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Chapter 7 - Flight Manuals and Other Documents

AIRPLANE FLIGHT MANUALS

An airplane flight manual is a document developed by the airplane manufacturer and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It is specific to a particular make and model airplane by serial number and contains operating procedures and limitations. Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91 requires that pilots comply with the operating limitations specified in the approved airplane flight manuals, markings, and placards. Originally, flight manuals followed whatever format and content the manufacturer felt was appropriate. This changed with the acceptance of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association’s (GAMA) Specification for Pilot’s Operating Handbook, which established a standardized format for all general aviation airplane and rotorcraft flight manuals. The Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) is developed by the airplane manufacturer and contains the FAA-approved Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) information. However, if Pilot’s Operating Handbook is used as the main title instead of Airplane Flight Manual, a statement must be included on the title page indicating that sections of the document are FAA-approved as the Airplane Flight Manual. [figure 7-1]

An airplane owner/information manual is a document developed by the airplane manufacturer containing general information about the make and model of airplane. The airplane owner’s manual is not FAA-approved and is not specific to a particular serial numbered airplane. This manual provides general information about the operation of the airplane and is not kept current, and therefore cannot be substituted for the AFM/POH.

Besides the preliminary pages, a POH may contain as many as ten sections. These sections are: General; Limitations; Emergency Procedures; Normal Procedures; Performance; Weight and Balance/Equipment List; Systems Description; Handling, Service, and Maintenance; and Supplements. Manufacturers have the option of including a tenth section on Safety Tips, as well as an alphabetical index at the end of the POH.

PRELIMINARY PAGES

While the AFM/POH may appear similar for the same make and model of airplane, each manual is unique since it contains specific information about a particular airplane, such as the equipment installed and weight and balance information. Therefore, manufacturers are required to include the serial number and registration on the title page to identify the airplane to which the manual belongs. If a manual does not indicate a specific airplane registration and serial number, it is limited to general study purposes only.

Most manufacturers include a table of contents, which identifies the order of the entire manual by section number and title. Usually, each section also contains its own table of contents. Page numbers reflect the section and page within that section (1-1, 1-2, 2-1, 3-1, and so forth). If the manual is published in loose-leaf form, each section is usually marked with a divider tab indicating the section number or title, or both. The Emergency Procedures section may have a red tab for quick identification and reference.

GENERAL (SECTION 1)

The General section provides the basic descriptive information on the airplane and powerplant(s). Some manuals include a three-view drawing of the airplane that provides dimensions of various components. Included are such items as wingspan, maximum height, overall length, wheelbase length, main landing gear track width, maximum propeller diameter, propeller ground clearance, minimum turning radius, and wing area. This section serves as a quick reference in becoming familiar with the airplane.

The last segment of the General section contains definitions, abbreviations, explanations of symbology, and some of the terminology used in the POH. At the option of the manufacturer, metric and other conversion tables may also be included.

LIMITATIONS (SECTION 2)

The Limitations section contains only those limitations required by regulation or that are necessary for the safe operation of the airplane, powerplant, systems, and equipment. It includes operating limitations, instrument markings, color-coding, and basic placards. Some of the limitation areas are: airspeed, powerplant, weight and loading distribution, and flight.

AIRSPEED

Airspeed limitations are shown on the airspeed indicator by color-coding and on placards or graphs in the airplane. [figure 7-2] A red line on the airspeed indicator shows the airspeed limit beyond which structural damage could occur. This is called the never-exceed speed (VNE). A yellow arc indicates the speed range between maximum structural cruising speed (VNO) and VNE. Operation of the airplane in the yellow airspeed arc is for smooth air only, and then with caution. A green arc depicts the normal operating speed range, with the upper end at VNO, and the lower end at stalling speed at maximum weight with the landing gear and flaps retracted (VS1). The flap operating range is depicted by the white arc, with the upper end at the maximum flap extended speed (VFE), and the lower end at the stalling speed with the landing gear and flaps in the landing configuration (VSO).

In addition to the markings listed above, small multi-engine airplanes will have a red radial line to indicate single-engine minimum controllable airspeed (VMC). A

blue radial line is used to indicate single-engine best rate-of-climb speed at maximum weight at sea level (VYSE).

POWERPLANT

The Powerplant Limitations area describes operating limitations on the airplane’s reciprocating or turbine engine(s). These include limitations for takeoff power, maximum continuous power, and maximum normal operating power, which is the maximum power the engine can produce without any restrictions, and is depicted by a green arc. Other items that can be included in this area are the minimum and maximum oil and fuel pressures, oil and fuel grades, and propeller operating limits. [figure 7-3]

All reciprocating-engine powered airplanes must have an r.p.m. indicator for each engine. Airplanes equipped with a constant-speed propeller use a manifold pressure gauge to monitor power output and an r.p.m. gauge to monitor propeller speed. Both instruments depict the maximum operating limit with a red radial line and the normal operating range with a green arc. Some instruments may have a yellow arc to indicate a caution area. [figure 7-4]

WEIGHT AND LOADING DISTRIBUTION

The Weight and Loading Distribution area contains the maximum certificated weights, as well as the center-ofgravity (CG) range. The location of the reference datum used in balance computations is included in this section. Weight and balance computations are not provided in this area, but rather in the Weight and Balance section of the AFM/POH.

FLIGHT LIMITS

This area lists authorized maneuvers with appropriate entry speeds, flight load factor limits, and kinds of operation limits. It also indicates those maneuvers that are prohibited, such as spins, acrobatic flight, and operational limitations such as flight into known icing conditions.

PLACARDS

Most airplanes display one or more placards that contain information having a direct bearing on the safe operation of the airplane. These placards are located in conspicuous places within the airplane and are reproduced in the Limitations section or as directed by an Airworthiness Directive (AD). [figure 7-5]

emergencies or critical situations are located in the Emergency Procedures section. Some of the emergencies covered include: engine failure, fires, and systems failures. The procedures for in-flight engine restarting and ditching may also be included.

Manufacturers may first show the emergencies checklists in an abbreviated form with the order of items reflecting the sequence of action. Amplified checklists that provide additional information on the procedures follow the abbreviated checklist. To be prepared for emergency situations, memorize the immediate action items and after completion, refer to the appropriate checklist.

Manufacturers may include an optional area titled “Abnormal Procedures.” This section describes recommended procedures for handling malfunctions that are not considered emergencies in nature.

NORMAL PROCEDURES (SECTION 4)

This section begins with a listing of the airspeeds for normal operations. The next area consists of several checklists that may include preflight inspection, before starting procedures, starting engine, before taxiing, taxiing, before takeoff, takeoff, climb, cruise, descent, before landing, balked landing, after landing, and postflight procedures. An Amplified Procedures area follows the checklists to provide more detailed information about the various procedures.

To avoid missing important steps, always use the appropriate checklists whenever they are available. Consistent adherence to approved checklists is a sign of a disciplined and competent pilot.

PERFORMANCE (SECTION 5)

The Performance section contains all the information required by the aircraft certification regulations, and any additional performance information the manufacturer feels may enhance a pilot’s ability to safely operate the airplane. Performance charts, tables, and graphs vary in style, but all contain the same basic information. Some examples of the performance information found in most flight manuals include a graph or table for converting calibrated airspeed into true airspeed; stall speeds in various configurations; and data for determining takeoff and climb performance, cruise performance, and landing performance. figure 7-6 is an example of a typical performance graph. For more information on how to use the charts, graphs, and tables, refer to Chapter 9— Aircraft Performance.

WEIGHT AND BALANCE/EQUIPMENT LIST (SECTION 6)

The Weight and Balance/Equipment List section contains all the information required by the FAA to calculate the weight and balance of the airplane.

Manufacturers include sample weight and balance problems. Weight and balance is discussed in greater detail in Chapter 8—Weight and Balance.

SYSTEMS DESCRIPTION (SECTION 7)

The Systems Description section is where the manufacturer describes the systems in enough detail for the pilot to understand how the systems operate. For more information on airplane systems, refer to Chapter 5⎯Aircraft Systems.

HANDLING, SERVICE, AND MAINTENANCE (SECTION 8)

The Handling, Service, and Maintenance section describes the maintenance and inspections recommended by the manufacturer and the regulations. Additional maintenance or inspections may be required by the issuance of Airworthiness Directives (AD) applicable to the airplane, engine, propeller, and components.

Airworthiness Directive (AD)—A regulatory notice that is sent out by the FAA to the registered owners of aircraft informing them of the discovery of a condition that keeps their aircraft from continuing to meet its conditions for airworthiness. For further information, see 14 CFR part 39.

This section also describes preventive maintenance that may be accomplished by certificated pilots, as well as the manufacturer’s recommended ground handling procedures. This includes considerations for hangaring, tie-down, and general storage procedures for the airplane.

SUPPLEMENTS (SECTION 9)

The Supplements section describes pertinent information necessary to safely and efficiently operate the airplane when equipped with the various optional systems and equipment not provided with the standard airplane. Some of this information may be supplied by the airplane manufacturer, or by the manufacturer of the optional equipment. The appropriate information is inserted into the flight manual at the time the equipment is installed. Autopilots, navigation systems, and air-conditioning systems are examples of equipment described in this section.

SAFETY TIPS (SECTION 10)

The Safety Tips section is an optional section containing a review of information that enhances the safe operation of the airplane. Some examples of the information that might be covered include: physiological factors, general weather information, fuel conservation procedures, high altitude operations, and cold weather operations.

AIRCRAFT DOCUMENTS

CERTIFICATE OF AIRCRAFT REGISTRATION

Before an aircraft can be flown legally, it must be registered with the FAA Civil Aviation Registry. The Certificate of Aircraft Registration, which is issued to the owner as evidence of the registration, must be carried in the aircraft at all times. [figure 7-7]

The Certificate of Aircraft Registration cannot be used for operations when:

• The aircraft is registered under the laws of a foreign country.

  • The aircraft’s registration is canceled at the written request of the holder of the certificate.

     

  • The aircraft is totally destroyed or scrapped.

     

  • The ownership of the aircraft is transferred.

     

  • The holder of the certificate loses United States citizenship.

     

For additional events, see 14 CFR section 47.41.

When one of the events listed in 14 CFR section 47.41 occurs, the previous owner must notify the FAA by filling in the back of the Certificate of Aircraft Registration, and mailing it to:

Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aviation Registry, AFS-750

P.O. Box 25504 Oklahoma City, OK 73125

A dealer’s aircraft registration certificate is another form of registration certificate, but is valid only for required flight tests by the manufacturer or in flights that are necessary for the sale of the aircraft by the manufacturer or a dealer. The dealer must remove it when the aircraft is sold.

After compliance with 14 CFR section 47.31, the pink copy of the application for a Certificate of Aircraft Registration is authorization to operate an unregistered aircraft for a period not to exceed 90 days. Since the aircraft is unregistered, it cannot be operated outside of the United States until a permanent Certificate of Aircraft Registration is received and placed in the aircraft.

The FAA does not issue any certificate of ownership or endorse any information with respect to ownership on a Certificate of Aircraft Registration.

NOTE: For additional information concerning the Aircraft Registration Application or the Aircraft Bill of Sale, contact the nearest FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

AIRWORTHINESS CERTIFICATE

An Airworthiness Certificate is issued by a representative of the FAA after the aircraft has been inspected, is found to meet the requirements of 14 CFR part 21, and is in condition for safe operation. The Airworthiness Certificate must be displayed in the aircraft so it is legible to the passengers and crew whenever it is operated. The Airworthiness Certificate is transferred with the aircraft except when it is sold to a foreign purchaser.

A Standard Airworthiness Certificate is issued for aircraft type certificated in the normal, utility, acrobatic, commuter, and transport categories or for manned free balloons. figure 7-8 illustrates a Standard Airworthiness Certificate, and an explanation of each item in the certificate follows.

Item 1 Nationality—The “N” indicates the aircraft is registered in the United States. Registration marks consist of a series of up to five numbers or numbers and letters. In this case, N2631A is the registration number assigned to this airplane.

Item 2—Indicates the manufacturer, make, and model of the aircraft.

Item 3—Indicates the manufacturer’s serial number assigned to the aircraft, as noted on the aircraft data plate.

Item 4—Indicates the category in which the aircraft must be operated. In this case, it must be operated in accordance with the limitations specified for the “NORMAL” category.

Item 5—Indicates the aircraft conforms to its type certificate and is considered in condition for safe operation at the time of inspection and issuance of the certificate. Any exemptions from the applicable airworthiness standards are briefly noted here and the exemption number given. The word “NONE” is entered if no exemption exists.

Item 6—Indicates the Airworthiness Certificate is in effect indefinitely if the aircraft is maintained in accordance with 14 CFR parts 21, 43, and 91, and the aircraft is registered in the United States.

Also included are the date the certificate was issued and the signature and office identification of the FAA representative.

A Standard Airworthiness Certificate remains in effect as long as the aircraft receives the required maintenance and is properly registered in the United States. Flight safety relies, in part, on the condition of the aircraft, which is determined by inspections performed by mechanics, approved repair stations, or manufacturers who meet specific requirements of 14 CFR part 43.

A Special Airworthiness Certificate is issued for all aircraft certificated in other than the Standard classifications, such as Experimental, Restricted, Limited, Provisional, and Sport Pilot. When purchasing an aircraft classified as other than Standard, it is recommended that the local FSDO be contacted for an explanation of the pertinent airworthiness requirements and the limitations of such a certificate.

AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE

Maintenance is defined as the preservation, inspection, overhaul, and repair of an aircraft, including the replacement of parts. A PROPERLY MAINTAINED AIRCRAFT IS A SAFE AIRCRAFT. In addition, regular and proper maintenance ensures that an aircraft meets an acceptable standard of airworthiness throughout its operational life.

Although maintenance requirements vary for different types of aircraft, experience shows that aircraft need some type of preventive maintenance every 25 hours of flying time or less, and minor maintenance at least every 100 hours. This is influenced by the kind of operation, climatic conditions, storage facilities, age, and construction of the aircraft. Manufacturers supply maintenance manuals, parts catalogs, and other service information that should be used in maintaining the aircraft.

AIRCRAFT INSPECTIONS

14 CFR part 91 places primary responsibility on the owner or operator for maintaining an aircraft in an airworthy condition. Certain inspections must be performed on the aircraft, and the owner must maintain the airworthiness of the aircraft during the time between required inspections by having any defects corrected.

14 CFR part 91, subpart E, requires the inspection of all civil aircraft at specific intervals to determine the overall condition. The interval depends upon the type of operations in which the aircraft is engaged. Some aircraft need to be inspected at least once each 12-calendar months, while inspection is required for others after each 100 hours of operation. In some instances, an aircraft may be inspected in accordance with an inspection system set up to provide for total inspection of the aircraft on the basis of calendar time, time in service, number of system operations, or any combination of these.

All inspections should follow the current manufacturer’s maintenance manual, including the Instructions for Continued Airworthiness concerning inspections intervals, parts replacement, and life-limited items as applicable to the aircraft.

ANNUAL INSPECTION

Any reciprocating-engine powered or single-engineturbojet/turbo-propeller powered small aircraft (12,500 pounds and under) flown for business or pleasure and not flown for compensation or hire is required to be inspected at least annually. The inspection shall be performed by a certificated airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic who holds an Inspection Authorization (IA), by the manufacturer, or by a certificated and appropriately rated repair station. The aircraft may not be operated unless the annual inspection has been performed within the preceding 12-calendar months. A period of 12-calendar months extends from any day of a month to the last day of the same month the following year. An aircraft overdue for an annual inspection may be operated under a Special Flight Permit issued by the FAA for the purpose of flying the aircraft to a location where the annual inspection can be performed. However, all applicable Airworthiness Directives that are due must be complied with.

100-HOUR INSPECTION

All aircraft under 12,500 pounds (except turbojet/turbopropeller powered multiengine airplanes and turbine powered rotorcraft), used to carry passengers for hire, must have received a 100-hour inspection within the preceding 100 hours of time in service and have been approved for return to service. Additionally, an aircraft used for flight instruction for hire, when provided by the person giving the flight instruction, must also have received a 100-hour inspection. This inspection must be performed by an FAA certificated A&P mechanic, an appropriately rated FAA certificated repair station, or by the aircraft manufacturer. An annual inspection, or an inspection for the issuance of an Airworthiness Certificate may be substituted for a required 100-hour inspection. The 100-hour limitation may be exceeded by not more than 10 hours while en route to reach a place where the inspection can be done. The excess time used to reach a place where the inspection can be done must be included in computing the next 100 hours of time in service.

OTHER INSPECTION PROGRAMS

The annual and 100-hour inspection requirements do not apply to large (over 12,500 pounds) airplanes, turbojets, or turbo-propeller powered multiengine airplanes or to aircraft for which the owner complies with a progressive inspection program. Details of these requirements may be determined by reference to 14 CFR part 43, section 43.11 and part 91, subpart E, and by inquiring at a local FSDO.

ALTIMETER SYSTEM INSPECTION

14 CFR part 91, section 91.411 requires that the altimeter, encoding altimeter, and related system be tested and inspected in the preceding 24 months before operated in controlled airspace under instrument flight rules (IFR).

TRANSPONDER INSPECTION

14 CFR part 91, section 91.413 requires that before a transponder can be used under 14 CFR part 91, section 91.215(a), it shall be tested and inspected within the preceding 24 months.

PREFLIGHT INSPECTIONS

The preflight inspection is a thorough and systematic means by which a pilot determines if the aircraft is airworthy and in condition for safe operation. POHs and owner/information manuals contain a section devoted to a systematic method of performing a preflight inspection.

MINIMUM EQUIPMENT LISTS (MEL) AND OPERATIONS WITH INOPERATIVE EQUIPMENT

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs) requires that all aircraft instruments and installed equipment are operative prior to each departure. When the FAA adopted the minimum equipment list (MEL) concept for 14 CFR part 91 operations, this allowed for the first time, operations with inoperative items determined to be nonessential for safe flight. At the same

Minimum Equipment List (MEL)—An inventory of instruments and equipment that may legally be inoperative, with the specific conditions under which an aircraft may be flown with such items inoperative.

time, it allowed part 91 operators, without an MEL, to defer repairs on nonessential equipment within the guidelines of part 91.

There are two primary methods of deferring maintenance on small rotorcraft, non-turbine powered airplanes, gliders, or lighter-than-air aircraft operated under part 91. They are the deferral provision of 14 CFR part 91, section 91.213(d) and an FAA-approved MEL.

The deferral provision of section 91.213(d) is widely used by most pilot/operators. Its popularity is due to simplicity and minimal paperwork. When inoperative equipment is found during preflight or prior to departure, the decision should be to cancel the flight, obtain maintenance prior to flight, or to defer the item or equipment.

Maintenance deferrals are not used for in-flight discrepancies. The manufacturer’s AFM/POH procedures are to be used in those situations. The discussion that follows assumes that the pilot wishes to defer maintenance that would ordinarily be required prior to flight.

Using the deferral provision of section 91.213(d), the pilot determines whether the inoperative equipment is required by type design, the CFRs, or ADs. If the inoperative item is not required, and the aircraft can be safely operated without it, the deferral may be made. The inoperative item shall be deactivated or removed and an INOPERATIVE placard placed near the appropriate switch, control, or indicator. If deactivation or removal involves maintenance (removal always will), it must be accomplished by certificated maintenance personnel.

For example, if the position lights (installed equipment) were discovered to be inoperative prior to a daytime flight, the pilot would follow the requirements of section 91.213(d).

The deactivation may be a process as simple as the pilot positioning a circuit breaker to the OFF position, or as complex as rendering instruments or equipment totally inoperable. Complex maintenance tasks require a certificated and appropriately rated maintenance person to perform the deactivation. In all cases, the item or equipment must be placarded INOPERATIVE.

All small rotorcraft, non-turbine powered airplanes, gliders, or lighter-than-air aircraft operated under part 91 are eligible to use the maintenance deferral provisions of section 91.213(d). However, once an operator requests an MEL, and a Letter of Authorization (LOA) is issued by the FAA, then the use of the MEL becomes mandatory for that aircraft. All maintenance deferrals must be accomplished in accordance with the terms and conditions of the MEL and the operator-generated procedures document.

The use of an MEL for an aircraft operated under part 91 also allows for the deferral of inoperative items or equipment. The primary guidance becomes the FAA-approved MEL issued to that specific operator and N-numbered aircraft.

The FAA has developed master minimum equipment lists (MMELs) for aircraft in current use. Upon written request by an operator, the local FSDO may issue the appropriate make and model MMEL, along with an LOA, and the preamble. The operator then develops operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures from the MMEL. This MMEL with O&M procedures now becomes the operator’s MEL. The MEL, LOA, preamble, and procedures document developed by the operator must be on board the aircraft when it is operated.

The FAA considers an approved MEL to be a supplemental type certificate (STC) issued to an aircraft by serial number and registration number. It therefore becomes the authority to operate that aircraft in a condition other than originally type certificated.

With an approved MEL, if the position lights were discovered inoperative prior to a daytime flight, the pilot would make an entry in the maintenance record or discrepancy record provided for that purpose. The item is then either repaired or deferred in accordance with the MEL. Upon confirming that daytime flight with inoperative position lights is acceptable in accordance with the provisions of the MEL, the pilot would leave the position lights switch OFF, open the circuit breaker (or whatever action is called for in the procedures document), and placard the position light switch as INOPERATIVE.

There are exceptions to the use of the MEL for deferral. For example, should a component fail that is not listed in the MEL as deferrable (the tachometer, flaps, or stall warning device, for example), then repairs are required to be performed prior to departure. If maintenance or parts are not readily available at that location, a special flight permit can be obtained from the nearest FSDO. This permit allows the aircraft to be flown to another location for maintenance. This allows an aircraft that may not currently meet applicable airworthiness requirements, but is capable of safe flight, to be operated under the restrictive special terms and conditions attached to the special flight permit.

Deferral of maintenance is not to be taken lightly, and due consideration should be given to the effect an inoperative component may have on the operation of an aircraft, particularly if other items are inoperative. Further information regarding MELs and operations with inoperative equipment can be found in Advisory Circular (AC) 91-67, Minimum Equipment Requirements for General Aviation Operations Under FAR Part 91.

PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE

Preventive maintenance is considered to be simple or minor preservation operations and the replacement of small standard parts, not involving complex assembly operations. Certificated pilots, excluding student pilots, sport pilots, and recreational pilots, may perform preventive maintenance on any aircraft that is owned or operated by them provided that aircraft is not used in air carrier service. (Sport pilots operating light sport aircraft, refer to 14 CFR part 65 for maintenance privileges.) 14 CFR part 43, Appendix A, contains a list of the operations that are considered to be preventive maintenance.

REPAIRS AND ALTERATIONS

Repairs and alterations are classified as either major or minor. 14 CFR part 43, Appendix A, describes the alterations and repairs considered major. Major repairs or alterations shall be approved for return to service on FAA Form 337, Major Repairs and Major Alterations, by an appropriately rated certificated repair station, an FAA certificated A&P mechanic holding an Inspection Authorization, or a representative of the Administrator. Minor repairs and minor alterations may be approved for return to service with a proper entry in the maintenance records by an FAA certificated A&P mechanic or an appropriately certificated repair station.

For modifications of experimental aircraft, refer to the operating limitations issued to that aircraft. Modifications in accordance with FAA Order 8130.2, Airworthiness Certification of Aircraft and Related Products, may require the notification of the issuing authority.

SPECIAL FLIGHT PERMITS

A special flight permit is a Special Airworthiness Certificate issued authorizing operation of an aircraft that does not currently meet applicable airworthiness requirements but is safe for a specific flight. Before the permit is issued, an FAA inspector may personally inspect the aircraft, or require it to be inspected by an FAA certificated A&P mechanic or an appropriately certificated repair station, to determine its safety for the intended flight. The inspection shall be recorded in the aircraft records.

The special flight permit is issued to allow the aircraft to be flown to a base where repairs, alterations, or maintenance can be performed; for delivering or exporting the aircraft; or for evacuating an aircraft from an area of impending danger. A special flight permit may be issued to allow the operation of an overweight aircraft for flight beyond its normal range over water or land areas where adequate landing facilities or fuel is not available.

If a special flight permit is needed, assistance and the necessary forms may be obtained from the local FSDO or Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR). [figure 7-9]

AIRWORTHINESS DIRECTIVES

A primary safety function of the FAA is to require correction of unsafe conditions found in an aircraft, aircraft engine, propeller, or appliance when such conditions exist and are likely to exist or develop in other products of the same design. The unsafe condition may exist because of a design defect, maintenance, or other causes. 14 CFR part 39, Airworthiness Directives (ADs), defines the authority and responsibility of the Administrator for requiring the necessary corrective action. ADs are the means used to notify aircraft owners and other interested persons of unsafe conditions and to specify the conditions under which the product may continue to be operated.

ADs may be divided into two categories:

  1. those of an emergency nature requiring immediate compliance prior to further flight, and

     

  2. those of a less urgent nature requiring compliance within a specified period of time.

     

Airworthiness Directives are regulatory and shall be complied with unless a specific exemption is granted. It is the aircraft owner or operator’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all pertinent ADs. This includes those ADs that require recurrent or continuing action. For example, an AD may require a repetitive inspection each 50 hours of operation, meaning the particular inspection shall be accomplished and recorded every 50 hours of time in service. Owners/operators are reminded there is no provision to overfly the maximum hour requirement of an AD unless it is specifically written into the AD. To help determine if an AD applies to an amateur-built aircraft, contact the local FSDO.

14 CFR part 91, section 91.417 requires a record to be maintained that shows the current status of applicable ADs, including the method of compliance; the AD number and revision date, if recurring; the time and date when due again; the signature; kind of certificate; and certificate number of the repair station or mechanic who performed the work. For ready reference, many aircraft owners have a chronological listing of the pertinent ADs in the back of their aircraft, engine, and propeller maintenance records.

All Airworthiness Directives and the AD Biweekly are free on the Internet at www.airweb.faa.gov/rgl

Paper copies of the Summary of Airworthiness Directives and the AD Biweekly may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents. The Summary contains all the valid ADs previously published and is divided into two areas. The small aircraft and rotorcraft books contain all ADs applicable to small aircraft (12,500 pounds or less maximum certificated takeoff weight) and ADs applicable to all helicopters. The large aircraft books contain all ADs applicable to large aircraft.

For further information on how to order ADs and the current price, contact:

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Aviation Administration Delegation & Airworthiness Programs Branch, AIR-140

P.O. Box 26460 Oklahoma City, OK 73125 Telephone Number: (405) 954-4103 Fax: (405) 954-4104

AIRCRAFT OWNER/OPERATOR RESPONSIBILITIES

The registered owner/operator of an aircraft is responsible for certain items such as:

  • Having a current Airworthiness Certificate and a Certificate of Aircraft Registration in the aircraft.

     

  • Maintaining the aircraft in an airworthy condition, including compliance with all applicable Airworthiness Directives.

     

  • Assuring that maintenance is properly recorded.

     

  • Keeping abreast of current regulations concerning the operation and maintenance of the aircraft.

     

  • Notifying the FAA Civil Aviation Registry immediately of any change of permanent mailing address, or of the sale or export of the aircraft, or of the loss of the eligibility to register an aircraft. (Refer to 14 CFR part 47, section 47.41.)

     

  • Having a current FCC radio station license if equipped with radios, including emergency locator transmitter (ELT), if operated outside of the United States.

     

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