VOLUME 3 GENERAL TECHNICAL ADMINISTRATION
CHAPTER 60 PROCEDURES FOR AVIATION SAFETY INSPECTOR DECISIONMAKING
Section 1 Safety Assurance System: Aviation Safety Inspector Decisionmaking Regarding Airworthiness Directive Compliance
3-4863 REPORTING SYSTEM(S).
A. PROGRAM TRACKING AND REPORTING SUBSYSTEM (PTRS). Use activity
codes 3649 and 5649.
B. Safety Assurance System (SAS). Use the SAS Business Process
and Tools, Analysis, Assessment, and Action (AAA), risk management process (RMP),
and Action Item Tracking Tool (AITT).
NOTE: This section is related to SAS Element 4.2.3 (AW), AD Management.
3-4864 OBJECTIVE. This section provides guidance to aviation safety
inspectors (ASI) to determine if a product complies with an Airworthiness Directive
(AD). It also provides guidance for ASIs when they are unable to clearly determine
the compliance status of the product.
3-4865 GENERAL. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) policies
and procedures require all ASIs to determine what resources are needed to solve
difficult and controversial issues, which will eliminate single-person and subjective
determinations. ASIs are directed to seek guidance from internal FAA resources,
including the certificate-holding district office (CHDO), principal inspectors
(PI), Aircraft Evaluation Group (AEG), Aircraft Certification Office (ACO),
Regional Office (RO), and/or appropriate FAA headquarters (HQ)-level branch.
ASIs should rely on these resources to gather the appropriate information on
which to determine AD compliance and applicability.
3-4866 INTRODUCTION. The FAA is responsible for announcing and enforcing
adequate standards and regulations. Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.),
§ 44702(b)(1)(A) specifies, in part, that when prescribing standards and regulations
and when issuing certificates, the FAA will give full consideration to “the
duty of an air carrier to provide service with the highest possible degree of
safety in the public interest.” Thus, § 44702(b)(1)(A) should be clearly understood
to mean that this responsibility rests directly with the air carrier, irrespective
of any action taken, or not taken, by an FAA inspector or the FAA.
A. Airworthiness. Title 49 U.S.C., § 44704(d) best defines airworthiness
by imposing a two-pronged definition. In order to be Airworthy, an aircraft must:
· Conform to its type design certificate, and
· Be in condition for safe operation.
B. Airworthiness Directives (AD). ADs are substantive regulations
that the FAA issues in accordance with Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part
39.5. ADs are issued when:
1) An unsafe condition has been found to exist in particular
aircraft, aircraft engines, propellers, or appliances installed on an aircraft; and
2) The condition is likely to exist or develop in other aircraft,
aircraft engines, propellers, or appliances of the same type design. Once an
AD is issued, a product may be operated only after it meets the requirements of that AD.
NOTE: Sensitive Security Information (SSI) AD guidance is located in
Volume 6, Chapter 2, Section 36.
C. Alternative Method of Compliance (AMOC).
1) An AMOC is an FAA-approved method of compliance, other than
the one specified in an AD, that resolves an unsafe condition on a product and
provides an Acceptable Level of Safety (ALoS). An AMOC may also change the time required to accomplish an AD.
2) In August 2002, the FAA made Amendment No. 39-9474 to part
The amendment incorporates several standard provisions previously included
in individual ADs. One standard provision specifies that an AD applies to a
product even if the product is modified, altered, or repaired in the area addressed
by the AD. In such cases, an AMOC may be required. Another standard provision
identifies procedures for asking the FAA to approve AMOCs to an AD.
D. Product. Per §
the term “product” means an aircraft, aircraft engine, propeller, or appliance.
E. Method of Compliance Letters. Method of compliance letters
involve an approval when an AD contains statements similar to the following
example: “If cracked skin is found, before further flight, repair the cracked
skin and replace the loose or missing fasteners with new fasteners, as applicable,
in accordance with a method approved by the Manager, Seattle ACO, FAA.” The
Transport Airplane Directorate uses a method of compliance letter to approve
these requests. Method of compliance letters are not covered in the current
edition of FAA Order
Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOC); however, the Transport
Airplane Directorate uses the AMOC letter requirements of Order
as a baseline for preparing method of compliance letters.
F. Change in Compliance Time. Section
distinguishes an AMOC from a change in compliance time when it states,
“Anyone may propose to FAA an alternative method of compliance or a change in
the compliance time, if the proposal provides an acceptable level of safety.”
However, a change in compliance time must be requested and approved using the AMOC process.
3-4868 ASI DECISIONMAKING PROCESS. See Figure 3-174, ASI Decisionmaking
Regarding Airworthiness Directive Compliance, for the following steps.
Figure 3-174. ASI Decisionmaking Regarding Airworthiness Directive Compliance
A. Identify Concern (Step 1.0).
1) When ASIs suspect noncompliance with an AD, they must determine
whether actual noncompliance exists. The ASI should obtain and review all documents
that pertain to the area of the suspected noncompliance. Service documents may
contain information to determine the nature and extent of an unsafe condition
and what actions are required to correct the condition. ASIs should consider the following data sources:
· Copy of the complete AD, Service Information/Service Bulletin
(SB), and any referenced documents. SBs may contain general notes that ASIs should review.
· Copy of any Engineering Orders (EO) or other operator or certificate
holder documents that describe how the AD (or referenced document) should be accomplished.
· Minimum equipment lists (MEL)/Master Minimum Equipment Lists (MMEL).
· Copies of any AMOCs (including global AMOCs) that may have been
issued for the AD.
· Copies of any maintenance records that apply.
1) If the ASIs need technical clarification or assistance to
determine whether suspected AD noncompliance exists, the ASIs should first contact
the AEG. The AEG will act as liaison with the ACO, and will assist the ASI to
determine and understand the technical requirements of the AD.
2) After reviewing all pertinent documents and facts, the ASI
must define the concern so that the matter may be appropriately analyzed under Step 1.1.
B. Analyze Concern (Step 1.1).
1) After gathering and confirming the facts in Step 1.0, ASIs
must use their experience, ability, knowledge, skills, and professional judgment
to analyze and assess the identified concern. By doing so, ASIs may determine
the severity and impact on safety. For parts
certificate holders, the ASI should follow the SAS process.
2)ASIs should visually inspect the aircraft, aircraft engine,
propeller, or appliance to which the suspected noncompliance applies in order
to determine the exact extent or nature of the noncompliance. For example, determine
if an AD was accomplished. If so, then determine if the accomplished work was
unintentionally altered or partially altered.
3) When technical issues arise, ASIs should seek assistance by
first contacting the appropriate AEG (Transport, Rotorcraft, Small Aircraft,
Engine, and Propeller) for assistance. The field office may also coordinate
with its respective region for assistance if a particular problem arises with
an operator. ASIs should consider that the problem may be more widespread and
could be a fleet problem that needs to be addressed at a broader level and be coordinated with the AEGs.
C. Does AD Compliance Exist? (Step 1.2). After analyzing the
data from Step 1.1, the ASI should determine if noncompliance exists. If AD
compliance exists, proceed to Step 1.9. However, if AD compliance does not exist,
proceed to Step 1.3 to determine if there is an immediate safety risk.
NOTE: ASIs should consult with the operator throughout the decisionmaking
process. ASIs who are not on the operator’s oversight certificate should also
consult with the oversight ASI. When first noting the unsafe condition, the
ASI should immediately contact the air carrier’s station manager or any other
person in the air carrier’s chain of command; the responsibility for the airworthiness
of the aircraft rests with the air carrier (refer to part
and they must correct any unsafe condition before the aircraft returns to service.
states, “(a) Each certificate holder is primarily responsible for—(1)
The airworthiness of its aircraft, including airframes, aircraft engines, propellers,
appliances, and parts thereof; and (2) The performance of the maintenance, preventive
maintenance, and alteration of its aircraft, including airframes, aircraft engines,
propellers, appliances, emergency equipment, and parts thereof, in accordance
with its manual and the regulations of this chapter. (b) A certificate holder
may make arrangements with another person for the performance of any maintenance,
preventive maintenance, or alterations. However, this does not relieve the certificate
holder of the responsibility specified in paragraph (a) of this section.”
D. Is There an Immediate Safety Risk? (Step 1.3).
1) ASIs should consider the following questions to base their
recommendations or decisions of an immediate safety risk. This list, which is
not all-inclusive, will be determined on how an individual operator functions:
· Is this a single aircraft or fleet of aircraft?
· Is the concern an imminent safety hazard?
· Is the aircraft prepared and available for flight?
· Is the aircraft undergoing major overhaul?
NOTE: Analyzing the concern in Step 1.1 will assist the ASI in answering these questions.
2) The PI may use the RMP, which provides procedures to manage
hazards and their associated risks. The RMP provides a means to document and
track hazards, and to oversee and evaluate the disposition of associated risks
to continue adjusting the risk assessment.
3) If the objective evidence shows an immediate safety risk, proceed to Step 1.4, Take Appropriate Action.
4) If the objective evidence does not show an immediate safety risk, proceed to Step 1.5, Determine/Formulate Action Plan.
NOTE: An example of determining a safety risk would be that an AD and
associated manufacturer’s SB called for a clamp to be installed at a specific
angle or position in the aircraft wheel well. After several aircraft cycles
the clamp then rotated to a position that was not in accordance with the AD
and SB. This condition would most likely not create a safety hazard if the clamped
item did not cause chafing or interfere with other lines, ducts, or clamps in the area.
E. Take Appropriate Action (Step 1.4).
1) Notification. After identifying the noncompliance as an immediate
safety risk, ASIs notify the CHDO, PI, and their Front Line Manager (FLM). The
responsible CHDO PI will take the steps for notification within airline management, region, AEG, ACO, and office manager.
2) Inspector Action. If the affected aircraft is allowed to continue
in service, the ASI takes the appropriate steps to mitigate the safety risk.
This step can be as simple as notifying responsible operator personnel (e.g.,
captain, station manager, and lead mechanic) of the concern and observing operator/air
carrier action. The ASI may also exercise FAA authority contained in
Volume 8, Chapter 5, Sections 5 and 12.
F. Determine/Formulate Action Plan (Step 1.5).
The CHDO PI, in collaboration with the finding ASI, will start
gathering data and start formulating an action plan that would help operators
bring their aircraft into compliance. The CHDO PI may elect to continue the
action plan within the CHDO. In this case, the finding ASI will gather all relevant
data, documents, and pictures, and provide them to the CHDO PI.
2) The CHDO PI will formulate a strategy for correction and/or
mitigation. Consideration should be given to the data sources identified in Step 1.0.
3) ASIs should review all documents to determine the nature and
extent of the unsafe condition and the nature and extent of the actions required
to fix it. If the identified noncompliance does not affect safety, discuss with
the AEG and ACO if an AMOC is appropriate.
4) CHDO PIs should contact the applicable AEG for technical assistance.
The AEG acts as a subject matter expert (SME) for delegated type aircraft and
will work with the applicable ACO to resolve compliance issues. If further technical
clarification is needed with the content of an AD and its SBs, the AEG will act as a liaison with the appropriate ACO.
5) As information becomes available, the CHDO PI may use the RMP.
6) To understand the scope of noncompliance, ASIs should also use this step to:
a) Identify and analyze any hazards in the operator’s operating environment
or systems to decide if noncompliance is an isolated incident, systemic problem,
regulatory noncompliance, or airworthiness issue. Noncompliance could apply to ADs, engineering authorizations, etc.
b) Determine if the noncompliance may be more widespread (e.g., a fleet
problem) that needs to be addressed at a broader level and be coordinated with the AEGs.
c) Determine if other aircraft have been transferred or sold to another
operator for possible notification concerning the AD noncompliance.
G. Technical Assistance Needed? (Step 1.6). The CHDO PI from
the previous step determines what technical assistance is needed. For all aircraft
engine and propeller engineering assistance, including any question over technical
compliance, the AEG will be the first organization contacted to liaise with
the ACO and/or the manufacturer.
H. Contact AEG, ACO, Region, etc. (Step 1.7). The CHDO PI identifies
each area of expertise required and initiates the contact to gather additional
data and expertise to resolve the item of concern. In highly visible situations,
all parties (AEG, CHDO, and ACO) should conduct conference calls to ensure information
is understood and an action plan is agreed upon.
I. Develop and Implement Action Plan (Step 1.8).
1) The CHDO PI implements corrective and/or mitigation strategies
to ensure that the operator/air carrier addresses the identified hazard and
unacceptable levels of risk. At this stage and after consultations, the action
plan is developed, finalized, and then implemented to correct or mitigate the AD noncompliance.
2) The operator carries out the corrective action or mitigation
strategy with the CHDO. This process is usually an agreed-upon methodology with
the operator and the CHDO. The PI must identify the necessary actions to oversee
the operator’s correction or mitigation of the hazard and associated levels
of risk. The PI must also track and follow up on the operator’s corrective actions
and should use one or more of the following tools to do so:
b) SAS. Follow guidance on the use of these tools in Volume 10.
J. Task Outcomes, Document Findings (Step 1.9).
1) Complete the PTRS Record.
a) Use the appropriate Organizational Technical Administration or Aircraft
and Equipment PTRS activity code.
b) Record the activity results.
2) Complete the SAS Process. Use the appropriate SAS business
processes for recording the data collection activities (see Volume 10).
NOTE: ASIs will document any other information as determined by local,
regional, or national guidance.
3) Complete Compliance and/or Enforcement Actions. Take and document other
appropriate actions used to correct safety issues or deviations from a regulation or a standard.
· Compliance Action (see
Volume 14, Chapter 1, Section 2,
Compliance Action Decision Procedure);
· Administrative or Legal Enforcement Action,
if deviations are caused by intentional, reckless, or criminal behavior, or if the person(s) is incapable, or unwilling to cooperate (see
Volume 14, Chapter 1, Section 2
and FAA Order
FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program).
3-4869 REFERENCES, FORMS, AND JOB AIDS.
A. References (current editions):
· Advisory Circular (AC)
· Aircraft Certification Service (AIR)
Quality Management System (QMS) documents available on the AIR QMS Web site at
· FAA Order
8040.1, Airworthiness Directives.
· FAA-IR-M-8040.1, Airworthiness Directives Manual.
· FAA Order
Alternative Methods of Compliance (AMOC) (refer to AMOCs and the 24/7 process).
· Volume 10, Safety Assurance System.
· Volume 14, Compliance and Enforcement.
· FAA Order
2150.3, FAA Compliance and Enforcement Program.
B. Forms. None.
C. Job Aids. None.
3-4870 FUTURE ACTIVITIES. If the inspectors noted deficiencies during
the operator’s corrective action, they should conduct followup inspections as necessary.
RESERVED. Paragraphs 3-4871 through 3-4874.