You Got the Power
I know this may sound a little morbid, but I have always enjoyed reading and attempting to actually understand the Federal Aviation Regulations. I have found that reading a particular regulation typically requires reading it several times, and NOT putting any conjecture into the text.
I am not completely convinced most technicians truly understand the enormous responsibility they possess when it comes to performing an Annual or 100 Hour Inspection. The only difference between the Annual and 100 Hour inspection is who can sign it off. Obviously, you must be in possession of a current Inspection Authorization to sign off the Annual Inspection. Nevertheless, allow me to bring attention to FAR 91.409, paragraph (a). This small yet powerful FAR provides the owner/operator a choice between having an Annual Inspection performed within the proceeding 12 calendar months, OR the inspection for issuance of an airworthiness certificate in accordance with FAR 21.
This little paragraph in FAR 91 tells me the inspection to issue an airworthiness certificate, and an Annual Inspection is identical. If you have ever accompanied a Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) around the effort to get an Airworthiness Certificate, you know those DAR’s don’t pass out Airworthiness Certificates like a brand new Airworthiness Inspector with his first box of business cards. That’s pretty serious business to get an Airworthiness Certificate, yet this regulation is clearly advising us the efforts are identical. And as we mentioned before, the only difference between the Annual Inspection and 100 Hour Inspection is who can sign off the inspection; would that not lead us to believe the 100 Hour Inspection effort is identical to the inspection for the issuance of an Airworthiness Certificate?
If we look at the importance of the Annual and 100 Hour Inspection from another angle, and that is the sheer volume of text the FAA has dedicated to describe in innate detail how to perform the Annual and 100 Hour Inspection; when compared to other regulations in the FAR’s, it appears based on sheer volume of text, they are pretty serious about the importance of the Annual and 100 Hour Inspection.
Additionally, we are required by FAR 43.15 (c) (1), to use a checklist when performing an Annual or 100 hour inspection. They even go as far as to provide a Checklist in Appendix D, of FAR 43. There again, given the fact we are required by regulation to use a checklist while performing the inspection, and the fact they provide a checklist, I’m convinced, this Annual and 100 Hour Inspection must play an important role in the Safety of Flight.
The FAA has gone as far in FAR 43.11 as to provide us an example of the sign off for the Annual/100 Hour Inspection, and in the example it states we have determined the aircraft is in an airworthy condition. There is a big difference between a “Safe” aircraft, and an “Airworthy” aircraft. Here is an example of the difference: That ballast placard required by FAR 23.1557 is required by FAR. Unless your Airworthiness Certificate under the “Exemptions” section list FAR 23.1557 “Ballast Placard” as an exemption, and your aircraft has ballast locations, then you have to have ballast placards for the aircraft to be considered Airworthy. Would the aircraft fly safely without these placards, probably so, but in our Annual/100 Hour sign off, we’re attesting to “Airworthy”.
The Annual/100 Hour Inspection is a scheduled event. It’s an opportunity to take the aircraft out of service, slow down, and take a very serious look, at not only items of Safety, but items concerning “AIRWORTHIESS”. The checklist contained in Appendix D of FAR 43, is comprehensive if you seriously study the checklist. The effort to establish and determine Airworthiness is equally as comprehensive. The Annual/100 Hour Inspection is our opportunity to erase all the assumptions and replace them with affirmative validations. Inspect your aircraft, and the items of Airworthiness as if you were going to issue an Airworthiness Certificate.
Please allow me to Thank You for your continued contributions to the Safety of Flight. You Got the Power.