14 CFR Part 121—Operating Requirements: Domestic, Flag, and Supplemental Operations
Title 14 CFR part 121 establishes the operational rules for air carriers flying for compensation or hire. A domestic operation is any scheduled operation (within the 48 contiguous states, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession) conducted with either a turbo-jet aircraft, an airplane having 10 or more passenger seats, or a payload capacity greater than 7,500 pounds.
A “flag” operation means any scheduled operation (operating in Alaska or Hawaii to any point outside of those states, or to any territory or possession of the United States, or from any point outside the United States to any point outside the United States) conducted with either a turbo-jet aircraft, an airplane having 10 or more passenger seats, or a payload capacity greater than 7,500 pounds.
“Supplemental” operation means any common carriage operation conducted with airplanes having more than 30 passenger seats (if less than 30, the airplane must also be listed on the operations specifications of domestic and flag carriers), with a payload capacity of more than 7,500 pounds.
Part 121 operators are required by 14 CFR part 119 to have the following personnel:
- Director of Safety
- Director of Operations
- Director of Maintenance
- Chief Pilot
- Chief Inspector
There are 28 subparts and 16 appendices in this regulation. However, only subparts J and L are of concern for the mechanic. Subpart J—Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, and Alterations, identifies Special Airworthiness Requirements that deals with many of the mechanical aspects of a passenger or cargo aircraft. Subpart L—Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, and Alterations, requires that a part 121 operator have an operational manual that contains the following information:
- Organizational chart
- List of individuals who may perform required inspections
- Company maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations
- A system to both preserve and retrieve maintenance and inspection related information
Also, 14 CFR part 121, section 121.1105, establishes the requirement for conducting inspections on aging aircraft.
14 CFR Part 125—Certification and Operations: Airplanes Having a Seating Capacity of 20 or More Passengers or a Maximum Payload Capacity of 6,000 Pounds or More; and Rules Governing Persons on Board Such Aircraft
This regulation applies to private and noncommon carriage when such operations are conducted in airplanes having 20 or more seats (excluding crewmembers) or having a payload capacity of 6,000 pounds or more. There must also be “operations specifications” issued to the operator that include the following information:
- Kinds of operations authorized
- Types of aircraft and registration numbers of the airplanes authorized for use
- Approval of the provisions of the operator’s manual relating to airplane inspections, together with the necessary conditions and limitations
- Registration numbers of the airplanes that are to be inspected under an approved airplane inspection program (AAIP) under 14 CFR part 125, section 125.247
- Procedures for the control of weight and balance of airplanes
- Any other item that the administrator determines is necessary
Just as in 14 CFR part 121, subpart E identifies special airworthiness requirements dealing mostly with the mechanical devices of the aircraft.
14 CFR Part 135—Operating Requirements: Commuter and On-Demand Operations and Rules Governing Persons on Board Such Aircraft
As the title of this section states, this regulation is applicable to short distance commercial aircraft operations or “commuters” and nonscheduled carriers that operate “on-demand.” These aircraft are frequently referred to as air taxi or air charter aircraft.
Aircraft operated under 14 CFR part 135 must be operated and maintained in accordance with the certificate holder’s operations manual. This manual, when accepted by the FAA, specifies how the flight crew, ground personnel, and maintenance technicians conduct their operations.
A pivotal portion of this regulation is the first section in subpart J, 14 CFR part 135, section 135.411, Application. This section specifies that having a type certificated passenger seating configuration of nine or less may be maintained in accordance with the maintenance manual provided by the aircraft manufacturer. Those aircraft having a type certificated passenger seating configuration of 10 or more seats must be maintained in accordance with a maintenance manual written by the air carrier and must then be submitted to the FAA for approval. The requirements for the maintenance manual are specified in 14 CFR part 135, section 135.427. 14 CFR part 135, sections 135.415 through 135.417 and 135.423 through 135.443 specify additional maintenance requirements. 14 CFR part 135, sections 135.415 and 135.417 are applicable regardless of the number of seats in the aircraft.
A major change in the “nine or less” aircraft maintenance requirements occurred in February of 2005 when section 135.422, Aging Aircraft, was incorporated into 14 CFR part 135. This new subpart (note the even number) to 14 CFR 135 specifically prohibits a certificate holder from operating certain aircraft unless the Administrator has completed the aging aircraft inspection and records review. This inspection requires the certificate holder to show the FAA that the maintenance of age sensitive parts and components has been adequate to ensure safety.
This section only applies to multi-engine aircraft in scheduled operation with nine or fewer passenger seats. It does not apply to aircraft operating in Alaska. The required record review start date varies depending on the age of the aircraft. However, once initiated, the repetitive inspection intervals are not to exceed 7 years.
The certificate holder must make both the aircraft and the records available to the FAA for inspection and review. The certificate holder must notify the Administrator at least 60 days in advance of the availability of the aircraft and the records for review.
The records must include the following information:
- Total years in service of the airplane
- Total time in service of the airframe
- Date of the last inspection and records review required by this section
- Current status of life-limited parts
- Time since the last overhaul of all structural components required to be overhauled on a specific time basis
- Current inspection status of the airplane, including the time since the last inspection required by the inspection program that the airplane is maintained under
- Current status of applicable ADs, including the date and methods of compliance, and, if the AD involves recurring action, the time and date when the next action is required
- A list of major structural alterations
- A report of major structural repairs and the current inspection status of those repairs
14 CFR Part 145—Repair Stations
This regulation underwent a major rewrite released in 2004 and was the most comprehensive change in nearly 20 years. It may be of interest to note an airframe and powerplant (A&P) certificate is not necessary to be employed at a repair station. The repair station may also employ both repairmen (under 14 CFR part 65, subpart E) and non FAA-certificated personnel. All work that is signed off is done so using the repair station certificate number and must be done only by persons authorized by 14 CFR part 65 to approve an article for return to service (RTS). Just as other certificate holders must have an operations manual, the repair station must have a repair station manual that contains the following:
- An organizational chart
- Procedures for maintaining rosters
- Description of housing, facilities, and equipment
- Procedures for revising the capability list and conducting a self-evaluation (audit)
- Procedures for revising the training program
- Procedures governing work done at another location
- Procedures for working on air carrier aircraft
- Description of the required records and record keeping
- Procedures for revising the repair station manual
- Description of the system to identify and control the sections of the manual
All records from repair station maintenance activity must be kept a minimum of 2 years. Domestic repair station certificates are effective until they are surrendered, suspended, or revoked. The certificates of foreign repair stations expire, usually after 1 or 2 years and must be renewed.
14 CFR Part 147—Aviation Maintenance Technician Schools
Title 14 CFR part 147 defines the requirements for obtaining a maintenance training certificate. This certificate may be for either airframe, powerplant, or a combination of the two. The minimum number of curriculum hours for conducting either airframe or powerplant training independently is 1,150.
If both A&P ratings are offered, the combined total curriculum hours are 1,900. This is because of the 1,150 hours specified to obtain either the airframe or the powerplant rating, 400 hours are devoted to general studies. Only one set of general studies hours is applicable to the combined total. Therefore, 400 hours can be subtracted from the implied total of 2,300 hours (1,150 × 2) to obtain the reduced figure of 1,900 hours. Requirements are detailed as follows:
- Appendix A—Curriculum Requirements
- Appendix B—General Curriculum Subjects
- Appendix C—Airframe Curricular Subjects
- Appendix D—Powerplant Curriculum Subjects
14 CFR Part 183—Representatives of the Administrator
As the aviation industry grows and the design, manufacture, and testing of aircraft gets more complex, the FAA faces both budget constraints and personnel shortages. As early as 1962, the FAA began a program to allow private sector persons in various areas of industry to be “designees” or “representatives of the FAA Administrator.” These people are NOT FAA employees, but rather are designated by the FAA to act on their behalf. Regular doctors may serve as “aviation medical examiners,” skilled pilots can become “pilot examiners,” and experienced airframe and/or powerplant mechanics can become “designated mechanic examiners (DME)” to administer the oral and practical portion of the FAA testing.
Other lesser known designees are the designated engineering representatives (DER), the designated manufacturing inspection representatives (DMIR), and the designated airworthiness representatives (DAR).
- DERs approve data based upon their engineering training and their knowledge of FAA regulations.
- DMIRs make conformity inspections only at their employer. They are similar to “designated repairmen” because they are only authorized to inspect parts at their employers’ facility.
- DARs conduct aircraft certification and aircraft inspection functions on behalf of the FAA depending on specific functions they are authorized. They may perform work for either manufacturing facilities or maintenance entities depending on their designation.