A recurrent argument in the aviation industry is whether people can use PMA parts or is OEM parts a must when it comes to buying parts?
To start off what is PMA? PMA stands for Parts Manufacturer Approval. PMA parts get production and design approval issued by the FAA. The FAA approves of PMA parts if they are manufactured following with FAA accepted procedure, they need to meet the FAA standards of airworthiness.
OEM is the Original Equipment Manufacturer. For the longest time, original engineer manufacturing had a monopoly on the industry. This monopoly made it harder and harder for plane enthusiasts to get the parts they needed because of sky-high prices and backorders.
Replacement parts started in the 1950’s when pilots needed parts for outmoded WWII planes. Over time, manufacturing companies started popping up to offer those replacement parts. Gradually, controls were added that helped make PMA certification more aligned with OEM certification. Since 2011 FAA updated their regulations. Now, PMA has a different kind of production certificate which gets rid of many differences between OEM and PMA manufacturing.
Still, ever since the commercialization of PMA parts, OEM’s have worked hard to try to delegitimize PMA parts. For starters, OEM’s started a taint campaign saying that PMA parts are knockoffs and will never be as good as the original. They also make suggestions that PMA parts put people at risk, that there is no guarantee that a PMA part will perform as well as OEM parts do.
As a rebuttal PMA parts feel as though their parts are not only similar but that PMA parts are superior air parts. They have the advantage to look at OEM parts performance and then improve their parts based on the results.
OEM Brake Parts vs. PMA Brake Parts
Original Engineer Manufacturer brakes have the luxury of already being on the aircraft when it is first made; that way they have an automatic approval. With PMA parts, they have to prove their worthiness to the FAA with multiple tests. Since PMA parts want to be approved upon the first tests with the FAA, they make sure that they exceed expectations to grantee approval on the first time around.
In conclusion,OEM and PMA parts have to go through the same FAA regulation tests to be certified. However, PMA parts can exceed regular test expectations as a result of the rigorous tests they go through to become certified.
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