OEM vs. PMA Parts: What Is the Difference?

Posted on December 9, 2022 James Hinds Aerospace Engine

In the aviation industry, there are numerous standards, criteria, and approval processes that aircraft parts are subjected to. Because aircraft operate under a wide range of environmental conditions and are expected to endure various stressors, the parts and components they are composed of must meet certain compliance measures. However, aircraft parts can be divided into several categories based on how they are manufactured.

Two of the most misunderstood designations include PMA (parts manufacturing authority) parts and OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts. Many aircraft owners often ask themselves whether PMA parts or OEM parts are better. Generally, most mechanics insist that OEM parts are superior when compared to their counterparts, and many choose to opt out of employing PMA parts during maintenance if OEM parts are available.

While PMA parts undergo the same rigorous approval and quality assurance processes as OEM parts, many mechanics still remain skeptical. General aviation and corporate mechanics, in particular, have some concerns regarding PMA parts. To clear up the concerns, this blog will go over the key differences between PMA parts and OEM parts, allowing you to better understand each if you should have a preference.

Price

A major part of the concern between each part type revolves around the fact that PMA parts are less expensive than OEM parts. The price discrepancies between PMA parts and OEM parts seem to translate into a warped perception that safety and quality must reside in the more costly product. Most mechanics will exclaim: “If safety and quality are not compromised, what other reasons could there be for the difference in price?”

In fact, there are many reasons for the difference in price, none of which are related to safety and quality. Many of the lingering concerns arose during the unapproved parts scandals that surfaced in the industry some years ago which continue to threaten aviation safety. Unapproved parts were frequently available at incredibly low price points when compared to approved parts, and it was these parts that were unsuitable for installation in aircraft. Luckily, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) oversees the production of PMA and OEM parts, so such issues are extremely rare.

Safety

According to the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board), there are no safety differences between PMA parts and OEM parts. Presently, there are no accidents or incidents where properly approved PMA parts were considered a contributing factor. There are also no differences in terms of reliability, durability, or quality. Nevertheless, mechanics still prefer OEM parts because they do not have to do as much work to ensure that the part being utilized is approved for the aircraft or aircraft products they are installing it in.

It is worth noting that OEM and PMA part numbers differ; thus, a little extra attention is necessitated to ensure that the correct part is being used. If the cost of maintenance is a concern, PMA parts must be explored as a feasible alternative to OEM parts. If you find yourself in need of either option, always connect with a reliable distributor that chooses to only work with dependable manufacturers.

Conclusion

ASAP AM Spares is a leading distributor of aircraft parts, all of which have been subjected to varying levels of quality assurance measures and flaw detection testing. With over 2 billion new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find items on our database, customers can easily meet rigid time constraints and strict budget parameters. Browse our ever-expanding catalogs and find trusted manufacturers on our Approved Vendor List (AVL), and see how we can serve as your strategic sourcing partner. For questions about our other offered services, call or email us at any time; we are available around the clock!


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