What it takes to become an ODA Unit Member

Congratulations to Meredith Frazier, Staff Engineer at HAECO Cabin Solutions, for completing the requirements for becoming a Unit Member in Interiors and Accommodation in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) Organisation Designation Authorisation (ODA) programme. This designation requires years of work and is similar to completing a graduate degree.


Q:Have you always wanted to become an ODA Unit Member?


A: I had never thought about being an ODA Unit Member. I didn’t even start school knowing I would be an engineer or that I would work in aviation, I just followed the coursework I enjoyed. Even once I became an aviation engineer, I didn’t have a plan to take this direction, but I started to get exposed to the ODA role at HAECO, and with the support of my co-workers and mentors I considered it for my career path.


Q:What made you decide to make the career move to start the ODA programme?


A: I was encouraged to pursue the ODA designation by my co-worker Matt Crisci. He told me about the programme and the role. He thought that I would like it and would be a good fit to undergo the training.


Q:What does it take to become an ODA Unit Member?


A: My journey started over four years ago, with Jose Pevida, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Product Development at HAECO Cabin Solutions as my mentor, along with the ODA team. As part of the training, I had to learn how to interpret FAA regulations and standards. During those years I would review drawings and share my conclusions with Jose and the team. We would regularly submit documentation to the FAA proving that I was developing an understanding of FAA regulations and standards governing products that HAECO was manufacturing, altering, testing, and more. It was a long process of on-the-job training and getting feedback from my team.


Once Jose believed that I was ready to move to the next step, he submitted a letter to the FAA recommending I proceed to the oral examination. During this step, I had to answer procedural, regulatory and general questions from the ODA team. Based on my responses, the panel recommended that I receive FAA designation as an ODA Unit Member.


Q:What is an ODA Unit Member and what is their role?


A: The FAA can authorise a qualified person – an ODA Unit Member – within an organisation or company to issue certificates, conduct examinations, testing and inspection necessary to issue a certificate on behalf of the FAA Administrator, which are functions that would normally have to be done by the FAA. A team of FAA engineers and inspectors regularly audit ODA holders to ensure that any approvals or certificates they have issued meet the highest safety standards.


Q:Does having an ODA Unit give HAECO Cabin Solutions a competitive advantage?


A: When an airline customer needs an interior refresh of their fleet, HAECO can handle the whole retrofit from design engineering to installation. Because we have an ODA team, we can also certify that the new interior products meet FAA standards in that particular configuration on those aircraft. This greatly benefits customers, since HAECO is a “one-stop-shop” – the whole retrofit process can often happen more quickly compared to using multiple partners and not having a concurrent certification process.