Background for FPM or Rep: This presentation was designed with the GA pilot/owner/operator in mind who may have no idea as to what to they should be expecting from their mechanic. Most pilots think that AW issues are their mechanics’ problem and they are not responsible for anything airworthy about their aircraft. They also have a misconception that mechanics are all created equal no matter what they charge for services. The fact is that some mechanics, whether knowingly or not, cut corners to save a buck. Some even to the extent of being criminal. This presentation contains some tips for owner/operators to look at and ask about when choosing a new mechanic or re-evaluating their present mechanic. To the audience: I believe in giving to you straight. So I may say some things that some of you may not want to hear, but it comes from years of experience that can tell you that some practices in the aviation industry are not good enough. There are some mechanics that value your money more than they do your safety. There are some that don’t know any better because that was the way they were taught. There are still some that have been doing this for years and years and think just because this is the way they’ve done it, it must be the correct way. Then go into the bullet point objective items. Study the remainder of the slides and then come back to the objective slides. The whole presentation is covered by one or more of these bullet points. The objective to this presentation is to let you know what you are responsible for and what a professional mechanic with a good safety culture should look like. Please think about every aspect of this presentation prior to loading you and your family on your aircraft and flying away. Your family’s life may depend on it.
Regulations are a MINIMUM standard and may not reflect all of the best practices that a professional mechanic should do. Yes, he/she should follow regulations, but a true professional will go above the minimum standard as a standard practice of his or her own routine. This will give you a good indication of how professional their Positive Safety Culture is.
Who is responsible for the Airworthiness of your aircraft? You may want to say that the mechanic that worked on your airplane is responsible, but you are ultimately responsible for the airworthiness of your aircraft. This is not only regulation, but it is extremely important you learn how the regulations can keep you out of trouble. Be proactive in your approach to maintenance performed on your aircraft. No one is going to look out for you and your family’s safety better than you. And after your mechanic improperly preformed maintenance to your aircraft, is not the time to find out.
A clean and neat shop area is a very good indicator of a mechanic’s organizational skills. It is also a good indicator of his/her professionalism. If parts and materials are not stored correctly it can seriously effect the airworthiness of the item. For example, if parts are not protected from dust and humidity they can become contaminated with dust and dirt or become corroded. If he/she does not have adequate lighting to perform inspections he/she cannot see any potential problems. He/She is required by regulation to have adequate tools and equipment to perform an inspection/maintenance on your aircraft. As in the line of jokes that Jeff Foxworthy uses “you might be redneck”, “if there’s a car on jacks in the corner of the shop, he might not be a professional.” The same holds true for everything about his/her shop. Another old saying that would hold true in this case would be “what you see is what you get.”
Shadowing of their personal hand tools is a quick way to inventory their tools before closing up panels. Yes, this takes time and a little money to get their tool box this way but it’s another indicator of a mechanic that goes beyond the minimum standard. Although not required by regulation, who would you rather have working on your airplane, a mechanic with this tool box or…
…A mechanic with this tool box or..
…this tool box? Tool organization tells a lot about a mechanic when it comes to attention to details. And as the old saying goes “It’s the details that will get you”. Regulations are a “minimum standard” as I’ve said. Anyone can go above and beyond the regulation to promote safety. The first picture of the shadowed tool box makes it easy to inventory tools at the end of the task. The second two sets of pictures came from a mechanic at a reputable Certified Repair Station. The mechanic is a very conscientious mechanic, however, because of the way he’s “always done things” makes him vulnerable to leaving a tool in a flight control of your aircraft and not even know it.
All maintenance personnel are required to use parts that are traceable and have a known history. These parts should carry some sort of serviceable tag or FAA Form 8130-3 when the mechanic receives them. If the mechanic can’t prove where the part came from or determine the airworthiness of the part he/she cannot use it on an aircraft. Ask to see, or better yet, require your mechanic to give you the paperwork for all parts installed on your aircraft. There are certain materials that have “Shelf Life dates” on them. These can be lubricants, sealants, o-rings and some components. If they go out of date they should not be used unless they are somehow re-tested to insure airworthiness. Parts Manufacturer Approval or PMA parts are parts that are not original manufacturers parts but have gotten approval from the FAA to install on certain models of aircraft. There is a list of effective aircraft that goes with each PMA part. If your make and model are not included on the list, it cannot be installed on your aircraft without further approval, such as a Field Approval, from the FAA.
Regulations state what the mechanic must do as a minimum standard. The next three slides come directly from 14 CFR 43.15. These are great minimum standards but more can be done.
The checklist talked about here must include not only what was installed on your aircraft at the factory but the modifications included after manufacturing. (STCs and Field Approvals) The mechanic must know your aircraft well enough to understand these modifications and verify from the modification source, what inspections and maintenance must be performed to keep these modifications airworthy. When running the aircraft engine, it is not adequate just to start the engine and warm it up so the oil can be changed more easily. The inspecting mechanic must insure that the engine performs to minimum standards as set forth by the engine manufacturer’s recommendations. Some mechanics do not perform this critical function. They depend on the compression check to tell them the health of your engine. Sometimes the compression check alone may not find significant problems within your engine.
Turbine aircraft are the same as reciprocating engines.
Ask the audience these questions: Does anyone know what an Inspection Authorization certificate looks like? Did you know these certificates existed? Is your mechanic an actual IA? Have you ever asked to see your mechanic’s IA certificate? How would you know for sure unless you ask? Did you know that the expiration date on the back of the card says two years, but the mechanic must meet renewal requirements every year to stay current? 4 annual inspections or 8 major repairs/alterations or Oral exam with FAA inspector or 8 hours of refresher training per year.
Calibrated tools are required to perform certain functions to your aircraft. Cable tensions, torquing bolts or components, strut pressures, measuring wear tolerances and avionics checks. Ask if their tools are calibrated. If they are not, this is a sign that the mechanic does not use even minimum industry standard practices. Run away as fast as you can and tell your buddies to do the same.
There are certain tools that a mechanic is required to have to inspect/maintain your aircraft. Such as Aircraft jacks, power supplies (12 or 24 volt). Compression tester to check cylinder compression. Cable tensiometer to check flight control cable tensions. Propeller protractor to check flight controls for proper travel. Ask if they have all of the proper, calibrated tools to do the job correctly according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
If your mechanic has been doing aircraft maintenance for some time this may not be an issue. However, if your aircraft is newer/high tech or made of composite materials he/she may not know enough about your aircraft to properly repair or maintain it. If you have one of these aircraft be sure to check your mechanics qualifications for working on your aircraft. Does your mechanic possess the proper consumable materials to properly lubricate your aircraft. Just because it says on the can “grease” doesn’t mean it goes on your specific aircraft. Not all lubricants and sealers are the same. An incorrect cleaner applied in the wrong area can damage rubber components and could cause the component to fail in flight.
Data could not be more important. Maintenance and Parts manuals have, in some cases, become very expensive to buy and maintain. Therefore some mechanics may not choose to keep their manuals updated. There can severe consequences to not having current repair data. Ask your mechanic if the manual they are using for your aircraft is current. Call the tech support line for your manufacturer and ask then what the current revisions are for your aircraft. Make sure when you walk into a mechanic’s shop you see a maintenance manual open and being used somewhere in the shop. If there is no technical data in sight, chances are he/she is not using it. Also, ask to see if your mechanic has the current manual for your specific make and model of aircraft. One serial number different can make a huge difference between doing the job correctly or not. If he/she is performing a major alteration or repair, be sure he/she is using approved data. Ask if he/she received permission from the STC holder to modify your specific serial number aircraft. If he/she did not get this in writing from the STC holder he/she and your aircraft will be in violation of regulations. In the case of a Field Approval, did he/she get all of the approved data that they need to perform the alteration? If the alteration involves multiple components or sections of the aircraft like structural, electrical or seating upholstery, it may require multiple engineering approvals and burn testing. Check with an FAA inspector if you are not for sure what a particular alteration requires.
You may seen logbook entries with According to the definition in 14 CFR Part 1 the term “RR” means low or medium frequency radio range station. So if the mechanic RR’d a component he did not remove and replace it. These shortcuts in log book entries are a good sign that the mechanic wants to just get the job over with and get his money. He must give you a proper description of the work performed. Although not required, I would ask that if components that were removed and replaced that he/she include the part number/serial number removed as well as the part number/serial number installed. This makes it easy on you if there were to be an Airworthiness Directive issued on a certain component installed on your aircraft. The serial number is always a factor in whether the A.D. applies to your specific component or not. If the mechanic does not comply with your wishes you should probably find another mechanic. 14 CFR section 43.9 requires the mechanic include all of these components for a proper sign off and return to service after maintenance has been performed.
For inspections, these are the minimum log book entry components as well. Note: Aircraft total time almost always is not tach time. And a lot of the time it’s not Hobbs meter time either. The aircraft records are the only place to be sure of total time and usually only after some research. If the mechanic has discovered discrepancies and you choose not to repair them with that mechanic, he/she should sign off your log books as unairworthy and give you a list of discrepancies. You may then take it to another mechanic for further repairs. Remember: If you fly it, you must obtain a Special Flight Permit “ferry permit” before flight.
Pose these questions to the audience. See if they know the answers: What are the differences between Discrepancies and Unairworthy Items? Can you fly the aircraft with open discrepancies? How can this be done? Can you fly the aircraft with open Unairworthy Items? How can this be done?
Basically, with these components in their logbook entries, mechanics will be safe in any court of law to protect themselves and the airworthiness of the owners aircraft. Stress with the audience that these are considered “above the minimum standard” but will keep the owner/operator out of trouble should an FAA inspector ask for the information. Also stress that if something unfortunate were to happen the mechanic can testify in a court of law that he/she followed proper procedures. Explain pertinent AD and why they should be recorded in the log books whether they apply to their specific model/serial number or not. A pertinent AD may be one that covers your make and model of aircraft or component, but does not apply because of the serial number applicability for example. The AD should still be recorded in the logbook to show that the mechanic did not ignore the AD but found inapplicable. This also makes it easier for you to show the AD status of your aircraft.
AD’s are required for the safe operation of your aircraft. Some people say that some AD’s are not important. Recently there was an incident where a 32 year old AD had not been complied with and was missed by 32 mechanics. It was a simple placard AD about not operating a prop at a certain rpm for extended periods of time. The placard was missing. One day the plane was flying along and the prop came apart due to a crack in the blade caused by a harmonic vibration. Luckily the pilot was quick enough and good enough to get the engine shutdown before the engine shook out of the basket. He landed the aircraft and walked away. It could’ve ended much worse. Something as simple as a missing placard can kill you. It is the owner/operators responsibility to keep up with the status of AD’s on their aircraft. More importantly, if you don’t it could kill you.
If he/she does not perform a current AD research of the aircraft and logbooks how will he/she know if something has changed to make that formerly non-applicable AD now applicable? Example: A component was installed at one time to remove the applicability of the AD and was signed off. At a later time the component fails and needs to be replaced. It is replaced by the same part number or serial number component that the former AD applies to. The AD becomes applicable again. Just because the AD was signed off in the logbook doesn’t mean that it will not apply ever again.
To review: Professionals do not cut corners. They will stand up to owners and tell them that their aircraft is need of repair to be airworthy. They will have all the current publications, approved data and approved parts. They will be properly trained and make more than minimum log book entries. Ask yourself these questions. Does he/she have: Clean, Neat, Well Lighted Shop? Adequate, Calibrated and Organized Tools? Both in his/her personal tool box and in the shop areas. Current, Relevant and Approved Data? Use of Approved and Traceable Parts? Properly Certificated and Current? Proper Log Book Entries to Include AD’s? If you didn’t answer yes to these questions, you may need to rethink your choice of mechanic.
Here is a picture that was taken of aircraft pneumatic hoses removed from a Piper Seneca. This aircraft had been inspected by the same mechanic for many years in a row. That owner sold the aircraft and the new owner took it to a different mechanic for it’s next annual inspection. The new mechanic found these hoses and several other major discrepancies during his inspection. These hoses didn’t get to be in this condition in one year. If these hoses were to remain on the aircraft it could cause the static or pitot systems to give incorrect pressures to the instruments. If you’re a IFR rated pilot on a bad weather night, this could kill you.
The main thing to take away from today’s talk is that you as the owner/operator, no one else, is more responsible for the safety of you and your passengers except you. And no one is going to have more at stake than you. Don’t leave your safety and the safety of your friends and loved ones, in the hands of someone that may be less than professional. When you start asking the questions suggested in this presentation, it won’t take you long to figure out whether a mechanic has a positive safety culture and ultimately, your safety in mind.
Thank you for listening and be safe.
What to Expect From your Mechanic
Presented to:By:Date:Federal AviationAdministrationOwner/OperatorsWhat To Expect FromYour Mechanic
Federal AviationAdministration2What To Expect From Your MechanicDateObjectivesTo give owner/operators information on• Who’s responsible for the airworthiness of your aircraft• What you should expect to see• What mechanics should be doingto your aircraft duringannual/condition inspection• What parts and materials shouldbe installed on your aircraft
Federal AviationAdministration3What To Expect From Your MechanicDateObjectivesTo give owner/operators information on• What to ask your mechanic, ie… certification,calibrated/correct tooling, training, current/approveddata• What your logbook entry MUST contain• What your logbook SHOULD contain• How your mechanic should be documentingcompliance with AD’s
Federal AviationAdministration4What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWho’s Responsible?• 14 CFR Part 91.403(a) says theowner/operator is primarilyresponsible for maintainingtheir aircraft in anairworthycondition toinclude ADcompliance
Federal AviationAdministration5What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat You Should Expect To See• A clean, neat and organized shop area• Proper storage of materials and parts• Adequate lighting• Adequate toolingand equipment
Federal AviationAdministration6What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat You Should Expect To See
Federal AviationAdministration7What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat You Should NOT Expect To See
Federal AviationAdministration8What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat You Should NOT Expect To See
Federal AviationAdministration9What To Expect From Your MechanicDateApproved Parts and Materials• Does he/she use approved parts andmaterials?– FAA Form 8130-3– Return To Service Tags (RTS)– Are Shelf Life Items within expiration dates?– Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA)• Are the PMA Parts approvedfor your make/model•Approved for Return toService.• Repair Station LGFR1243Joe Mechanic
Federal AviationAdministration10What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat your mechanic must doIn accordance with 14 CFR Section 43.15during annual/100 hour he/she must:• Perform the inspection to determinewhether the aircraft meets all applicableairworthiness requirements.– Type Certificate Data Sheets (TCDS)– Supplemental Type Certificates (STC)– Airworthiness Certificate (Parts 21, 43, and 91)– Manufacturers Airworthiness Limitations (Time Life)
Federal AviationAdministration11What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat your mechanic must do• Use a checklist. Either the manufacturer’s or oneof their own composing however either mustinclude the scope and detail of Part 43 Appendix D– Including Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) frommodifications (STC, Field Approvals etc..)• Run reciprocating engine aircraft to insuresatisfactory engine performance. This includespower output (static and idle rpm), magnetos, fueland oil pressures, and cylinder and oiltemperatures IAW manufacturer’srecommendations
Federal AviationAdministration12What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat your mechanic must do• Run turbine engine aircraft to insuresatisfactory engine performance IAWmanufacturer’s recommendations.
Federal AviationAdministration13What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat to ask your mechanic• Are they a certificated A&P mechanic withInspection Authorization (show certificates)• Have they met the qualifications for renewalof their I.A. during the non-renewal year
Federal AviationAdministration14What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat to ask your mechanic• Does he/she have calibrated Tools?– Torque wrenches,cable tensiometers, micrometersetc…
Federal AviationAdministration15What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat to ask your mechanic• Does he/she have proper tools for the job?– Aircraft jacks, power supply (12 or 24 volt),compression tester (calibrated) etc…
Federal AviationAdministration16What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat to ask your mechanic• Does he/she have adequate training for yourtype of aircraft or equipment installed?• Does he/she have the consumable items(cleaners, greases and lubricants) requiredby the manufacturer of your aircraft or arethey just using what they have on hand?
Federal AviationAdministration17What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat to ask your mechanic• Does he/she have current, relevant andapproved data?– Current- Manuals from 30 years ago will probably beunacceptable– Relevant- Do the manuals apply to your exact Make,Model and Serial Number of aircraft?– Approved- Is the alteration data approved forinstallation on your Make, Model and Serial Numberof aircraft? Did you get permission from the STCHolder? Section 91.403(d) eff.10/02/2006
Federal AviationAdministration18What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat your Logbook Entry must contain14 CFR Section 43.9(a) says for maintenance otherthan inspections:(1) A description of work performed.(2) The date of completion of the work performed.(3) The name of the person performing the work ifother than the person approving for return toservice(4) The signature, certificate number and type ofcertificate held by the person approving the work.The signature constitutes the approval for returnto service only for the work performed.
Federal AviationAdministration19What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat your Logbook Entry must contain14 CFR Section 43.11(a) says for inspections:(1) The type of Inspection(2) The date of the inspection and aircraft totaltime in service (not necessarily tach time)(3) The signature, certificatenumber, kind of certificateheld by the person approvingor disapproving for return toservice
Federal AviationAdministration20What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat your Logbook Entry must contain(4) If approved for return to service…similarly wordedstatement- “I certify that this aircraft has beeninspected in accordance with (insert type)inspection was determined to be in airworthycondition”(5) If not approved for return to service…similarlyworded statement- “I certify that this aircraft hasbeen inspected in accordance with (insert type)inspection and a list of discrepancies andunairworthy items dated (date) has been providedto the aircraft owner or operator
Federal AviationAdministration21What To Expect From Your MechanicDateWhat your Logbook Entry should contain• Part numbers taken off and installed on• Serial numbers taken off and installed on• Specific reference to approved data used toperform a task• Reference to approval documents for partsinstalled (FAA Form 8130-3 or RTS Tags)• Pertinent AD’s whether they apply or not• Any other comments deemed important bythe mechanic (never too much information)
Federal AviationAdministration22What To Expect From Your MechanicDateHow AD’s Must Be Signed OffONE TIME AD’s• AD number includingrevision date• Method of ComplianceRECURRING AD’s• Everything above plus• Time and/or Date when thenext action is required
Federal AviationAdministration23What To Expect From Your MechanicDateQuestion?• Does your mechanic have to perform ADresearch every time your aircraft comes infor annual inspection?• Is a “One Time” ADreally a One Time AD?
Federal AviationAdministration24What To Expect From Your MechanicDateDoes Your Mechanic Have a PositiveSafety Culture• A Clean, Neat, Well Lighted Shop• Adequate, Calibrated and Organized Tools• Current, Relevant and Approved Data• Use of Approved and Traceable Parts• Are they Properly Certificatedand Current• Proper Log Book Entriesto Include AD’s
Federal AviationAdministration25What To Expect From Your MechanicDateAs with most things in life“You Get What You Pay For”Cracked andCrumblinghoses
Federal AviationAdministration26What To Expect From Your MechanicDate• You are primarily responsible for theairworthiness of your aircraft•But more importantly, you areresponsible for the safety of yourselfand your passengers• Don’t leave your aircraft in the handsof anyone unless you’re sure they are aprofessional in every wayPlease Remember!!!
Federal AviationAdministration27What To Expect From Your MechanicDateThank You and Be Safe!Safety Is Not ExpensiveIt’s Priceless!Any comments you may have on servicesprovided are appreciated. To leave customerfeedback, please visit the following website:http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/afs/qms