TSO, TC, STC, AND PMA for Avionics

TSO, TC, STC, and PMA for Avionics

The avionics development ecosystem is an alphabet soup of acronyms. Learn how to decipher Technical Standard Orders (TSO), Type Certificates (TC), Supplemental Type Certificates (STC), and Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA).  This primer showcases the true avionics development ecosystem.

For Engineers & Managers
So you understand that airborne electronics are part of a safe system, and guidelines exist which must be followed during the engineering lifecycle. Now you’re ready to start designing the system … Not so fast! First, you need to know complete answers to the following questions (hint: the answers are embedded within an understanding of TSO’s, TC’s STC’s, and PMA’s).
a) Can you normally start developing an avionics system without knowing what type of aircraft it is to be installed on?
b) Are there any specific standards which are based upon the functionality of the avionics system?
c) If an avionics system was previously certified for one aircraft, must you always re-certify it for a different type of aircraft?
d) Can any high-quality manufacturing facility be used to produce the avionic units?

If you said “No”, “Yes”, “No”, and “No” to the above four questions, then you have at least some basic knowledge of TSO’s, TC’s, STC’s, and PMA’s. Regardless, the context for answering these fundamental questions is an important facet of understanding the avionics development ecosystem.

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