General Aviation

Published on March 24th, 2020 | by Mark Dwyer


EASA Part ML rules come into effect

As of today, 24th March 2020, EASA Part ML applies to light aircraft not considered as Annex I aircraft e.g. EASA aircraft. Part ML is a continuing airworthiness standard, so it dictates what maintenance must be performed on the aircraft and who can certify it. Part ML was developed by EASA to correspond to the lower risks associated with light aircraft in general aviation. While every pilot strives to ensure their aircraft is maintained to the best possible standard, Part ML reduces some of the administrative burden and strives to reduce cost to the General Aviation aviator.

Specifically, Part ML applies to the following other than complex motor-powered aircraft not listed in the air operator certificate of an air carrier licensed in accordance with Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 (which means an airline really):

(1) aeroplanes of 2,730 kg maximum take-off mass (MTOM) or less;

(2) rotorcraft of 1,200 kg MTOM or less, certified for a maximum of up to 4 occupants;

(3) other ELA2 aircraft e.g. sailplanes and balloons.

This article gives a summary of the changes which have been introduced with EASA Part ML regulations. However, the regulations obviously take precedent and nothing in this article gives legal opinion or supersedes the regulations.

Owner’s Responsibilities

The owner of the aircraft is responsible for the continuing airworthiness of the aircraft and shall ensure that no flight takes place unless all of the following requirements are met:

(1) the aircraft is maintained in an airworthy condition;

(2) any operational and emergency equipment fitted is correctly installed and serviceable or clearly identified as unserviceable;

(3) the airworthiness certificate is valid;

(4) the maintenance of the aircraft is performed in accordance with the Aircraft Maintenance Program (‘AMP’).

The owner of the aircraft may contract the tasks above to an organisation approved as a Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation (CAMO) or Combined Airworthiness Organisation (CAO). CAO is a new organisational approval which for light aircraft means a CAMO and Maintenance Organisation…. Combined. 

Where the aircraft is operated by;

  • a commercial Approved Training Organisations (‘ATO’) or commercial Declared Training Organisations (‘DTO’) referred to in Article 10a of Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011;
  • not operated in accordance with Annex VII to Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 (Part-NCO);
  • operated in accordance with Subpart-ADD of Annex II (Part-BOP) to Regulation (EU) 2018/395; or
  • Subpart-DEC of Annex II (Part-SAO) to Regulation (EU) 2018/1976

Then the tasks MUST be contracted to a CAMO or CAO. This really means that if the aircraft is being operated commercially, whether it’s an aeroplane, rotorcraft, balloon, or sailplane, then the operator must contract a CAO/CAMO, but if it’s a private operation like in a club, or operated by a group of owners, then the owner can manage it themselves.

Maintenance Programmes

The maintenance of each aircraft must be organised based on an Aircraft Maintenance Programme. This is usually a document which lists all the inspections/replacements which must be done on the aircraft and how often they must be done.

Under EASA Part ML, that Aircraft Maintenance Programme may be Self-Declared by the owner (SDMP) or approved by a CAO/CAMO. Previously, AMPs were approved by the IAA and SDMPs only applied in some cases.

Owners/CAO/CAMOs must include all mandatory maintenance tasks in the AMP e.g. Airworthiness Directives, Airworthiness Limitation Items etc. They may, however, deviate from recommendations made by manufacturers e.g. Engine TBO published in a Service Letter or recommendations published in other documents such as Service Manual, Service Bulletins or other documents.

At no time may an aircraft’s AMP be less restrictive than EASA’s published Minimum Inspection Programme (MIP), where applicable. There isn’t an EASA published MIP for rotorcraft, so the owner/CAO/CAMO must refer to what maintenance is recommended by the manufacturer to determine what is appropriate to be included.

When the Airworthiness Review Certificate is renewed annually, the person reviewing it also checks that the AMP is appropriate for the aircraft.

Part ML allows an owner to vary the due date of the Annual Inspection by 1 month or 10 flying hours, whichever comes first. So, if you need to fly the aircraft in the weeks after the Annual Inspection is due, you can, legally! The next Annual Inspection will be due 1 year after the aircraft is released. You need to be careful that deferring the Annual Inspection doesn’t exceed the expiry date on the Airworthiness Review Certificate (ARC). If it does, you’ll need a Permit to Fly to fly the aircraft legally.

Pilot-owners can be included in the AMP as being authorised to certify some maintenance on their aircraft. They can only certify tasks they performed themselves and there are restrictions about how much maintenance a pilot-owner can do. This doesn’t include tasks included in the Flight Manual like fitting wings onto a sailplane, which a pilot may perform.

There are templates on the IAA website for the development of an AMP.

Aircraft Defects

As all pilots know, any aircraft defect that seriously endangers the flight safety must be rectified before further flight. Part ML gives more detail about how a pilot can legally fly with certain items not functioning. This may help if a nav light bulb is unserviceable but your flight is during day VFR only, or one radio is not working when two radios are installed and one/no radios are required for the intended flight.

The following persons may decide that a defect does not seriously endanger flight safety, and may defer it accordingly:

(1) the pilot in respect of defects affecting non-required aircraft equipment;

(2) the pilot, when using the minimum equipment list, in respect of defects affecting required aircraft equipment — otherwise, these defects may only be deferred by authorised certifying staff;

(3) the pilot in respect of defects other than those referred to in points (1) and (b)(2) if all the following conditions are met:

(i) the aircraft is operated under Annex VII to Regulation(EU) No 965/2012 (Part-NCO) or, in the case of balloons or sailplanes, not operated under Subpart-ADD of Annex II (Part-BOP) to Regulation (EU) 2018/395 or not following Subpart DEC of Annex II (Part-SAO) to Regulation (EU) 2018/1976;

(ii) the pilot defers the defect with the agreement of the aircraft owner or, if applicable, of the contracted CAMO or CAO;

(4) the appropriately qualified certifying staff in respect of other defects than those referred to in points (1) and (2), where the conditions referred to in point 3(i) and (ii) are not met.

Any defect not rectified before flight must be recorded in the aircraft continuing airworthiness record system like a Tech Log or club aircraft logbook, and a record shall be available to the pilot.

This is a significant regulatory change. Previously, defects had to be deferred by an engineer before a pilot could depart with inoperative non-required aircraft equipment. Now the pilot can assess whether they need the equipment that isn’t working for the intended flight or whether they need to call an engineer. Defects should then be rectified as soon as possible after they have been discovered.

Airworthiness Review Certificate

The Certificate of Airworthiness is validated by an Airworthiness Review Certificate (ARC), which is normally renewed annually. If the Certificate of Airworthiness is invalid, like if the ARC has expired, it is only legal to fly the aircraft on a Permit to Fly.

Part ML brings in some changes with regard to the ARC issue. The airworthiness review and the issuance of the ARC can be performed by:

(1) the competent authority;

(2) an appropriately approved CAMO or CAO;

(3) the approved maintenance organisation while performing the 100-h/annual inspection contained in the AMP;

(4) for aircraft operated under Annex VII (Part-NCO) to Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 or, in the case of balloons, not operated under Subpart-ADD of Annex II (Part-BOP) to Regulation (EU) 2018/3951 or, in the case of sailplanes, not following Subpart DEC of Annex II (Part-SAO) to Regulation (EU) 2018/19762, the independent certifying staff while performing the 100-h/annual inspection contained in the AMP, when holding:

(i) a licence issued in accordance with Annex III (Part-66) rated for the corresponding aircraft or, if Annex III (Part-66) is not applicable to the particular aircraft, a national certifying-staff qualification valid for that aircraft;

(ii) an authorisation issued by:

(A) the competent authority who issued the licence issued in accordance with Annex III (Part-66), or

(B) if Annex III (Part-66) is not applicable, the competent authority responsible for the national certifying-staff qualification.

This isn’t a major change for owners who use a CAMO to renew their ARC. It does, however, allow owners of privately-operated aircraft to use Authorised Independent Airworthiness Review Staff to perform their Annual Inspection and issue the ARC.

What do I need to do?

Possibly nothing! For most aircraft owners, these responsibilities are contracted to a CAMO and the maintenance is performed by a maintenance organisation. For owners who manage their own continuing airworthiness, you need to read Part ML and the associated AMC and GM.

Owners who want to change the maintenance tasks being performed on their aircraft or the frequency of that maintenance should contact their CAMO/CAO to see if Part ML allows them to revise the AMP. Additionally, if you want to be included in the AMP to perform pilot-owner maintenance, you should contact your CAMO/CAO.

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About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

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