Regulatory Brief -- FAA discontinues publication and distribution of Advisory Circular 43-16A, Aviation Maintenance Alerts

Regulatory Brief

FAA discontinues publication and distribution of Advisory Circular 43-16A, Aviation Maintenance Alerts

The issue:

Effective January 1, 1999, the AC 43-16A, Aviation Maintenance Alerts are no longer being published monthly in printed form and will not be distributed to aircraft owners, pilots, and maintenance personnel. Instead the information will only be available on the FAA web site.

The importance to our members:

Today, the Aviation Maintenance Alerts are one of the only non-regulatory mechanisms the FAA has in place for sharing airworthiness issues or concerns. As such, they are widely read by both the aviation maintenance community and the owners and pilots of affected aircraft. The general aviation community benefits greatly from the Aviation Maintenance Alerts because they provide a necessary exchange of potentially safety-critical information based upon the service experience of other similar or identical equipment. Any restriction in the distribution of this information can only have a negative effect on overall safety.

Significant provisions:

In the December 1998 edition of AC 43-16A, Aviation Maintenance Alerts, the FAA indicated that a combination of the "new technological age" and "government downsizing and shrinking budgets" were responsible for the need to restrict dissemination of aviation service experience solely to the Internet. This means that the document would no longer be published in printed form on a monthly basis, and would not be distributed directly to pilots, owners, and aviation maintenance personnel.

The information contained in the Aviation Maintenance Alerts is derived from Malfunction and Defect (M&D) reports submitted from the field. The Malfunction and Defect Reporting System is often criticized by maintenance personnel because they feel that their M&D reports go into a black hole in the FAA and are never acted upon or passed on to others who could use the information. Today, the only feedback mechanism to maintenance personnel for M&D reports is the AC 43-16A, Aviation Maintenance Alerts. Removal of this valuable feedback mechanism for airworthiness concerns will reduce the input to the M&D reporting system and ultimately could lead to a reduction in aviation safety levels.

AOPA position:

AOPA opposes the discontinued publication of the Aviation Maintenance Alerts. We agree that the Internet can play a significant role in the dissemination of data and information to the aviation community, particularly library and archive type information. However, we do not believe that safety-related information such as the Aviation Maintenance Alerts should be relegated solely to the Internet since many people who use or benefit from this information do not have Internet access or capability. Further, we maintain that forcing people to seek out safety-related information does not enhance aviation safety. Such information needs to be placed immediately in front of the people who can benefit from it.

Status:

On January 12, 1999, AOPA sent a letter to the Manager of the FAA Aircraft Continuous Airworthiness Division urging the FAA to continue publication of the Aviation Maintenance Alerts. Further discussions on the topic have been held with the FAA Associate Administrator for Regulation and Certification and the Director of the Flight Standards Service. As of April 1999, the FAA is going to make the Aviation Maintenance Alerts, AC 43-16A available in printed form on a subscription basis. The annual subscription charge will be $25 for domestic mailings and $31.25 for foreign mailings. Subscriptions may be obtained at:

Superintendent of Documents
P.O. Box 371954
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954

Tel. (202) 512-1800
Fax (202) 512-2250

Related documents:

AC 43-16A, Aviation Maintenance Alerts, December 1998 (requires Adobe Reader)

AOPA Letter to the FAA Manager, Aircraft Continuous Airworthiness Division, January 12, 1999

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