Current Rates for Condition Inspections on NON-Builder EAB Aircraft (in the US)

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BBerson

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Those comments only broaden the case for not certifying safe. How can any mechanic in 5 hours “certify” an airplane as safe that was built by uncertified builders, maintained by uncertified individuals and never met any engineering standard?
The word safe should be deleted from the operating limitation. It is an impossible statement.
If anything it should be: “this aircraft was inspected in accordance with the scope and detail of FAR 43 Appendix D.” And nothing else.

I spend a portion of my time trying to save personal aviation with helpful ideas. But I don’t think there is much support and I am apparently wasting my time.
 
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Marc Zeitlin

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Thanks Marc, it comes down to I don’t want to ever end up in court where the question put to me is: “did you in fact sign that the aircraft was in a condition for safe operation?” That's all the jury will hear.
I likely won’t participate in assuming such risk.
You do that on every TC'd aircraft annual you sign off - per 14 CFR Part 3.5(a), 1/2 of the signoff is saying that the aircraft "is in a condition for safe operation" - so the signoff for an E-AB aircraft is no different - just no TC with which to find compliance. The liability is no different.

As long as you judged it "in a condition for safe operation" when you signed it off as being so and didn't let the owner go off with a set of known discrepancies that KEPT if from being "in a condition for safe operation", as is apparently acceptable for TC'd aircraft, your liability cannot be any higher for an E-AB aircraft than it already is for a TC'd aircraft.
 
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I’m more concerned with what to use for a checklist than the liability of inking “was found to be in condition for safe operation.”
With a homebuilt, if I get hauled into court, I say to the judge, “see those 3” letters that spell ‘EXPERIMENTAL,‘ and that placard on the instrument panel that says it was not built to any airworthiness standards? What does that mean to you?” That's pretty well the end of that case. If the plaintiff wants to know what criteria I used to inspect the aircraft with, I show them my checklist, which establishes what level of due diligence I inspected on. Most homebuilts and pre-50’s light planes have no inspection checklist, so we rely on FAR 43, Appendix D as a baseline. More popular types, like RV’s and Champs, have owners groups that have come up with their own checklists that add to Appendix D; they prove quite useful.
If you’re not comfortable inspecting non-certificated aircraft, then don’t, because maybe you’re not familiar enough with them to competently inspect them, so shouldn’t be. As Dick Bach once wrote: choose your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours.
 

BBerson

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You do that on every TC'd aircraft annual you sign off - per 14 CFR Part 3.5(a), 1/2 of the signoff is saying that the aircraft "is in a condition for safe operation" - so the signoff for an E-AB aircraft is no different - just no TC with which to find compliance. The liability is no different.
Sure, I agree, the liability is the same if you certify it safe or airworthy and I don’t want to certify either of them.
But I mentioned that after I sold my airport shop I did some owner-assisted annuals with a list of discrepancies, which is a completed annual inspection without approval for return to service that doesn’t require any further signature from the IA. I explained they would need to complete the repairs under preventive maintenance authorization or find a local A&P for advanced repair assistance. When repairs or service is complete they can sign the return to service in accordance with 43.7(b) or 43.7(f) as owner.
Anyone can “return to service” any EA-B apparently.
 
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Toobuilder

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There is no "return to service" of an E-AB. An engine removal, teardown, and re installation performed by the 12 year old neighbor who also does your lawn once a week requires no logbook entry at all.
 

Marc Zeitlin

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There is no "return to service" of an E-AB.
Strictly true, but the "Return to Service" is an implied function of the signature and other info in the logbook/maintenance record after the work is complete. Nowhere does anything need to say "Approved for Return to Service". Even after an inspection (of whatever type), the RTS is implied by the statement regarding the inspection and results, and by the signature, et. al.

For E-AB aircraft, I agree that the RTS requirement is at best ambiguous, and probably non-existent. But...

An engine removal, teardown, and re installation performed by the 12 year old neighbor who also does your lawn once a week requires no logbook entry at all.
We've had this discussion before, but I do not believe that is true. Here's why:

Per 14 CFR Part 91.417(a)(1) requires the owner or operator to keep records of all maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations, etc. Since E-AB aircraft are subject to Part 91 (if not Part 43), they are NOT exempt from keeping these records for the required time period. There is no exemption from any of Part 91 for E-AB aircraft unless the OL's say so, or unless (like 91.205), the paragraph states that it doesn't apply to experimentals. Since 91.417 does NOT include the same type of exemption language as 91.205 does regarding standard category aircraft, it applies to E-AB aircraft. So any part of 91.417 that CAN be completed on an E-AB aircraft must be complied with.

So if the kid works on the plane, it needs to be logged that she did so. As with any work done on any airplane and signed off by whomever did the work, all they aree verifying is that the did the work and that it is complete.
 

PagoBay

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Those comments only broaden the case for not certifying safe. How can any mechanic in 5 hours “certify” an airplane as safe that was built by uncertified builders, maintained by uncertified individuals and never met any engineering standard?
The word safe should be deleted from the operating limitation. It is an impossible statement.
If anything it should be: “this aircraft was inspected in accordance with the scope and detail of FAR 43 Appendix D.” And nothing else.

I spend a portion of my time trying to save personal aviation with helpful ideas. But I don’t think there is much support and I am apparently wasting my time.

I am confused by the above. The lack of "airworthy" being used in the annual CI entry has already been explained. BUT -- let's recall for a second that DAR's inspect newly completed E-ABs and (sudden collective gasp) sign an initial air worthiness certificate for home built flying machines that surely have never and were not even permitted to be flown. E-AB's are known to then crash forthwith in Phase I due all too often to electrical or fuel system builder errors. How many DAR's have been sued?

Deleting one word in the annual CI entry does not change the context. This interpretive argument over long established phrasing could continue ad infinitum.

Fortunately, the historical record speaks volumes for the success of the entire home built airplane process. Some wealthy owners decide not to sell to a successor owner. To avoid even a shred of liability they totally shred / crush / grind up their retired E-AB. But the facts are that E-AB's have a very active second hand market.

EAA categorically says this liability issue for performance of the annual condition inspection and its long standing logbook entry is not at all supported by facts. But I won't bother to quote the EAA again on this forum. Everybody has their argument and are welcome to raise the ghost of John Denver yet again.
 
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Marc Zeitlin

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Yep. I remember this debate. But now, like then, I think unless something has changed recently, EAA guidance disagrees with your interpretation.
Do you have a pointer to the EAA's opinion? I'd certainly like to see something more authoritative than my handwaving.

Wouldn't change what I do or recommend - I think anyone that doesn't log maintenance is a fool, as they (or the next guy) won't have a history of the plane to fall back on for general understanding or resale value, but it would mean that it wasn't illegal not to log it.
 

BBerson

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Hard to keep up here today, running errands, but just one point to clarify:
I think AC 43-9C change 2 does apply to EA-B regardless of the title because it says it applies to general aviation and 14CFR 91 in paragraph 1:

Subject: Maintenance Records
Advisory Circular
Date: 5/8/18 AC No: 43-9C Initiated by: AFS-300 Change: 2
1. PURPOSE. This advisory circular (AC) describes methods, procedures, and practices that have been determined to be acceptable means of showing compliance with the General Aviation (GA) maintenance record-making and recordkeeping requirements of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 43 and 91. This material is not mandatory, nor is it regulatory, and it acknowledges that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will consider other methods that may be presented. It is issued for guidance purposes and outlines several methods of compliance with the regulations.
 

BJC

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So, Bill, after all that rehash of the regulations, what would you charge (if you were to do one) for an owner-assisted annual condition assessment of a generic RV-7?


BJC
 

Marc Zeitlin

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Hard to keep up here today, running errands, but just one point to clarify:
I think AC 43-9C change 2 does apply to EA-B regardless of the title because it says it applies to general aviation and 14CFR 91 in paragraph 1:

Subject: Maintenance Records
Advisory Circular
Date: 5/8/18 AC No: 43-9C Initiated by: AFS-300 Change: 2
1. PURPOSE. This advisory circular (AC) describes methods, procedures, and practices that have been determined to be acceptable means of showing compliance with the General Aviation (GA) maintenance record-making and recordkeeping requirements of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 43 and 91. This material is not mandatory, nor is it regulatory, and it acknowledges that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will consider other methods that may be presented. It is issued for guidance purposes and outlines several methods of compliance with the regulations.
It "applies" in the sense that it "applies" to anything, but even in the paragraph you reference, it clearly states that it's "not mandator, nor is it regulatory", so it's just advice - no more.

@Toobuilder (and others) position is that logging maintenance is not required for E-AB aircraft - mine is that it is. If the EAA disagrees with me, well, their lawyers are better than mine (none), so I'll defer to their position if @Toobuilder can provide a reference that indicates what it is. Now, a bit of web surfing turns up two Kitplanes articles that support @Toobuilder's position:


and


but if I were teaching a logic class, Mr. Baker's statement that:

"But persons working on E/A-B aircraft are not required to have a certificate, nor any training for a certificate, nor any specific knowledge of, or training on, all of the provisions of 91.417. So Section 91.417, in the context of requiring E/A-B aircraft to have maintenance records, is not an applicable general operating rule."​

would earn him a D- at best. Lisa Turner, writing in Sport Aviation, seems to imply that logging maintenance is required:


but doesn't come right out and say it.

So, Prizio makes claims but doesn't support them, Baker makes claims but his logic about 91.417 isn't logical, and Turner is vague on the matter.

My position is that the clauses in 91.417 are separable, and the inability to meet the requirements for one issue (certificate #) do not invalidate the requirements for the rest (creation and retention of maintenance records).

Obviously, there's a difference of opinion, and there are no logbook police, so... :).
 
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BBerson

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So, Bill, after all that rehash of the regulations, what would you charge (if you were to do one) for an owner-assisted annual condition assessment of a generic RV-7?


BJC
Most likely no charge. (if I endorsed with my method stated here, and the owner is somebody I know)
 
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Toobuilder

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Do you have a pointer to the EAA's opinion? I'd certainly like to see something more authoritative than my handwaving.

Wouldn't change what I do or recommend - I think anyone that doesn't log maintenance is a fool, as they (or the next guy) won't have a history of the plane to fall back on for general understanding or resale value, but it would mean that it wasn't illegal not to log it.

No single source, but this heated argument comes up every year or so on VAF and other forums and some heavy hitters (EAA, DAR's and yes, even magazine editors) weigh in suporting "convincingly" that the only records required are manditory inspections (CI, transponder, ELT, and pitot/static). This position is supported with my experience in aircraft configuration control methodology (more to the point - the PURPOSE for aircraft configuration control), and simply "makes sense" to me. As I have said before, its not that meticulous aircraft records are bad, they simply can not function as configuration management tool for an aircraft that by definition has no configuration. In my example earlier concerning the rebuild of the engine a day after a CI, the maintenance entry has zero value because the "mechanic" has zero credentials, the airplane is STILL in a "condition for safe operation" for 12 more months regardless of how poorly the engine was rebuilt, and the general public will never see the records, so has no "warning" of impending danger except for the EXPERIMENTAL sticker that the airplane was already wearing. Maintenance records are a great tool for the OWNER, but E-AB record keeping and limitations is all about protecting the public from us crazies who fly them. And through that lens, recording an oil change or engine rebuild does nothing to protect the public.

Frankly, as far as I'm concerned the issue has been laid to rest for so long that I dont even argue about it anymore.
 
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BBerson

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It "applies" in the sense that it "applies" to anything, but even in the paragraph you reference, it clearly states that it's "not mandator, nor is it regulatory", so it's just advice - no more.
Sure, the advisory circulars are not mandatory, the FAR's are mandatory.
The advisory circular 43-9C describes methods, procedures and practices that have been determined to be acceptable means of showing general aviation record keeping requirements.
The problem I see is that AC43-9C or the operating limitation statement is not adequate guidance with regard to an EA-B owner assisted inspection that is left with the owner to complete. I can’t help that.

I think any mechanic that performs a 100hr or annual without signing the records in some approved way could get his certificate suspended or worse. I cant believe EA-B is different.
 
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Turd Ferguson

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Everybody has a slightly different twist on regulation meanings because they read and interpret with their own personal biases. Trade articles are often the worst offenders and having an editor doesn't seem to help because they know even less. I have many times heard an incorrect interpretation come out of an FAA inspector's mouth, so unless they provide legal references, that's a dubious source.
Nonetheless, debating regs is a lot of fun. Amazingly, at the end of the longest and heated debates, sometimes consensus of something close to it is occasionally achieved. So the exercise can be good.

Subpart E of Part 91 is in general mostly about continuity of airworthiness, more or less what Toobuilder describes. It's is less about homebuilts as they don't use legal terms like "airworthy" and "return to service." However, if someone likes a lot of records and documentation, that is what they should do. There will always be some on the other end of the balance who prefer a minimalist approach and there's are those in between which represent the majority. At the end of the day the process works so have to accept it for what it is.
 

Marc Zeitlin

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No single source, but this heated argument comes up every year or so on VAF and other forums and some heavy hitters (EAA, DAR's and yes, even magazine editors) weigh in suporting "convincingly" that the only records required are manditory inspections (CI, transponder, ELT, and pitot/static)....
So the last time we had this discussion in March, 2018, after a quick phone call I wrote a letter to the FAA asking for a legal interpretation as to whether 14 CFR Part 91.417(a)(1) applies to E-AB aircraft. In true bureaucratic fashion, the response I got (in writing, and I **** you not) stated that 91.417(a)(1) was not ambiguous, but they did not address whether it was unambiguously "yes, it applies" or "no, it doesn't apply". So I wrote them back with some very explicit questions about that, and corollary questions, and never got any response, even after following up a year later. Then I gave up :).

So the FAA thinks the answer to this question is obvious, but doesn't want to tell anyone what it is.

I won't argue with you any more about it, but I still think it's not obvious one way or the other - I think my argument wrt 91.417 is just as reasonable as the opposite side's :). And that none of this matters, in the end :).
 
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I think any mechanic that performs a 100hr or annual without signing the records in some approved way could get his certificate suspended or worse. I cant believe EA-B is different.
Oh, contrare! Record keeping is ALL on the owner/operator, not the mechanic/inspector. As an A&P/IA, I keep my own records, but if the owner forgets to bring the logbooks, and I know the airplane, it‘s no big deal to me that the log entries don’t get written immediately after she passes her inspection. I rarely do stickers, because: where will they end up?
 
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