Maintenance and Certification

maintenance and certification


Maintenance Control Systems for Private Operators 

by K. Bruce Donnelly, Civil Aviation Safety Inspector, Operational Airworthiness Division, Standards Branch, Civil Aviation, Transport Canada

The Interim Order
On March 16, 2010, the Hon. John Baird, then Minister of Transport, announced that Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) would be taking back all responsibility for certification and oversight of business aviation in Canada from the Canadian Business Aircraft Association (CBAA).

Under the authority of subsection 6.41(1) of the Aeronautics Act, the Minister issued the Private Operators Interim Order (the Interim Order), which took effect on April 1, 2011, and effectively repealed and replaced Subpart 4 of Part VI of the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs).

The Interim Order enables the Minister to issue a temporary private operator certificate (TPOC) to the holder of a private operator certificate (POC) that was previously issued by the CBAA to the applicant before March 31, 2011, until the new Subpart 604 for the CARs comes into force. Work is progressing in the development of a new Subpart 604. When complete, the revised regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, allowing stakeholders to offer comments on the proposals. Following a consultation period, the new regulations will come into force with their publication in Part II of the Canada Gazette. A sample TPOC is reproduced below.

Temporary private operator certificate

Eligibility for a temporary private operator certificate
Section 604.04 of the Interim Order sets out the information the applicant must submit for a TPOC, which includes, among other things, a copy of the POC that was previously issued by the CBAA and a copy of the operations manual established by the private operator demonstrating compliance with the Business Aviation Operational Safety Standards (BA-OSS).

New applicants who did not have a POC issued by the CBAA prior to March 31, 2011, could not apply for a TPOC because they did not meet these criteria. In order to address this issue, TCCA allows new applicants without an existing CBAA POC to apply for an exemption to those requirements through their Principal Operations Inspector (POI) or local Transport Canada Centre (TCC). This way, they are able to meet the eligibility criteria to apply for a TPOC issued by the Minister.

As of April 1, 2011, all new applicants and former POC holders must comply with the requirements of the Interim Order. If the Interim Order does not discuss a particular requirement, the requirements of the BA-OSS prevail for former CBAA POC holders; applicants without a CBAA POC must meet the additional certification criteria specified in Appendix A of the exemption, which, for all intents and purposes, are the same as those in the BA-OSS.

Section 7 of the BA-OSS describes the specific requirements pertaining to the maintenance of the private operator’s aircraft; however, the description is very vague. Paragraphs a) to h) of section 7.1 list eight items that must be covered. However, the section does not provide an associated standard or criteria that the required procedures must meet; moreover, it does not provide this type of standard or criteria for the description of the relevant procedures in the operations manual (in terms of its breadth and scope).

During the transition period, TCCA worked closely with the CBAA to ensure a smooth transition of the certification and oversight responsibility. Prior to the implementation of the Interim Order, Transport Canada (TC) issued a TPOC to each POC holder that submitted specified information about their operation; however, the issuance of the TPOC was based on the assumption that the CBAA had performed its due diligence and ensured that the operator’s maintenance control system met the requirements of the BA-OSS.

The maintenance requirements in the Interim Order have now superseded those of the BA-OSS, except for sections 7.5 and 7.6 of the BA-OSS, which remain in effect. Section 604.49 the Interim Order differs substantially from section 7 of the BA-OSS because it describes maintenance requirements and expectations far more explicitly. As a condition of issuance or amendment of a TPOC, the Interim Order requires that the applicant have a maintenance control system in place that meets the requirements of section 604.49 of the Interim Order.

In performing their due diligence by processing applications for amendments to TPOCs from private operators who were issued TPOCs during the transition period, Transport Canada Inspectors have found instances where the maintenance control systems did not meet the requirements of the Interim Order or the BA-OSS, which resulted in delays to those operators in obtaining an amended TPOC.

Since this is a condition of issuance for a TPOC, having a maintenance control system that complies with section 604.49 is of the utmost importance. Private operators should therefore review their maintenance control systems and compare them to the requirements of the Interim Order to ensure they comply.

Private operator aircraft maintenance duties
Section 604.10 of the Interim Order is also particularly relevant and important in terms of the maintenance of the private operator’s aircraft. It requires a private operator to appoint a person to the position of maintenance manager. This section should therefore be read while taking requirements of section 604.48 into account (this section describes the duties and responsibilities of the maintenance manager). The position of maintenance manager carries with it a significant amount of responsibility; this person is responsible for the private operator’s maintenance control system.

The person appointed must not have a record of convictions as described in the Interim Order, either before their appointment or during their tenure. If the private operator is also the holder of an Approved Maintenance Organization (AMO) certificate, the maintenance manager must be the person appointed as Person Responsible for Maintenance (PRM) for the AMO.

The private operator must ensure that the maintenance manager is provided with the necessary financial and human resources to ensure compliance with the CARs and the Interim Order. The private operator is further required to authorize the maintenance manager to remove aircraft from service if they do not comply with the CARs or pose a risk to aviation safety. The Interim Order actually imposes a legal obligation on the maintenance manager to assume this responsibility.

Description of the maintenance control system
The Interim Order does not actually impose any aircraft maintenance requirements on private operators. The requirements pertaining to the maintenance of a private operator’s aircraft are already established and governed by other parts of the CARs. The Interim Order merely prescribes that the private operator must develop a maintenance control system ensuring that control measures are put in place to ascertain compliance with the regulations.

In essence, a maintenance control system consists of a series of written policies and/or procedures in the private operator’s operations manual regarding the maintenance of its aircraft. When followed, this system will ensure that the aircraft will be maintained in accordance with the regulatory and operational requirements that apply in the relevant circumstances.

Its primary purpose is to ensure that the private operator safely operates aircraft that are maintained to remain airworthy. It should be commensurate with the size and complexity of the private operator’s operations and take a number of variables into consideration, such as:

  • the number and type of aircraft operated;|

  • the age and maintenance history of the aircraft;

  • the complexity of the aircraft and its associated systems;

  • the types of operations conducted; and

  • the geographical areas where the flight and maintenance operations are conducted.

It is important to note the distinction between the requirements of a maintenance control system. These requirements consist of the policies and procedures that the private operator adopts regarding the actual control and execution of its maintenance; these policies and procedures must be described in the operations manual. The manual should provide a description of the policies and procedures that its personnel must follow, but the operator’s records must demonstrate that those procedures are in fact being followed.

Required elements of a maintenance control system
Section 604.49 lists the 12 essential elements of a maintenance control system, which can be summarized as follows:

  • procedures for controlling parts and materials;

  • identification of any alternate elementary work and maintenance performance standards;

  • procedures for recording servicing;

  • procedures for authorizing persons to work on the aircraft;

  • technical dispatch procedures;

  • defect reporting and control procedures;

  • service information review procedures;

  • procedures for personnel records;

  • maintenance task planning and control procedures;

  • weight and balance recording procedures;

  • description of the relevant maintenance schedules; and

  • technical record keeping procedures.

The maintenance control system must also comply with sections 604.50 to 604.54 inclusively. Section 604.50 prohibits the private operator from authorizing a person to perform servicing, elementary work or maintenance on its aircraft unless that person is an employee with the prerequisite training or is authorized to do so under a written agreement describing the required work and the conditions under which it is to be performed. The private operator is further required by section 604.54 to establish and maintain a personnel record for each person authorized to perform work.

Section 605.51 requires the private operator to establish and implement procedures to ensure that defects are recorded and rectified within the applicable time constraints; it must also ensure that recurring defects are identified, previous repair methodologies are considered, and that recurring defects are verified accordingly. In addition, section 604.52 requires the private operator to include procedures to ensure that any reportable service difficulties are reported in accordance with the procedures described in Subpart 521.

Section 604.53 requires the private operator to establish procedures to ensure that service information (such as service bulletins, service letters, and service information letters) is known, reviewed and assessed for applicability and that a decision is made as to what actions, if any, are required (e.g., amending the maintenance schedule). The private operator is required to keep a record of those assessments for six years.

Section 7.5 of the BA-OSS requires the private operator to establish an evaluation program, also referred to as a quality assurance program, to ensure that its maintenance control system, and all of the included maintenance schedules, continue to be effective and comply with the CARs. It also ensures that mitigating measures, taken as result of an audit finding, are documented in the company’s safety risk profile. The evaluation program may be performed by an internal or external agent, pursuant to Section 7.6 of the BA-OSS.

Dual role operations
It should be noted that the drafting of the Interim Order is based on the assumption that the private operator does not conduct any other types of flight operations with its aircraft or share custody and control with another person or entity that uses the same aircraft in commercial flight operations. This type of private operation is commonly referred to as a “pure 604 operation”; however, a TPOC applicant or holder is not prohibited from using the same aircraft under different operating certificates or “dual role operations”.

The maintenance requirements that are prescribed by the Interim Order represent the minimum requirements that the Minister has deemed necessary in order to ensure that private operations are conducted safely. This does not prevent private operators from establishing additional control or more restrictive procedures than the minimum regulatory requirements, if such procedures are better suited to their operational requirements.

In cases when private operators use their aircraft in dual role operations (such as Subpart 604 and Part VII operations, or Subpart 604 and Subpart 406 operations), the private operator should review and analyze the different requirements that apply in each subpart in order to determine and adopt the most restrictive requirements found in each subpart; it should also develop a maintenance control system that ensures it complies with those more restrictive requirements.

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