Mandatory Service Bulletins

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AskBob
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Mandatory Service Bulletins

If a manufacturer indicates a particular service bulletin is MANDATORY but the FAA does not consider the situation severe enough to issue an AD, is the A&P or IA required to comply with the bulletin?  Case in point Teledyne Continental Service Bulletin SB97-6A, Mandatory Replacement Parts.

I received this question by email and posted it to get members feedback on this important subject

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amonticue
amonticue's picture

In my very unqualified opinion, manufacturers do not have the authority to make federal law. They can say that the SB is mandatory, but unless it's backed up by an AD, then all that means is that failure to comply will invalidate warranties and exculpate Teledyne from responsibility.

If you were to attempt to take Teledyne to court because their engine failed and people died, Teledyne's defense could be, "Well, you didn't comply with this mandatory service bulletin. We warned you about the problem told you how to fix it, and you ignored us. What did you expect to happen?"

AskBob
AskBob's picture

My response is they are only Mandatory if your operations manual or declared maintenance program says you will comply with all mandatory bulletins. My reading of the rules tells me the operator sets the maintenance program. You may find SB requirements when operating under Part 135, SB requirements in Op Specs or SB requirements in a TCDS.

Bill O'Brien covered this in detail for AMT. The online article is at http://www.amtonline.com/publication/article.jsp?pubId=1&id=4602

Joe Escobar did a article for AMT the year before on Mandatory SB that can be found at http://www.amtonline.com/publication/article.jsp?pubId=1&id=2522

AOPA expressed their opinion on Mandatoy SBs a few years ago at http://www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/2006/060614sb.html

wolson
wolson's picture

As mentioned by Bob, there are many websites with information about this subject. I'm not sure of the latest reviews, but here are some sites found through google:
http://www.amtonline.com/publication/article.jsp?pubId=1&id=2522&pageNum=1
http://www.aopa.org/whatsnew/newsitems/2006/060614sb.html
http://articles.directorym.net/Mandatory_Service_Bulletins_Washington-r9...

My view:
I'm definitely not an expert, and did not have to make final decisions on whether they were implemented or not..but my recommendations were required.

The one thing that I found helpful was the more complete review as to why one should be implemented. Usually there is a good reason. I have seen 25-30 year mechanics rely on their intuition or judgement to say "no", but then with further review and investigation (maybe calling the mfg for in-depth overview), more information may become apparent to the mech as to the importance of the bulletin. One can often appreciate this after seeing what the mfg was dealing with or the engineering results supporting the bulletin. Sometimes it just may not seem that important, but an engineering analysis shows a severe concern. Something simple as clamp types/ position on a fuel line may cause undue stress cracks or failure....after you see a slow motion film on fuel line vibration and clamp position.. you might come away thinking that this extra 1/2-1 inch clamp position may save your life. This is not expensive fix though.

I think you have a legal and moral responsibility to maintain the aircraft in an airworthiness condition. Looking at just the moral responsibility, I would see the mandatory bulletin as required after a good review.

gary.brossett
gary.brossett's picture

I deal with SBs on a daily basis (hundreds). I've seen some good bulletins and some poor ones. Many times the OEM cranks out a SB because they found something they could have done better and sometimes there are politics driving the move (piece part sales or other fun things). Install my latest widget, because we've found that the one we originally sold you is not as robust as it should be.

The customer decides which bulletins are mandatory, but...as the late OB mentions and many of the replies to this blog, the govt occasionally jumps in. I have a few ADs on the equipment I work on that drives you directly to a SB.

gary.brossett
gary.brossett's picture

I looked threw some articles and found one "The Age Old Question," by Joe Hertzler, AMT Jul 08.

For a SB to become mandatory it has to be required by reg

- In an AD
- In the acft's airworthiness limitations (maintenance manual or TCDS)

Stacheair1
Stacheair1's picture

"The FAA's past and present opinion is that while service bulletins and instructions are not mandatory, they may be used by mechanics as an acceptable method, but not the only method, to show compliance with the regulations when performing maintenance, alterations, or preventive maintenance," AOPA Executive Vice President of Government Affairs Andy Cebula said in a letter to Nicholas A. Sabatini, the FAA's associate administrator for aviation safety.

For general aviation aircraft certificated under CAR 3 (the majority of GA aircraft, designed before 1972), that's not the law. Any mandatory changes, repairs, or upgrades to an aircraft must be FAA approved and must go through the rulemaking process, including public comment, as required by the Administrative Procedures Act.

(For newer aircraft certificated under Part 23, service bulletins can be made mandatory if approved by the FAA and incorporated into the airworthiness limitations section of the aircraft's maintenance manual or instructions for continued airworthiness. Also, service bulletins are usually mandatory for aircraft flying in commercial service.)

Reference Aero News 07/3/2006

Bottom line is if you air not operating under part 121 or 135 service bulletins are NOT mandatory unless tied to an AD or T/C. Reference FAA Order 8620.2

Bienville (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

Thanks Stache,

Can you please clarify the applicability of SBs to part 23 aircraft?

"(For newer aircraft certificated under Part 23, service bulletins can be made mandatory if approved by the FAA and incorporated into the airworthiness limitations section of the aircraft's maintenance manual or instructions for continued airworthiness."

To be mandatory, must they be incorporated into the airworthiness limitations section of an ICA, or just incorporated into the ICA itself?

It my understanding that ICAs are also not mandatory but an airworthiness limitations section of an ICA is.

Baboo (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

Hi, do you know of anywhere apart from GE and the OEM's where to source SB's ?

Anonymous2 (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

Or if the mfgr includes the SB in the current inspection program

14 CFR Part 91.409 Inspections
(f) Selection of inspection program under paragraph (e) of this section. The registered owner or operator of each airplane or turbine-powered rotorcraft described in paragraph (e) of this section must select, identify in the aircraft maintenance records, and use one of the following programs for the inspection of the aircraft:
.
.
.
(3) A current inspection program recommended by the manufacturer.

Anonymous FL (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

"14 CFR Part 91.409 Inspections
(f) Selection of inspection program under paragraph (e) of this section. The registered owner or operator of each airplane or turbine-powered rotorcraft described in paragraph (e) of this section must select, identify in the aircraft maintenance records, and use one of the following programs for the inspection of the aircraft:
.
.
.
(3) A current inspection program recommended by the manufacturer"

This is what makes mandatory SB's MANDATORY. You (the owner/operator) choose to use the manufacturer's program, then you have to comply with the ENTIRE program. You can't just pick and choose which parts of it you comply with. If you want to pick and choose, then create your own AAIP program and get the FAA to approve it.

n14ky
n14ky's picture

Note that in the past 2 replies, they only apply to multi engine turbine powered airplanes or large airplanes and turbine powered helicopters. 91.409(f) doesn't apply to small airplanes that get annual inspections or 100 hr inspections.

Something else to note, there are a number of FAA interpretations on "Current" inspection programs and "Current" data. For a small airplane, the current data is that data that was published when the airworthiness certificate was issued. For aircraft that 91.409(f) applies, current inspection program is the inspection program selected by the owner at the time of registration or at some later date.

To answer the original OP question, if you are performing a task (like an overhaul on a TCM engine) and you choose not to comply with the "Mandatory SB", be very care3ful on how you word your return to service! If you indicate that you overhauled the engine IAW TCM manuals and procedures, you may be setting yourself up for problems. Specify exactly what portions of the TCM documents you used, and provide a detailed list of those parts that you replaced, and do not reference the pubs you did not use.

Anonymous (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

Service Bulletins are SERVICE information not INSPECTION program criteria. Two separate things. This misconception causes a lot of friction in the industry.

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