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The RULES


Part 91.403(a) sums up the owner’s responsibility:


“The owner or operator of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition, including compliance with part 39 of this chapter.”


The regulation does not provide a method of delegating this responsibility.


Part 91.403(b) expands the rule:


“No person may perform maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations on an aircraft other than as prescribed in this subpart and other applicable regulations, including part 43 of this chapter.”


It can also be read as follows: No person other than the owner or operator can


prescribe the maintenance to be performed on the aircraft.


And Part 91.405 further defines that responsibility:


“Each owner or operator of an aircraft— (a) Shall have that aircraft inspected as prescribed in subpart E of this part and shall between required inspections, except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, have discrepancies repaired as prescribed in part 43 of this chapter.”


There are other supporting FARs, but these three regulations squarely place the accountability of the aircraft on the owner. The mechanic is not mentioned anywhere.


On the mechanic side, Part 43.13 and Part 43.15 are the go-to rules. Once an owner gives the mechanic an inspection or


task to perform, these regulations provide the necessary regulatory guidance. Also, similarly to the lack of mention of a mechanic in Part 91, the owner/operator is not mentioned in Part 43.


So, there are two separate guidance tracks, each applicable to separate individuals.


On a regulatory side note: There also is a unique difference between Part 43 and Part 91. Part 91 is considered an “operation” rule whereas Part 43 is considered a “performance” rule. The difference?


In order for a Part 91 violation to occur, the owner must operate the aircraft. For example, flying his aircraft with the annual inspection 10 years overdue. Prior to that flight, there’s no violation. However, a mechanic can be held in violation of Part 43 for the work he performed 10 years ago, regardless of the aircraft’s operational history.


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