In aviation, Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings (NEF) refers to items on an aircraft that are not critical for safe flight. These items can be inoperative, damaged, or missing under certain conditions without grounding the aircraft.

Here’s a breakdown of NEF:

  • Non-essential: NEF items have no impact on the safe operation of the aircraft. They won’t affect the aircraft’s ability to fly safely under any operational conditions.
  • Equipment and Furnishings: This can include a wide range of items installed on the aircraft, from seats and lighting to entertainment systems and galley equipment. Mainly these items fall under ATA 25.

NEF are those items installed on the aircraft as part of the original type certification, supplemental type certificate, or other form of alteration that have no effect on the safe operation of flight and would not be required by the applicable certification rules or operational rules.

NEF are those items that, if inoperative, damaged, or missing, have no effect on the aircraft’s ability to be operated safely under all operational conditions. These nonessential items may be installed in areas including, but not limited to, the passenger compartment, flight deck area, service areas, cargo areas, crew rest areas, lavatories, and galley areas.

NEF items are not items already identified in the MEL or CDL of the applicable aircraft. They do not include items that are functionally required to meet the certification rule or for compliance with any operational rule.

NEF process does not provide for deferral of items within serviceable limits identified in the manufacturer’s maintenance manual or approved maintenance program such as wear limits, fuel/hydraulic leak rates, oil consumption, etc. Cosmetic items that are fully serviceable but worn or soiled may be deferred under the NEF process.

NEF program

NEF programs are used by aircraft operators who utilize a Minimum Equipment List (MEL). A MEL outlines which equipment malfunctions can be deferred for a certain period without compromising safety. An NEF program complements the MEL by providing a process for identifying and managing nonessential items that are not included in the MEL.

The NEF program evolved from an earlier initiative known as the Passenger Convenience Items (PCI) program. The PCI program focused on items related to passenger convenience, comfort, or entertainment in the passenger compartment, galley, and lavatory areas. However, the PCI program did not cover nonessential items that were missing or inoperative in other parts of the aircraft. Due to these limitations, the FAA replaced the PCI designation in the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) code 25 in all MMELs with the NEF acronym. The NEF program allows operators to use the deferral authority granted by their operations specification (OpSpec) or management specification (MSpec) to provide deferral relief for nonessential items located throughout the aircraft.

The NEF program resides within an operator’s MEL management program. The NEF program encompasses a list of NEF items located in the operator’s MEL, a process for evaluating an item in accordance with NEF requirements, reporting procedures, and policies and procedures for repair or replacement.

NEF Items

NEF items are:

  • Items installed on the aircraft that have no effect on the safe operation of the aircraft.
  • Items installed as part of the original type certificate (TC), Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), Engineering Order (EO), or other form of alteration, not required by certification or operational rules.
  • Items that if inoperative, damaged, or missing, have no effect on the safe operation of the aircraft under all operational conditions.
  • Nonessential items located throughout the aircraft, including the flight deck area, service areas, cargo areas, and crew rest areas, in addition to the passenger compartment, lavatories, and galley areas.
  • Cosmetic items not associated with an MEL or CDL item.
  • Cosmetic items which are fully serviceable but worn.
  • Cosmetic items may have associated fire retardant/blocking requirements that must be considered before approving as a NEF item.

Non-NEF Items

NEF items are not:

  • Instruments and equipment already identified in the MEL or CDL of the applicable aircraft.
  • Instruments and equipment functionally required for meeting any certification rule.
  • Instruments and equipment required for compliance with any operational rule.
  • Items deferred contrary to an operator’s Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP).
  • Paint (mismatched, bad, or worn condition). Note: Paint is addressed in other maintenance documents utilized for determining airworthiness; the NEF program is not applicable.
  • Rodent or pest (bug) infestations of any type.
  • Items which are only dirty or soiled (e.g., carpet, seats, interior sidewalls, dirty garbage can, etc.). 

Repair intervals for NEF

Repair intervals for NEF (Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings) aren’t universally defined. Repair intervals are prescribed for NEF items. Operators may use the current MEL deferral categories (A, B, C, D) at their discretion.

MEL Deferral Categories

  • Repair Category A: Interval specified in the column of the operator’s MEL.
  • Repair Category B: Within 3 calendar days excluding the day of discovery.
  • Repair Category C: Within 10 calendar days excluding the day of discovery.
  • Repair Category D: Within 120 calendar days excluding the day of discovery.

Note: The NEF is part of the MEL, but it can also be a separate document.

  • More Restrictive Intervals Allowed: An operator can choose to be more cautious and set stricter repair times for NEF items compared to the MEL categories.
  • Less Restrictive Not Allowed: Safety is paramount. Operators cannot extend repair intervals beyond what the MEL allows for a specific item.

Criteria for Selection of NEF Items

NEF items may require the consent of National Aviation Authority (NAA) maintenance and operations inspectors. According to the FAA AC 120-125, inspectors will ask the following questions when reviewing items for inclusion in an operator’s NEF program.

  1. Is the item required for the operational rules in which the aircraft is operated?
  2. Is the item required to be functional by the applicable certification requirements?
  3. Does the item create the potential for fire/smoke or other hazardous conditions?
  4. Could the item have an adverse effect on other required systems or components?
  5. Does the item’s condition potentially affect the safety of passengers, crew, or service personnel?
  6. Could the item have a negative impact on emergency or abnormal procedures?
  7. Does the item create an additional workload for the crew at critical times of flight or flight preparation?
  8. Do crew members need to evaluate the deferred NEF item on a flight-by-flight basis?

Approval of NEF program

The Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings (NEF) Program must be approved by the relevant aviation authority before it can be used for flight operations. In the United States, for example, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for approving NEF programs.

The fundamental elements for each NEF Program are:

  • Procedures and processes for identifying items that may be deferred
  • Appropriate procedures
  • Forms to document inoperative, damaged, or missing items

Operators submit their NEF program to the state aviation authority for approval. Once approved, a reference provision to the program is to be incorporated into the MEL ATA chapter 25. Although the NEF program is included in ATA chapter 25, it may address items that fall under other ATA chapters.

NEF List

An NEF list, short for Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings list, is a document that forms part of an aircraft operator’s NEF program. 

The NEF list identifies specific items on the aircraft that are considered nonessential.

The list will include details about each NEF item, such as:

  • Item Number or Sequence Number.
  • Description of the item.
  • Procedures for evaluating if the item can be categorized as NEF.
  • Maintenance and repair procedures specific to the NEF item.
  • Placarding requirements (if any) to indicate the item is inoperative.

The NEF list ensures everyone involved in aircraft operations (pilots, maintenance personnel) has a clear understanding of which items can be deferred without compromising safety.

The NEF list does not have to be part of the standard MEL and may be kept in a form and manner agreed upon by the operator and the national aviation authority.

NEF Example

Here are some examples of NEF items.

ItemDescriptionCategoryRemarks or Exceptions
25-10-A XXAppearance Items:
a. Cabin Interior Trim
b. Carpet / Floor Coverings
c. Curtains / Tiebacks
d. Wall Coverings (including
sidewall panels; excluding
sidewall return air grilles)
DMay be Worn, Soiled, Frayed,
Torn, Damaged, Loose, missing
(must not present a hazard to
pax/crew or impede emergency
25-10-A XXSeat Track CoversDDamaged, Loose, missing (any
exposed wiring must be
25-10-A XXCabin Handset CradleDDamaged (handset fully
25-10-A XXSeat ID number placardDDamaged or missing
25-10-A XXCabin Window ShadeDDamaged, Inoperative

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