Accessing Aircraft Manufacturer Engineering Data
May 05, 2023
A mainstay of aircraft modifications is the intellectual property required to maintain airworthiness and safety and it is important when accessing aircraft manufacturer engineering data. Traditionally, for many reasons, the use of IP for a Supplemental Type Certificate project often presents challenges to modifiers and Aircraft OEMs, but there is a new way forward. Following an in-depth analysis of modification data, the experts at IAMA, the Independent Aircraft Modifier Alliance, are proposing a collaborative way for Aircraft OEMs and IAMA-endorsed modifiers to streamline aftermarket upgrades, respect, and more effectively monetize IP.
In the never-ending pursuit to streamline the complexity of modifications through STC projects, IAMA has developed a collaborative approach to accessing aircraft manufacturer (AOM) engineering data. Where in some instances, the negotiation to access the data can take years and drive up costs, taking a codified approach to the various data involved in a modification can help to reduce stresses and long delays.
Although IAMA members collaborate, they can also be competitors, and as such, they recognize the importance of respecting IP in an STC project," said Jeff Behlendorf, steering head of IAMA’s Intellectual property & OEM Affairs working group and director of product management at Carlisle Interconnect Technologies. “Our team's core mission is to standardize and formalize the exchange of engineering data to ensure robust, safe, maintainable STC modifications and facilitate better long-term support of aircraft in the fleets of our mutual customers. This is why we propose a codified, collaborative process. Such an agreement would be valuable to all stakeholders, including the independent modifier and the aircraft manufacturer."
IAMA‘s Position Paper With a Collaborative Approach to Accessing Aircraft Manufacturer Engineering Data
The alliance’s “Position Paper on IAMA member access to aircraft manufacturer (type certificate holder) Engineering Data for modification purpose,” conveys a well thought-out, deeply respectful solution to the legal, proprietary and logistical challenges arising between OAMs and independent STC applicants when the exchange of engineering data is required. Derived from the IP working group's deep expertise combined with an IAMA anonymous member survey, the position paper describes the challenges inherent in an industry where commercial expectations for the exchange of data are inherently inconsistent. Unsurprisingly, aircraft manufacturers and our members find these situations challenging," explained IAMA's Managing Director, Nina Schulz. “The alliance's mission is to create and advocate for an open and transparent environment for aircraft modifications. Our IP group takes a holistic view, looking at the challenges from all sides, offers a solution, and documents how to move forward through this position paper." Considering that an STC project's stakeholders include the aircraft manufacturer, customer, service provider and aviation regulators, it is commendable that the solution is so straightforward: establishing basic agreements for the exchange of specific levels of data. It's easy to understand each stakeholder's concerns, but it's more challenging to bring the various needs together, and yet this is what IAMA's proposals aim to achieve. A cooperative approach to define a transparent, predictive way of accessing engineering data will improve safety, and customer experience, while enhancing innovation and competition.
For IAMA-endorsed modifiers, the collaborative approach to providing engineering data codified in specific levels means predictable engineering data transfer costs, reduced delays and enhanced safety across airline fleets. For the OAM, the proposed way forward means more effective information exchanges, access to STC data to support other airline service requests, and the ability to extend new and industry-differentiating options to their customers.
IAMA-endorsed members are sensitive to OAM concerns around engineering data and IP use because they have the same concerns. In an increasingly competitive airline marketplace, smooth and efficient data exchanges are key to aftermarket modifications to meet customer requests for aircraft manufacturers in a timely manner. IAMA members believe that establishing a more collaborative engineering data exchange with the OAMs will be mutually beneficial. Using a customer-focused approach to support the aircraft owners and operators with more flexibility will allow them to safely and sustainably adapt their aircraft using the STC process where a service bulletin is not commercially viable or available for the desired time frame. This position paper is available only to IAMA members. To access this and other vital resources, visit iamalliance.aero