Thursday, November 8, 2012

Responsibility for Airworthiness Directive




                         Who is responsible to ensure that all airworthiness directives are complied with?
Is it the person or organisation carrying out maintenance or is it the person or organisation who accomplishes the tasks associated with continuing airworthiness?
Who is responsible for – critical tasks and flight sensitive maintenance tasks –                                                            it is a "shared" responsibility.
Why a "shared" responsibility?
In the first instance it is the responsibility of the owner or operator and it continues with the person or organisation who accomplishes the tasks associated with continuing airworthiness and the person or organisation carrying out maintenance, respectively issuing the release to service.

 1. Owner

It all starts with the person or organisation responsible for the continuing airworthiness. This is in the first instance the owner. According to M.A.201(a) the owner is responsible for the continuing airworthiness. And it is the owner's responsibility to ensure that a flight only takes place if the aircraft is maintained in an airworthy condition.

M.A.201(a):  The owner is responsible for the continuing airworthiness of an aircraft and shall ensure that no flight takes place unless: 

1. the aircraft is maintained in an airworthy condition, and; ...

But, what does "airworthy condition" mean? : ‘continuing airworthiness’ means all of the processes ensuring that, at any time in its operating life, the aircraft complies with the airworthiness requirements in force and is in a condition for safe operation; 

Taking this definition we can say, an aircraft is in an airworthy condition when it complies with the airworthiness requirements in force and is in a condition for safe operation.
What does it mean "condition for safe operation"? Here I refer to M.A:801(h) and AMC M.A.801(h).

M.A.801(h):  A certificate of release to service shall not be issued in the case of any known non-compliance which endangers flight safety. 


AMC M.A:801(h):   ‘Endangers flight safety’ means any instance where safe operation could not be assured or which could lead to an unsafe condition. It typically includes, but is not limited to, significant cracking, deformation, corrosion or failure of primary structure, any evidence of burning, electrical arcing, significant hydraulic fluid or fuel leakage and any emergency system or total system failure. An airworthiness directive overdue for compliance is also considered a hazard to flight safety. 


So, consequently the owner is responsible to ensure that all applicable airworthiness directives are complied with. This is also stipulated in M.A.301 which requires:


M.A.301: The aircraft continuing airworthiness and the serviceability of both operational and  emergency equipment shall be ensured by: 


M.A.301-5:   the accomplishment of any applicable: 

(i) airworthiness directive, ...

In addition it is also reflected in M.A.303 which requires:


M.A.303: Any applicable airworthiness directive must be carried out within the requirements of that airworthiness directive, unless otherwise specified by the Agency.


2.  Operator

But, very often this responsibility is transferred in accordance with M.A.201(b):

M.A.201(b):  When the aircraft is leased, the responsibilities of the owner are transferred to the lessee if: 

1. the lessee is stipulated on the registration document, or; 
2. detailed in the leasing contract. 
When reference is made in this Part to the ‘owner’, the term owner covers the owner or the lessee, as applicable. 

Based on that, we usually say that the continuing airworthiness is the responsibility of the "owner/operator".


How can the owner/operator proof that the aircraft complies with all applicable airworthiness directives?

The evidence for compliance is a status of airworthiness directives which forms part of the continuing airworthiness records.

M.A.305(d):  The aircraft continuing airworthiness records shall contain the current: 

1. status of airworthiness directives and measures mandated by the competent authority in immediate reaction to a safety problem; ...

AMC M.A.305(d):   The current status of AD should identify the applicable AD including revision or amendment numbers. Where an AD is generally applicable to the aircraft or component type but is not applicable to the particular aircraft or component, then this should be identified. The AD status includes the date when the AD was accomplished, and where the AD is controlled by flight hours or flight cycles it should include the aircraft or engine or component total flight hours or cycles, as appropriate. For repetitive ADs, only the last application should be recorded in the AD status. The status should also specify which part of a multi-part directive has been accomplished and the method, where a choice is available in the AD.


3. Person or organisation accomplishing the tasks associated with continuing airworthiness But what about the person or organisation accomplishing the tasks associated with continuing airworthiness and the person or organisation carrying out maintenance?

According to M.A.201(e) the person or organisation who accomplishes the tasks associated with continuing airworthiness is responsible for proper accomplishment of the tasks associated with continuing airworthiness and is not responsible for the continuing airworthiness.

M.A.201(e):  In order to satisfy the responsibilities of paragraph (a), 

(i) the owner of an aircraft may contract the tasks associated with continuing airworthiness to a continuing airworthiness management organisation approved in accordance with Section A, Subpart G of this Annex (Part M). In this case, the continuing airworthiness management organisation assumes responsibility for the proper accomplishment of these tasks. ...

One of these tasks associated with continuing airworthiness is to ensure that all applicable airworthiness directives are applied.


M.A.708(b):  For every aircraft managed, the approved continuing airworthiness management organisation shall: ... 

5. ensure that all applicable airworthiness directives and operational directives with a continuing airworthiness impact, are applied, ... 

The evidence for the proper accomplishment of the task to "ensure that all applicable airworthiness directives are applied" is the establishment of the airworthiness directives status (see M.A.305(d)1).


It is the person or organisation accomplishing the tasks associated with continuing airworthiness who must evaluate all published airworthiness directives for applicability and, if one is applicable, ensure that it is accomplished by the person or organisation carrying out maintenance. A clear work order must be issued to the person or organisation carrying out maintenance requesting the accomplishment of the applicable airworthiness directive.


Once the airworthiness directive is carried out the person or organisation who performed that work must issue appropriate maintenance records, issue the release to service for that work performed and transfer all corresponding records and the release to service to the person or organisation issuing the work order.


After receipt of these records, including the release to service, the person or organisation who accomplishes the tasks associated with continuing airworthiness must establish/update the airworthiness directives status. This provides the owner with the evidence that the aircraft is in an airworthy condition in regards to that airworthiness directive.

  
4. Person or organisation issuing the release to service
What is the responsibility of the person or organisation carrying out maintenance, respectively issuing the release to service?
Every person or organisation carrying out maintenance is only responsible for the tasks performed.

M.A.201(c):  Any person or organisation performing maintenance shall be responsible for the tasks performed. 


Therefore, if the person or organisation who accomplishes the tasks associated with continuing airworthiness does not issue a work order to the person or organisation carrying out maintenance requesting the performance of an airworthiness directive the person or organisation carrying out maintenance is not allowed to carry out an applicable airworthiness directive, even if this airworthiness directive is overdue.


A release to service must be issued after any maintenance and as long as the person or organisation carrying out maintenance does not know about an applicable airworthiness directive being overdue the release to service can be issued after performing the tasks.


M.A.305(a):  At the completion of any maintenance, the certificate of release to service required by point M.A.801 or point 145.A.50 shall be entered in the aircraft continuing airworthiness records. ...


M.A.801(b):  No aircraft can be released to service unless a certificate of release to service is issued at the completion of any maintenance, when satisfied that all maintenance required has been properly carried out, ...


But, there is one restriction. As we have seen above, if the person or organisation carrying out maintenance knows about a non-compliance which endangers flight safety (see M.A.801(h) and AMC M.A.801(h)) a release to service cannot be issued.


And here the little word "know" is the key word. The person or organisation carrying out maintenance does not normally know the detailed status of the aircraft. The situation might occur where a release to service is issued and there is an airworthiness directive overdue. If the person or organisation carrying out maintenance is not aware of this it cannot be blamed.


But there is an area where the person or organisation carrying out maintenance is responsible for the airworthiness directives status. This is with respect to storage of articles. We have situations where the person or organisation carrying out maintenance owns a certain stock of articles. In this case it is the responsibility of the person or organisation carrying out maintenance to ensure that all articles in the store comply with the airworthiness requirements, and one issue is complying with all applicable airworthiness directives.


Therefore, even the person or organisation carrying out maintenance need to establish a procedure defining how airworthiness directives are evaluated to ensure that all articles are airworthy prior to installation.


M.A.501(b):  Prior to installation of a component on an aircraft the person or approved maintenance organisation shall ensure that the particular component is eligible to be fitted when different modification and/or airworthiness directive configurations may be applicable. 


AMC M.A.501(b):   1. The Form 1 identifies the airworthiness status of an aircraft component. Block 12 "Remarks" on the  Form 1 in some cases contains vital airworthiness related information (see also Part-M Appendix II) which may need appropriate and necessary actions. 


2. The fitment of a replacement components should only take place when the person referred to in M.A.801 or the M.A. Subpart F or Part-145 maintenance organisation is satisfied that such components meet required standards in respect of manufacture or maintenance, as appropriate. 


3. The person referred to under M.A.801 or the M.A. Subpart F or Part-145 approved maintenance organisation should be satisfied that the component in question meets the approved data/standard, such as the required design and modification standards. This may be accomplished by reference to the (S)TC holder or manufacturer's parts catalogue or other approved data (i.e. Service Bulletin). Care should also be [taken] in ensuring compliance with applicable ADs and the status of any service life limited parts fitted to the aircraft component. 

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