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Safe Operation


Finally, what is “condition for safe operation” in Section 3.5(a)? Believe it or not, it is a “judgement call” by the mechanic determining the airworthy condition of an aircraft. I quote “judgement call” because these are the words used by the FAA Office of the Chief Counsel.


As demonstrated in previous articles, Letters of Interpretation (LOI) issued by the FAA’s legal office provide clarification of FARs. This current topic was no exception; my research produced a number of external articles on airworthiness.


Two documents stood out: (1) The FAA LOI “Witkowski-Association of Flight Attendants” (March 26, 2008); and (2) “When is an Aircraft Airworthy,” an article by Atlanta, Georgia, attorney Alan Armstrong.


These documents highlight two important items:


1. An airworthy aircraft is not required to be in original or like-new condition.


2. The FAA has the burden to prove an aircraft is not airworthy, versus a mechanic having to prove it is airworthy. That is significant.


However, there is an interesting side note. Remember the Block 5 statement from above? There exists a statutory version of airworthy. This definition conforms an aircraft to its type certificate, adding several more conditions to the meaning, like operating limitations and certification data sheets.


Technically, a statute/law-based definition could supersede a regulation-based definition. But, since the privileges of our FAA mechanic’s certificate are issued under regulatory authority, I think we’re good to go with the Part 3 definition. Besides, I’ve never heard an FAA aviation safety inspector in the field quote U.S. code over FAR.


There you have it, my version of Airworthy 101. I hope it clarifies the topic. Then again, maybe one day in the future when a new mechanic ventures down this same path, they’ll simply open up FAR Part 1 (or a new Part 2) and airworthy will be defined for all to see.


rotorcraftpro.com 79 VS. Sarah is human. She


answers your questions & understands how you fly.


H-bot is a machine that sells the same thing to everybody.


www.faa.gov/about/office_org/ headquarters_offices/agc/pol_adjudication/ agc200/interpretations/data/interps/2008/ witkowski-assocflightattendants%20-%20 (2008)%20legal%20interpretation.pdf


www.alanarmstronglaw.com/documents/ FlightwatchVol.236Dec2011Airworthy.pdf


About Scott Skola: After 32 years maintaining helicopters in various capacities, Skola concluded a full-time career with a major operator in 2014. When not pursuing writing projects, he can still be seen around the flight line providing third-party maintenance oversight, litigation


support, and


technical research services. Skola’s email address: tekaviation@cox.net.


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