Inspection Standards and Procedures

INSPECTION manufacturer's specifications, comply with all appli-
PERFORMANCE STANDARDS cable airworthiness directives, and be in condition
The inspection of an aircraft to determine its airworthi- for safe flight. [Figure 4-1]
ness requires a great amount of skill and judgment. For
the most part, the items to be inspected are usually
listed in a checklist provided by the manufacturer of
the aircraft. But how well an item is inspected or in Federal Aviation Regulations
what order, is up to the inspector. The determination of
the airworthiness of an item is sometimes easy to
ascertain using guidance material provided by the
manufacturer, while at other times it is left up to the PART 43
judgment of the individual. Component parts of an
aircraft must also be checked to determine that they
Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance,
meet FAA standards, as well as being legal for instal- Rebuilding, and Alteration
Effective July 6, 1964
lation on the aircraft. These factors, combined
together, make it necessary for the inspector to CURRENT THROUGH CHANGE 14
(1404ed September 10, 1990)
develop a structured system or procedure that can be
used to effectively inspect an aircraft.

It is essential that inspectors develop a set of standards
for themselves so they may effectively determine if an
item is airworthy. These standards must be high
enough to guarantee the airworthiness of the aircraft,
but yet not so high as to cause needless expense for the
aircraft owner. The inspector must also withstand the DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

pressures that may be applied by others to lower those FEDERAL. AVIA11ON ADMINISTRATION
standards and represent items airworthy when they are
not. Once these standards are compromised, it is very
difficult for an inspector to restore his or her integrity.
Figure 4-1. 14 CFR Part 43 is the primary reference publica-
tion for the performance rules for conducting maintenance,
Aircraft owners and operators should also understand including inspections.
the role and responsibilities of the inspector. While the
inspector primarily determines that an aircraft is in All aircraft being maintained under an approved inspec-
a safe condition for continued operation, they also tion program must also meet the requirements of 14
provide services that help maintain the value of the CFR Part 43.13. This regulation states that each person
aircraft. As such, the inspector requires all unair- maintaining, altering, or performing preventive mainte-
worthy items to be corrected, but also recommends nance, shall use methods, techniques, and practices
or performs other maintenance that, while not acceptable to the FAA. They shall use the tools, equip-
required, improves the aircraft's appearance or helps ment, and test apparatus necessary to ensure completion of
to avert future problems. the work in accordance with accepted industry practices.
If special equipment or test apparatus is recommended by
INSPECTION PERFORMANCE RULES the manufacturer involved, they must use that equipment
Each person performing a 100-hour, annual, or pro- or its equivalent acceptable to the FAA.
gressive inspection shall perform those inspections
in such a manner as to determine whether the aircraft CHECKLIST REQUIREMENTS
concerned meets all applicable airworthiness Each person performing an annual or 100-hour
requirements. This statement is a part of 14 CFR Part inspection must use a checklist while performing an
43.15 and means that the aircraft must be physically inspection. This checklist may be of the person's
airworthy. It must conform to its type certificate and own design, one provided by the manufacturer of the
Aircraft Technical Book Company 4-1
(800) 780-4115 (970) 887-2207

Throughout the inspection process. When inspecting rotorcraft. inspection on a rotorcraft. the engines must be run and checked for the following: [Figure 4-2] Static (stationary aircraft) power check. an initial work The main rotor transmission gear box for obvious order agreement will usually indicate that the owner defects. the work order should be amended to indicate any changes in the scope The drive shafts or similar being inspected. specific inspection Cylinder temperature if equipped with a cylinder items are listed in 14 CFR Part 43. After a 100-hour or an annual inspection. or one obtained from These items are to be inspected in accordance with the another source.15. the following items are the work order serves as a legal document to indicate listed as specific inspection items in Paragraph b of 14 the work that was authorized and performed. ance of the additional operations and costs.15.ACTechbooks. return to service. Magnetos and ignition system. the items are listed in nance manual. If prob- When performing a 100-hour. of the original agreement. and area). if equipped with a fuel pressure gage. Oil temperature. INSPECTION PROCEDURES All other operating systems for meeting the manu. The work order serves as an agreement between the ROTORCRAFT PERFORMANCE RULES maintenance facility and the aircraft owner. FUNCTIONAL CHECKS REQUIRED When a 100-hour or annual inspection is completed and before the aircraft can be approved for return to service. The accepted method of performing an inspection used by the aircraft maintenance industry also includes the service and repair activities necessary to return the aircraft to service. The inspection of the aircraft is divided into basically five identifiable phases. This checklist must include the scope manufacturer's maintenance manual and must comply and detail of the items listed in Appendix D of 14 CFR with all other inspection requirements of the mainte- Part 43. or progressive lems arise during or after the maintenance operation. forming the inspection organizes their work so that the inspection can be performed in a logical and orderly sequence. however. Before any repairs are done. The inspection of an aircraft requires that the person per- facturers' (800) 780-4115 (970) 887-2207 . This tional checks are required before approving an aircraft for phase includes the completion of a work order. the work order amended and signed to indicate accept- The auxiliary rotor on helicopters. as follows: PRE-INSPECTION PHASE The pre-inspection phase begins when the owner of the aircraft requests the services of a shop or an indi- Figure 4-2. CFR Part 43. Fuel pressure.15. has agreed that an inspection is to be performed. temperature gage. Oil pressure. If it is a rotorcraft. the additional costs and The main rotor and center section (or the equivalent time factors should be discussed with the owner. For example. [Figure 4-3] Paragraph b of 14 CFR Part 43. 4-2 Aircraft Technical Book Company http://www. func- vidual to perform an inspection on the aircraft. Idle RPM. This ensures that the aircraft is properly inspected with little chance that any item will be over- looked or forgotten. annual. Figure 4-3. Including these activities into a procedure requires that the inspector follow an organized plan in completing the inspection.

If the aircraft is legal for flight. inspection plates. This includes a check for past Figure 4-4. testing. and other prominent indicators of historical problem areas. any performance trends as indicated craft cowling is necessary. accomplished after the complete aircraft and engine record engine indication values for maximum static. should be checked next. has been inspected. sequence or order in which the various items of the air- craft is disassembled for inspection.ACTechbooks. feels. a work plan that includes AD actions that should be Discrepancies and needed service that become appar- taken while the aircraft is open. The checklist should be used with a planned applicable) and all installed appliances. During the "look phase" of an inspection. If AD actions become ent are recorded during this phase of the inspection. it is best to organize craft are inspected. Figure 4-5. note any fluid or through items such as engine compression checks. propeller (if ponents.While initially filling out the work order. allowing the inspector or inspection team to temperature. car- pet. apparent during this phase. as well as determining if there are any operating. and in noted on a discrepancy reporting form to be further support of. it is important that owners effectively communicate all indications associated with the discrepancy. Remember that AD to determine the condition of the aircraft and its com- research includes the airframe. it may be advan- tageous for the owner to duplicate the discrepancy during flight with the technician aboard. operates. checking. and At this point. During the run-up. During the "pre-inspection phase". but in most cases an aircraft requires further cleaning before each area is inspected. ice should be avoided as much as possible at this point. however. the technician looks. manifold pressure. landing gear problems and service history. A functional check should then be performed to con. cylinder head temperature. and upholstery should be removed as required to gain suitable access to perform a thorough visual inspection. oil pressure and perform. checks. LOOK PHASE Airworthiness Directive and service bulletin status The look phase is the actual inspection of the aircraft. moving. the techni- cian should interview the owner to determine if there are any obvious items that the owner wants corrected or checked. Aircraft Technical Book Company 4-3 http://www. feeling. [Figure 4-5] checked during the inspection. remain focused on completing the inspection phase. tools and equipment are made ready. exhaust stains on the inside of the cowling and note their location for later inspection. The necessary repair and service items should be firm the powerplant operation. etc. measures. measuring. the look phase of the inspection. or assigned to other individuals to and idle-RPM. The technician should then perform a preliminary The primary purpose of the look phase is to determine visual inspection to determine if there are any obvious the physical airworthiness of the aircraft and its com- discrepancies. and whatever else is needed new ADs that require action. This includes removing the cowling and ponents. recurring ADs. This includes research into any It consists of looking. maintenance record research should be done. [Figure 4-4] From this point. Since the technician is seldom able to analyze in-flight discrepancies first-hand. interior seats. All of the other activities included in the looking for fuel and oil stains. These items should be inspection of the aircraft are dependent upon. Many shops and technicians will perform an initial cleaning before starting an inspection. and moves whatever is needed to determine the physical condi- any known parts that will be needed are ordered. the owner should also be Interrupting the inspection to perform repairs and serv- advised and the work order amended accordingly. removal of air- work performed. powerplant. tion of the aircraft and its components. 14 CFR Part 43 Appendix D also specifies that the air- craft must be thoroughly cleaned before conducting an inspection. Once the work order has been filled out and the owner interview has been completed. Before the air. Most manufacturers' maintenance manuals provide charts or tables to indicate which inspection panels to (800) 780-4115 (970) 887-2207 . Before cleaning.

The repair phase includes replacement. repair. the manufacturer of a part that meets FAA Technical Standard Orders (TSO). into the supply network. ADs. Before a signed by the inspector. and must be retained with the aircraft's determine that they will perform in accordance with maintenance records for at least one year. surplus parts sup- Figure 4-6. however. Their parts come from a variety of sources including the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Replacement parts are often procured through vendors that perform the "middle man" functions of distribution to the end user. the inspector must minimum functional check required on most engine diligently look for unapproved parts. indicating that the aircraft meets regulatory requirements and is approved for FUNCTIONAL CHECK PHASE return to service. a technician should conduct researching and updating a cumulative status list of functional or operational checks on the aircraft or sys. from the smallest nuts and bolts. or a person within an organization assigned to the task. and control surface hinge bearings. or until the the manufacturer's recommendations of power output work is superseded by another inspection. It should be noted. This would be followed by the statement "I certify ing and cleaning filters and screens. This service consists of many compliance with any Airworthiness Directives or items such as lubricating wheel bearings. When a technician runs the aircraft engines to determine if they meet the manu. In the "functional test phase" a technician often ply companies. inspector must identify and replace parts and compo- mended to ensure that all of the systems installed in a nents that while being FAA approved. adding fluids in that this aircraft has been inspected in accordance the brake and hydraulic reservoirs. performed the inspection. the installations. electric motors. it is up to that individual. This would be followed by and overhaul of the aircraft components and systems the signature and certificate number of the person that that are determined to be in an unairworthy condition. Additional checks are usually recom. return to service. PARTS APPROVALS ment that is directed by 14 CFR Part 43. The tracking this information. The wrong part may have been according to the manufacturers' specifications. At notations must be made in the maintenance records and present there is no requirement for a set method of signed by an appropriately rated (800) 780-4115 (970) 887-2207 . (static and idle RPM). that Before an aircraft can be approved for return to service part of the inspection requirements also includes after any maintenance. facturer's recommended performance specifications. and many others. and all other components must meet specific standards established by the FAA. to major subassemblies such as landing gear. This record must be thoroughly researched and tems that have been serviced or repaired. certain statements or of where the part was manufactured or distributed. installed by a certificated mechanic that made an [Figure 4-6] improper substitution or possibly by a person that was not properly certificated to perform the installation.ACTechbooks. along with industry accepted practices that vendors take to help the inspector's signature and certificate number serves control the migration of unapproved or bogus parts the approval process. the person that approves the aircraft it is still a vital component of the airworthiness for return to service must run the aircraft engine(s) to inspection.SERVICE AND REPAIR PHASE A typical return to service entry for a 100-hour The service and repair phase of the inspection is the inspection consists of the date. lights. aircraft total time in necessary maintenance that is required to return the service. as well as replac.15 which is a Throughout the inspection process. a company authorized to make replacement parts through an FAA Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA). and a record of until the next inspection. fuel and oil pressure. but there are a number of approved for return to service statement. and servicing the with a 100-hour inspection and was determined to be battery. 4-4 Aircraft Technical Book Company http://www. While the cumulative list is 100-hour or annual inspection can be approved for generally kept separate from the inspection sign-off. obtains replacement parts. The parts used. magnetos. This is a require. a brief description of the maintenance and aircraft to service and keep it in airworthy condition service performed on the aircraft. are incorrect for particular aircraft or engine are in airworthy condition that particular aircraft. In addition. and cylinder and oil temperatures. These vendors often pro- After an inspection and/or maintenance and before an vide support documentation that discloses the source aircraft can be legally flown. moving parts service bulletins performed during the inspection. in airworthy condition". to determine that all parts received are procured RETURN TO SERVICE PHASE from a reputable vendor.

meet to satisfy regulations specifying minimum per- lated is to retain safety. other than the orig- inal manufacturer. a method of assuring quality and the part was originally manufactured or obtained. In use on civil aircraft. The older maintain quality. parts. Standards (NAS). spark Surplus and salvaged parts are sometimes obtained for plugs. more common standards include Air Force-Navy Standards (AN). This may be shown by a maintenance release document. A seminating bogus parts is propelled by greed. in many cases where a part is a component. and a wide assortment of others. or appliance to a TSO standard. nuts. the source. it's time in service. These standards realized that the business of manufacturing and dis. aircraft.All persons involved in aircraft maintenance should be TECHNICAL STANDARD ORDERS aware of the serious consequences that may occur The FAA also prescribes a set of standards that various when illegal parts enter aviation commerce. useful life. should TSO-C3d Turn and Slip Instruments understand that the technician or repair facility can be TSO-05e Direction Instrument. to produce replacement parts. When authorized to manufacture a material. obtaining a PMA. activation system reliability. oil filters. bolts. component for use on civil aircraft. To had to meet the requirements of TSO C-91a. At other times. it should be formance and quality requirements. performance requirements. A PMA authorizes a manufacturer. wherein parts must be identified in order to inform end status of Airworthiness Directive compliance. For example. the only way to determine if it meets When a part is PMA approved. 1995 the ELT must meet the correct tolerances and dimensions. In addition. certain quality standards established by the manufac- turer. Aircraft Technical Book Company 4-5 http://www. These SURPLUS/SALVAGE PARTS parts include items such as brake pads and disks. If the tag becomes illegible or missing. In fact. are presented in Technical Standard Orders (TSO). an ELT quality before being approved for aircraft use. it is necessary to reject the part cannot be assumed to be approved. tracking the manufacturing process. part. following: the aircraft owner may locate and obtain parts for use on their aircraft.FAA. this is referred HARDWARE STANDARDS to as TSO authorization. the FAA requires all hardware to be ELTs are authorized to remain in aircraft if they were manufactured to established standards. and rivets are only a small portion newer emergency locator transmitters that broadcast of the types of hardware used. Ultimately though. One example of a TSO authorized appliance applies to Screws. as well as users of corrective actions that must be taken. but indicate that it has met FAA PMA approval. Aircraft owners however. Before that date.ACTechbooks. machined to the an aircraft after June 21.GOV. Some of the originally installed in the aircraft before that date. In most cases. This is even then it may be difficult to determine if all parts used usually done on a tag or label that is affixed to the in the component were obtained from a legitimate product. In order for a new ELT to be installed in ufactured using the proper materials. and is TSO is a minimum performance standard for speci- only controlled by the integrity of people that strive to fying materials. tracking docu. Obviously. Receiving a TSO authoriza- All hardware used in aircraft construction must meet tion is both design and production approval. If there is any doubt. and National Aerospace manufacturing minima. aircraft appliance and component manufacturers must the main reason bogus parts must be identified and iso. a technician or repair facility procures a A small sample of other common TSOs includes the part from a vendor of their choosing. the manufacturer of the part must it presents some problems that aviation personnel must show that the item meets the same standards specified be aware of. Other TSO authorizations can be obtained on the inter- PARTS MANUFACTURER APPROVAL net from the FAA's web site at WWW. Non-Magnetic held liable if bogus parts are installed on an aircraft. or another TSO-C74c Airborne Transponder Equipment form that indicates the condition of the part as being TSO-C 145 Global Positioning Systems airworthy and approved for in service use. many other (800) 780-4115 (970) 887-2207 . many times these parts are for the original part. such as a serviceable tag. (Gyroscopically Stabilized) When a part is provided through a source other than from the organization doing the work. the manufacturer must airworthiness standards is to perform an overhaul. on 406 MHz. Military Standards (MS). and checked for requirements of TSO C-126. Tracking is Without this information it's difficult to determine the required in the event a discrepancy is discovered authenticity of the part. and appliances used on civil maintain high ethical standards. TSO-C9c Automatic Pilots mentation should be retained to support that the part is TSO-C22g Safety Belts FAA-approved. as well as many others. While this is not necessarily illegal. among many others. Military TSO C-126 provides many specifications including the Specifications (Mil-Spec). which ultimately must meet FAA requirements. Each item must be man. the part manufacturer obtained without support documentation showing where must have in place.

On the other List three possible sources where a checklist may hand. How is an aircraft approved for return to service? quently evaluated by the FAA for civil aircraft use. the purchaser must cally feasible to repair and reuse the part. if the part has been determined to meet issued a TSO authorization? Aircraft Technical Book Company http://www. be able to provide the certifying documentation to support that the part has been granted the proper As an additional (800) 780-4115 (970) 887-2207 . If an aircraft destroyed to the extent that it would not be economi. may be identical in material and workmanship. the individual or organization parts from entering the supply network. but often these parts are only manufactured to the military's specifications. it should be permanently damaged or parts are approved for civil aircraft use. however. forming a functional check? may have been awarded to a manufacturer to produce a List the functional checks that are required on an number of the same type of spark plugs. In addition. The actual physical inspection of the aircraft is called which phase of the inspection program? It should be noted that in some situations. Military contracts. part on a specific aircraft. not approved for civil aircraft.ACTechbooks. inspection. has these types of parts installed. installation of parts manufactured for military aircraft use and therefore are approved by an STC requires an FAA Form 337. design and manufacturing process. Supplemental Type Certificate designating that the viceable. spark plugs for reciprocating-engine aircraft are man- ufactured to FAA standards and must be FAA-approved What does the term static RPM mean in per- for use in civil aircraft. the part has not been be acquired or designed for performing an evaluated to establish FAA approval. When is it required to use a part that has been most cases. a part that has been manufactured for the military may be subse. In 7. whenever a that requested the evaluation may be granted a part or component is initially determined to be unser. The military part may Major Alteration and Repair. regardless of the quality. detailing the use of the appear to be equivalent to a part used on civil aircraft. many surplus parts are authorization. While the parts engine when completing a 100-hour inspection. the mil- itary part is still not suitable for use in civil aircraft List the five phases that make up an inspection since it has not been monitored by the FAA through the program on an aircraft. which may or may not be STUDY QUESTIONS sufficient for civil aircraft requirements.In an effort to reduce the risk of unauthorized salvage FAA requirements. For example.