Section 65.91, Inspection Authorization
An A&P mechanic who has held his or her certificate for at least 3 years, and has been active for the last 2 years, may submit application using FAA Form 8610-1, Mechanic’s Application for Inspection Authorization, to the FAA for consideration as an IA. In addition to the preceding time requirements, the IA candidate must have:
- A fixed base of operation where he or she can be located in person or by phone during a normal working week but it need not be the place where he will exercise his inspection authority.
- Available equipment, facilities, and inspection data necessary to properly inspect the airframe, powerplants, propellers, or any related part or appliance he or she is approving for return to service.
The applicant who meets all the above criteria must then pass a written test (or computerized version of the test) to determine his or her ability to inspect the airworthiness of an aircraft following either a major repair or alteration action or the performance of an annual or progressive inspection.
The minimum passing score for the computer test is 70 percent. If the applicant fails the test, retesting cannot be attempted until a minimum of 90 days have elapsed from the failure date. Unlike the A&P test, there is no reduction in this time if the applicant receives additional training.
Section 65.92, Inspection Authorization: Duration
An IA certificate expires on March 31 of each odd-numbered year, but may only be exercised during the time the technician holds a currently effective mechanic certificate. The IA ceases to be effective if:
- The technician surrenders it, or it is suspended or revoked.
- The technician no longer has a fixed base of operations.
- The technician no longer has the required facilities, equipment, or inspection data available.
Whenever the certificate is suspended or revoked, the technician must return it to the Administrator when requested by the FAA to do so.
Section 65.93, Inspection Authorization: Renewal
An IA certificate may be renewed in one of the following ways each year the technician is seeking renewal:
- The performance of at least one annual inspection for each 90 days the technician has held the IA rating.
- The performance of the inspections of at least two major repairs or alterations for each 90 days the technician has held the IA rating. (Note: The inspections can be counted regardless of the approval or disapproval of the work.)
- The performance (or supervision) and approval of at least one progressive inspection.
- The attendance and successful completion of a refresher course (acceptable to the Administrator) that is at least 8 hours of instruction. This can be either a single day seminar or a combination of individual classes acceptable to the Administrator. Some seminars are sponsored by the FAA FSDO and are free; others are low cost. Private industry also frequently conducts one-day sessions and usually charge for their efforts. Regardless of who is conducting the seminar, it is usually an excellent way to accomplish renewal, learn about new issues, and develop a network among peers.
- Passed an oral test by an FAA inspector to determine that the applicant’s knowledge of applicable regulations and standards is current.
Because all IA certificates expire in the first quarter of each calendar year (March 31), and the regulation states that anyone holding an IA for less than 90 days need not meet the preceding renewal requirements, no renewal is required for someone who received the IA during the first quarter of the calendar year.
The technician with IA should note that regulations clearly state the number of annual inspections (four) and major repair or alteration inspections (eight) are required for each 90-day period prior to March 31st. This does not mean in each previous 90-day period the technician must have conducted either an annual or two major repair or alteration inspections, but rather their cumulative number by March 31st. Therefore, an IA could actually go 11 months without performing any inspection activity relative to renewal. Then in March, he or she could conduct all four necessary annual inspections, or all eight 337-related inspections. However, the regulations do not provide for the mixing of any of these renewal activities (i.e., two annual inspections and four Major Repair and Alteration forms).
Another method of renewal is to meet with the FAA-assigned FSDO inspector who will determine that the applicant possesses current knowledge of the applicable regulations and standards. Although this is often considered the renewal method of last resort, it should not be considered a negative experience. If the IA has been performing his or her activities in a professional manner throughout the year, this session can be considered a professional follow-up or consultation. Proper IA-to-FSDO inspector interaction can be enhanced with such a meeting.
Section 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 that has undergone a major repair or alteration (except aircraft maintained in accordance with a continuous airworthiness program operated under 14 CFR 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, The actual sequence of events is as follows: 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.