What is a Technical Standard Order?
Technical Standard Order (TSO), is a minimum performance standard that is set out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for aircraft appliances and equipment for use on civil aircraft. The FAA can approve TSO authorization for manufacturers regarding specific components. This means that the manufacturer is authorized to manufacture TSO standard materials, aviation parts, and appliances. This does not, however, give them approval to be able to install the piece on an aircraft.
If a manufacturer produces a component that can meet specific airworthiness requirements for a particular aircraft model, as well as have a manufacturing system that assures each part meets the approved design specifications, they can submit an application for TSO authorization. When applying, the manufacturer will need to include engineering documents such as drawings, specifications, diagrams, and more as required. When receiving authorization, the component is deemed to meet minimum requirements set out by the FAA, independent from its intended installation. Components’ TSO approval is separate from their installation due to the fact that they may be used for a variety of aircraft. That being stated, the manufacturer would still need to prove how the installation of the component would be a safe alteration to aircraft.
Sometimes, an application for TSO can be cancelled or withdrawn by the FAA, having two different results regarding the submitted components. In the case of a “canceled TSO”, the FAA has deemed that the TSO is inactive and will not issue new TSO authorizations for that specific component. When this happens, a manufacturer is able to still produce the item but cannot apply for the TSO revision level that they originally applied for. With a withdrawal of a TSO, the FAA revokes the authorization letter and approval for that specific component is terminated, thus being unable to be manufactured at all under the TSO system.
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