer recently stopped production of an original part number, and said they’d have to install a new one, it took about three months for the STCs to be revised,” said Ochs.
Modifications to paired components resulting from software changes or installation of different part numbers can cause challenges if not handled correctly. Because of these issues, Ochs warned that up to 10% of ADS-B compliant aircraft are considered non-performing – potentially resulting in FAA action, even if operators believe they’re fully compliant.
“I would encourage every operator to go to FAA’s website and pull down their Public ADS-B Performance Reports (PAPR),” advised Ochs. “It’s a great way to make sure they’re in compliance with FAA requirements and aren’t going to get a letter after their latest flight.”
The presentation also included a detailed overview of how operators can obtain minimum equipment list (MEL) relief in a variety of different STC scenarios. These were supplemented by downloadable flow charts developed for the conference by industry veteran John Haag, founder and president of Haag Aviation Services, LLC.