Aviation Investigation Report A98H0003
2.14.4 FAA Aircraft Evaluation Group Role/STC Involvement
The FAA Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office was supported in their review of the IFEN STC by the FAA's Aircraft Evaluation Group (AEG) personnel, including Flight Standards Aviation Safety Inspectors who were experienced in air carrier operations, flight crew training, aircraft maintenance, and the aircraft certification process. These AEG personnel are responsible for conducting certification and operational suitability determinations for new and modified transport aircraft. Although the FAA delegates many of its responsibilities with respect to the STC certification process, it does not delegate the function of the AEG. Therefore, the DAS did not have a mandate to make determinations about STCs in areas of either operational or maintenance requirements.
In the case of STC ST00236LA-D, SBA submitted an LOI in which it concluded that there was no impact on the flight crew workload. The AEG reviewed the LOI and affirmed that conclusion. As only the AEG has the authority to make such a conclusion, the presence of such a statement in the LOI should have alerted the FAA that SBA had exceeded its DAS mandate. The fact that the IFEN installation was designated "non-essential, non-required" led to reduced vigilance and a de facto delegation of this AEG function.
An FAA survey of similar "non-essential, non-required" IFE system STCs revealed that approximately 10 per cent had been designed, installed, and certified in such a way that prevented the flight crew from removing electrical power from the entertainment system without interfering with essential systems. Although the extent of the AEG participation in the approval of these other STCs was not determined, the survey revealed that the incomplete nature of the operational review prior to the approval of STC ST00236LA-D, was not unique.
As the AEG function is not delegated, the FAA is responsible for determining operational and maintenance conformance of an STC. Therefore, the AEG has the responsibility to remain engaged in the process and work closely with the DAS to deliver an appropriate approval.
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