PMA stands for Parts Manufacturer Approval. This approval is what allows for manufacturers to produce and sell articles for installation on type certification products. The approval can only be given by the United States Federal Aviation Administration. Simply put, the FAA is required to utilize the PMA process to greenlight the design and manufacturing of certain aviation and aerospace parts. Designing, manufacturing, distributing and operating with such a part that has not gone through the approval process is illegal and subject to severe punishments. For more information on how the PMA process works, you can read more about it in the article below.
You can observe a great example of the PMA process when aviation companies need to acquire replacement parts (such as an aircraft brake) for a commercial or corporate jet. In order to procure these parts, they must ensure that the desired piece passes the PMA phase. This involves the FAA identifying airworthiness standards before applying them to the part and then determining the criticality of this part. The two FAA branches involved in implementing this are the Aircraft Certification Offices (ACO’s) and the Manufacturing Inspection District Offices (MIDO’s). Afterwards, aviation authorities would submit a test plan for its design approval and if passed, establish an inspection system to scrutinize the nooks and crannies of the piece.
If the piece passes this phase of the process, the PMA part would then need established instructions for repair and inspection, followed by instructions for a continued operational safety plan. Once everything has been set in place and tests have been run enough times to prove the airworthiness of the part, only then can the ACO and MIDO give the final approval that the part is suitable enough to fly the skies.
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