Prototyping phase of a Supplemental Type Certificate
Nov 17, 2021
In the aviation world, prototyping is an important phase for a variety of reasons, especially for a Supplemental Type Certificate. Prototyping helps refine documentation, allows the modifier, OEM and operator to assess the installation and requirement and it offers a standard method for certifying an aircraft modification.
According to the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a prototype is “an original model constructed to include all the technical characteristics and performances of the new product.” In the aviation industry, an aircraft declared as a “prototype” is the first aircraft, of a specific type, to have a new modification implemented.
The Prototyping Process is Critical to Achieving a Supplemental Type Certificate
Prototyping involves implementing aircraft modifications using a documentation package that has not yet received approval. In this state, the prototype aircraft may not be entered back into service until the modification in question is certified through an STC. For obvious reasons, the aircraft owner or operator and the aircraft modifier have a vested interest in a smoothly run modification.
The prototyping process is incredibly important because it serves as a means to confirm and validate the first application of the installation design that leads to final approval and the STC. It allows modifiers and aircraft OEMs to test a somewhat theoretical design document against the real-world implementation. There are always discrepancies between the modification design and the actual installation. Aircraft documentation and initial configuration may not be as expected. Design misunderstandings or missing materials can also sometimes be the source of deviations. The critical part prototyping plays is to help the modifier evaluate, confirm, or adjust the installation design towards the needs and specifications of the final customer.
The Delay That Variances and Deviations Can Cause to Aircraft Modifications
It’s no surprise that effective scheduling, a clear action plan and defined responsibilities, along with evaluation, testing and precise documentation are the basis of successful prototyping and STC completion. It’s easy to imagine a fleet of aircraft with various configurations undergoing a specific aircraft modification. With this in mind, it’s not hard to realize that installation on one aircraft in a fleet is unlikely to be exactly the same as another. Adding to this is the need for all the aircraft undergoing that modification to conform to rigorous certification requirements. This is where testing and evaluation play a fundamental role.
Stay Clear from the Possible Uncertainties
It may seem obvious, but an experienced maintenance organization will not only possess a deep understanding of the process, they will also recognize potential risks and delays in advance. More important, still, they will already be prepared to address any challenges as they arise. Along the way, our experts are fully aware of the vitality of the prototyping phase of a Supplemental Type Certificate and have pinpointed the differences between FAA and EASA terminology and processes. The results of which are the crucial steps towards a hassle-free, cost effective modification.