VOLUME 8 GENERAL TECHNICAL FUNCTIONS
CHAPTER 5 GENERAL AIRWORTHINESS AND AVIONICS TECHNICAL FUNCTIONS
Section 12 Ground Operator Aircraft
8-541 PROGRAM TRACKING AND REPORTING SUBSYSTEM (PTRS) ACTIVITY CODES.
A. Maintenance: 3350.
B. Avionics: 5350.
8-542 OBJECTIVE. This section provides guidance for grounding an aircraft used in air transportation under the provisions of Title 49 of the United States
Code (49 U.S.C.) § 44713.
A. Inspecting and Determining Unsafe Conditions. Aviation safety inspectors (ASI) should visually inspect the aircraft, aircraft engine, propeller, or
appliance. If a suspected unsafe condition exists, ASIs must use their experience, ability, knowledge, skills, and professional judgment to analyze and assess the identified concern in order
to determine the extent or nature of the unsafe condition. By doing so, ASIs may determine the severity of the condition and its impact on safety.
B. Issuance of Grounding Notice. An inspector must be able to substantiate a grounding action with factual justification of an unsafe condition. The grounding
notice must not be issued unless it is clear to the inspector that, if operated in this condition, the aircraft would be subject to the probable danger of accident and likely to cause injury
or damage to persons or property.
C. Imposing Grounding Provision. An inspector will seldom have to impose the 5-day grounding provisions of 49 U.S.C. § 44713. The knowledge that the inspector
has this authority and is not reluctant to use it is usually sufficient to cause an operator to take the necessary corrective actions.
8-544 INSPECTOR RESPONSIBILITY. An inspector who becomes aware of an unsafe condition in an aircraft that is being operated or about to be operated and fails
to act under the provisions of 49 U.S.C. § 44713 is in dereliction of duty. This duty is placed specifically by Congress upon the inspector rather than on the Administrator. If the inspector,
after due consideration, still has any doubts regarding whether or not to ground the aircraft, the grounding notice should be issued.
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 principal inspector (PI). 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 Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part
121, § 121.363 and part
135, § 135.413), and
they must correct any unsafe condition before the aircraft returns to service.
8-545 PREREQUISITES AND COORDINATION REQUIREMENTS.
· Completion of the Airworthiness Inspectors Indoctrination Course or equivalent.
· Knowledge of 49 U.S.C. § 44713.
B. Coordination. This task will require coordination between the ASI, district office supervisor, region, Regional General Counsel, and operator’s PI.
8-546 REFERENCES, FORMS, AND JOB AIDS.
A. References (current editions):
· Title 49 U.S.C. § 44713,
· Title 14 CFR Parts
· FAA Order 8900.1
Volume 14, Chapter 1, Section 2, Flight
Standards Service Compliance Action Decision Procedure.
B. Forms. None.
C. Job Aids. Figure 8-3, Aircraft Grounding Form.
A. Determine the Extent of the Problem. In order to issue a grounding notice, the inspector must reach the following conclusions:
· The aircraft is not in a condition for safe operation;
· The operator intends to put the aircraft into revenue service in an unsafe condition; and
· This unsafe condition constitutes a hazard to persons and/or property.
B. If Time Permits, Consult With the Principal Maintenance Inspector (PMI)/Regional Office (RO). This coordination must not interfere with any immediate
action necessary to ground an unsafe aircraft that is expected to operate.
1) Before notifying an operator that an aircraft is being grounded temporarily, the inspector may, if circumstances permit, consult by phone with the
appropriate RO through the district office supervisor.
2) If the inspector performing the task is not the PMI assigned to the operator, the inspector should, if time permits, consult with that individual.
C. Notify Appropriate Personnel That the Aircraft is Grounded.
1) Immediately after discovering the unsafe condition, verbally notify the pilot in command (PIC) or other operator personnel, who have the authority to keep
the aircraft on the ground, of the following:
· The aircraft cannot be operated for 5 days or until the unsafe condition is corrected;
· The reasons for the grounding action;
· That necessary precautions must be taken to ensure that the aircraft is not operated; and
· The authority of 49 U.S.C. § 44713.
2) In the event that the operator’s representative insists upon written notification of the grounding as a prerequisite to taking the aircraft
out of service, provide a letter containing as much information as possible.
D. Debrief the RO. Provide details of the grounding to the appropriate RO in accordance with regional procedures.
E. Ensure That the Appropriate Operator Personnel Receives Written Notification. Obtain a receipt for the written notification. The word “received”
as well as the date and signature of an operator representative on a copy of the notification is sufficient.
F. Determine Necessary Compliance and/or Enforcement Actions. Review
Volume 14, Chapter 1, Section 2 and
initiate appropriate action in accordance with policy and established office procedures.
8-548 TASK OUTCOMES.
A. Complete the PTRS Record.
B. Confirm Verbal Grounding in Writing. As soon as possible, confirm the verbal grounding in writing. Include the following information:
· Time and date when verbal grounding notification was given;
· Person(s) to whom verbal grounding notification was given;
· A statement of unsafe condition(s) that caused the temporary grounding action;
· A statement that 49 U.S.C. § 44713 was used as the authority for the grounding action; and
· A statement that the 5-day grounding period began when the inspector first verbally notified the
C. File Copies with the RO.
1) Mail two copies of the written grounding confirmation to the RO.
2) When applicable, provide the details of the grounding and a copy of the grounding confirmation to the operator’s assigned PMI.
D. Document the Task. File all supporting paperwork in the operator’s office file.
8-549 FUTURE ACTIVITIES.
1) Closely follow the action taken by the operator to correct the unsafe condition. If the condition is corrected and the aircraft is made safe for operation
before 5 days elapse, notify the operator in writing that the aircraft may now be operated.
2) If the unsafe condition is not corrected, and there is good reason to expect the operator will operate the aircraft after the 5 days elapse, inform the RO
of this situation. Request that a formal order be issued by the Regional General Counsel suspending or revoking the Certificate of Airworthiness. This action should be initiated in time to
allow such an order to be issued effective immediately upon termination of the 5-day grounding period.
3) Complete appropriate Compliance and/or Enforcement Action activity and documentation per Volume 14.
1) The appropriate RO, after receiving the details of the temporary grounding, will notify the Regional General Counsel as promptly as possible. The Regional
General Counsel will be given all pertinent details, including a copy of the written confirmation of grounding given to the operator by the inspector.
2) If there is a possibility that the operator will contest the grounding action, the manager of the Aircraft Maintenance Division (AFS-300) should be
informed promptly of the conditions and circumstances involved.