Engineers upping standards in the air Tuesday, 12 February 2019

A group of international aviation engineering companies has teamed up to standardise and improve the quality of documentation for the retrofitting of aircraft and to provide a voice to resolve issues that affect certification approvals.

Up until now Etihad Airways Engineering, EAD Aerospace, Lufthansa Technik and Envoy Aerospace had used different versions of Supplemental Type Certificates (STC), but the four have now signed a Memorandum of Understanding to form the Independent Aircraft Modifier Alliance (IAMA). STCs are required by aviation regulators when any aircraft is customised beyond its original manufactured status.

The main objectives of the IAMA are for the engineering companies to agree to common standards for the documentation and quality of STCs, to establish an open, secure documentation platform for airline customers and aircraft owners using STCs.

According to Marilyn Feigl, partner at Envoy Aerospace said retrofit modifications on aircraft have unique challenges.  

"IAMA will offer its members mentorship and counselling to deal with these challenges, especially when dealing with regulatory agencies and the industry at large," she said "This will help raise the certification standards to ensure the highest quality STC products.”

The formation of the IAMA comes in the wake of the Aerodynamic Advisory and Aviation Week survey in which Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) in the aviation industry scored poorly on after-market customer satisfaction. The mid-2018 survey, involving 224 qualified respondents from 130 airlines around the world, revealed that commercial airline operators are generally happy with OEMs' product reliability. However, the companies that supply interiors and inflight entertainment systems are not so fondly thought of and there was marked displeasure with the cost of manufacturers' parts and repairs.

At any given time there is an estimated 9700 commercial aircraft in the sky carrying more than 1.2 million people. So, with airframe manufacturers expected to deliver around 2000 new aircraft each year in the near future, there is plenty of pressure along the supply chain to perform well.

The Independent Aircraft Modifier Alliance will hold its first meeting in the first half of 2019 and is open to all manufacturers, airlines, suppliers and lessors.


Image: Etihad Airways’ Technical Maintenance department set a new world record in recent years by replacing a GE90 engine on one of its Boeing 777 passenger aircraft in less than seven hours.