Aircraft Inspection (Part Six)

in Aerodynamics, Aircraft Assembly, and Rigging

Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP)

The definition of maintenance in 14 CFR part 1 includes inspection. The inspection program required for 14 CFR part 121 and part 135 air carriers is part of the Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP). It is a complex program that requires an organization of experienced and knowledgeable aviation personnel to implement it.


The FAA has developed an Advisory Circular, AC 120-16D Air Carrier Aircraft Maintenance Programs, which explains the background as well as the FAA regulatory requirements for these programs. The AC applies to air carriers subject to 14 CFR parts 119, 121, and 135. For part 135, it applies only to aircraft type certificated with ten or more passenger seats.

Any person wanting to place their aircraft on this type of program should contact their local FAA FSDO for guidance.

Title 14 CFR part 125, section 125.247, Inspection Programs and Maintenance

This regulation applies to airplanes having a seating capacity of 20 or more passengers or a maximum payload capacity of 6,000 pounds or more. Inspection programs which may be approved for use under this 14 CFR part include, but are not limited to:

  1. A continuous inspection program which is part of a current continuous airworthiness program approved for use by a certificate holder under 14 CFR part 121 or part 135;
  2. Inspection programs currently recommended by the manufacturer of the airplane, airplane engines, propellers, appliances, or survival and emergency equipment; or
  3. An inspection program developed by a certificate holder under 14 CFR part 125. The airplane subject to this part may not be operated unless:
    • The replacement times for life-limited parts specified in the aircraft type certificate data sheets, or other documents approved by the FAA are complied with;
    • Defects disclosed between inspections, or as a result of inspection, have been corrected in accordance with 14 CFR part 43; and
    • The airplane, including airframe, aircraft engines, propellers, appliances, and survival and emergency equipment, and their component parts, is inspected in accordance with an inspection program approved by the FAA. These inspections must include at least the following:
      • Instructions, procedures and standards for the particular make and model of airplane, including tests and checks. The instructions and procedures must set forth in detail the parts and areas of the airframe, aircraft engines, propellers, appliances, and survival and emergency equipment required to be inspected.
      • A schedule for the performance of the inspections that must be performed under the program, expressed in terms of the time in service, calendar time, number of system operations, or any combination of these.
      • The person used to perform the inspections required by 14 CFR part 125, must be authorized to perform maintenance under 14 CFR part 43. The airplane subject to part 125 may not be operated unless the installed engines have been maintained in accordance with the overhaul periods recommended by the manufacturer or a program approved by the FAA; the engine overhaul periods are specified in the inspection programs required by 14 CFR part 125, section 125.247.

Helicopter Inspections, Piston-Engine and Turbine-Powered

A piston-engine helicopter can be inspected in accordance with the scope and detail of 14 CFR part 43, Appendix D for an Annual Inspection. However, there are additional performance rules for inspections under 14 CFR part 43, section 43.15, requiring that each person performing an inspection under 14 CFR part 91 on a rotorcraft shall inspect these additional components in accordance with the maintenance manual or Instructions for Continued Airworthiness of the manufacturer concerned:

  1. The drive shaft or similar systems
  2. The main rotor transmission gear box for obvious defects
  3. The main rotor and center section (or the equivalent area)
  4. The auxiliary rotor

The operator of a turbine-powered helicopter can elect to have it inspected under 14 CFR part 91, section 91.409:

  1. Annual inspection
  2. 100-hour inspection
  3. Applies to turbine-powered rotorcraft when operator elects to inspect in accordance with paragraph section 91.409(e), at which time (a) and (b) do not apply.
  4. A progressive inspection

When performing any of the above inspections, the additional performance rules under 14 CFR part 43, section 43.15, for rotorcraft must be complied with.

Light-Sport Aircraft, Powered Parachute, and Weight-Shift Control Aircraft

When operating under an Experimental certificate issued for the purpose of Operating Light Sport Aircraft, these aircraft must have a condition inspection performed once every 12 months.

The inspection must be performed by a certificated repairman (light-sport aircraft) with a maintenance rating, an appropriately rated mechanic, or an appropriately rated repair station in accordance with the inspection procedures developed by the aircraft manufacturer or a person acceptable to the FAA. Additionally, if the aircraft is used for compensation or hire to tow a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle, or is used by a person to conduct flight training for compensation or hire, it must have been inspected within the preceding 100 hours and returned to service in accordance with 14 CFR part 43, by one of the persons listed above.