The +s and -s of PMA

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PMA Parts

Pluses & Minuses

Costs attracting airlines and MROs towards PMA parts but challenges remain around local regulatory inspectors.

Andy Shields pma partsHaving worked for an airline, an OEM and now a PMA certificates holder, Andy Shields brings unique perspectives and interesting insights to the use of PMAs. As an officer of a company which sells PMA products, he might be suspect as to biases, but this list of pluses and minuses shows that his advice has some level of balance.

Be sure to read all of the excellent article in MRO Network, but summarized here are the Pluses and Minuses, which Shields mentioned:

  • pma parts cost“The first advantage of PMAs is cost.”
  • “Next is equal and often better reliability from PMAs.”
  • “Finally, there is availability, especially for older aircraft.” 

“Shields admits exploiting PMAs can pose challenges.”

  • “Long-term contracts and power-by-hour programs can be attractive and exclude PMAs.”
  • “OEMs might use intellectual property arguments to deny manuals to PMA users.”
  • “OEMs may engage in predatory pricing.” [NOTE; this is a quote.]
  • “…although almost all foreign regulators approve FAA-accepted PMAs, local inspectors may be uncomfortable with them.”
  • “…some leasing firms do not accept PMAs, requiring different part stocks for leased versus owned aircraft.”
  • “Safe and effective PMA use requires staffing up to review PMAs and set PMA policy. Airline staff must update manuals for PMA use, because OEMs will not.”

pma parts

This last point merits further discussion:

  • Tony Broderick pma partsAirworthiness of a part can be determined by the following standard: the part “conforms to the type design, and is in condition for safe operation.” When the Suspected Unapproved Parts initiative was addressed by the FAA, the then Associate Administrator for Aviation Safety, Tony Broderick, added (in the margin of his handbook) that there must be “cradle to grave documentation.”
  • That point reinforces Mr. Shields’ recommendation that the MX staff should be expanded to include people knowledgeable in the paperwork and engineering associated with parts.
  • The lax enforcement of the airworthiness standards by the FAA and the airlines contributed to the SUP problems. Many field inspectors tend, improperly, to associate PMAs and SUPs. {An ersatz PMA = SUP}.
  • The intricacies of how to identify what constitutes a PMA or an SUP requires a PHD level of training.

In fact, under the 3600 approach of SMS, all inventory should be subject to a high level of due diligence. A less than 1,000% effort to quality control/assurance violates the basic principles of safety culture—no more, no less with PMA parts.


Gains And Challenges Of PMA Use
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