What is Operational Suitability Data?

A suite of regulatory driven DATA requirements issued by European Aviation Safety Agency EASA.

The following is a direct quote “not interpretation” from EASA.

The principle of Operational Suitability Data (OSD) is that the aircraft manufacturers are required to establish certain data that is considered important for safe operation of the aircraft type. This data will be approved by the Agency under the type certificate and is then used by operators and training organisations.

The data consists of 5 elements:
1- the master minimum equipment list (MMEL);
2- data for training of pilots;
3- data for cabin crew;
4- data for training of maintenance crew; and
5- data for qualification of simulators.

The OSD concept is not entirely new; it succeeds the Operational Evaluation Board (OEB) that already existed in the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA). The OEB was applied on a voluntary basis and resulted in recommendations to the national Aviation Authorities for the approval of pilot type rating training courses and minimum equipment lists (MEL). The novelty with OSD is that it is mandatory for the aircraft designers, ensuring that the data is available to the operators when needed. The OSD is the reference point for the customised training courses and MEL as developed by operators and training organisations.

The OSD is expected to contribute to closing the gap between airworthiness and operations. This will be the case not only for new types, but also for changed designs. OSD will also be subject to continuous improvements. Furthermore it will set a level playing field in the EU for type training and MEL.

The rule package necessary to implement OSD was developed in a long and heavy rulemaking process that started already in 2007. It includes amendments to several implementing rules and a series of new Certification Specifications (CS). The amendments to Part-21 and the OPS and Licensing implementing rules were published by the European Commission on 27 January 2014. The CSs for Flight Crew Data, Cabin Crew Data and MMEL as well as new guidance material to Part-21 were published shortly after that. The CS for simulator data will be published within the next weeks and the CS for maintenance certifying staff data is still under development.

Transition from the OEB to OSD is taking place in several steps. As a starting point all existing OEB reports were grandfathered. For the remaining types that are still in production a catch up is needed before end of 2015. The relevant Design Organisation Approvals have to be updated to include OSD also before end of 2015. Operators and training organisations will have to implement OSD in their training and they have two years after the OSD becomes available from the aircraft designer.

The OSD is a proportionate rule. It mainly applies to large aircraft and where it affects small aircraft the Agency has developed detailed guidance to facilitate compliance.

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