AviationManuals Publishes Guide to Minimum Equipment Lists (MEL)

Washington, D.C., September 13, 2021 – AviationManuals, the leading provider of digital operations manuals, has published its revised complimentary guide to understanding Minimum Equipment List (MEL) requirements.

“An MEL is the best and most widely accepted way to determine the conditions under which a flight can be commenced with inoperative equipment,” said AviationManuals CEO Mark Baier. “This complimentary MEL guide helps flight departments understand where and when an MEL is required, and why they should consider getting one.”

The MEL Guide describes:

  • Differences between a Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) for aircraft types and a custom MEL for an operation’s actual aircraft.
  • Requirements for operators based on state of registry and area of operation.
  • Value of a Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings (NEF) program.

The new AviationManuals MEL Guide can be found here.

AviationManuals supports a client base that operates over 4,500 aircraft worldwide, including 62 Fortune 100 company flight departments. Based in the Washington, D.C. area, the company provides digital operations manuals with update services, as well as SMS software and iPad apps for fixed-wing, rotary-wing, drone operators, and FBOs worldwide. Founded in 1996, the company has produced thousands of manuals.

Products and services include SMS Software, FBO Manuals, Flight/Company Operations Manuals, International Operations and Procedures Manuals, Minimum Equipment Lists, Emergency Response Plans, and Internal Audit Programs, as well as Letters of Authorization (LOA) support for RVSM, Data Link (CPDLC / ADS-C), PBN (RNP-10 / -4, NAT HLA, B-/P-RNAV, and RNP-1), Enhanced Flight Vision Systems (EFVS), and EFBs.

AviationManuals is a member of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), and the National Air Transportation Association (NATA). For more information on AviationManuals, go to www.aviationmanuals.com.

MEL, MMEL, NEF: What Are You Required to Have? [+ Free MEL Guide]

Are you required to have an MEL? Could your aircraft be grounded if you don’t have an NEF Program? MMELs, MELs, and NEFs (nonessential equipment and furnishing lists) allow you to operate even if some aircraft equipment and furnishings are inoperative.  Knowing which you need though can be confusing.

Did you know that the use of an MMEL as an MEL requires more than simply having the MMEL? Find out what other documents you need to have on board the aircraft. Download our free MEL guide for clear guidance on what you need, how to use it, and how to maintain it.

 

Get Your Free MEL Guide

 

MMEL Explained

Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL): A master list of items on an aircraft that are allowed to be inoperative under specific conditions without impacting the safety of flight.

The MMEL is established by the aircraft manufacturer and approved by the national aviation authority. The goal of the document is to detail what equipment and furnishings can be inoperative without compromising safe operations. When developing the MMEL a number of factors are taken into consideration including:

  • Engineering and flight testing of failures
  • Effects of inoperative items on flight safety and the crew
  • Impact of multiple failures

MEL Explained

Minimum Equipment List (MEL): Based on the MMEL, it is an adapted list of items specific to a given aircraft/fleet aircraft that may be inoperative taking into consideration specific regulatory and operations limitations unique to each operator.

With an MEL, the operator can far more easily determine the conditions under which an aircraft can operate even with inoperative equipment, since it is more concise and customized to the aircraft/fleet and operator.

An MEL must also be approved by the aviation authority, but unlike an MMEL, which is designed to cover an entire aircraft series/models’ potential configurations, spanning years or even decades, an MEL can be fully customized to remove non-applicable items as well as add procedures. 

MEL customization is based on:

  • Aircraft type, variant, and serial number
  • Applicable regulations related to the type of operation, aircraft size and capacity, airworthiness directives, MMEL supplements, STCs, etc.; and special approvals granted to the operator (CAT II, PBN, RVSM, ETOPS…).

It is important to ensure that when customizing an MEL, it is never less restrictive than the MMEL.

What about nonessential equipment that cater to passenger convenience and entertainment? These are part of an Operator’s NEF Program instead.

NEF Explained

Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings Program (NEF): It is part of the MEL, but may be kept as a separate document. It outlines the steps operators may use to determine if a damaged, inoperative or missing item can be deemed as nonessential and therefore deferred.

If you have the LOA that allows you to use your MEL, or MMEL as an MEL for U.S. Part 91 operators, you may use an NEF Program to defer items deemed nonessential.

However, if you don’t have an NEF program, all inoperative, nonessential items need to be fixed before takeoff.

U.S. registered aircraft operating under Part 91 can obtain authorization to use the MMEL as an MEL, although it’s highly suggested that operators use this for domestic operations only.

MMEL as MEL (U.S. Registered, Part 91 Only)

If you want to use an MMEL as an MEL, there are however other documents you must have onboard in addition to the MMEL – refer to the MEL Guide for more information.

When using an MMEL as an MEL crews only have generic information available to them. Not all items included in the MMEL will be applicable to their specific aircraft or type of operation. It is important that crews be able to determine which deferrals are applicable to them.

  • A number of items in the MMEL will not indicate a specific number installed or number required. Crews will need to know which equipment is installed, how many units are installed, and the minimum number required based on applicable regulations and operational limitations.
  • The MMEL and M&O procedures will contain generic procedure statements. Crews will need separate guidance on where specific procedures can be found.
  • The MMEL will contain generic regulatory statements. Crews will need to know which regulations apply to each item and have copies of those regulations available to them in the aircraft.

Due to the generic nature of the MMEL, crews must be careful when selecting the appropriate deferral item. Some of the things they will want to consider are:

  • Modifications, Service Bulletins, STCs, etc.
  • Part numbers
  • Serial number ranges
  • Variant restrictions
  • Operating types
  • Installations of other equipment
  • Quantity of equipment installed

Creating an MEL that meets regulations and then keeping it up to date is very time consuming. Contact our team for advice and support. And don’t forget to download your complimentary MEL Guide:

Get Your Free MEL Guide

5 Things You Should Do at the End of The Year

With the new year swiftly approaching, it’s time to review how up to date your department’s operations and safety management are. Here are 5 key items to consider when going through your end-of-year to-do list.

1. Take stock of what you have and how old it is

 

  •  Are your manuals up to date?

Aviation is a dynamic industry requiring continual improvement. This means regulators and organizations often need to change and update guidance every year. It’s a good time to check if your manuals are still up to date in the areas of regulation, accepted standards, and best practices. If you don’t have an automatic update subscription, you will want to make a list of all the year’s changes and incorporate the applicable items into each of your manuals. You will want to review revisions from the FAA, ICAO, industry best practices, and country-specific regulatory authorities.

  • Review your ERP

An outdated Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is of no help in an emergency. Track any personnel, facility, and operational changes that have occurred and make sure they’re reflected in your ERP. Role changes, additional personnel, updates and modifications to facilities, and changes or expansions in flight operations will all affect your ERP procedures. Your ERP should be reviewed at least on an annual basis – you can read more about keeping your ERP up to date here.

  • Get a customized MEL versus an MMEL

Although the U.S. allows Part 91 operators to use a Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) as an MEL, if you travel internationally, especially to areas of Europe, having a customized Minimum Equipment List (MEL) LOA for your aircraft will ensure that you don’t run into any issues with overseas authorities. In addition, an MEL is more concise and in general easier to use than an MMEL. If you haven’t made the transition yet, now is a great the time.

2. Check your LOAs

 

  • Are your LOAs current? Especially your Data Link A056 LOA.

LOAs don’t usually expire, but they do need to be updated from time to time. Take stock of your LOAs and check that they’re still valid for the coming year and whether you need any new ones for new aircraft, updated avionics installations, or new types of operations. Be sure to check your A056 LOA, as it’s been updated numerous times by the FAA in 2018, and your version might not be the most recent one. You can read about the most recent requirements here.

  • LOA and aircraft planning

If you’re planning on purchasing a new aircraft next year, keep track of the LOAs you might require – it could take anywhere between one to six months to get your LOA approved, so be sure to insert that timeline into your planning. Sometimes FSDOs will allow submissions of LOA applications prior to completion of the aircraft transition so that you can start to reduce the time that it takes to get the aircraft operational.

  • Review upcoming mandates

Although certain mandates are still a while away (like the ADS-B mandate set for January 1, 2020), don’t wait until the last minute to get your LOA. As the deadline approaches more and more operators will be applying for the authorization, which may cause the FAA’s approval timeline to increase. It’s best to beat the crowd and get approved now.

  • Don’t forget your procedures that support your LOA

Most operators keep their associated procedures in an RVSM Operations Manual or International Procedures Manual. When applying for a new LOA, the FAA may expect to see that this manual is up to date with the latest guidance, so keep that in mind when planning your to-do’s and timeline.

3. Conduct an internal audit

 

An audit can either be a fully detailed process of your entire organization and all manuals or a spot-check of your operation. You want to ensure that the procedures outlined in your manuals are actually being followed. If you find areas where this is not the case, you need to uncover the specific reasons why and implement corrective actions accordingly. Keep in mind that there may be times where procedures are not being followed as the result of changes to your operation that make the procedure redundant. In these cases, they should either be updated or removed from your manuals.

4. Review what your SMS is telling you

 

  • Are you getting the most out of your SMS?

Have you been using your Safety Management System (SMS)? Review the information that has been entered into your system including reports, risk assessments, and safety profiles. Ideally your entire organization should participate in safety, so check to see if your contributors represent all areas of your operation and not just pilots or top-level management.

  • Reviewing data and trends

With a year’s worth of data, now is a good time to analyze it. See if you recognize any trends, both negative and positive. If you’ve spotted anomalies, try to figure out how and why these happened. Once you have determined root causes you can implement corrective actions for things trending in the wrong direction and keep doing what you’re doing for those headed in the right direction.

  • Check your safety goals

Now’s a good time to check how far along you are in your safety goals and to review goal setting for next year. Have you achieved what you planned? Are there certain things you want to focus on in the new year? Consider what roadblocks you ran into this year or what elements helped you along so you can work these into your plan for next year. If you want to know more about setting safety goals, we’ve got you covered.

  • Conduct a safety culture survey?

In order to keep a pulse on the organization, you should consider conducting an anonymous safety culture survey for your department every year. This way, you can get an honest opinion from everyone about their feelings toward the state of your safety program. You can then plan training and meetings for the next year to tweak the current procedures or communications regarding your SMS.

5. Think about going digital

 

Now might be the right time to think about putting a digital system in place to help streamline your entire SMS process. Consider the effort involved in reviewing paper based SMS data, conducting internal audits, and administering surveys. A digital system can allow you to do all of these with the simple click of a button. Additionally, an SMS app can boost engagement as users can simply fill in their reports through the app when on duty or right when the event occurs rather than hours later.

By considering the above list, you can ensure you’ve thoroughly reviewed all the hard work you did this year as well as actually utilized the data you took the time to collect. You will be prepared for the new year and may find you already have a head start on a number of new year’s resolutions.

The team at AviationManuals wishes you a happy holiday season – please be sure to contact us if you have any questions. We’re always happy to help review your manuals or provide you with more information on ARC, our digital SMS platform and app.