Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) is an approval for manufacturing aircraft replacement parts and products which is granted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to those companies which are not the Type Certificate holders. PMA can be licensed and independent, and the peculiar advantages or disadvantages of PMA are often associated with its type.
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HEICO Corporation is one of the leading companies in providing the independent PMA parts approved by FAA which sells them to 19 top airlines of the world including Emirates Airlines, KLM, and Air France. To analyse the advantages and disadvantages of PMA, it is necessary to pay attention to the specific characteristics of the licensed and independent PMAs.
The difference between the licensed and independent PMA is in the character of the cooperation between the companies and the features of producing the PMA parts. The main advantage of using PMA parts is the possibility to reduce the company’s costs.
Thus, the aviation companies and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) provide licensed PMA manufacturers with the necessary drawings. Then the companies receive the parts with the qualities, functions, and numbers identical to the original ones while the process is controlled by the manufacturer’s quality control system (Flaherty 2012).
Therefore, identicality is the main criterion for the licensed and independent PMA parts. Independent PMAs create their own drawings, and this fact makes the process of approving the parts more difficult because only simple parts can be considered as identical in this case, and it is necessary to have the access to the original component provided by the OEM to make complex identical parts.
Moreover, the process of manufacturing simple parts should be associated with the Designated Engineering Representative (DER) who has to assess the part according to such standards as the fit (dimension), the form (physical shape) and the function of the part. These measures are evaluated according to the Testing and Computation data (Flaherty 2012).
Sometimes airlines and aviation companies do not use PMA because of the definite disadvantages and difficulties which are connected with the procedure of utilizing the PMA parts. Thus, the engineers of the company must approve the fact that the product provided by the manufacturer is well-developed, fits to the aeroplane, and it can be used effectively.
This procedure is more difficult for using the parts produced by the independent PMA manufacturer because the parts’ numbers are not identical to the original ones and should be approved additionally (Flaherty 2012).
Independent PMA manufacturers are greatly responsible for all the possible changes in the instructions and the quality of their products. Lufthansa Technik has the 40 million dollar contract with HEICO as an independent PMA manufacturer when Boeing prefers to use only licensed PMA parts. Moreover, Lufthansa Technik holds a 20 percent share in HEICO to have the opportunity to reduce the costs on the parts and control the process of their producing.
Those companies which develop the strategic partnership with HEICO (Japan Airlines, American Airlines, Air Canada, Iberia Airlines, British Airways, China Aviation Import and Export Group, Lufthansa and Delta Airlines) focus on the economic advantage of using the PMA parts produced by the independent PMA manufacturer (Flaherty 2012). These partnerships are significant for helping the airlines to control their operating costs, and they are economically successful for HEICO and its partners.
Flaherty, J 2012, The peculiarities of PMA, audio file. Web.