Chapter 13. The Mechanic Certificate

65.95 Inspection Authorization: Privileges and Limitations

The IA may perform an annual inspection, or perform or supervise a progressive inspection. He or she may also approve for return to service any aircraft related part or appliance which has undergone a major repair or alteration (except aircraft maintained in accordance with a continuous airworthiness program operated under part 121).

The IA must keep his or her certificate available for inspection by any one of the following persons:

  • Aircraft owner
  • A & P technician
  • FAA Administrator
  • Authorized representative of the NTSB
  • Any federal, state, local, or law enforcement officer

If the holder of an IA moves his or her fixed base of operation, he or she must notify in writing the FSDO responsible for the location he or she is moving to,

before beginning to exercise the privileges of an IA. Although it is not required, good business etiquette and professional responsibility would suggest that a similar letter be written to the responsible FAA principal maintenance inspector (PMI) at the FSDO in the area he or she is leaving.


This is a tremendously broad and diverse area of study. It is also an area that is coming under more scrutiny by consumers, individual watchdog groups, and government review committees. Ethics, or more appropriately the lack of ethics, has caused the loss of millions of dollars through fraudulent accounting practices, shoddy workmanship, etc. This chapter examines some definitions of ethics and some examples of poor business ethics in order to raise the awareness of the technician to the importance of ethics.

The word “ethics" is actually a philosophical term that comes from the Greek word “ethos," which means character or custom. So, it is logical that a current definition of ethics is “the study of standards of conduct and moral judgment." Although situations involving questionable ethics can exist wherever and whenever business decisions are made, the scope of this discussion is limited to areas with which the technician will probably be associated.

A Scenario

The following incident illustrates one way that both personal ethics and technician knowledge of regulations can work together to provide him or her with the ability to make the right decision. Unfortunately, others in that shop did not appear as concerned as the technician sharing the incident.

A technician working for an airline was involved in a situation that required a repair or replacement of a fuselage ice shield. The computer inventory indicated that a replacement part was in stock, so the technician removed the damaged component. It was then found that the replacement part was not actually in stock. At this point, a crucial decison was to be made: Can the damaged item be reinstalled? The steps in properly documenting a maintenance event are to record the removal of the damaged part, then document the installation of an airworthy part. Once the technician has committed to removing the damaged part, it becomes unairworthy and cannot be reinstalled regardless of its deferability in the minimum equipment list (MEL).

The actual sequence of events is as follows:

Significant impact damage to the ice shield was observed and recorded.

The inspector reviewed and instructed the technician to replace the ice shield.

Availability of the replacement part was confirmed by computer.

The damaged part was removed, and the technician prepared the surface for the replacement part.

The new part was ordered from inventory, but the part was not in stock. (Inventory Error)

The inspector instructed the technician to reinstall the old one.

The technician refused.

The inspector instructed the technician to repair it.

The technician researched the structural repair manual (SRM) and found that the facility did not have the proper facility authorization to repair the damaged part.

The inspector told the technician to apply 5-minute epoxy to the area, sand it down, and paint it.

The technician walked away.

The inspector found someone else to compromise standards. The aircraft departed on time — illegal and unairworthy.

This happens more often than one would like, is probably overlooked by many people, and, unfortunately, might be considered standard operating procedure (SOP) for some maintenance facilities. It is the responsibility of the mechanic to follow regulations and to question the actions of his or her supervisors if the policy is to circumvent rules to make an on-time departure.

This incident provides some valuable insights into how day-to-day events can lead to pressure to produce and ultimately compromise the decision-making.

  • The incident occurred while working for a commercial airline. The pressure for getting the aircraft in the air is tremendous in this environment.
  • Inventory error added to the pressure. The damaged part had been removed because the technician had queried and believed a replacement part was immediately available.
  • The inspector was either unaware of regulatory requirements or simply did not care.
  • The second technician was either unaware of regulatory requirements or simply did not care.
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