[Federal Register Volume 76, Number 150 (Thursday, August 4, 2011)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 47058-47060]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2011-19741]



[[Page 47058]]

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Part 65

[Docket No. FAA-2010-1060]


Policy Clarifying Definition of ``Actively Engaged'' for Purposes 
of Inspector Authorization

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of policy; disposition of comments.

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SUMMARY: This action clarifies the term ``actively engaged'' for the 
purposes of application for and renewal of an inspection authorization. 
It also responds to the comments submitted to the proposed policy and 
revises portions of that proposal. This action amends the Flight 
Standards Management System FAA Order 8900.1.

DATES: This policy becomes effective September 6, 2011.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ed Hall, Aircraft Maintenance General 
Aviation Branch, AFS-350, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 
Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (804) 222-
7494 ext. 240; e-mail: ed.hall@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Section 65.91(c) of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations 
sets forth the eligibility requirements for obtaining an inspection 
authorization (IA). Among other requirements, an applicant must ``have 
been actively engaged, for at least the two-year period before the date 
he applies, in maintaining aircraft certificated and maintained in 
accordance with [FAA regulations].'' Section 65.93(a) sets forth the 
eligibility requirements for renewing an IA and incorporates the 
requirements for obtaining one under Sec.  65.91(c)(1)-(4). 
Accordingly, an individual must be actively engaged, for at least the 
prior two-year period, in maintaining aircraft to be eligible to either 
obtain or renew an IA.
    The FAA provides guidance concerning the issuance of IAs in the 
Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS), FAA Order 
8900.1, Volume 5, Chapter 5, Sections 7 and 8. These sections assist 
aviation safety inspectors (ASIs) in evaluating an initial application 
for an IA or an application for renewing an IA as well as allow a 
prospective applicant to determine his or her eligibility. IAs are 
issued for two years and expire on March 31 of odd-numbered years. 
March 31, 2013, is the next expiration date.
    The definition of the term ``actively engaged'' has caused 
confusion among ASIs and aircraft maintenance personnel. The term is 
not defined in 14 CFR, and its definition in agency guidance materials 
has varied over time. In November 2010, the FAA published a notice of 
proposed policy clarifying the definition of ``actively engaged'' for 
the purposes of an IA.\1\ The notice recognized the FAA's prior 
inconsistent application of the term and the public's misunderstanding 
of the regulatory requirements contained under Sec.  65.91(c)(2). The 
notice proposed to amend FAA Order 8900.1 Volume 5 Chapter 5 to provide 
a clearer definition of ``actively engaged'' within FAA policy. The FAA 
reaffirmed longstanding policy that an applicant who is employed full-
time in inspecting, overhauling, repairing, preserving, or replacing 
parts on aircraft consistently are considered actively engaged. For an 
applicant participating in (regardless of employment status) 
maintenance activities part time or occasionally, it proposed an ASI 
would use documentation or other evidence provided by the applicant 
detailing the maintenance activity to determine whether the type of 
maintenance activity performed, considering any special expertise 
required, and the quantity of maintenance activity demonstrated the 
applicant was actively engaged. The notice also proposed a limited 
carve-out, or relief, for ASIs holding an IA that are restricted in the 
type of maintenance they can perform due to ethical considerations.
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    \1\ 75 FR 68249 (Nov. 5, 2010).
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    The comment period closed on January 17, 2011, following an 
extension of the comment period.\2\ The FAA considered late-filed 
comments through February 4, 2011. As of that date, more than 954 
comments had been filed.
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    \2\ See 75 FR 75649 (Dec. 6, 2010).
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Discussion of the Comments and Final Policy

    The majority of individual commenters believed the FAA was engaging 
in rulemaking rather than clarifying an existing rule, and these 
commenters generally were opposed to the proposed clarification. Many 
of these commenters expressed the belief the IA was a certificate or 
license, rather than an FAA authorization. They contended the loss of 
their IA would result in a loss of knowledge that could affect their 
existing or future employment as well as lost knowledge to the industry 
in general. Some commenters contended a shrinking population of IAs 
would result in increased maintenance and inspection costs. 
Incidentally, many of these commenters acknowledged they did not 
perform or supervise any maintenance activities and previously renewed 
their IA by attending training or through oral testing under Sec.  
65.93(a)(4)-(5). Similarly, several commenters expressed the belief 
that accomplishing any of the activities in Sec.  65.93(a)(1) through 
(5) were sufficient for IA renewal.\3\
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    \3\ Those activities are: (1) Performed at least one annual 
inspection for each 90 days that the applicant held the current 
authority; (2) performed at least two major repairs or major 
alterations for each 90 days that the applicant held the current 
authority; (3) performed or supervised and approved at least one 
progressive inspection in accordance with standards prescribed by 
the Administrator; (4) attended and successfully completed a 
refresher course, acceptable to the Administrator, of not less than 
8 hours of instruction; and (5) passed an oral test by an FAA 
inspector to determine that the applicant's knowledge of applicable 
regulations and standards is current. Sec.  65.93(a).
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    The FAA believes these comments result from a common 
misunderstanding of the IA renewal requirements under Sec.  65.93. 
Section 65.93 sets forth five activities, at least one of which must be 
completed in the first year and at least one of which must be completed 
in the second year, to be eligible for renewal of an IA. However, Sec.  
65.93(a) also states ``an applicant must present evidence * * * that 
the applicant still meets the requirements of Sec.  65.91(c)(1) through 
(4).'' Accordingly, IA applicants must hold a current mechanic's 
certificate with both airframe and powerplant ratings that has been in 
effect for at least 3 years and must have been actively engaged in 
maintaining aircraft for 2 years prior to the application. 
Additionally, IA applicants must identify a fixed base of operation at 
which he or she may be located in person or by phone during normal 
working hours. This may be a residence or place of employment. An IA 
applicant also must have available the equipment, facilities, and 
inspection data necessary to properly inspect airframes, powerplants, 
propellers, or related parts or appliances. Technical data includes 
type certificate data information, airworthiness directives, federal 
regulations, and availability of manufacturers' service or maintenance 
information specific to the inspections being performed. Equipment 
required to properly inspect aircraft, powerplants, propellers, or 
appliances includes but may not be limited to basic hand tools,

[[Page 47059]]

compression testers, magneto timing lights or disk, and devices 
applicable to determining control surface travels, cable tensions, or 
blade angles as applicable during the performance of an inspection. 
Facilities should be available to provide proper environmental 
protection of the aircraft, powerplant, propeller, or appliance being 
inspected. Consideration should be given to any adverse effects by 
wind, rain, temperature, or other inhibiting elements on the product 
being inspected.
    The FAA disagrees with commenters' contention that the IA is a 
certificate or rating. The FAA consistently has held the IA is an 
authorization. The FAA also rejects the contention that employment 
would be affected because employers reasonably expect the FAA to ensure 
regulatory compliance and expect a person holding an IA has met all FAA 
requirements to hold that authorization.
    Many commenters were concerned ASIs would evaluate individuals 
engaging in maintenance activities part time or occasionally in a 
subjective or inconsistent manner. These commenters request further 
clarification of part-time or occasional engagement to promote 
consistency and standardization. A commenter suggests any clarification 
specifically address individuals engaged in personal aircraft 
maintenance, retired mechanics providing occasional or relief 
maintenance, individuals providing maintenance in rural areas, and 
individuals offering specialized expertise in electrical, composites, 
and rare or vintage aircraft.
    The FAA recognizes and values individuals with experience in wood 
structures, steel tubing, fabric coverings, radial engines, ground 
adjustable propellers, aging aircraft, and the fatigue inspection 
issues associated with these aircraft. The FAA also values the 
experience of individuals who are available on a part-time or 
occasional basis to inspect vintage or rare aircraft or aircraft that 
may be located in rural areas of the country not serviced by an 
abundance of IAs. The FAA does not intend to eliminate eligibility or 
renewal opportunities of these individuals. Accordingly, the FAA has 
adopted a broad definition of ``actively engaged'' to include not only 
part-time employment but also occasional activity, which does not 
require employment and can occur on an infrequent basis. The FAA 
believes it problematic to list every situation that could be 
considered actively engaged, and that approach may exclude situations 
that an ASI would determine meets the regulatory requirements. 
Additionally, as indicated in the proposed policy, the FAA values the 
substantive nature of experience rather than a strict quantity formula.
    The FAA has concluded that requiring ASIs to evaluate evidence or 
documentation provided by the applicant will facilitate a consistent 
review because the ASI will have more than the applicant's self-
certification to make the determination. This documentation, when 
required, could include records showing performance or supervision of 
aircraft maintenance, return to service documents, and copies of 
maintenance record entries. The FAA expects documentation will 
establish an applicant's continued contributions to the aviation 
industry and ability to demonstrate compliance with 65.91(c)(1)-(4).
    Many commenters, including several associations, requested the 
definition of actively engaged include supervision, either technical or 
in an executive capacity, of maintenance or alteration of aircraft 
because supervision meets the recency of experience requirements for an 
airframe and powerplant (A & P) certificate. Some commenters also 
requested actively engaged includes full-time instruction under part 
147 and employment directly related to airworthiness (such as, 
technical representative, maintenance sales, maintenance coordinator, 
and maintenance auditor).
    The FAA agrees that supervision of maintenance activities provides 
the same sort of experience the actively engaged requirement was 
intended to require. For that reason, the FAA will include technical 
supervision and supervision in an executive capacity on either a full-
time, part-time, or occasional basis in the definition of actively 
engaged. The FAA previously determined involvement solely in an 
academic environment is not actively engaged. However, a technical 
instructor or part 147 school instructor may maintain aircraft or 
supervise the maintenance of aircraft in addition to instruction, in 
which case the instructor could be considered actively engaged. 
Individuals employed as a manufacturer's technical representative, 
maintenance coordinator, or maintenance auditor also could be 
considered actively engaged depending on the activity demonstrated. 
Without a better understanding of duties involved, it is unclear 
whether an individual involved in maintenance sales could demonstrate 
inspecting, overhauling, repairing, preserving, or replacing parts on 
an aircraft, or supervising those activities.
    Several commenters contended the carve-out for ASIs renewing an IA 
was inconsistent with the definition of actively engaged. One commenter 
contended an ASI should be required to meet the hands-on experience 
required of other applicants.
    As stated in the proposed policy, FAA Order 8900.1 restricts the 
types of maintenance that ASIs can perform because of ethical concerns, 
and the FAA does not intend for ASIs to be prejudiced because of their 
employment restrictions. The FAA does not intend to change its policy 
regarding an ASI holding an IA by virtue of the ASI 1825 job 
description and resulting ASI responsibilities. An ASI retains the 
ability to maintain a personally-owned aircraft or aircraft owned by 
another ASI in meeting the actively engaged definition. Additionally, 
an ASI's job description requires continuous determinations of 
conformity to aircraft, engine, and propeller type certificates; 
adherence to manufacturers' maintenance requirements or inspection 
requirements; compliance with Airworthiness Directives; and the actual 
issue of recurrent and original airworthiness certificates. Further, an 
ASI accomplishes or oversees export certificate issuance requirements, 
oversees maintenance record entries for stated special airworthiness 
certificate issuance, oversees determinations of major repair/
alteration requirements on FAA form 337, and oversees the determination 
of appropriate maintenance record entries. These job functions parallel 
the supervision in a technical or executive capacity and therefore 
these activities could be considered when determining whether the ASI 
has been actively engaged. After considering the comments, the FAA does 
not adopt an ASI carve-out because it anticipates ASIs would be able to 
demonstrate they are actively engaged under the policy as would any 
applicant supervising maintenance in a technical or executive capacity.
    Several commenters, including associations, expressed concern that 
FAA Order 8900.1 lacked a specific appeal process for applicants denied 
the initial or renewal IA because of an ASI's determination that the 
applicant was not actively engaged.
    Because the issuance or renewal of an IA is not a certificate 
action, the FAA does not have a formal appeal process. However, an 
action on an IA application could be addressed through the Aviation 
Safety Consistency and Standardization Initiative (CSI), which requires 
review of a questioned or disputed action at every level of the AVS 
management chain.
    One commenter contended there should be no actively engaged

[[Page 47060]]

requirement for an initial or renewal IA. Another commenter suggested 
the period of active engagement should be extended from two to four 
years.
    These comments are beyond the scope of the policy clarification 
because they would require rulemaking. Nevertheless, the FAA views the 
actively engaged requirement as providing maintenance experience 
relevant to conducting inspections. Similarly, the two-year period 
provides the recency of experience in maintenance performance or 
supervision necessary to conduct inspections.
    The FAA has determined to make this policy effective for the next 
renewal cycle in March 2013 to allow IAs and ASIs adequate time to 
participate in the required activity. The FAA will update FAA Order 
8900.1 accordingly.

Amendment

    In consideration of the foregoing, the Federal Aviation 
Administration will revise FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 5, Chapter 5 as 
follows:
    1. Amend Section 7, Paragraph 5-1279 by adding a Note after 
subparagraph A to read: 5-1279 ELIGIBILITY. The ASI must establish the 
applicant's eligibility before allowing the applicant to test. None of 
the requirements of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 
CFR) part 65, Sec.  65.91 can be waived by the ASI.
    A. The applicant must hold a current mechanic's certificate, with 
both airframe and powerplant ratings, that has been in effect for at 
least 3 years. The applicant must have been actively engaged in 
maintaining certificated aircraft for at least the 2-year period before 
applying.

    Note: Actively engaged means an active role in exercising the 
privileges of an airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate in the 
maintenance of civil aircraft. Applicants who inspect, overhaul, 
repair, preserve, or replace parts on aircraft, or who supervise 
(i.e., direct and inspect) those activities, are actively engaged. 
The ASI may use evidence or documentation provided by the applicant 
showing inspection, overhauling, repairing, preserving, or replacing 
parts on aircraft or supervision of those activities. This evidence 
or documentation when required could include employment records 
showing performance or supervision of aircraft maintenance, return 
to service documents and or copies of maintenance record entries.
    Technical instructors or individuals instructing in a FAA part 
147 approved AMT school, who also engage in the maintenance of 
aircraft certificated and maintained in accordance with 14 CFR, can 
be considered actively engaged. Individuals instructing in a FAA 
part 147 AMT school, who also engage in the maintenance of aircraft-
related instruction equipment maintained in accordance with 14 CFR 
standards, can be considered actively engaged.

    B. There must be a fixed base of operation at which the applicant 
can be located in person or by telephone. This base need not be the 
place where the applicant will exercise the inspection authority.
    C. The applicant must have available the equipment, facilities, and 
inspection data necessary to conduct proper inspection of airframes, 
powerplants, propellers, or any related part or appliance. This data 
must be current.
    D. The applicant must pass the IA knowledge test, testing the 
ability to inspect according to safety standards for approval for 
return to service of an aircraft, related part, or appliance after 
major repairs or major alterations, and annual or progressive 
inspections performed under part 43. There is no practical test 
required for an IA.

    Note: The ASI should see paragraph 5-1285 for instructions on 
determining an applicant's eligibility.

    2. Amend Section 8, Paragraph 5-1309 by adding a Note after 
subparagraph (A)(1) to read:
    5-1309 RENEWAL OF INSPECTION AUTHORIZATION.
    A. Application Requirements. Application for renewal may be 
required to comply with the following:
    (1) Show evidence the applicant still meets the requirements of 
Sec.  65.91(c)(1) through (4).

    Note: Refer to Paragraph 5-1279(A)-(C) of this document for 
information on meeting Sec.  65.91(c)(1) through (4) requirements. 
Refresher training attendance alone does not satisfy those 
requirements.

    (2) Complete Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Form 8610-1, 
Mechanic's Application for Inspection Authorization, in duplicate.
    (3) Show evidence the applicant meets the requirements of Sec.  
65.93(a) for both the first and second year in the form of an activity 
sheet or log, training certificates, and/or oral test results, as 
applicable.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on July 28, 2011.
John S. Duncan,
Acting Director, Flight Standards Service.
[FR Doc. 2011-19741 Filed 8-3-11; 8:45 am]
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