I have employed a rather exhausting campaign over the years to read and understand the regulations. Why, early in my career one of my mentors asked me if I had read and understood FAR 43? I responded “NO”. He replied back, “how does it feel to be dumber than an FAA Inspector?” Well, I couldn’t stand for that, so I dove into the regulations. Not only did my knowledge base expand, but my career really took off as well. Aside from all the finite details and legal jargon, I realized I was reading the “Book of Safety”. Regardless if the regulations perfectly or logically hit the nail on the head, the global intent is SAFETY. I also accepted the fact I am in this industry of free will. And although I may not always agree with the regulations, I am committed to compliance, because again, I know the intent is SAFETY.
As I continued my research, analysis, and understanding of the regulations it dawned on me, sometimes it’s not what the FAA said in the regulations that matters; it’s what they chose NOT to say that bears the greatest insight. Allow me to share a few examples where the intentional lack of detail actually provides clear and concise definition.
FAR 65.77 A&P Experience Requirements. Notice in this regulation there is no speak to being in the United States, or working on United States Registered aircraft. Because this requirement intentionally lacks the detail or limitations, one could gain their experience on foreign soil and on foreign military aircraft and still meet this requirement.
For the Inspection Authorization Individuals. Reference FAR 65.93 where it talks to renewal requirements. Specifically 65.93 (a) (2). The number of Major Repairs and Major Alterations required to renew you IA. Take note of the very first word “Performed”, not “Approved”. Accident, absolutely not, as they use the same exact language in paragraph (1) in reference to the number of Annual Inspections required to renew your IA. So, if I “performed” 4 annual inspection but did not “Approve” the aircraft for return to service I could still count this activity for the basis of renewing my I/A? The answer is clearly YES, you could. Considering the FAA Form 337 has two blocks one titled “Approved” and the other titled “Rejected”. If I “Rejected” 8 FAA Forms 337 for Major Repairs or Major Alterations I could use this activity as a basis for renewing my I/A? The answer is clearly YES. Could this be an oversight, I think not, because in paragraph (3) of the same regulation they are talking about Progressive inspections, they use the word “Approved”. Again, not accidental, but intentional. Ever consider renewing your I/A based on 8 rejected 337's?
Care for one more? Is installing radio or navigation equipment in aircraft a Major Alteration? Let’s allow the regulations to guide us, reference FAR 43, Appendix A, Airframe Major Alterations. Anywhere in the list of what qualifies as a Major Airframe Alteration do you see the word Radio or Navigation Equipment? NO, you do not. Maybe the FAA simply forgot about Radio and Navigation equipment, I think NOT considering they very clearly used it in Appliance Major Alterations. This tells me the omittance of Radio and Navigation equipment listed in Airframe Major Alterations was NOT accidental, but articulately intentional. FAR 1 definition of Major Alteration advises me it is a Major Alteration if NOT accomplished to accepted practices. Please reference AC 43.13-2B, title page under PURPOSE: “This data generally pertains to minor alterations”…. Chapter 2 in AC 43.13-2b is all about installing radios, and Chapter 3 is all about installing antennas.
The objective here is NOT to foster a band of renegades trying to expand the rules, but to further enlighten our understanding and appreciation there might be a specific reasons something was NOT written.
The discussed concept may be broadened when reading the accomplishment documented on an 8130-3 for an overhaul. In the “Here is What We/I did” block on the 8130-3 if it only said “Overhauled In Accordance with Current Manufacturers Overhaul Instructions”, should we simply ASSUME they conducted an A.D. research on the major component and its sub-assemblies? If your statement of work only requested an Overhaul, the overhaul facility may assume you have either accomplished the A.D. research, or you will accomplish it when you get the component back. I have never seen in any OEM’s overhaul instructions the requirement to conduct an A.D. research, have you? Is it possible to be holding a fresh 8130-3 serviceable tag with a 0.0 hrs since Overhaul, and the component have an open A.D. against it? You tell me…..