Sooner or later, there comes a time in every mechanic’s career when a random thought from nowhere hits you between the eyes and burns into your brain. First reaction to such a thought is "What the hey?" This reaction is followed quickly by a voice from deep within, whispering seductively, "Why not get an Inspection Authorization (IA)?" This is followed by a more extroverted sounding internal voice similar to a used car salesman that says "Man, with that ticket, you could be the big guy on the hangar floor," or even better, the ever popular, "You could change your world."
Some mechanics see visions of themselves sitting in a warm office, drinking coffee and filling out 337s instead of working outside on the ramp, stamping cold feet on unyielding snow. Others see a pay rise in their future, so they can buy their kids some shoes. Still other mechanics see getting an IA as an individual step, a natural progression if you will, in becoming a consummate professional.
History of the IA
In the beginning of this IA quest, most mechanics do not have a true understanding of what an IA is, not to mention where the IA came from. For example, the predecessor of the IA is the Designated Aviation Maintenance Inspector (DAMI), who first saw the regulatory light of day on January 15, 1946. DAMIs worked directly for an individual Civil Aviation Administration (CAA) inspector and was selected on a "need" basis only. A DAMI could do everything a CAA inspector could do except process enforcement actions.
Back in the 1940s and 1950s, an aircraft owner was required to have two inspections on his aircraft every 12 calendar months. The first inspection was a 100-hour inspection performed by an A&E mechanic. When that inspection was signed off, the DAMI would do an annual inspection of the aircraft. If the aircraft was airworthy, the DAMI would then issue a brand-new airworthiness certificate. Because of legal actions taken against the government, the 10-year existence of the DAMI was cancelled on June 17, 1956 by the issuance of a new rule, CAR section 24.43.1 This rule replaced the DAMI with the "Inspection Authorization" and all current DAMIs were grandfathered into IAs. At the same time, the yearly 100-hour requirement was dropped and the term "annual inspection" was replaced with the term "periodic inspection," which was now performed by the IA. Private owners now had to comply with one periodic inspection a year instead of the original two.
CAA is now spelled FAA
On April 1, 1958, the FAA took over from the CAA and the recodification of the CARs into the FARs began. During the 8-year rule updating, the FAA retained the IA rule along with its privileges and limitations. In July 1966, in one of the last recodification actions, the FAA made some changes to the IA. At the same time the IA requirements were put in Part 65, FAA dropped the term "periodic inspection" and brought back the old term "annual inspection."
This little bit of history should explain some strange looking entries in old logbooks.
So much for history. Now to the nitty gritty. What is an IA? Why should a mechanic want to become an IA? What makes an IA stand out from his peers? There are several answers to these questions. A regulatory answer would point to CFR 14, Part 65, sections 65.91, 92, 93, 95. Here one would find the eligibility requirements for an IA, its duration, renewal, and its privileges and limitations. If I may, I would like to paraphrase each rule.
Whatever happened to the Designated Airworthiness Maintenance Inspector?
Emphasis should still be on training.
I just completed this year's round of IA renewal seminars.
Bill's take on the two-year IA renewal.