FAA Tightens STC Rules

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In response to recent mandates by Congress, the FAA is changing its rules to require written permission from a supplemental type certificate (STC) holder to use its data for follow-on installations that alter the affected aircraft, engine or propeller. The changes became effective Oct. 2, 2006. Although written in a manner requiring the STC holder to report to the FAA when it grants permission for installation of the STC, the new FAR, Section 21.120, has the effect of continuing the FAA's recently adopted responsibility of protecting the intellectual property of STC holders.

The FAA also added a new Section 91.403(d), which requires a person altering an aircraft based on an STC to only do so if he or she holds the STC or has written permission from its holder. According to the Aircraft Electronics Association, the two new rules leave some questions unanswered, including whether an avionics installation, typically performed pursuant to an STC but by using the manufacturer's data, is considered "use of the STC data" as specified in the law.