In my preceding article, entitled: "The Code: Part I," for this venerable publication, I went over the Code of Federal Regulations — its format, content, and I finished by reviewing FAR Parts 1, 11, 13, and 21. As a closing thought, and in keeping with my personal motto that terrorism is a form of communication, I made a veiled warning to write a second article on the remaining Subjects and Parts. Well, here it is. But first, for those of you who survived my first mesmerizing article on the Code, congratulations! Your sheer courage is duly noted.
For those of you who actually enjoyed the article, I regret to tell you that there must have been a barrister somewhere in your gene pool and I send my regrets.
For those of you who read just a few paragraphs of last month's article and found my words as unappetizing as bureaucratic salmonella, hunker down and try to work though this. Good or bad, it is a fact that we live in a litigious society and someday the difference between spending a day in court or a day out fishing, just might be a regulatory factoid that you pick up after spending nine minutes reading this article.
Now to get started. This second article will delve into some of the codified mysteries in Part 39 "Airworthiness Directives," Part 43 "Maintenance and Inspections," and Part 91 "Record Keeping Requirements."
Part 39: airworthiness directives
Part 39 has a very specific mission. It corrects unsafe conditions discovered in either the manufacturing of the product or corrects a defect that pops up during the product's service lifetime.
Most technicians are surprised to learn that each Airworthiness Directive (AD) is an individual rule or section with its own amendment number. Since we are now up to amendment number 11,017, it makes Part 39 the biggest Part in the Federal Regulations with over 11,000 sections or rules.
ADs are divided into three books. Book 1 has all the ADs issued from the day after the world was made to 1979. Book 2 covers all the ADs issued from 1980 to 1989. Book 3 covers all the ADs from 1990 to the present. Each book is broken down into 5 sections:
• Large aircraft
• Small aircraft
There are three kinds of ADs:
• Emergency or priority letter
• Immediate adopted rule
• Notice of Proposed Rule Making
Because safety is paramount, the emergency and the immediate adopted rule are exempt from the long and laborious rule making process. The notice of proposed rule making travels the same route that other proposed rules must travel. It is not unusual for a proposed AD to be cancelled by the rule making process. This usually happens when there is a bevy of unfavorable comments to the notice of proposed rule making by the public.
The fastest way to determine the difference between the emergency or priority letter is the emergency AD starts with the words "prior to flight." Most emergency ADs ground the aircraft until a fix is made. An immediate adopted rule, doesn't ground the aircraft, it gives the owner a little wiggle room to get it taken care of. Immediate adopted rules usually begin with the words "within the next 10 hours/cycles/days perform the following." The language used in an AD issued under the normal rule making process usually gives the owner months or hundreds of hours to make the fix.
The AD numbering system is straightforward. The first two numbers are the year, the second group of two describe the bi-weekly issue that the AD was assigned. The last two numbers identify its position within that year, and bi-weekly issue.
Part 43: maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, and alterations
Part 43 is where technicians live. There are only 12 regulations you have to learn, but that in itself is not exactly true, there are only 11 that apply to U.S. certificated technicians. The twelfth rule, Section 43.17, applies to work done on U.S. aircraft by certain Canadian persons. Okay, so U.S. technicians have 11 rules or sections and six appendices to work to, but that's not right either. There is nothing in Appendix C — its reserved, so you only have five appendices to learn.
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
My father was a big man, straight from the old sod. He was a lot smarter than I and a card-carrying survivor of the depression years.
Although not specifically defined in the regulations, a repair is maintenance that takes place to restore a type-certificated product to "condition for safe operation." An alteration is maintenance...
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