Aircraft Inspection (Part Five)

in Aerodynamics, Aircraft Assembly, and Rigging

Other Aircraft Inspection and Maintenance Programs

Aircraft operating under 14 CFR part 135, Commuter and On Demand, have additional rules for maintenance that must be followed beyond those in 14 CFR parts 43 and 91.


14 CFR part 135, section 135.411(a)(1) applies to aircraft that are type certificated for a passenger seating configuration, excluding any pilot seat, of nine seats or less. The additional rules include:

  • Section 135.415—requires each certificate holder to submit a Service Difficulty Report, whenever they have an occurrence, failure, malfunction, or defect in an aircraft concerning the list detailed in this section of the regulation.
  • Section 135.417—requires each certificate holder to mail or deliver a Mechanical Interruption Report, for occurrences in multi-engine aircraft, concerning unscheduled flight interruptions, and the number of propeller featherings in flight, as detailed in this section of the regulation. Section 135.421—requires each certificate holder to comply with the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance programs, or a program approved by the FAA for each aircraft, engine, propeller, rotor, and each item of emergency required by 14 CFR part 135. This section also details requirements for single-engine IFR passenger-carrying operations.
  • Section 135.422—this section applies to multi-engine airplanes and details requirements for Aging Airplane Inspections and Records review. It excludes airplanes in schedule operations between any point within the State of Alaska.
  • Sections 135.423 through 135.443—the listed regulations are numerous and complex, and compliance is required; however, they are not summarized in this handbook.

Any certificated operator using aircraft with ten or more passenger seats must have the required organization and maintenance programs, along with competent and knowledgeable people to ensure a safe operation. It is their responsibility to know and comply with these and all other applicable Federal Aviation Regulations, and should contact their local FAA FSDO for further guidance.

The AAIP is an FAA-approved inspection program for aircraft of nine or less passenger seats operated under 14 CFR part 135. The AAIP is an operator developed program tailored to their particular needs to satisfy aircraft inspection requirements. This program allows operators to develop procedures and time intervals for the accomplishment of inspection tasks in accordance with the needs of the aircraft, rather than repeat all the tasks at each 100-hour interval.

The operator is responsible for the AAIP. The program must encompass the total aircraft; including all avionics equipment, emergency equipment, cargo provisions, etc. FAA Advisory Circular 135-10A provides detailed guidance to develop an approved aircraft inspection program. The following is a summary, in part, of elements that the program should include:

  • A schedule of individual tasks (inspections) or groups of tasks, as well as the frequency for performing those tasks.
  • Work forms designating those tasks with a signoff provision for each. The forms may be developed by the operator or obtained from another source.
  • Instructions for accomplishing each task. These tasks must satisfy 14 CFR part 43, section 43.13(a), regarding methods, techniques, practices, tools, and equipment. The instructions should include adequate information in a form suitable for use by the person performing the work.
  • Provisions for operator-developed revisions to referenced instructions should be incorporated in the operator’s manual.
  • A system for recording discrepancies and their correction.
  • A means for accounting for work forms upon completion of the inspection. These forms are used to satisfy the requirements of 14 CFR part 91, section 91.417, so they must be complete, legible, and identifiable as to the aircraft and specific inspection to which they relate. • Accommodation for variations in equipment and configurations between aircraft in the fleet.
  • Provisions for transferring an aircraft from another program to the AAIP.

The development of the AAIP may come from one of the following sources:

  • An adoption of an aircraft manufacturer’s inspection in its entirety. However, many aircraft manufacturers’ programs do not encompass avionics, emergency equipment, appliances, and related installations that must be incorporated into the AAIP. The inspection of these items and systems will require additions to the program to ensure they comply with the air carrier’s operation specifications and as applicable to 14 CFR.
  • A modified manufacturer’s program. The operator may modify a manufacturer’s inspection program to suit its needs. Modifications should be clearly identified and provide an equivalent level of safety to those in the manufacturer’s approved program.
  • An operator-developed program. This type of program is developed in its entirety by the operator. It should include methods, techniques, practices, and standards necessary for proper accomplishment of the program.
  • An existing progressive inspection program (14 CFR part 91.409(d)) may be used as a basis for the development of an AAIP.

As part of this inspection program, the FAA strongly recommends that a Corrosion Protection Control Program and a supplemental structural inspection type program be included.

A program revision procedure should be included so that an evaluation of any revision can be made by the operator prior to submitting them to the FAA for approval.

Procedures for administering the program should be established. These should include: defining the duties and responsibilities for all personnel involved in the program, scheduling inspections, recording their accomplishment, and maintaining a file of completed work forms.

The operator’s manual should include a section that clearly describes the complete program, including procedures for program scheduling, recording, and accountability for continuing accomplishment of the program. This section serves to facilitate administration of the program by the certificate holder and to direct its accomplishment by mechanics or repair stations. The operator’s manual should include instructions to accomplish the maintenance/ inspections tasks. It should also contain a list of the necessary tools and equipment needed to perform the maintenance and inspections.

The FAA FSDO will provide each operator with computer-generated Operations Specifications when they approve the program.