Working with other agencies
"In the event of an accident," says Mahurin, "if there are fatalities, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) will take over, but we all have specific tasks to accomplish in the investigation effort. Many times, if there were no fatalities, the NTSB will let the FSDO handle the details."
Peterson adds, "The NTSB is there to try and determine the cause of the accident, whereas the FAA is trying to figure out what went wrong with the systems and how, through a checklist of policies and procedures, to help prevent the same type of accident from happening in the future."
According to Peterson, interaction with Transport Canada is fairly frequent due to the importing and exporting of aircraft between the two countries.
Schools and IA renewals
FSDOs work with Part 147 schools to develop and revise curriculum, offer guest lectures, and help students review for examinations. Also, both Peterson and Mahurin are heavily involved with the planning and development of, as well as determining the compliance of content presented at the annual IA (Inspection Authorization) renewal seminars in their regions. This year’s seminar in Milwaukee hosted between 200 to 300 IA’s and Long Beach reported around 1,300 in attendance.
"Having your ’ducks in a row,’ so to speak, regarding documentation will help immensely," says Mahurin. "Keeping logbooks current and accurate makes life easier for everyone involved."
Peterson agrees. "We’ve all been out in the field and we’ve pretty much seen it all. When I pick up a logbook and the ink is still drying on the last three entries, it’s upsetting — it’s also time for a closer look."
Both men agree that honesty is the best policy.
"Play by the rules," advises Mahurin. "If you have nothing to hide, then we’ve got nothing to find."
One point Mahurin wants to make clear is that staying current on training is especially important.
"The ’I learned it all in school — I know it all already’ mindset is unwise." He was reminded of a bumper sticker he had seen that read, "If you think training is expensive, try ignorance."
A misconception that Peterson would like to clear up is that personnel at the FAA are inexperienced in "real-life" situations.
"The people working for the FAA are the best of the best," he explains. "We all have years and years of experience out in the field and we have to meet some pretty high standards to be employed with the FAA."
He concludes that those who have a negative perception about the FAA and its mission should reconsider their position and try again to work with the FSDO and not try to go it alone.
"Aviation safety is the main concern," Peterson emphasizes." I can’t think of any FSDO where this isn’t the case."
New Ideas from the FSDO
Rodger Holmstrom, Airworthiness Safety Program Manager for the Alabama and Northwest Florida FSDO, has developed a Powerpoint presentation called "Eye Opener." This presentation doesn’t talk about regulations, but about safety. It discusses how a perceived "minor" deviation from procedures can lead to devastating results. Many who have attended say that the presentation helps develop an increased sense of awareness of day-to-day procedures.
Holmstrom’s message to technicians is that initial and recurrent training is product knowledge. Without this knowledge, technicians inadvertently and unintentionally put themselves and others at risk. One of Holmstrom’s examples highlights how a lack of product knowledge can have disastrous results. The story involves a fuel line replacement, a seemingly innocent omission by a trusted IA, and a bee. The accident investigation revealed a bee in the new fuel line as the IA mechanic had left the new fuel line uncapped over the weekend.
The presentation also stresses the importance of always following a checklist before, during, and after the performing of tasks.
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