Minor Modifications: The Standard Working Group’s Path Forward
May 05, 2023
One of the primary pillars of the IAMA mission is the IAMA Rulebook, which prescribes the IAMA Standard. While the alliance has primarily focused on Supplemental Type Certificates or STCs, a greater number of commercial aviation modifications are not classified as major, which, as a result, do not require an STC. Taking on board feedback from its membership and other stakeholders, the alliance decided to apply the Rulebook's leading advice and instruction to cover these mods, and adapt the Rulebook to include minor modifications.
“Our biggest challenge is adapting the Rulebook to cover minor modifications without making the work to achieve IAMA-endorsements overly onerous,” said Romain Mbwang Seppoh, Eclipse Global Connectivity’s Head of Design Organization, and head of the Standard Working Group. “Minor mods can be large projects like a cabin retrofit, or small like a software upgrade. We recognize that the effort required to obtain an IAMAendorsed modification for an upgrade shouldn’t add to the amount of work already needed.”
Mbwang Seppoh is an ideal fit to lead the Working Group through this project. From the very start of his career, he has focused on aviation engineering, with ten years each at Airbus and for the early start of Aircelle Nacelle (now Safran Nacelle), a brief period at Socata (now Daher), and ten-plus years at Eclipse Global Connectivity.
A New Phase: Minor Modifications
The timeline for the Rulebook to address minor modifications is with the release of version 4 in early June. "What's important is to increase the availability and provide a wider application of the Standard so that any Type change an operator might need can be completed with an IAMA-endorsed project," notes Ian Devine, IAMA’s Technical Affairs Manager. We want to transfer the quality the Standard brings to STCs to modifications that can be classified as minor."
The project, started in 2022, is moving along at a good pace. It results from the alliance's aim of addressing aviation ecosystem pains. When IAMA representatives met with various stakeholders, it became clear that minor modifications certified by IAMA members were a critical need. Devine explained. "The scope of the Rulebook is project management, how a project is agreed, and minor modifications can most certainly benefit from such advice, not to mention a wholistic approach which offers continuous support over the aircraft's whole lifecycle."
Devine's career, too, has focused on aviation, wearing many hats but with a focus on avionics and engineering. He joined the alliance in 2021 and brings his design engineering experience from Lufthansa Technik and several years of consulting in EASA part 21 aircraft design and certification, equipment qualification, project management and planning to his role as Technical Affairs Manager.
The work is challenging and ultimately seriously engaging for Mbwang Seppoh and Devine. "Leading the Standard Working Group is a gratifying activity," he says. "Although the group's participants are competitors, we have a constructive exchange of ideas and frank discussions on topics that are consequential to us all. It is a pleasure to have a group of people so deeply focused on continuous improvement, working to reach the same quality goals."
There are modifiers with approaches that are less disciplined than IAMA members. They may not proactively approach lifecycle considerations or openly communicate and manage risk with customers, which can be an indication that their STC lacks the quality integrated into an IAMA-endorsed STC. "As the technical focal, and Rulebook owner, I can say that extending the IAMA standard to minor modifications will only add to the alliance's credibility," Devine explained. "The process of integrating rules to fit the requirements of minor modifications is progressing quickly. Once that is completed, we will update the processes defined in the Rulebook, and of course, these updates must also fit the IAMA audit process." Becoming an IAMA member or subscriber is the way to access to these sources. Membership also gives you access to white papers and many other resources. Airlines and lessors may receive access to these resources through a free subscription. Visit iamalliance.aero for more.