U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

10801 Pear Tree Lane
Suite 200
St. Ann, Missouri 63074


July 2001 




Thought for the month.....
Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity

For The Record.... A description of work performed, the date the work was performed, the name of the person doing the work, the signature, certificate number and kind of certificate held. These four elements are required for a maintenance or preventive maintenance record entry. Many times the third element, the name of the person doing the work, is provided in the signature. If, however, there is more than one person doing work there should be more names in the record.

There are two sections of the Federal Aviation Regulations that cite the required elements of a maintenance record. §91.417 Maintenance Records, is a regulation that every aircraft owner or operator should be familiar with because it is applicable to them. This rule identifies what maintenance records are required to be kept by an aircraft owner or operator. §43.9 is a regulation that every person who maintains, rebuilds, or alters an aircraft or any components should be familiar with. This rule states what information is required to be entered in a maintenance record by persons performing work on aircraft.

There is a slight difference in the two sections. §91.417 does not mention anything about listing the name of the person(s) performing work. I can only suppose this happened because whoever wrote this regulation was not the same person who wrote §43.9. So how does this difference affect the owner of the aircraft who is responsible for assuring the content of maintenance records? Can the owner be held accountable for not including names of people who work on their aircraft in the maintenance record if §91.417 doesn't list that as a requirement? For that answer you need to refer to §91.407. Additionally, what you should know is that a person may be held accountable to a regulation only if it is written as a prohibitive or mandated rule, and that person acts contrary to the rule. A prohibitive or mandated rule will begin with words like "No person may…" or "Each person shall".

Getting back to the difference between the two regulations mentioned above, §43.9 is directed at people who perform work on aircraft or their component parts. Most people would interpret that person as only their mechanic. This is only partially true. How many times have you helped a mechanic perform some task or heard of an aircraft owner helping a certified mechanic perform work on their aircraft? How many times as a certified mechanic have you received assistance from the owner of an aircraft on a maintenance task? OK, now hold that answer while I recite §43.9. It states in part: "…each person who maintains, performs preventive maintenance, rebuilds or alters an aircraft, airframe, aircraft engine, or component part shall make an entry in the maintenance record of that equipment containing the following information: (1) a description (or reference to data acceptable to the Administrator) of work performed; (2) The date of completion of the work performed; (3) The name of the person performing the work if other than the person specified in paragraph (a)(4) of this section.; and, (4) if the work performed has been performed satisfactorily, the signature, certificate number and kind of certificate held by the person approving the work."

If you are involved in performing any work you are obligated by this regulation although you are not the person who will sign-off the work. Still not convinced that you can be held accountable for §43.9 because you are not a mechanic? Lets look back to Part 91. These rules are directly applicable to owners or operators of aircraft. §91.407 tells us that after any work has been performed on an aircraft, and before that aircraft is operated, a record of that work must be entered in the maintenance record of the aircraft. It states that, "No person may operate an aircraft that has undergone maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, or alteration unless the maintenance record entry required by §43.9…has been made". Notice that the rule does not hold only the owner of the aircraft responsible, it is directed at anybody who intends to operate the aircraft. Remember what I asked earlier about whether or not a person can be held accountable for including a persons name in the maintenance record when it isn't required in the Part 91 rule that identifies what information should be kept? The FAR's will usually cover themselves through a process of linking two or more rules.

A final thought. It is almost unheard of for the FAA to do an enforcement action against someone because their name did not get into the maintenance records when they assisted a certified mechanic. Even if the performance of the work created a condition that may have caused something to go wrong. Usually the certified mechanic will be held accountable for improperly or poorly done maintenance. After all he or she is certifying the work with the authority granted them. However, this does not mean that if an FAA Safety Inspector is aware of and can show that someone other than the mechanic did work and his or her name is not in the maintenance record entry that the Inspector won't initiate a violation action.

Upcoming Events

July 17th
Field Approvals
How We Give Them - How You Get Them
Wings of Hope Hangar
Spirit of St Louis Airport
4PM to 7PM

August 23rd
91/135 Operator Safety Seminar
St. Louis FSDO
8AM to 3PM.

September 13th
AOPA Air Safety Foundation
Fuel Awareness
Florissant Valley College
Multi-purpose Room
7PM to 9PM

September 15th
St. Louis Soaring Association
Open House and Safety Day
Highland Airport
Highland IL

Steven Long
Airworthiness Safety Program Manager
1-800-322-8876 extension 4830