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SURPLUS PARTS AND DATA PLATES


Since WWII, the military has been required to dispose of surplus items, but it must “sell” the items that have economic value. Hence, the transfer of surplus aviation aircraft, components, and parts to the DRMO. While a portion of these items go to public entities, the remaining surplus is sold to the general public at excessive discounts.


Technically, products or articles produced under a military contract number are not automatically approved for installation on a type certified aircraft – even if they look, feel, smell, and act like certified parts. FAA AC 20-62 and AC 20-142 can explain this much better than I could. Suffice to say, if you follow that guidance there are methods to use military surplus parts on certified aircraft.


And just like our bad apples who peddle salvage parts, individuals who couldn’t pass up a buck started to sell surplus parts as certified parts. So, another hole in the proverbial Swiss cheese lines up to initiate change on how we repair or alter aircraft...which leaves us with the data plate debacle.


As mentioned above, any data plate required under a type certificate must remain affixed to the specific product or article for which it was certified. A past and present example:


CAR 1.50(a): Each product manufactured under the terms of a type or production certificate shall display permanently such data as may be required to show its identity.


FAR 45.13(e): No person may install an identification plate removed in accordance with paragraph (d)(2) of this section on any aircraft, aircraft engine, propeller, propeller blade, or propeller hub other than the one from which it was removed.


There is not much else to add. Moving data plates between airframes has never been an acceptable practice – except through an FAA-approved method like an STC.


So eventually, after several high-profile accidents, civil litigations, and enforcement actions, the OEMs and the FAA started to play hardball with these “Frankenstein” aircraft.


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