What Makes Up the Inspection Program for Turbine Aircraft? Part 2 of 3

What Makes Up the Inspection Program for Turbine Aircraft? Part 2 of 3 By Joe Hertzler September 2001 In the July 2001 issue of AMT, we discussed in detail the difference between an annual inspection and the inspection program required...

Excerpt from FAA Order 8300.10, Volume 2, Chapter 36, Section 1
C. Large Airplane (Over 12,500 lbs.) and Turbine Powered (Turbojet and Turbopropeller) Multi-engine Airplane Inspection Programs. These aircraft must be inspected according to the requirements of an inspection program selected by the owner/operator. FAR § 91.409(f) outlines various options available to the owner/operator.
(1) It may appear that some of the options specified in FAR § 91.409 (f)(1) through (3) do not involve the field inspector, as they refer to previously approved and manufacturer recommended programs. However, inspectors should recognize that these programs must be either currently recommended by the manufacturer or currently in use by the airline, air taxi, or FAR Part 125 operator supplying the program. This requirement is intended to prevent use of obsolete programs.
(2) Reference to a manufacturer recommended program has led to several misconceptions as to what precisely constitutes such a program.
(a) FAR § 91.409(f)(3) states, "A current inspection program recommended by the manufacturer." No reference is made to the aircraft manufacturer specifically. FAR § 91.409(e), however, requires inspection of the airframe, engines, propellers, appliances, survival equipment, and emergency equipment.
(b) A complete manufacturer’s recommended program therefore consists of the program supplied by the airframe manufacturer and supplemented by the inspection programs provided by the manufacturers of the engines, propellers, appliances, survival equipment, and emergency equipment installed on the aircraft.
NOTE: Because this program addresses inspections only, it does not include service bulletins, service letters, service instructions, and other maintenance documents.
It is important to understand the context of the FAA’s statement here. This is guidance information provided to all FAA safety inspectors to give instruction on how to perform a surveillance action on an aircraft operator operating under Part 91 when evaluating compliance with the required inspection programs.
Because of the detail required by the regulation, it is clear that not only do we need a hierarchy of inspection and maintenance requirements for the aircraft manufacturer, we also need to look deeper into other manufacturer’s requirements when determining what inspections and maintenance need to be accomplished.
Compiling a list of required inspection and maintenance items for a large or multi-turbine powered aircraft can be quite a task. The list of requirements for a typical King Air, for example, can be 900 items long. For a Hawker or Falcon, 1,300 items long.

Mandatory vs Optional for Part 91 operators
For Part 91 operators, the requirement is to INSPECT in accordance with the selected inspection program. Ref. § 91.409 (e) above. By definition (Ref CFR Part 1), maintenance includes inspection; however, inspection is not defined to include maintenance. With this in mind, to inspect an aircraft in accordance with an inspection program does NOT include lubrication, overhaul, replacement of non-life-limited parts, etc. The inspection requirement for Part 91 operators is to successfully complete all inspections required by the selected inspection program and correct any unairworthy discrepancies.
Simply stated, if the specific requirement calls for inspection, the item is mandatory; if the specific item calls for something other than inspection, it is simply a recommendation from the manufacturer.

Excerpt from FAA Headquarters Memorandum
An FAA memorandum dated March 5, 1984 states, "The national policy regarding these inspection programs holds that they involve inspection only. Maintenance is not required and should not be part of an inspection program.
When a manufacturer believes that special maintenance, parts replacement at specified intervals, or overhaul is required at a specific interval, the requirements should be made part of the type certificate data and appear in the type certificate data sheet, or limitations section of the maintenance manual."
We strongly encourage compliance with all recommendations, regardless of regulatory requirements. Other considerations are insurance policy details and unexpected downtime. One of the most expensive costs to an aircraft operator is unexpected or unplanned downtime.
Next month, we will continue our discussion regarding inspection programs and see how placing an aircraft on an Air Carrier Certificate will impact the requirements of an inspection program.

Table of Hierarchy of Inspection & Maintenance Requirements

Requirement Type
Type Certificate Data Sheet
Life Limited Parts
Airworthiness Limitations
Life Limited Parts
Airworthiness Directives
Inspections / Modifications and Life Limited Parts

Referenced Service Information
Life Limited Parts
Inspection Manual(s)
Required Look-Phase Inspections and Special Inspection
Maintenance Manual(s)
Required Look-Phase Inspections and Special Inspections and manufacturer recommended replacement times for parts
Service Information
Manufacturer Recommended Inspections and Modifications
(MAN = Mandatory; OPT = Optional)

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