Image: Maxim Sergienko

A group of companies operating in the aviation retrofit market have formally launched a new alliance that aims to address the challenges that customers face with Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) solutions. Independent Aircraft Modifier Alliance’s (IAMA) founding members – EAD Aerospace, Envoy Aerospace, Etihad Airways Engineering and Lufthansa Technik – announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in January, but are now cementing their commitment to the cause by discussing next steps at AIX.

“IAMA started with a vision and today that vision matures as the founding members officially announce the creation of this alliance,” Mark Haycock, partner, Envoy Aerospace, said at a press conference yesterday. “IAMA is being established to provide a unified voice for its membership – a voice that will vigorously support member efforts that require aircraft airworthiness certification. There is a growing concern that many of our potential customers perceive the certifications coming from aircraft manufacturers as being of a higher quality than those delivered by independent modification facilities.”

IAMA aims to reach common standards for the documentation and quality of STCs, thereby allowing for greater transparency for airlines and ultimately raising awarenesses about the advantages of STC-approved solutions – namely speed and cost of installation. The alliance also hopes to build a more robust customer support network across the different regulatory systems put forth by regional authorities. With its current membership, IAMA is already harmonizing knowledge across the European, North American and Middle East markets, and it hopes to further expand across other regions, including Asia.

“We see IAMA as an educational alliance, as well as a standardization alliance. The main goal is to really raise the reputation of STCs to the same quality that certifications are perceived as having on the OEM side,” said Nicole Noack, head of IAMA, Lufthansa Technik, echoing Haycock’s point about the misconceptions that plague players in the retrofit market. Independent modifiers are held to the same standards as OEMs when designing modifications, both Noack and Haycock emphasize.

Founding member companies have already participated in several workshops to establish the structure and mission of the alliance. Moving forward, they plan to develop a quality label within the next six months to a year that can be used to endorse member company STCs, as well as an IAMA Rulebook, which would lay out information regarding aircraft certification. And while IAMA is being created to address issues surrounding the aftermarket segment, membership in the alliance is open to stakeholders across the industry, including aircraft manufacturers, airlines, suppliers and lessors, which IAMA says, would also benefit from the harmonization of knowledge.

“The aftermarket modifier ecosystem needed a home to discuss our challenges, best practices and to improve our services by delivering a common message to the market,” said Patrick Gindre, sales director of EAD Aerospace. “Together, we have the objective to shape the future of the STC in the aviation world.”