Airworthiness and Associated Inspections
An Airport Manager’s Perspective for Aircraft Owners & Operators on Airport Property
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Airport management is required to enforce airport regulations for legality and safety. Airport regulations specify that any person who leases property from the airport, or is engaged in any activities at the airport must ensure that the aircraft they store, or operate is legally airworthy in the United States. All hanger lease applications require an airworthy aircraft, and verification must be presented upon the offer of a lease. All aircraft must pass annual and 100 hour inspections in order to prove ...view middle of the document...
Airport management can request one or both certifications of aircraft airworthiness. The most general inspection is the annual, which must be endorsed by a certified airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic holding an Inspection Authorization (IA) in accordance with Federal Aviation Regulations. The annual inspection must cover the entire aircraft and be conducted within 12 calendar months of the previous annual inspection. The required items of inspection are usually spelled out in a procedure or checklist contained in the aircraft manufacturer’s maintenance manual for a given aircraft. The inspection includes a detailed visual inspection of all components of the powerplant and airframe, as well as an operational inspection which involves operating all mechanical components of the aircraft. Lastly, the aircraft’s documentation is inspected to ensure all required maintenance and safety documentation is up to date.
The second inspection is the 100 hour inspection. For every 100 hours of flight time the aircraft must be grounded until a 100 hour inspection by a qualified mechanic has been conducted and signed off in the maintenance manual associated with the aircraft. The Federal Aviation Regulations do allow for the 100 hour limit to be exceeded by up to 10 hours, but only if those hours are accrued en route to a site where the inspection will be performed.
The scope of the 100 hour inspection is every bit as detailed as the annual inspection, and may therefore be substituted by the annual inspection, if the hours and timeframe for the annual coincide. It is important to note, however, that even if the annual inspection was conducted on an aircraft which only had 80 hours of flight time since its last 100 hour inspection those remaining 20 hours do not carry over. That is to say, the aircraft would not have 120 hours until its next inspection, but 100. It is not the responsibility of airport management to inspect or certify aircraft airworthiness, only to verify for the purposes of lease eligibility and legal airport operations.
Responsibility for airworthiness of an aircraft
Airport management can request proof of legal airworthiness at any time. The ultimate responsibility of ensuring an aircraft maintains airworthiness rests with the type certificate holder for the given aircraft. The type certificate is the document which signifies that the aircraft fits the parameters of its design type and once issued cannot be changed without undergoing an in-depth re-certification process.
Typically the owner/operator of the aircraft is responsible for the airworthiness of a given aircraft, but that is only partially true. While it is true that the owner/operator of an aircraft is the certificate holder, a large part of the responsibility of determining the airworthiness of an aircraft lies in the hands of the pilot. If the pilot in command is not the owner of the aircraft they are flying, they still...