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If a certain engine architecture or airframe design was granted FAA certification and then licensed to, manufactured and then sold by another company, would it still be certified?

If not, would this change the certification process at all?

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  • $\begingroup$ While I don't know anything about the licencing or certification issues involved, there are several companies building versions of the Piper Cub. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Aug 21, 2021 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ Also, Cessna licensed European production of several models - the 172 & 150, perhaps others, to a French company, Reims Aircraft. $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Oct 31, 2021 at 2:23

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If the question is about manufacture of a complete aircraft or engine under license it would not affect the design approval under the Type Certificate in a significant way. The TC is the reference design that was approved and it hasn't changed. There may be a top level change (an STC or Amended TC) that changes the designation so it is tied to the actual manufacturer and location. This is done to simplify configuration management.

The bigger impact is that manufacturing approval of the a/c or engine to the TC requires a Production Certificate (if you don't have a PC, the Cert Authority has to approve each a/c or engine produced.) PCs are location specific.

So when Boeing moved 787 production to South Carolina, Boeing had to get a new PC even though the TC didn't change.

Airbus A320s built in Mobile Alabama are built under a PC granted to Airbus Mobile.

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Yes, the FAA has a process for this called PMA - Parts Manufacturer Approval.

In summary:

(PMA) Is a combined design and production approval for modification and replacement articles. It allows a manufacturer to produce and sell these articles for installation on type certificated products. Federal Aviation Administration Orders 8110.42 and 8120.22 prescribe the approval procedures for FAA personnel and guides applicants in the approval process.

The holder of the Type Certificate must grant PMA authority to another manufacturer, and have it approved by the FAA.

There is more information available through the FAA website here: FAA PMA

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  • $\begingroup$ The OEM doesn't grant PMA authority per se; it issues a PMA support letter which speeds things up for the company seeking the authority from the FAA, but this doesn't necessarily have to happen. There are oodles of PMA parts out there that were approved without the support , or even knowledge, of the OEM. The PMA applicant only has to demonstrate that their part is effectively a copy of the OEM part from a structural and performance perspective. However, if the part is subject to an AD, the FAA will generally refuse PMA authority, and if the part is already in production, may revoke it. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Aug 20, 2021 at 0:24
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnK, thanks for the feedback. I didn't want to go into too much detail for a couple reasons: 1. My knowledge is limited, and... 2. Someone really needing to know this stuff ought to go to the source. Do you have any wording suggestions to make this a better answer? Finally, regarding "oodles of parts" without knowledge or consent of OEM, that may be true for simple parts where the designer has surrendered intellectual property rights, but for more complex (especially electronic, which is my background...) design data is a valuable commodity (continued...) $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2021 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ ... a commodity not readily surrendered or reverse engineered without violating supply contracts, patents, or other legal "ownership" things. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2021 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed on that point. The FAA won't approve a PMA on a complex component or major assembly without OEM support. Where the boundary is, is kind of nebulous. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Aug 20, 2021 at 1:18
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    $\begingroup$ The PMA is not a design approval. It is manufacturing approval that says you can manufacture a part to the approved design of a Type Certificate or STC. Every supplier to an OEM normally gets a PMA for every part they supply to the OEM. The big exception is TSO'd parts. A TSO is a design and manufacturing approval given to the that supplier, but it still needs to incorporated into the TC or STC of an aircraft. If the question is about building the complete aircraft or engine (engines have their own TC), there are different rules as the a/c or engine is not a part. $\endgroup$
    – Gerry
    Aug 21, 2021 at 12:57

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