Maintenance Records

An inspection program for a large or multi-turbine powered airplane or turbine-powered rotorcraft will generally consist of the following types of inspections: look-phase inspections and special inspections which Joe Hertzler describes in Part 2 of this...

Part 1 of this story on what aircraft maintenance records are required for an aircraft owner/operator (14 CFR Part 91.417) appeared in the November/December 2005 issue which can be found in our article archives at

Inspection Status

14 CFR Part 91.417 (a)(2)(iv) The current inspection status of the aircraft, including the time since the last inspection required by the inspection program under which the aircraft and its appliances are maintained.

14 CFR Part 91.417 is applicable to all aircraft operating under Part 91. Therefore, it is here that we must discuss the difference in inspection requirements based on aircraft complexity. 14 CFR Part 91.409 contains two specific sections that should be more clearly defined.

91.409(a)(b)(c) and (d) refer to annual, 100-hour and progressive inspection programs and is directed toward smaller aircraft. The real distinction and separation line is found in 91.409(e). It applies specifically to “Large airplanes (12,500-pound max gross take- off weight, regardless of mode of power), turbojet multi-engine airplanes (regardless of weight class), turbo-propeller powered multi-engine airplanes (regardless of weight class), and turbine-powered rotor craft (regardless of number of engines or weight class),” Thus, every other type of aircraft falls under 91.409(a) through (d).

The significance here is that the inspection requirements for the larger more complex aircraft are no longer as simple as an annual inspection in scope and detail (Ref 14 CFR Part 43 Appendix D). The scope and detail of the inspection(s) required for these aircraft is that offered by the manufacturer of the airframe, engines, propellers, rotors, appliances, survival equipment, and emergency equipment, or a similar program that has been submitted to the FAA for evaluation and approval either by the owner of the aircraft (owner’s program) or an air carrier. A program that has been submitted by an air carrier and approved by the FAA for an identical aircraft model may be used by an operator under 14 CFR Part 91. In such cases, the air carrier who owns the inspection program must continue to operate an aircraft of the same make model that is subject to the same approved inspection program under their certificate thus keeping the program active (Ref 14 CFR Part 91.409(f)(1) and (2)).

Having gone through that detailed explanation, we can now see that the “current inspection status of the aircraft” can be a bit more complicated than we first thought. An inspection program for a large or multi-turbine powered airplane or turbine-powered rotorcraft will generally consist of the following types of inspections:

  • Look-phase inspections (“A” Check, Phase 2, 300-hour/12-month, etc.) — consists of several inspection tasks in several different areas of the aircraft due at the same frequency interval. The items contained in a look-phase inspection are generally listed on an inspection guide to help keep track of items as they are inspected. Don’t forget those look-phase inspections called out by the manufacturer of the engines, props, etc. They are also required as a part of a complete inspection
  • Special inspections — Where each specific inspection item is independent of other special inspection items. Special inspection items are not generally included on look-phase inspection guides. Special inspections are required at intervals other than look-phase inspection intervals, or derivatives thereof, for the aircraft and therefore don’t fit into the look-phase inspection cycle. Again, the manufacturers of the engines, propellers, etc., will likely have special inspections that must be accomplished in addition to those called out by the airframe manufacturer.

A list of required inspections for a large or multi- turbine powered aircraft includes many items and many different inspection intervals. Often, the special inspections are also based upon landings or cycles on an aircraft, again, reinforcing the need to track total cycles as well as total times.

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