A primary safety function of the FAA is to require correction of unsafe conditions found in an aircraft, aircraft engine, propeller, or appliance when such conditions exist and are likely to exist or develop in other products of the same design. The unsafe condition may exist because of a design defect, maintenance, or other causes. Airworthiness Directives (ADs), under 14 CFR, part 39, define the authority and responsibility of the Administrator for requiring the necessary corrective action. ADs are used to notify aircraft owners and other interested persons of unsafe conditions and to specify the conditions under which the product may continue to be operated. ADs are divided into two categories:
- Those of an emergency nature requiring immediate compliance prior to further flight
- Those of a less urgent nature requiring compliance within a specified period of time
ADs are regulatory and shall be complied with unless a specific exemption is granted. It is the responsibility of the aircraft owner or operator to ensure compliance with all pertinent ADs, including those ADs that require recurrent or continuing action. For example, an AD may require a repetitive inspection each 50 hours of operation, meaning the particular inspection shall be accomplished and recorded every 50 hours of time in service. Owners/operators are reminded that there is no provision to overfly the maximum hour requirement of an AD unless it is specifically written into the AD. To help determine if an AD applies to an amateur-built aircraft, contact the local FSDO.
14 CFR, part 91, section 91.417 requires a record to be maintained that shows the current status of applicable ADs, including the method of compliance; the AD number and revision date, if recurring; next due date and time; the signature; type of certificate; and certificate number of the repair station or mechanic who performed the work. For ready reference, many aircraft owners have a chronological listing of the pertinent ADs in the back of their aircraft, engine, and propeller maintenance records.
All ADs and the AD Biweekly are free on the Internet at http://rgl.faa.gov and are available through e-mail. Individuals can enroll for the e-mail service at the website above. Paper copies of the Summary of Airworthiness Directives and the AD Biweekly may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents. The Summary contains all the valid ADs previously published and is divided into two areas. The small aircraft and helicopter books contain all ADs applicable to small aircraft (12,500 pounds or less maximum certificated takeoff weight) and ADs applicable to all helicopters. The large aircraft books contain all ADs applicable to large aircraft.
For current information on how to order paper copies of AD books and the AD Biweekly, visit the FAA online regulatory and guidance library at: http://rgl.faa.gov.