Brief on the Foreign Certification Process
Wipaire is proud to have products in operation worldwide, from Australia to North America. However, many people don’t necessarily understand the work required to have modifications, such as Wipline floats, approved around the world. Wipaire’s Jalon Sortor, who handles document administration and foreign certifications, offers some insight into the foreign approval process.
First, Wipaire secures a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States. Once an STC is issued from the FAA, it is eligible for aircraft specified on the STC or the Approved Model Listing (AML) within the United States. If the STC is to be eligible within foreign countries, many requirements must be met by the STC holder to obtain an STC Validation, or Letter of Acceptance, of the FAA STC from the country in question. Most international countries have their own requirements for foreign STC issuance but some countries have bilateral agreements, called Implementation Procedures for Airworthiness (IPA), or Schedule of Implementation Procedures (SIP), in place with the FAA for understanding each country’s differences within this process.
There are a handful of government agencies that approve of the FAA’s certification process. These include Transport Canada Civil Aviation, Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in Australia, and the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority to name a few. These countries will accept an FAA STC with no further design approval investigation. Most remaining foreign countries require an application to be submitted by the STC holder to the country’s foreign authority for approval. The application, and associated engineering reports, must be in order per guidelines given by the foreign authorities’ written instructions or by their regulatory requirements. Once all documentation is in order, it will be mailed to the regional FAA Aircraft Certification Office (ACO). Once the ACO agrees that all required documents are present, ensuring the application is within the scope of the IPA or SIP, a statement of compliance letter is generated stating the FAA agrees with the STC holder’s application. This letter and associated documentation is then mailed to the specified foreign authority. Once in the hands of the foreign authority, the review process begins. At this point, the application is either accepted or denied. Once the acceptance or denial has been established, a letter is sent to the applicant stating the acceptance or denial. The foreign authority is then in direct contact with the applicant for any questions or concerns that might be raised during the review of the application and engineering reports by the foreign authority’s team of engineers assigned to the application. This process, depending on the foreign authority, can take from as little as six weeks to as long as two years.