All Aviation Articles By greg reigel

Aircraft Mechanic Refresher: 9 Points To Remember

Aircraft mechanics, like other aviation certificate holders, are subject to many regulatory requirements - both with respect to obtaining their certification as well as how they exercise the privileges of their certificates. And although mechanics may be familiar with these obligations, sometimes it helps to be reminded of some of the specific requirements with which they must comply.

To that end, here is a short list of some of the regulatory requirements relating to mechanics and performance of aircraft maintenance.

  1. An aircraft mechanic may perform maintenance, preventative maintenance or alteration of an aircraft part/appliance for which he or she is rated, BUT the mechanic must have previously  performed the work. The mechanic may also supervise that work provided that he or she has previously performed that work. 14 C.F.R. § 65.81.
  2. An aircraft mechanic may not exercise the privileges of his or her certificate/rating unless the mechanic has satisfied the recency of experience requirements of 14 C.F.R. § 65.83 within the preceding 24 months.
  3. An aircraft mechanic may approve and return to service an airframe or engine (including related parts/appliances) or perform a 100 hour inspection on either, but ONLY IF he or she holds the appropriate rating, i.e. Airframe and/or Powerplant. 14 C.F.R. §§ 65.85 and 65.87.
  4. The holder of a mechanic certificate must keep the certificate within the immediate area where he or she normally exercises the privileges of that certificate and must present it for inspection upon the request of the FAA or NTSB. 14 C.F.R. § 65.89.
  5. An aircraft mechanic who holds inspection authorization ("IA") may only exercise IA privileges while also holding a currently effective mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings.  And, the mechanic must have a fixed base of operation with appropriate equipment, facilities and inspection data. It is important to remember that this is FSDO specific. If the IA holder wants to exercise IA privileges within the service area of another FSDO, he or she must notify the new FSDO. 14 C.F.R. §§ 65.92 and 65.95.
  6. The IA is renewable for a 2-year period on March of each odd-numbered year.  The renewal requirements include the performance of certain maintenance activities or attendance at a refresher course acceptable to the FAA – all to confirm that the IA holder is "actively engaged." 14 C.F.R. § 65.93.
  7. An aircraft mechanic's IA must be available for inspection by (1) an aircraft owner, (2) another mechanic seeking certain approvals, and (3) upon request of the FAA, NTSB, or any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer. 14 C.F.R. § 65.95.
  8. An aircraft mechanic who approves or disapproves for return to service an aircraft, airframe, engine, etc. after inspection must, among other requirements, make an entry in the maintenance record containing the type and description of the inspection, the date of the inspection and aircraft total time in service, and the mechanic must provide a signature and certificate number. 14 C.F.R. § 43.11.
  9. If a mechanic performing a required inspection finds an aircraft unairworthy or not in compliance with the type certificate data, AD’s, or other approved data, that person must give the aircraft owner or lessee a signed and dated list of discrepancies and applicable equipment within the aircraft must be placarded “inoperative” as appropriate. 14 C.F.R. § 43.11.

This list is by no means all-inclusive.  An aircraft mechanic is subject to many more regulatory requirements.  However, this list highlights some of the requirements most pertinent to an aircraft mechanic's exercise of his or her privileges. And even though an aircraft mechanic may deal with these issues on a frequent basis, a quick refresher never hurts.

FAA Oversight Of Part 135 Drone Operations: What Can Operators Expect?

Part 135 Drone OperationsAs you may know, the FAA is charged with oversight of the national airspace ("NAS") and aircraft operations conducted within the NAS.  This includes making sure that that air carriers (those who transport persons or property for compensation or hire - Part 121 and 135 operators) are complying with heightened regulatory requirements applicable to those operations.

Until recently, air carriers were limited to operations with manned aircraft.  However, that is no longer the case. The FAA has issued Part 135 authority to certain operators of unmanned aircraft systems ("UAS"). If you have received, or anticipate receiving, approval to conduct 0n-demand UAS operations under Part 135, you should know what to expect from the FAA.

The FAA's Guidance.

Fortunately, this isn't a secret.  In fact, the FAA recently issued an order (FAA Order 8900.527) updating the guidance it provides to its inspectors to explain the surveillance and inspections required for Part 135 UAS operators.  Not surprisingly, the guidance isn't too different from typical Part 135 oversight, but it does specifically address issues unique to UAS operations.

So, what will the FAA inspectors be doing? They will be conducting surveillance of both the airworthiness of the UAS being operated and the operations conducted by the air carrier.

Airworthiness.

With respect to airworthiness, this will include inspections of the following:

  • The operator's facility, including operator data, maintenance facilities, data and records and, of course, the UAS airframe, powerplant, critical systems and AD compliance, as applicable;
  • The operator's manuals and procedures; and
  • The operator's records and recordkeeping systems;

Operations.

With respect to the operator's use and operation of its UAS, the FAA will inspect the following:

  • The operator's air operator certificate;
  • The operator's Operations Specifications;
  • The operator's Operations Manual;
  • The operator's records, including trip records, crew records, PRIA records, and any additional records required by an exemption, waiver, or certificate of authorization;
  • The operator's training program; and
  • The operator's UAS, as well as the operator's actual use/operation of the UAS.

Conclusion.

This list is certainly not all-inclusive.  However, it gives operators a good idea the major items the FAA inspector(s) will be inspecting/reviewing to make sure the Part 135 UAS operator is conducting operations in compliance with the regulations.

And, of course, the length and scope of the inspections will vary depending upon the inspectors involved, the same as it does for Part 135 manned aircraft operations. But if you are familiar with this guidance, you will at least have a general roadmap of what to expect when the FAA conducts surveillance and inspections of a Part 135 UAS operation.

Greg Reigel is a partner at the firm of Shackelford, Bowen, McKinley & Norton, LLP in Dallas Texas.

Greg has more than two decades of experience working with airlines, charter companies, fixed base operators, airports, repair stations, pilots, mechanics, and other aviation businesses in aircraft purchase and sale transactions, regulatory compliance including hazmat and drug and alcohol testing, contract negotiation, airport grant assurances, airport leasing, aircraft related agreements, wet leasing, dry leasing, FAA certificate and civil penalty actions and general aviation and business law matters.

He can be reached via:
Email: [email protected]
Website: https://shackelford.law
Phone: 214-780-1482

Tips For Renting Your Aircraft

Renting your Aircraft

If you own an aircraft and are not utilizing it as much as you would like or if you would like to try and recover some of the cost of owning the aircraft, you may have thought about renting your aircraft to other pilots. As a practical matter, that makes some sense. But before you actually rent your aircraft to another pilot, here are a few things you should consider.

Aircraft Owners May Rent Their Aircraft To Third Parties

It is important to understand that the FAA does not prohibit aircraft owners from renting their aircraft. In fact, the regulations specifically contemplate rental arrangements. So, renting your aircraft is permitted, provided that you comply with applicable regulations. The FAA provides guidance on what is and isn’t a permissible rental arrangement in Advisory Circular 91-37B Truth in Leasing (although truth in leasing requirements only apply to large civil aircraft, the general lease concepts discussed in the AC apply to leasing arrangements for all aircraft).

Make Sure Your Insurance Permits Aircraft Rental

Most aircraft insurance policies will extend coverage to other pilots who fly your aircraft provided that the pilots are either expressly identified in your policy or if they have the necessary experience/qualifications to meet the “open pilot” clause of the policy. However, if you are going to charge the pilot for use of your aircraft, you need to confirm that your policy allows you to rent or lease your aircraft to a third-party. Most aircraft policies issued to owners for personal/business flying do allow aircraft leasing, but it is important to confirm this with your insurance underwriter.

Also, rather than paying to obtain their own insurance policy or renter’s insurance to cover their use of your aircraft, most renter pilots will want to be named as an additional insured under your policy as this can oftentimes be done at no cost to you or the renter pilot. In that case, renters will typically ask for a certificate of insurance that reflects not only that they are added to your policy, but that they are covered for their operation and use of their aircraft. This is important because it doesn’t do the renter pilot any good if he or she is added to the owner’s policy but only covered for the owner’s operation of the aircraft, rather than his or her own use.

Renting Your Aircraft Can Trigger Tax Consequences

In most states, when an aircraft owner rents an aircraft to a third-party the owner is required to collect and remit sales tax on the rent paid by the third-party for the aircraft. If you are in one of those states, in order to rent your aircraft you will need to obtain a sales tax number so you can collect and remit sales tax to the taxing authority. This is the aircraft owner’s obligation and the taxing authority will hold the aircraft owner responsible for any sales tax the taxing authority believes the aircraft owner should have collected and remitted, regardless of whether the renter pilot actually paid the sales tax to the aircraft owner.

Also, when you rent your aircraft many taxing authorities view that activity as commercial activity which then means your aircraft could be subject to assessment of personal property tax on the value of the aircraft, or some portion of the value based upon the pro-rata rental versus personal use of the aircraft. Although not all states assess personal property tax on aircraft, if you are in a state that does you will want to determine your potential property tax exposure before you decide to rent your aircraft.

Conclusion

Although you will also have other things to consider as you decide whether to rent your aircraft to other pilots, these three issues should be near the top of your list. And if you understand and address these issues up front that will help ensure a successful aircraft rental experience for both you, the aircraft owner, and your renter pilot.

Illegal Aircraft Charter Doesn't Just Happen In Business Jets

Illegal Aircraft Charter

As you may know, the FAA has recently increased its investigations into illegal charter activities and is vigorously pursuing enforcement against operators conducting illegal aircraft charter flights. Many of the publicized cases have involved owners and operators of business jets with civil penalty assessments in excess of a million dollars. However, the FAA doesn't just pursue enforcement actions against illegal charter involving jets. It will go after any operator conducting illegal aircraft charter whether the operator is using jets or single-engine, piston aircraft.

A case in point is a recent civil penalty case, In the Matter of: Robert M. Riter d/b/a Riter Aviation. In Riter, the Respondent was the co-owner of a Cessna 172. According to the FAA, the Respondent authorized the use of his aircraft and arranged a pilot to fly two passengers on a round-trip from Torrance, CA to Las Vegas, NV in exchange for $660.00. The FAA found out about the arrangement during its investigation after the aircraft crashed shortly after departing for the return trip to California.

Since the Respondent did not hold an air carrier or operator certificate authorizing him to operate as an air carrier or commercial operator, the FAA alleged that the Respondent's carriage of passengers for hire violated 14 C.F.R. § 119.5(g). The FAA assessed a civil penalty of $11,000 for the two flights, even though it could have assessed a civil penalty of up to $22,000 ($11,000 for each flight).

On appeal to the Department of Transportation Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ"), the ALJ confirmed the violation of § 119.5(g) but reduced the sanction to $5,700. The FAA then appealed to the FAA Administrator where the issues revolved around the amount of the sanction, and the Administrator ultimately reinstated the $11,000 civil penalty originally imposed against the Respondent.

This case is instructive not only for its discussion of how a civil penalty should be calculated in a case alleging violations of § 119.5(g), but also as an example of the the FAA pursuing claims against an operator for illegal charter in aircraft as small as a single-engine Cessna 172. The FAA will impose civil penalties against aircraft owners and/or operators who conduct illegal charter using their aircraft. And although this case doesn't mention it, I suspect the pilot also faced a certificate action for the flights which could have resulted in suspension or revocation of the pilot's airman certificates.

The moral of the story: If any money is going to be changing hands in exchange for flights in an aircraft, it is important that the aircraft owner and operator/pilot make sure the proposed operation is structured correctly in compliance with all regulations. Failure to properly structure ownership and operation of aircraft, even single-engine, piston aircraft, can result in both civil penalty and certificate actions.

Can A Person Be Chief Pilot For A Part 121/135 Operator With A Third-Class Medical Certificate?

This was the question posed and answered in a recent Legal Interpretation issued by the FAA's Office of Chief Counsel (AGC). The Interpretation specifically answered the question "whether a chief pilot who no longer holds a first-or second-class medical certificate but holds a third-class medical certificate and is qualified to serve as pilot in command (PIC) in at least one aircraft used in the certificate holder's operation may continue to hold the chief pilot position."

Under 14 C.F.R. § 119.71 the chief pilot of a Part 121 or Part 135 air carrier must hold either an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate or a commercial pilot certificate. And as we know, under 14 C.F.R. § 61.23 a person must hold a first-class medical certificate to exercise PIC privileges of an ATP certificate and a second-class medical certificate to exercise privileges of a commercial pilot certificate. The Interpretation notes that "§ 119.71(c) and (d) only require the chief pilot to be qualified to serve as PIC in at least one aircraft in the certificate holder's operation." However, Section 119.71 does not specify that the chief pilot must be qualified to serve as pilot in command "in Part 121/135 operations."

As a result, the Interpretation concludes as long as the person (a) continues to hold either an ATP or commercial pilot certificate with appropriate ratings, (b) is qualified to serve as PIC in at least one aircraft used in the certificate holder's operation (which can include just Part 91 operations), and (c) has satisfactory experience (or has been granted a deviation from the experience requirements), then he or she may serve as chief pilot for the air carrier while holding only a third-class medical certificate.

So, in addition to holding at least a third-class medical certificate, the key issue for the chief pilot will be that he or she is qualified to act as PIC in at least one of the aircraft that the carrier is authorized to operate under its certificate. And this qualification can be limited to Part 91 operations rather than Part 121/135 operations.

As a practical matter I think this Interpretation probably has limited impact on most carriers since they typically expect the individual designated as chief pilot to also act as PIC in Part 121 or Part 135 flight operations. But where the chief pilot is not expected to act as PIC in Part 121/235 flight operations, this Interpretation does provide some flexibility to a carrier considering an individual without a first or second class medical certificate for the chief pilot position.

 

GlobalAir

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