No one likes when their purchase does not work, the wrong item is shipped, or it no longer meets current needs – especially when the purchase is for an expensive or bulky aircraft part.
At C&L, we know that requesting a warranty evaluation or making returns can be daunting. We created this article to help you understand the process and responsibilities of returning an aircraft part to the supplier.
What Aircraft Parts Can Be Returned?
A Part Under Warranty
Parts under warranty will be accepted back by the seller. It is important to know how long a warranty is valid. Do not wait too long to report an issue and run the risk of the warranty expiring.
A Part That Has Never Been Used or Installed
Sometimes a part needs to be returned not because it failed but because it is the wrong part or is no longer needed. Unused parts that were not installed in an aircraft may be returned for a refund. Freight and restocking fees may apply (see below). In most cases, there is a limited window of time to return an unused part. If you are outside that time limit, a return may not be honored or additional fees may be applied.
An “As Removed” Part
Parts sold in “as removed” (AR) condition might only have limited warranties or return periods, if at all.
If the part fails on installation and it is under warranty or has a return period, it may be returned. An AR part may also be returned during the warranty/return period if it was sold as guaranteed repairable but received confirmation from a third-party shop that the part cannot be repaired.
A part cannot be returned if it is not under warranty, not within the return period, or was sold “as is.”
A Part No Longer Under Warranty
Sellers will not accept back parts that are not under warranty or return period, except in rare cases. It does not hurt to ask if a part can be returned after the warranty or return period has expired.
Sellers have the final say in accepting or declining a return.
What Is the Process for Returning an Aircraft Part?
If your part fails while under warranty, you will have to fill out a warranty form detailing the part’s issues. The warranty evaluation form needs to be completed for the seller to authorize the return of the part.
Once the warranty form is received, the seller will create a return material authorization (RMA). The RMA will have to be included with the part being returned. You will have a specified amount of time to make the return, starting from the date when the seller authorized the return.
The buyer is responsible for paying the freight charges to ship the part back to the seller.
A Note on Packaging
Some aircraft parts require special packaging to protect them during transit. You may have to ensure that the part being returned is in its appropriate packaging. If you still have the container the part was originally shipped in, you can use it. If not, you may have to acquire a new shipping container.
What Happens Once the Part is Returned?
With serviceable or overhauled parts, the return is sent to a repair vendor to investigate the issue. They will determine whether there is “fault found” or “no-fault found.”
If a fault is found, the seller will validate the buyer’s return and credit the sale price back to the buyer.
If no fault is found, which means that the repair vendor cannot replicate the issue that the buyer described, a recertification fee is usually assessed and passed on to the buyer. From here on, the part can be either sent back to the buyer as is or retagged and put back on the shelf for a future sale.
How Long Do You Have to Make a Return?
The length of a warranty will vary depending on who is offering the warranty and the condition of the part. Manufacturers’ warranties are typically longer than those offered by resellers. Likewise, parts in new or overhauled condition will have longer warranties than those in serviceable or “as removed” condition.
A part’s warranty is usually in effect once it ships from the seller. This means that, depending on how long the part is in transit, the part’s warranty is already that many days shorter by the time it is delivered. If the part fails upon installation, the buyer must contact the company, fill out a warranty evaluation form, have it approved by the seller and receive an RMA number, and return the part while still within the warrantied timeframe.
Some suppliers may extend their warranties depending on the circumstances, such as for international shipping. There may be other situations where a supplier would extend the warranty. It does not hurt to ask for an extension, but whether an extension is granted is at the discretion of the seller.
What are Restocking Fees, and When Do They Apply?
Restocking fees may apply if a part is returned with no issues (for instance, the wrong part was purchased by mistake). Restocking fees cover costs associated with putting the part back up for sale, such as repackaging the part. The restocking fee is commonly 25% of the original price.
Will There Be a Replacement Part?
If the client requires a replacement, it must be requested at the time of the return.
A replacement part is often seen as a separate sale transaction, which means buyers may be billed for the replacement part and pay freight expenses for its delivery.
If a fault is found, the buyer will be credited back the cost of the original unit. If no fault is found, the part is recertified and returned to inventory, and the original cost price is credited back to the buyer. The buyer is responsible for covering recertification and restocking fees.
While this article gives readers a general overview of what to expect when returning an aircraft part, the actual process will inevitably vary depending on the supplier. Below, we outline our process here at C&L.
C&L Return Process
- Request a Return – The customer puts in a request to return a part (due to failure, no longer needed, etc.). If the part is under warranty or is being sent for warranty consideration, the customer will need to complete and return C&L’s Warranty Letter and Questionnaire. Once returned, the sales Team will seek initial RMA approval.
- Return the Part – Once the RMA is approved, a copy of the RMA, along with shipping instructions, is sent to the customer. The customer follows the shipping instructions and returns the part and the RMA to C&L.
- Receive an Evaluation – The part is then sent to a vendor for evaluation. If no fault is found, the customer will be responsible for the recertification and/or evaluation fee and freight to and from the vendor. If the warranty is granted, no additional costs are incurred by the customer and a credit memo is provided against the order.
As Removed Part
If the customer is returning an As Removed (AR) part, the customer needs to request the RMA within the timeframe specified on the quotation (generally, a 30-day return timeframe). A copy of the RMA and shipping instructions are sent to the customer. Once the part has been received and the final RMA is approved, the credit memo will be provided once approved.
As removed parts can be sold in several different ways. Purchasing a part as is may result in the part not being eligible for return. Purchasing a part guaranteed repairable or functional upon installation will often come with a specified time frame for returns. This timeframe can be up to 30 days.
An Unused Part
If the part was never installed and used on the aircraft and needs to be returned because it is no longer required, the customer may return the part within the period offered when the part was sold. The customer contacts the C&L sales team, advises that the part was not installed or used, and requests the RMA. A standard 20% restocking fee will most likely apply but this is at the discretion of the Sales Manager.
RMA approval can be granted by the Sales Manager in most cases. The RMA will be generated and sent to the customer with shipping instructions. Once the part has been received, and once final RMA approval is granted, the credit memo and restock fee invoice are applied to the order.