The Ultimate Test: Inspection Authorization renewal

I just completed this year's round of IA renewal seminars.

I just completed this year's round of IA renewal seminars. In nine weeks I visited 12 cities nationwide, tested the comfort of 33 jump seats, talked a total of 62 hours on regulations, and anesthetized by actual count 3,898 mechanics with my bureaucratic vocabulary and creative use of regulatory imagery.

But it was a hard nine weeks and I will need time to recover. I turned 59 in March, and found that I just don't bounce back anymore from these trips like I did when I was 58.

In March, as I sat strapped in a jump seat sitting upright like a baby in a high chair, I wondered if there was an easier way to do the IA renewal. I considered making the IA certificate a two-year authorization rather than a one-year. It made sense, good for the IA and good for the FSDO, but that two-year idea was shot down in the Part 66 notice of proposed rulemaking three years ago. Next, I figured that the pain of an IA renewal could be spread out over a year, like a progressive inspection, but getting all the IAs to four meetings a year is 10 times as difficult as getting them to one.

Short of rulemaking, the only other option left to the FSDO inspector and the IA for renewal is the oral test. But can you give an oral test to a large number of IAs? Yes you can. I watched the Rochester FSDO give most of their 188 IAs an oral test. Rochester's IA meeting lasted about five hours, and during the presentations, FSDO inspectors would tap an IA on the shoulder and they would disappear in a side room for about 10 minutes, and then another IA would be selected. The FSDO started this rather unique way of getting the IA renewed using a shorter IA renewal session coupled with an oral test because of the long distances the IAs have to travel to Rochester, usually over snow slick roads.

Flying to Philly, with a connection to MSP, I wondered, could this be done on a nationwide scale? The specific regulation that allows an oral test for IA renewal is section 65.93(a)(5). The rule states that a FAA inspector can give an oral test to determine that the applicant's knowledge of applicable regulations and standards is current. I checked FAA Order 8300.10, FAA Airworthiness Inspector's Handbook, and it provided no guidance on the length or subjects covered for the oral exam. What if I could design an Ultimate Oral Test? What would it look like? Despite being worn to a frazzle, I thought about it and here it is. The first part are the test questions, the second part are the answers. To see how good you think you are, cover up the answers and give it your best shot. If you can pass this, you can past any oral test given by any inspector anywhere.


1.The airworthiness certificate is the most important document in the aircraft. True or False? Why?
2. What regulations are required to be complied with for the airworthiness certificate to remain effective?
3. How long are you held responsible for the airworthiness of a repair performed under Part 43?
4. How long are you held responsible for the airworthiness of an inspection performed under Part 43 and Part 91?
5. What kind of Field Approval requires Instructions for Continued Airworthiness?
6. Define the word "Airworthy."
7. Name four privileges of an Inspection Authorization (IA).
8. Name the three kinds of Airworthiness Directives?
9. A mechanic hands you a Form 337 for a major repair, you examine the work and determine it to be unairworthy, the mechanic will not correct it and says he will go to another IA. What do you do next?
10. A new rule in Part 43 went into effect on April 15, 2002. What requirements or standards does it speak to?


1. False. The most important document is the registration certificate. If you check the airworthiness certificate Block 1, it asks for the N number of the aircraft. Also, in Block 6, Terms and Conditions, the Airworthiness Certificate requires that, in order for the certificate to be effective, the aircraft must be registered in the United States. So the registration is the most important, because no other U.S. airworthiness certificate or radio license can be issued to an aircraft unless it is U.S. registered.

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