The code - Part I

Early on in my aviation career, as a young mechanic with hair, I kept hearing about and just as quickly forgot about, the code.


So, once again we have titles, chapters, subchapters, parts, subparts, and sections. The government has a unique way or code on how each part, subpart, and section is identified. The code works like this. Title 14, Chapter 1, Part 39, Subpart A, Section 39.1.

Have you noticed the code starting with parts is numerical, then Subpart A (alphabetical), then Section 43.13, (numerical)? You'd almost think they planned that way!

In addition, have you noticed that the FAA fills up odd number parts such as Part 1, 11, 21, 43, 91, 121, 145, etc. first? So, with a few exceptions of the 199 parts assigned to the Federal Aviation Regulations, only slightly more than half (106) of the parts assigned to the FAA are being used. With that much empty space available, I like to think that the designers of the code built in bureaucratic job security for people like me.

The same identification scheme that is used to identify FAR parts from one another is also used within each part. Each original individual section or rule is identified with an odd number, e.g. 21.95 or 43.1. You can tell a new rule (Part 66) or Section (43.12) if it has an even number.

Now, before I am touted as journalism's answer to Nytol®, why am I subjecting you to this tome on the "code"? My intent for the next few articles is to go over in-depth, some little known facts about the regulations that set the standards that you earn your living by.

Part 1: definitions and abbreviations
Part 1 is your aviation dictionary. If you ever get a bureaucratic valentine from the local FSDO that may impact on your certificate, make sure you double check the aviation dictionary (Part 1) for the proper, legal definition of the words used in the letter of investigation. Words like maintenance, total time, appliance, airframe, most likely have a totally different legal meaning than what you have been taught to believe.

Also, take a look into a little heard of section, Section 1.3: Rules of Construction. This section, defines the way "words" are used in the rest of the Federal Aviation Regulations. For example, words importing (referring to) the singular include the plural and vice a versa. Words importing the masculine gender include the feminine. The word shall is used in an imperative sense. The word may is used in a permissive sense. Such as a person may or may not be authorized, or permitted to do the act prescribed. Finally, the word includes means "includes, but is not limited to."

Part 11: General rulemaking procedures
I have written several articles on this Part, but it bears repeating because in Subpart C of this Part is where the average guy and gal has regulatory authority to change the way the FAA does business by requesting a rulemaking action.

The average citizen has the power, as written in Title 14, Chapter 1, Part 11 to petition the FAA to make a rule, change an existing one, or delete a rule altogether. Especially handy to the student of FAR, is Section 11.25, which explains not only the rulemaking process, but explains how to obtain an exemption from one or more rules.

Part 13: investigative and enforcement procedures
In numerous safety seminars, I have given on FAA regulations, by far the majority of mechanics agree on this one statement of mine: "Mechanics look at the regulations only three times in their lives — when they study for the A&P test, when they want something from the FAA such as an IA or a Repair Station, and when they are in trouble."

Part 13 is where mechanics should go first when they get a letter of investigation from the FAA. More importantly, if you have to get an attorney to defend you, make sure the guy you are paying $200 an hour to has read Part 13. If the lawyer says he knows it, test him on it, you might embarrass him in private, but better him than you in front of an administrative law judge.

If you could sit with me in my cubicle of power, you would be surprised at the number of lawyers that call me in a week. After I successfully make them identify themselves as a lawyer, (they are easy to spot), the conversation quickly turns into a question and answer session that focuses on what to do next for their client.

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