8900.1 CHG 161



Section 9  Aircraft Evaluation Group Outreach in the Airworthiness Directives Process

8-2-9-1    INTRODUCTION.

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A.    Purpose. The section establishes the Aircraft Evaluation Group’s (AEG) roles and responsibilities regarding outreach during the development and implementation of an Airworthiness Directive (AD). The purpose of the outreach process is to provide technical information regarding pending ADs to the appropriate certificate‑holding district offices (CHDO). An AEG outreach program is a key communication and coordination tool among Flight Standards Service (AFS), Aircraft Certification Service (AIR), Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM)/design approval holders (DAH), and operators. This technical information and communications will help the CHDO support operators’ AD management process.

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B.    General. The AEG is an AFS organization responsible for determining the operational suitability of newly certificated and modified aircraft. The AEG plays a critical role in pilot qualifications, flightcrew training, Master Minimum Equipment Lists (MMEL), and continuing airworthiness requirements. The AEG is instrumental in reviewing and determining the operational suitability of ADs by providing consultation, coordination, and assistance to the Aviation Safety Engineer (ASE), who develops ADs. The AEG’s assigned AD process responsibilities include:

1)    Providing an operational/maintenance perspective to the AD development process.
2)    Providing technical consultation to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) certificate management offices (CMO).
3)    Serving as a liaison with the Aircraft Certification Office (ACO).
4)    Acting as an intermediary between the OEMs/DAHs and the CMOs for distributing service instructions and other forms of alerts (e.g., all Operator Letters and Maintenance Alerts).

C.    Background.

1)    On September 2, 2008, an Independent Review Team (IRT), appointed by then Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters, published a report titled “Managing Risks in Civil Aviation: A Review of the FAA’s Approach to Safety.” This report evaluated and recommended improvements to the FAA’s safety culture and its aviation safety system.
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2)    As a result of the events of noncompliance and from the FAA audit, the FAA created an AD Compliance Review Team, which completed two reports titled “Airworthiness Directives: Process Review Technical Report” (published June 3, 2009 and July 8, 2009). These reports reviewed the process of developing and implementing ADs and ensuring compliance. The reports included several findings and recommendations, one of which involved the need for the AEG to be more involved in developing and implementing ADs. The Compliance Review Team also found that the FAA field offices did not communicate with the AEGs on AD issues, nor did they communicate with ACOs when AD compliance issues arose.
3)    To address these findings and to prevent future disagreements between the FAA and operators, the FAA created guidance regarding AEGs and their roles in the AD process.

8-2-9-3    AEG OUTREACH.

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A.    Determining Outreach. An AD is written when an unsafe condition exists in a product (e.g., aircraft, engine, propeller, or appliance) and is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design. The ASE generates an AD worksheet, which requires coordination with the AEG focal, per FAA‑IR‑M‑8040.1, Airworthiness Directives Manual. At this time, the AEG will conduct an analysis, as detailed in subparagraph D1) below, and determine if AEG outreach is required.

B.    Role of the AEG. The AEG serves in a pivotal role in coordination among ACOs and/or directorates and aviation safety inspectors (ASI) during AD development. Each group is invested in monitoring airworthiness concerns, identifying unsafe conditions, and developing and implementing effective corrective actions to maintain the trust of the traveling public.

C.    Elements of an AEG Outreach Program. While an AEG outreach program can be tailored to specific needs, it should contain, at a minimum, the following elements:

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1)    Outreach Analysis. Determine if outreach is needed and, if so, which operators are affected.
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2)    Research. Contact the CHDO to gather information about the Service Bulletin (SB) and the accomplishment of the SB’s incorporation by reference into the AD.
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3)    Collaboration. Work with the affected CHDO to ensure the AD is understood, and also to answer any questions from the field.
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4)    Response. The AEG provides feedback to the ACO regarding any operational suitability issues that arise from an outreach.
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D.    Implementing the Elements of an AEG Outreach Program. The AEG implements an outreach program during the development of an AD as outlined in FAA‑IR‑M‑8040.1, chapter 6, Drafting, Coordinating, Issuing, Publishing, and Distributing ADs. The outreach should occur as early as possible in the SB and AD development activity to ensure that any feedback regarding operational suitability can be addressed without impacting timely AD issuance. The following paragraphs outline when the four elements of an AEG outreach program should take place during the AD development process.

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1)    Outreach Analysis. The AEG determines during the AD worksheet drafting phase if outreach is needed (refer to FAA-IR-M-8040.1, chapter 6, paragraph 2). As seen in Figure 8‑2-9A, Flowchart for Determining Aircraft Evaluation Group Outreach, outreach may be needed if any one of the following conditions exists:

    Requirements of the AD are not easily understandable and supporting policy/guidance is not available;

    Compliance with the AD requires new/novel concepts (e.g., new inspection techniques or new maintenance process) that can hinder compliance with the AD; or

    The intent, scope, or content of the AD is based on assumptions that could be invalidated by foreseeable technology changes (e.g., innovative processes within Nondestructive Testing (NDT), or new materials).

2)    Research. While an AD is being drafted (refer to FAA-IR-M-8040.1, chapter 6, paragraph 3), the AEG will determine the affected CHDOs and will gather information regarding the SB for the AD and determine how it would affect AD implementation.
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NOTE:  ASIs should be aware that Sensitive Security Information (SSI) AD guidance is located in FAA-IR-M-8040.1, chapter 6, paragraph 10f; and Volume 6, Chapter 2, Section 36.

3)    Collaboration. While an AD is in the review and coordination phase (refer to FAA‑IR‑M‑8040.1, chapter 6, paragraph 5), the AEG communicates and works with the affected CHDOs to ensure the requirements of the AD and referenced SB are understood and provides further guidance, if needed. The AEG should determine if assistance is needed from the ACO in presenting AD requirements.
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4)    Response. The AEG provides feedback to the ACO regarding operational suitability and maintainability issues that arise during the outreach process. Note that the AEG feedback should be done before an AD is signed (refer to FAA-IR-M-8040.1, chapter 6, paragraph 7).

NOTE:  According to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 11 appendix 1, ex parte contact occurs when “not all parties to an issue were present when it was discussed. An ex parte contact involving rulemaking is any communication between FAA and someone outside the government regarding a specific rulemaking proceeding, before” the publication of a final rule or the withdrawal of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).

E.    Incorporating Outreach in AEG Policies and Procedures. The AEG should develop a process that defines its policies and procedures to incorporate the AEG outreach process and communicate with the affected CHDOs and ACOs. This process should address:

    How to activate outreach,

    Which groups to provide outreach,

    What technical concerns the outreach will address, and

    How to communicate and coordinate information during outreach.

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Figure 8-2-9A.  Flowchart for Determining Aircraft Evaluation Group Outreach

Figure 8-23, Flowchart for Determining Aircraft Evaluation Group Outreach

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8-2-9-5 through 8-2-9-19 RESERVED.