STC Process Guidance
In the ever-evolving aviation industry, manufacturers and operators are seeking out ways to differentiate their solutions from others around them. One major way that they choose to enhance performance and missionize their aircraft are through Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs). These certificates authorize modifications, allowing for the expansion of a helicopter’s capabilities.
While the FAA provides a guide for obtaining an STC through AC 21-40A that advises what is needed, there are many steps, often given in general terms that lack specific details on how to ensure compliance. Navigating all these rules and regulations can be confusing, especially for those who have never been through the process before, but you don’t have to do it alone. Engineering support from resources such as PHI can aid in this intricate process to ease the more complex steps of obtaining an STC.
Our manager of engineering, Mike Melton, has used his insight into the STC process to guide many of our customers to certification. Mike explains that “we help customers understand the FAA’s guidance and expectations for all the documentation needed for STC submittal. We also make sure everything complies with regulatory requirements throughout the process.” From the initial concept and design phases to testing, documentation, and final approval, we are by our customers’ sides every step of the way offering unwavering support. We effectively troubleshoot any issues that may arise to maintain smooth progression all the way to certification.
Submitting STCs to the FAA
Traversing the submittal process with the FAA can initially seem like a daunting task full of rigorous scrutiny but engineering support professionals like PHI have extensive experience with these processes and can guide you along. Using outside support can also work as a major cost saving measure, especially if it is your first time attempting to gain an STC approval.
Trusting support options who have firsthand experience managing the documentation, performing flight tests, and ensuring compliance through each step will streamline the process and minimize delays in gaining approval. Having a resource that is knowledgeable on the nuances of each part of the process will allow you to avoid having to resubmit documentation over and over or redo flight tests any more than necessary.
This is especially true for any complications that may arise during this approval stage. Mike says that “sometimes during an STC integration there are deviations that could need their own separate approval. We can help with this process from correctly documenting the deviation all the way to the appropriate approval.” Engineering support has the experience to quickly identify issues such as this that may pop up along the way and they know the best ways to get the certification back on track.
Bringing Foreign STCs to the United States
With the global nature of the aviation industry, international collaboration often brings up the need for approval by multiple authorities due to varying standards by each country. In these instances, support can also be invaluable when attempting to bring an STC approved by another regulatory body to the United States. While there are some differences from a completely new submittal, engineering support will provide the same relief in facilitating the process. This support generally comes in the form of making sure that any FAA requirements not already covered are addressed so that the STC meets all criteria upon final submittal.
STC Integration Services
Integral to producing a successful STC is integration of the modification to the aircraft of choice. Having a resource with access to a fleet of aircraft removes several potential roadblocks for this stage in the process. Consistent and easy access to the integration aircraft also allows for a more seamless incorporation of the modification into the original type certificate design.
Integration support encompasses several services, from design modifications and structural analysis to systems integration and testing. When PHI provides this service, our teams are thorough when confirming that the new systems or components up for certification are fully compatible with the existing aircraft. We employ the same scrutiny that we expect from the FAA, completing comprehensive safety and performance checks and taking the necessary steps to generate a truly seamless integration.
Developing Custom Engineered Tooling
When manufacturing aircraft components and systems precision and consistency are paramount, and specialized tools are often required for both production and maintenance. When existing tools don’t adequately meet the needs of the new system, custom tooling is the solution. Whether it’s molds for composite structures, jigs for precise assembly, or fixtures for testing, having tools tailored specifically for your STC increases production efficiency and quality.
PHI’s manufacturing shop is well-versed in the development and production of custom tools, always looking to improve efficiency. Mike confirms that “customized tooling designed to accomplish a specific task has and will continue to save maintainers time doing repeated tasks.”
Need Help on your Project?
When you are in need of support on your STC journey, PHI MRO Services is here to help at any stage. We have DER and DAR resources as well as specialized shops on-site at our facility ready for all your engineering support needs. Whether you’re looking for guidance through the STC process, aircraft integration services, or custom tooling, PHI is here to help. We’re always available, just give us a call at 1-844-427-5744 and tell us what you need.