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THE ROLE OF ‘SUPPLIERS’ IN AIRWORTHINESS



In airworthiness terminologies, ‘suppliers’ means any source of components and material external to the approved maintenance organisation. These external sources could be distributors, other approved maintenance organisations, original equipment manufacturers (OEM), operators, etc.

Suppliers play an important role in the success of aviation industry.

The use of components from different suppliers enables aircraft maintenance organisations to carry out maintenance in a cost effective-manner by allowing them to benefit from the worldwide market competition.

Through worldwide market competition the industry gets suppliers who offer reliable, relevant, high-quality products and services that complement and augment aerospace industry technology.

However, acceptance of components from different sources has revealed several issues with suppliers for many years, such as the supply of unapproved parts or counterfeit parts, which may represent a risk to aviation safety.

Regulatory bodies i.e. CAAs provide clear requirements and guidance materials in order to ensure that the risks associated to the acceptance of components/parts from suppliers are mitigated. Maintenance organizations are required by the regulations to establish procedures for the acceptance of components/parts. Among the contents of such procedures include a supplier evaluation control procedures and acceptance/inspection of aircraft components and material from outside contractors.

Acceptance of components is a routine process in the daily activities of any approved maintenance organisation, therefore, clear requirements and detailed guidance material are necessary to ensure mitigating the risks associated to such process. Inadequate procedures or the lack of procedures on how to evaluate suppliers may result on the acceptance and installation by the maintenance organisation of non-conforming parts, unapproved parts and counterfeit parts. The worst foreseeable situation would be that the failure of the installed non-conforming or un-approved parts or counterfeit parts could have catastrophic consequences; however, this occurrence is considered improbable.

Proper evaluation and selection of suppliers helps reducing the number of findings detected by maintenance organisations during acceptance of components, such as components shipped with inadequate documentation, components non-conforming to the purchase order.

Maintenance organizations are required by regulations to keep the list of their approved suppliers. This list is always updated from time to time, meaning that adding and/or removing some of the suppliers accordingly.

One of the ways used by Maintenance organizations to get suppliers to keep into their lists is through the use of on-line suppliers’ directories and it’s always easy to source for suppliers through this way. Directories like http://www.airgetintouch.com provides a number of suppliers whereby maintenance organizations or individuals can easily find a suitable supplier pertinent to their needs.

Aviation suppliers contribute to aviation safety. Suppliers have a role to play in ensuring parts meet the airworthiness requirements and unairworthy aircraft parts are not supplied into the market. Every supplier must comply with relevant aviation safety regulations pertinent to aeronautical parts supply. 

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