Part 43, eleven rules or sections can be broken down into five elements:
1. Applicability, in other words what Part 43 is used for
2. Who can do work on airplanes
3. Who can sign off the work
4. Record keeping
5. Performance standards
Applicability: Section 43.1 limits its authority to only aircraft having a U.S. Airworthiness Certificate, and foreign registered aircraft used in a Part 121, 127, or 135 air carrier operation. In other words, this rule allows you to work on a German "N" number — a 320 Airbus operated by United Airlines.
Paragraph (b) of this section states that Part 43 does not apply to any aircraft which has only been issued an experimental airworthiness certificate such as an amateur-built aircraft.
This makes sense if you stop and think that by its very design, an experimental aircraft meets no known published standard. It does not make sense for the FAA to impose a maintenance standard on a unknown and hold a technician to that standard.
Who can work on an aircraft: Section 43.3 gives a long list of individuals who can perform maintenance, from manufacturers, repair stations, air carriers, technicians, people working under the supervision of technicians — it even allows pilots to work on aircraft. In reality, anyone in the world can work on an aircraft, either by holding a certificate, or working under supervision of someone holding a certificate. Who can sign a log book: While the entire world can work on an aircraft, Sections 43.5 and 43.7 allow only a privileged few to "approve an aircraft for return to service." Just technicians, repair stations, manufacturers, air carriers, and pilots performing preventive maintenance can approve an aircraft for return to service. Although earning an A&P is an important accomplishment, the real power in being an A&P technician is not so much having the ratings — the real power of the A&P certificate is the authority given by the U.S. government to approve an aircraft for return to service.
Record keeping: If you think about it, technicians have to sign only 3 pieces of paper; however, the A&P technicians have the authority to approve the aircraft/component for return to service in only two out of the three pieces of paper.
The first two are maintenance and inspections log book entries. In Part 43, Section 43.9 talks to maintenance entries and Section 43.11 talks to inspection entries.
The third piece of paper is the Form 337. While a certificated technician can perform a major repair or major alteration, it is an IA, repair station, or air carrier who return the aircraft or component for return to service. Appendix B in Part 43 is the appendix that talks to maintenance entries on Form 337 and maintenance releases for major repairs and major alterations. Let's look a little closer at the entries.
Section 43.9 maintenance entries require all log book entries to have:
1. A description or reference to "acceptable data" used
2. The date the work was completed
3. Name of the person performing the work
4. Signature and kind of certificate held
You may have noticed there is no requirement to approve the work for return to service in Section 43.9. But, the FAA lawyers have that covered. Paragraph (a)(4) in that section says very plainly that the signature constitutes the approval for return to service for "only the work performed." Also, note that the person who signs off the work does not necessarily have to be the one who performs the work. If you have a person working under your supervision, even if he or she is not certificated, you must put down their name as well as your own.
How long are you held responsible? For maintenance work, such as minor repairs and alterations, the technician is held responsible only for the work he or she performed until that work is re-inspected, altered, replaced, damaged, or reached its life limit. In the Part 91 world, the maximum length of time to be held responsible is approximately one year or until the next annual inspection.
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.
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