Aircraft Inspection (Part Two)

in Aerodynamics, Aircraft Assembly, and Rigging

Progressive Inspection

This inspection program can be performed under 14 CFR part 91, section 91.409(d), as an alternative to an annual inspection. However, the program requires that a written request be submitted by the registered owner or operator of an aircraft desiring to use a progressive inspection to the local FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). It shall provide:

  1. The name of a certificated mechanic holding an inspection authorization, a certificated airframe repair station, or the manufacturer of the aircraft to supervise or conduct the inspection.
  2. A current inspection procedures manual available and readily understandable to the pilot and maintenance personnel containing in detail:
    • An explanation of the progressive inspection, including the continuity of inspection responsibility, the making of reports, and the keeping of records and technical reference material.
    • An inspection schedule, specifying the intervals in hours or days when routine and detailed inspections will be performed, and including instructions for exceeding an inspection interval by not more than 10 hours while en route, and for changing an inspection interval because of service experience.
    • Sample routine and detailed inspection forms and instructions for their use.
    • Sample reports and records and instructions for their use.
  3. Enough housing and equipment for necessary disassembly and proper inspection of the aircraft.
  4. Appropriate current technical information for the aircraft.

The frequency and detail of the progressive inspection program shall provide for the complete inspection of the aircraft within each 12 calendar months and be consistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations and kind of operation in which the aircraft is engaged. The progressive inspection schedule must ensure that the aircraft will be airworthy at all times. A certificated A&P mechanic may perform a progressive inspection, as long as he or she is being supervised by a mechanic holding an Inspection Authorization.

If the progressive inspection is discontinued, the owner or operator must immediately notify the local FAA FSDO in writing. After discontinuance, the first annual inspection will be due within 12 calendar months of the last complete inspection of the aircraft under the progressive inspection.

Large Airplanes (over 12,500 lb)

Inspection requirements of 14 CFR part 91, section 91.409, to include paragraphs (e) and (f).

Paragraph (e) applies to large airplanes (to which 14 CFR part 125 is not applicable), turbojet multiengine airplanes, turbo propeller powered multiengine airplanes, and turbinepowered rotorcraft. Paragraph (f) lists the inspection programs that can be selected under paragraph (e).

The additional inspection requirements for these aircraft are placed on the operator because the larger aircraft typically are more complex and require a more detailed inspection program than is provided for in 14 CFR part 43, Appendix D.

An inspection program must be selected from one of the following four options by the owner or operator of the aircraft:

  1. A continuous airworthiness inspection program that is part of a continuous airworthiness maintenance program currently in use by a person holding an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate issued under 14 CFR part 121 or 135.
  2. An approved aircraft inspection program approved under 14 CFR part 135, section 135.419, and currently in use by a person holding an operating certificate issued under 14 CFR part 135.
  3. A current inspection program recommended by the manufacturer.
  4. Any other inspection program established by the registered owner or operator of the airplane or turbinepowered rotorcraft and approved by the FAA. This program must be submitted to the local FAA FSDO having jurisdiction of the area in which the aircraft is based. The program must be in writing and include at least the following information:
    • Instructions and procedures for the conduct of inspections for the particular make and model airplane or turbine-powered rotorcraft, including the necessary tests and checks. The instructions and procedures must set forth in detail the parts and areas of the airframe, engines, propellers, rotors, and appliances, including survival and emergency equipment, required to be inspected.
    • A schedule for performing the inspections that must be performed under the program expressed in terms of the time in service, calendar time, number of system operations (cycles), or any combination of these. This FAA approved owner/operator program can be revised at a future date by the FAA, if they find that revisions are necessary for the continued adequacy of the program. The owner/operator can petition the FAA within 30 days of notification to reconsider the notice to make changes.

Manufacturer’s Inspection Program

This is a program developed by the manufacturer for their product. It is contained in the “Instructions for Continued Airworthiness” required under 14 CFR part 23, section 23.1529 and part 25, section 25.1529. It is in the form of a manual, or manuals as appropriate, for the quantity of data to be provided and including, but not limited to, the following content:

  • A description of the airplane and its systems and installations, including its engines, propellers, and appliances.
  • Basic information describing how the airplane components and systems are controlled and operated, including any special procedures and limitations that apply.
  • Servicing information that covers servicing points, capacities of tanks, reservoirs, types of fluids to be used, pressures applicable to the various systems, lubrication points, lubricants to be used, equipment required for servicing, tow instructions, mooring, jacking, and leveling information.
  • Maintenance instructions with scheduling information for the airplane and each component that provides the recommended periods at which they should be cleaned, inspected, adjusted, tested, and lubricated, and the degree of inspection and work recommended at these periods.
  • The recommended overhaul periods and necessary cross references to the airworthiness limitations section of the manual.
  • The inspection program that details the frequency and extent of the inspections necessary to provide for the continued airworthiness of the airplane.
  • Diagrams of structural access plates and information needed to gain access for inspections when access plates are not provided.
  • Details for the application of special inspection techniques, including radiographic and ultrasonic testing where such processes are specified.
  • A list of special tools needed.
  • An Airworthiness Limitations section that is segregated and clearly distinguishable from the rest of the document. This section must set forth—
    1. Each mandatory replacement time, structural inspection interval, and related structural inspection procedures required for type certification or approved under 14 CFR part 25, section 25.571.
    2. Each mandatory replacement time, inspection interval, related inspection procedure, and all critical design configuration control limitations approved under 14 CFR part 25, section 25.981, for the fuel tank system.

The Airworthiness Limitations section must contain a legible statement in a prominent location that reads: “The Airworthiness Limitations section is FAA approved and specifies maintenance required under 14 CFR part 43, sections 43.16 and part 91, section 91.403, unless an alternative program has been FAA-approved.”

Any operator who wishes to adopt a manufacturers’ inspection program should first contact their local FAA Flight Standards District Office, for further guidance.

Altimeter and Static System Inspections

Any person operating an airplane or helicopter in controlled airspace under instrument flight rules (IFR) must have had, within the preceding 24 calendar months, each static pressure system, each altimeter instrument, and each automatic pressure altitude reporting system tested and inspected and found to comply with 14 CFR part 43, Appendix E. Those test and inspections must be conducted by appropriately rated persons under 14 CFR.