AeroBearings, which had its certificate revoked March 1 in a rare FAA emergency order, plans to appeal the move, with its CEO saying his company was complying with the agency's rules.
FAA's decision, announced March 5, resulted from two primary allegations: AeroBearings was performing repairs without following OEM-provided data, and was approving the parts as airworthy, issuing paperwork—8130-3 airworthiness approval tags—despite the unapproved repairs. Both issues are FAA violations, and the latter is records falsification of records.
AeroBearings CEO Zev Galel vehemently disputes FAA's allegations.
"We have been properly following FAA regulations, guidance and orders," Galel tells MRO Network. "We are not aware of any safety occurrence that could have precipitated this action by the FAA. Safety is paramount in all that we do, and for the FAA to allege that we have made false statements is absolutely false."
FAA in its enforcement letter said two AeroBearings customers called an agency hotline in 2016 and complained about "quality problems" with bearings overhauled at the Texas-based shop.
FAA stepped up its surveillance, conducting inspections in May 2017, the agency's order explained. A month later, the agency requested copies of "work-order packages" on several bearings.
The agency said it discovered several instances where AeroBearings technicians performed maintenance "that exceeded their available data," and then returned the parts to service as airworthy. In one case, FAA said AeroBearings disassembled certain GE CF6-80C2 bearings, even though GE prohibits it. In another instance, the shop performed work on CFM56-7B bearings, removing parts that CFM International's manual says are not to be removed.
FAA said AeroBearings took parts and "removed defects" that led the company to fail the parts during incoming inspections. The company then reassembled the parts, but because it does not possess OEM data, it had no way of verifying that the modified parts met the manufacturers' design tolerances, FAA said.
By completing 8130-3 return-to-service tags without using approved data to verify the parts as airworthy, AeroBearings "made the entries…with knowledge that the work was not accomplished in accordance with" OEM manuals, FAA said.
"The work order packages document that the work performed by AeroBearings went beyond the capabilities allowed by their available data," FAA wrote in its order. "Even without the intentional falsification"—signing the 8130-3s—"revocation is warranted due to the systemic and persistent performance of maintenance without appropriate data," FAA said. "AeroBearings’ willingness to make intentionally false statements on airworthiness certifications shows it cannot be trusted to maintain the integrity of aviation’s trust based record-keeping system. Thus, AeroBearings’ actions as described above clearly reflect a lack of qualifications necessary to hold an air agency certificate."
The most recent violation detailed in FAA's letter—an 8130-3 release—occurred in May 2017. It is not clear from the order if the agency and AeroBearings attempted to rectify the issue before issuing the revocation, or why, based on FAA's allegations, the order was not issued sooner.
AeroBearings, which went into business in 2011 and held both FAA and EASA approvals, has until March 11 to appeal the revocation.
Emergency certificate revocations are not common, especially for repair stations. They almost always come after extensive investigations by FAA, and often after less punitive efforts to correct the issue have failed. FAA oversees about 5,700 repair stations.