Understanding An ICA
June 25, 2020
Understanding Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) Requirements for an aircraft is important as ICAs provide a standardized approach for aircraft, engine and propeller maintenance data, thus replacing such data from the OEMs and other Type Certificate (TC) holders. Under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) – see FAA Order 8110.54A for more specifics – ICAs should be available to aircraft operators, maintenance providers and any other individuals who are involved with aircraft. However, there are instances when aircraft repair stations have trouble obtaining the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness that are needed in order to safely perform alterations or maintenance. When a repair station is not able to acquire the latest versions of the applicable ICA or when it is incomplete because a previous published repair has been removed, this could cause problems which might eventually lead to related safety and compliance issues.
There are different requirements for different parts of the aircraft. For instance, engine and propeller ICAs specifically require overhaul instructions. On the other hand, airframe ICAs typically require information about recommended overhaul periods. Requiring a list of special tooling in the ICAs is normal, but only the instructions for continued airworthiness regulations for engines need specific instructions on how to use the tooling. ICAs may also be seen on an FAA Form 337, an aircraft logbooks/maintenance entry or written or other related aircraft documents.
Who Produces Instructions For Continued Airworthiness?
The typical source for Instructions for Continued Airworthiness is the manufacturer (OEM) or a design organization that holds a related Supplemental Type Certificate (STC). Most of the time, the manufacturer is both the production and design approval holders. In rare cases though, where there is a split between the production approval holder and design approval holder, the official responsibility for creating the ICAs goes to the design approval holder. Other design approval holders, such as those who hold a Supplemental Type Certificate, may also have the obligation to produce ICAs. If properly implemented, these ICAs should ensure that the aircraft remains airworthy during its entire time in service.
ICAs produced by the design approval holder must meet the appropriate regulatory requirements. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) imposes this obligation on design approval holders as a condition of the design approval to make sure that the important safety instructions are created and shared with parties that use them – such as an MRO – to help ensure airworthiness compliance.
Are ICAs Necessary?
ICAs are necessary as they provide crucial information for an owner and/or operator to maintain the airworthiness of their aircraft. The owner or operator’s maintenance provider has the obligation to follow the related ICAs for the aircraft or fleet. There are times when aircraft parts manufacturers have conditional obligations to produce ICAs. For example, Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) holders are usually required to examine whether the appropriate Type Certificate (TC) ICAs remain valid when the applicable aircraft part is installed. If such ICAs are still valid, the PMA holder won’t need to produce alternative or revised ICAs. This approach helps avoid confusion by continuing the use of the baseline ICAs when such use has been shown to be appropriate.
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