Contracting Out Maintenance Tasks From a FAA Part 145 Repair Station
Confirm that Your Part 145 Manuals Generally Support Contracting (step 1 of 7)Your manuals must have the appropriate procedures for contracting maintenance functions, as dictated in 14 C.F.R 145.209(h). You should follow those procedures. In many cases, there may be pre-conditions to contracting or to adding a contractor to the contractor list. A common pre-condition is an analysis of the contractor to assure that it is properly qualified to do the work in question. This may require on-sire inspections.
Confirm the Function is Listed on Your FAA Approved Function List (step 2 of 7)You need to make certain the functions you intend to contract out are listed on your FAA approved list of subcontracted functions. This "functions" list is required under 14 C.F.R. 145.217(a)(1). As a practical matter, it is best to
identify all functions that might be contracted out and to seek FAA approval for those functions at the earliest possible time. AC 145-9 permits a repair station to get functions approved before they are needed, and waiting for FAA approval of an amendment to your contract maintenance list can impede your ability to contract out a function you want accomplished immediately.
Add the Contractor to Your Contractor List (step 3 of 7)You need to identify to whom you will contract out the work. If the Contractor is not already on the list, then the contractor must be added.
Unlike the list of maintenance functions, the list of maintenance subcontractors is not subject to FAA approval. Sometimes, a repair station will include language in its manual specifying that they will seek approval of the contractor before subcontracting work to that party. Such language should be removed from a repair station's manual, because the regulations do not require it. This does not mean that you should keep the FAA in the dark - close communications with the FSDO are always a good idea - it just means that you should not bind yourself to FAA approval of items that do not need to be approved, because they may not have resources to provide a timely approval, since it is not within their regulatory functions.
Assure that the Contractor's Listing Is Correct (step 4 of 7)Even if the Contractor is already on the repair station's list of Contractors, you may still need to update the list if you are contracting out a new function to that Contractor.
The list of parties to whom you subcontract maintenance tasks must include the following data:
o Name of the subcontractor.
o Certificate(s) held by the subcontractor.
o Rating(s) held by the subcontractor.
o A list of the maintenance functions to be subcontracted to that subcontractor.
So be sure that the list of the maintenance functions to be subcontracted accurately reflects your business relationship.
It is important to go through the exercise of checking each element with each new subcontract because it is easy to continue subcontracting, believing the functions are listed and the other information lines up. After months or even years of a relationship, it is possible to look back and see the nature of the subcontracted maintenance has changed over time.
Establish the Contract Relationship (step 5 of 7)Because the Federal Aviation regulations forbid maintenance subcontracting by a repair station unless you first comply with the requirements in 14 C.F.R. 145.217, it is important to wait to consummate any maintenance subcontract until you have first met the regulatory requirements.
It is wise to enter into a written agreement - you should assure that your maintenance subcontract adequately spells out the rights and responsibilities of both parties, and protects your company appropriately.
Provide Oversight (step 6 of 7)You must follow your quality manual's guidance concerning oversight. Even if the contractor will be approving the work for return to service, you should still make sure that your relationship complies with the provisions in your approved manual, which may include verification of the contractor's ratings, tooling, equipment, housing, personnel, and/or data, etc.
Be careful of the 14 C.F.R. 145.9 Approval for Return to Service (step 7 of 7)Remember, the reason you are subcontracting to a third party (under the premise of this Guide) is because the work falls outside the scope of your repair station's ratings. Don't make the mistake of signing off under the repair station's certificate number for the work performed under another certificate. You can, of course, sign for the other aspects of the work your repair station did accomplish, and will generally be obligated to do so under 14 C.F.R. 145.9 and/or 145.11.