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Enstrom has Received its Production Certificate

Working on a helicopter

By now many of you may have seen the good news that Enstrom received its Production Certificate PC. But what exactly is the PC, and why is it important?

Most people are familiar with Type Certificates (TC), which is an FAA approval of an aircraft, aircraft engine, or propellor design. The key word here is “design”. The TC is only approving that the aircraft design itself meets the FAA requirements. Essentially a TC is a set of drawings and data that the FAA has approved. TC’s are transferrable, and although they aren’t always well advertised, at any given time there are TC’s for sale. Enstrom’s TC number is H1CE, and it can be publicly viewed on the FAA website. Supplemental Type Certificates (STC’s) are essentially the same thing but issued to 3rd party companies that are modifying a TC product.

Less well-known than the TC is the PC. Simply put the PC authorizes a company to manufacture aircraft, aircraft engines, or propellers. In practice, it is a complex set of approvals of a company’s processes and procedures. The FAA does not take PC issuance lightly because at the end of it the PC allows a company to put Airworthiness Certificates on aircraft and parts. Unlike the TC it is not transferrable, and it must be constantly maintained with meetings, reports, and audits. (Enstrom has been typically audited 4 times a year!) While this may sound like a lot of work, without a PC every single part or aircraft manufactured must have its airworthiness approved by the FAA itself. That’s ok on an experimental aircraft or a start-up company, but it’s just too cumbersome for a company like Enstrom building dozens of aircraft per year and thousands of spare parts to support the fleet.

So, the TC defines what can be built, and the PC authorizes a company to build it. But how are the TC and PC related? Well, they are linked together on the Production Limitation Record (PLR). The PLR is an FAA document that defines what a PC holder is allowed to manufacture and contains a list of TC’d and STC’d products. Currently on Enstrom’s PLR are our aircraft, and also some STC’s we commonly install in production as options. But if we went out and bought the TC for J-3 Cubs, we could add that to our PLR and start building little yellow airplanes. (To quell the rumor mill…NO, we are not planning to put Cubs back into production!).

More than anything a PC represents a level of trust between the FAA and the company. Trust that we’ll do what we say we’ll do and build safe aircraft. To have received our PC so quickly speaks highly of the relationship Enstrom employees have with the FAA. For our customers this means that every part or aircraft we build will have the full faith and approval of the FAA behind them. The FAA issues a relatively small number of PC’s, and Enstrom now has one!

Dennis Martin is the Chief Commercial Officer for Enstrom Helicopter Corporation. He has been with Enstrom for more than 14 years, working in both sales and engineering, and has traveled to over 25 different countries. Dennis is a commercial-rated rotary and fixed-wing pilot, as well as an A&P/IA.

About Enstrom Helicopter

From Rudy Enstrom’s early designs in 1943 to initial testing in a Michigan Quarry in 1957 to aircraft operating on six continents, Enstrom Helicopter Corporation has maintained a reputation for safety, value and performance. Based in Menominee, Michigan and proudly made in the United States, Enstrom has a rich history for design innovation. The goal is to provide helicopters to the customer’s exact specification and deliver support and maintenance worldwide.