In order to provide oversight in the aerospace distribution sector, the FAA formed a task force in 1993 to determine requirements applicable to distributors. The outcome was Advisory Circular (AC) 00-56. The AC describes a system for the accreditation of civil aircraft parts distributors on the basis of voluntary industry oversight and provides information that may be used for developing accreditation programs.
The FAA does not directly regulate distributors. However, accreditation of a distributor’s quality system by a third party accreditation programs assures that the parts a customers receives are of the quality stated, the appropriate documentation is on file at the distributor’s place of business, and the distributor is able to maintain the quality system. Certificate holders are ultimately responsible for the parts they procure as part of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR 14); however, utilizing AC 00-56 compliant distributors would minimize the risk of unapproved parts being installed on aircraft.
So how does an organization become recognized as an AC 00-56 distributor? The AC identifies acceptable Quality System Standards that can be used to ensure that documentation provided by the distributor accurately reflects the installer’s requirements to determine whether the parts are acceptable for installation on U.S. type-certificated products. One of those standards is ISO 9001 and standards based on ISO 9001, such as AS9100 and AS9120. In addition to the requirements of the quality system standard, the AC identifies additional quality system elements in Section 6 of the AC. These additional requirements include the documentation, control and traceability of product.
Once the distributor has a quality system in place that meets the requirements of the international standard and AC 00-56, they would contact QMI to arrange an audit. The auditor would assess the organization’s system to both the standard and the AC. Upon completion of the audit and closure of any nonconformities, QMI would issue an accredited certificate to ISO9001 (or AS9120) and a letter of compliance to AC 00-56.
The evidence of AC 00-56 compliance, in addition to an ISO 9001 certificate, is necessary for the distributor to gain industry recognition in the “Voluntary Industry Distributor Accreditation Program” database. The FAA has designated the Aviation Suppliers Association (ASA) as the database manager. The database is available to the public at www.aviationsuppliers.org
Many Title 14 certificate holders require distributors to be listed in this database as a contractual requirement of doing business to ensure they are receiving approved aircraft parts. To be added to the database, the distributor shall send a copy of their certificate to ISO9001 and the AC 00-56 compliance letter to the ASA. AC 00-56 is available at www.airweb.faa.gov/rgl
For more information on certification and approval process for distributors, contact Roger Ritterbeck, QMI Aerospace Product Manager at (800) 247-0802.