FAA Regulation for Aircraft Mechanics
Of all the parts that make up Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), only one part speaks solely to mechanics.
14 CFR Part 43 is that rule.
Part 43 – Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, Rebuilding and Alteration, is one of the three core regulations or foundations that set the standards for aircraft maintenance for the U.S. to have a safe and efficient aviation industry.
FAR Part 21 & FAR Part 91
The other two are 14 CFR Part 21, Certification Procedures for Products and Parts, and 14 CFR Part 91 General Operating and Flight Rules.
These three rules are identified on the FAA Form 8100-2 Standard Airworthiness Certificate which is the FAA’s official authorization allowing for the operation of type certificated aircraft.
A standard airworthiness certificate remains valid as long as the aircraft meets its approved type design, is in a condition for safe operation and maintenance, preventative maintenance, and alterations are performed in accordance with 14 CFR parts 21, 43, and 91.
Part 43 establishes the requirements for what kinds of U.S. registered aircraft mechanics can work on, who can work on the aircraft, and who can sign off the aircraft’s logbook. Part 43 also defines the standards for the work which is performed, and record-keeping requirements.
The purpose of Part 43 is to provide the requirements that govern the continued maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding and alteration of articles after they have been manufactured so that they are “airworthy”.
FAA Repair Station Approval
Part 43 goes “hand-in-hand” with the FAA requirements governing repair stations – 14 CFR Part 145.
The term repair station refers to a maintenance facility that has a certificate issued by the FAA under 14 CFR and is engaged in the maintenance, preventive maintenance, inspection, and alteration of an aircraft, airframe, aircraft engine, propeller, appliance, or component part to which part 43 applies.
The repair station certificate is an actual certificate, titled Air Agency Certificate, and must be available on the premises for inspection by the public and the FAA. The certificate will state what the repair station’s ratings include. This is important because this will tell what aircraft, components, or equipment the repair station can work on and the maintenance it can perform.
A certificated repair station located in the United States is called a “domestic repair station”, whilst a repair station located outside of the United States is called a “foreign repair station”.
FAR Part 145
14 CFR Part 145 establishes minimum standards and is divided into five subparts:
‒ Subpart A – General
‒ Subpart B – Certification
‒ Subpart C – Housing, Facilities, Equipment, Materials, and Data
‒ Subpart D – Personnel
‒ Subpart E – Operating Rules
Each repair station is required to appoint a person as the accountable manager. That person is responsible for all repair station activities and is the focal point in communications with the FAA.
Quality is built-in to Part 145 through requiring repair stations to have a quality control system that is acceptable to the FAA. The repair station must have a manual that describes its inspection processes; the selection and training of its mechanics, supervisors, inspectors and those personnel who can sign-off an FAA Form 8130-3 for return to service.
The manual must also describe how a repair station conducts internal audits and the frequency, along with how it will annotate and track corrective actions taken to improve the system, as well as a requirement for an FAA-approved training program.
Part 145 also sets forth safety standards necessary to inspect and maintain aircraft and aircraft parts. These safety standards ultimately benefit the maintenance personnel, passengers, and flight crew. For example, Subpart C Housing and Facilities Requirements are designed to keep maintenance personnel safe and provide a safe working environment, while Subpart E Operating Rules result in a safe aircraft that can be used by the flight crews to provide a safe and efficient mode of transportation.