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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION
SUBJ: Applicability and Enforcement of Manufacturer’s Data
Purpose of This Order. This order provides information and
guidance to aviation safety inspectors (ASI) regarding the applicability and
enforcement of Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) data listed on the Federal
Aviation Administration’s (FAA) type certificate data sheet (TCDS). Information
and guidance is also provided regarding OEM maintenance manual material, Service
Letters (SL) and Service Bulletins (SB), and other maintenance or flight operations
information including any material that has been identified or labeled by an
OEM as “Mandatory.”
Audience. The primary audience is Flight Standards District
Office (FSDO) ASIs. The secondary audience includes Flight Standards regional
and headquarters branch and division personnel.
Where You Can Find This Order. ASIs can access this order
through the Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS) at
and the public can find this order at http://fsims.faa.gov.
Background. Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations
(14 CFR) part 43, §§
43.13(b) outline the performance standards for accomplishing non-air carrier
maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations on U.S.-registered aircraft.
This order provides clarification and guidance about the applicability of those
regulatory performance standards when maintenance documents and maintenance
requirements have been identified and labeled as mandatory by the OEM.
Related Guidance (current editions).
FAA Order IR-M-8040.1A, Airworthiness Directives Manual.
43.13(a) states, in part, “Each person performing maintenance, alteration,
or preventive maintenance on an aircraft, engine, propeller, or appliance shall
use the methods, techniques, and practices prescribed in:
The current manufacturer’s maintenance manual or;
Instructions for Continued Airworthiness prepared by its
Other methods, techniques, and practices acceptable to the
The language of §
43.13(a) clearly provides a person with three permissible options when performing
maintenance, alterations, or preventive maintenance on a product. Section
43.13(a) does not provide an order of precedence for these three options.
Further, although §
43.13(a) does not specifically address SB’s or SL’s, an OEM may legitimately
incorporate an SB or SL into one of its maintenance manuals by reference. If
it does so, the data specified, and the method, technique, or practice contained
therein, may be acceptable to the Administrator. However, unless any method,
technique, or practice prescribed by an OEM in any of its documents is specifically
mandated by a regulatory document, such as Airworthiness Directive (AD), or
specific regulatory language such as that in §
43.15(b); those methods, techniques, or practices are not mandatory.
TCDS. Consistent with 14 CFR, a TCDS is part of a product’s
type certificate (TC). A TCDS is a summary of the product’s type design. It
is used primarily by authorized persons during initial or recurrent issuance
of a Standard Airworthiness Certificate. It is neither a regulation, a maintenance
requirements document, or a flight manual document. As such, for aircraft holding
a valid and current airworthiness certificate, a TCDS should not be used as
a sole source to determine what maintenance is required or what the flight operations
requirements are. Any language on a TCDS, by itself, is not regulatory and is
simply not enforceable. There must be a corresponding rule to make any language
on the TCDS mandatory. For example, there is a mention of “operating limitations”
on most TCDS. The corresponding rule for “operating limitations” is 14 CFR §
91.9(a) which states, “Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section,
no person may operate a civil aircraft without complying with the operating
limitations specified in the approved Airplane or Rotorcraft Flight Manual,
markings, and placards, or as otherwise prescribed by the certificating authority
of the country of registry.” Without §
91.9, the TCDS requirement to comply with operating limitations would not
TCDS Notes. TCDS notes are intended primarily to provide information
on the various requirements for issuing an airworthiness certificate as well
as the type and location of various technical documents used to operate and
maintain the product. Some OEM’s have placed mandatory language such as “shall,”
“must,” and “will” on their TCDS that imply that compliance with TCDS notes
is mandatory. However, in the absence of regulatory language, or an AD that
makes such TCDS notes mandatory, compliance with such notes is not mandatory.
It would mean that FAA regulations effectively authorize OEMs to issue “substantive
rules,” i.e., it would enable an OEM to impose legal requirements on the public
that differ from the 14 CFR requirements. This would be objectionable for two
reasons. First, the FAA does not have the authority to delegate its rulemaking
authority to an OEM. Second, “substantive rules” can be adopted only in accordance
with the notice and comment procedures of the Administrative Procedures Act
(APA), which does not apply to an OEM.
Life Limits and Placarding. Adherence to component life limit
retirement times listed on a TCDS is required by §§
91.409(e), and a requirement to follow placard instructions is required
Summary. Consistent with 14 CFR, a TCDS is part of a product’s
TC. As such, for aircraft holding a valid and current airworthiness certificate,
a TCDS should not be used as a sole source to determine what maintenance is
required or what the flight operations requirements are. Any language on a TCDS,
by itself, is not regulatory and is simply not enforceable.
Distribution. This order is distributed to the division levels
at the Washington Headquarters of Flight Standards Service (AFS);
to the branch levels at the Aircraft Certification Service; to the branch levels
at the regional Flight Standards Divisions and Aircraft Certification Directorates;
to all FSDOs; to all Aircraft Certification Offices (ACO), Aircraft Certification
Field Offices, and all Satellite Offices and Manufacturing Inspection District
Offices (MIDO); to the Aircraft Certification and Flight Standards Branches
at the FAA Academy; to the Brussels Aircraft Certification and Flight Standards
Staff; to applicable Representatives of the Administrator; and to all International
Field Offices (IFO).
Flight Standards Service