Two Questions: Who is responsible for airworthiness and where is it in the FARs?

If you ask a general aviation mechanic this question: Who is primarily responsible for the airworthiness of the aircraft? Young or old, he will answer immediately and without batting an eye

Now a couple of comments. Part 61 is a little vague on how qualified a pilot has to be to fly. That?s a little scary especially if you just installed a STOL kit on a Cessna 180 and the check pilot wannabee had three hours total time in a tail dragger and when you talk to him he has funny little lights behind his eyes. So, ask the pilot for his pilot certificate and logbook and check him out before sending him off to test your handiwork. Also, before the engine is started make sure that you have recorded all the work that you have performed in both the logbook and a Form 337 as applicable. Make sure that you stated in the aircraft records that you are approving the work performed for return to service. In the same entry state that before the aircraft is returned to service an ?operational? test flight of the aircraft must be performed in accordance with section 91.407(b). An operational check/test flight means that the aircraft should be tested at all applicable speeds, weights, CG ranges, and maneuvers, and then the aircraft is signed off by the check pilot as being safe to operate within its operational envelope. This two-step approach is required because legally when maintenance is performed that affects the operation of the aircraft, it is a mechanic who, ?approves an aircraft for return to service,? but it is the pilot who, ?returns the aircraft to service.?

Sub paragraph (c) is what I call a by-the-way statement. This sub paragraph says that the aircraft does not have to be test flown if the work performed is tested, inspected, and both show conclusively that the maintenance performed did not change or alter the flight characteristics or flight operation of the aircraft. For example you changed all the tires on a PA-28R-200, you did a gear swing and the tires did not stick in the wheel wells. Life is good and based on the gear swing, no operational test flight is required.

We are almost done. Just to ensure that you can remember what rule in Subpart E talks to ?primarily responsible,? the next time I stand in front of you, I will ask those two questions and I will give a one U.S dollar, right out of my own pocket to the first mechanic who says ?Owner/operator and Section 91.403 (a).?

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