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5 Answers

Question Regarding Return to Service (91.407)

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FAA Regulations

I've been reading the regs lately and I came across something that made me think about something that happened in the past in my career. There was a flight school I used to work for I was flying Cessna 172s, and while taxiing outto the runway, I got a flat tire. Maintenance later drove up to the taxiway where I got stuck and replaced the tire right there. They then told me that I was good to go (they didn't have a logbook no them or anything) and our staff pretty much said the same thing to me, telling me that I was good to go. I didn't give it much thought before, but now  came across reading 91.407, which says: (a) No person may operate any aircraft that has undergone maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, or alteration unless— (1) It has been approved for return to service by a person authorized under §43.7 of this chapter; and (2) The maintenance record entry required by §43.9 or §43.11, as applicable, of this chapter has been made.   My question comes down to this: should I have waited for a logbook entry as an official return to service for that simple tire change before I went out on that flight? My guess is they probably wrote something down after they got back to the hangar (hopefully) but I had no way of knowing at the time. Would that make the aircraft unairworthy?

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5 Answers

  1. John D Collins on Aug 25, 2015

    I believe that the regulation means what it says and you could have been violated if you operated the aircraft. I have maintenance performed on my aircraft by mechanics and I will get a hand written log entry made by the mechanic or IA with their signature for the work that was done on a yellow notebook pad. I leave it in the hangar. I expect them to send me an invoice for their work with a typed and signed logbook entry that I place in my logbooks, after which I toss the original hand written one.

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  2. Nibake on Aug 26, 2015

    Since the flat tire does qualify as preventive maintenance under part 43 Appendix A, you may be able to have returned it to service with a post it note, assuming you hold at least a private pilot certificate.

    43.7 says:
    (f) A person holding at least a private pilot certificate may approve an aircraft for return to service after performing preventive maintenance under the provisions of § 43.3(g).

    The only thing I’m not sure about is the actual performing of the work. A mechanic can approve work that he/she has done personally done and return it to service, but I don’t find a regulation the says definitively whether a pilot would be able to approve someone else’s work. The wording “performing” in 43.7 does maybe it sound like that may not be the case?

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  3. Mark Kolber on Aug 27, 2015

    I agree with John. The practical reason for the strict way the FAA tends to interpret this rule is that, without a return to service entry, you have no evidence – for the FAA or for yourself – that maintenance has been completed. Take as simple scenario in which you take off and the wheel, which was not tightened properly, comes off (it even happens with cards). 100% the pilot’s problem with the mechanic saying, “I didn’t sign it of for return to service.” That return to service notation is for your protection, not just a “dot the i” for the FAA.

    Nibake, the language allowing preventive maintenance and return to service by a pilot contemplates the maintenance is performed by the pilot returning it to service. See, for example, paragraph 3(c) of AC 43-12A (Preventive Maintenance which includes pretty specific language that “pilots may only approve for return to service preventive maintenance which they themselves have accomplished.”

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  4. Nibake on Aug 29, 2015

    I suspected that might be the case, Mark. Thanks for finding that reference!

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  5. Dmitriy on Sep 04, 2015

    Great help guys. I kind of thought as much after I came across reading preventative maintenance and looked into it a little more, but I wanted to make sure with what happened.


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