CAVU Café: Royboy’s Prose & Cons

*Note: The views expressed in CAVU Café: Royboy’s Prose & Cons blog are those solely of the writer and are not necessarily shared by the Aviation Suppliers Association or the Association’s staff, members, or Board of Directors.

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For those of you involved in Airline Reliability Programs, and particularly for those who attended my session titled “Deferrals Per MEL and Airline Reliability Programs” at the 2013 ASA Conference, I want to give you an update on efforts to revise key FAA Advisory Circulars.


In 2005 there was an accident involving a Turboprop which crashed into a department store garden center shortly after takeoff from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT). The aircraft was destroyed and the pilot of the cargo flight was seriously injured. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot’s misapplication of flight controls following an engine failure. Contributing to the accident was the failure of the engine’s sun gear, which resulted in the loss of engine power. Contributing to the sun gear failure were the engine manufacturer’s grandfathering of previously recommended, but less reliable, maintenance standards, the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) acceptance of the engine manufacturer’s grandfathering, the operator’s inadequate maintenance practices, and the FAA’s inadequate oversight of the operator. The NTSB subsequently issued Safety Recommendations A-09-108 through -111. In its report, two of the NTSB recommendations were that the FAA:

Resolve the differences between Advisory Circular (AC) 120-17A and AC 120-16E in regard to Federal Aviation Administration philosophy and use of on-condition maintenance programs. (A-09-110)

Once the differences noted in Safety Recommendation A-09-110 are resolved, review existing on-condition maintenance programs to ensure that they are compatible with the most current accepted philosophy. (A-09-111)”

FAA AC 120-16 is titled “Air Carrier Maintenance Programs”


FAA AC120-17 is titled “Maintenance Control by Reliability Programs”


According to a recent Federal Register notice, the FAA assigned a new task to the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to provide recommendations regarding the outdated AC 120-17. According to feedback I received, this group had its first meeting in the beginning of December 2013.


For all of you involved in US Part 121 Airline Reliability Programs, I have no doubt your written procedures includes a reference to AC 120-17. Although this AC was a significant and historic contributor to Reliability Programs, this AC is in fact quite outdated at its current “A” revision dated March 27, 1978. Among the AC’s many outdated passages is a key reference to the ATA’s equally historic Specification MSG-2 (Maintenance Steering Group) titled “Airline/Manufacturer Maintenance Program Planning.” The latest version of this document is MSG-3.


It will likely take some time for the final revisions to be published. Regardless, this is a welcome updating of this significant AC.


Your comments are welcome on the blog site.


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Posted By Roy Resto | 12/11/2013 11:49:11 AM

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