A new FAA interpretation of 14 CFR 91.409, which requires multiengine turbine jets, multiengine turboprops, and turbine helicopters be enrolled in a current maintenance program recommended by the aircraft manufacturer, gives aircraft owners more say—and more responsibility—in the maintenance of their aircraft.
The interpretation clarifies the meaning of “current.” The FAA states that “current” refers to the version of the maintenance program existing at the time the program is adopted. The industry had previously interpreted the rule to mean that owners had to comply with the most up-to-date version of the program.
This interpretation is particularly good news for Cessna 425 and 441 Conquest owners, who now need to comply with the maintenance program in place at that time they adopted the program, not the most current version of Cessna’s maintenance program. Recently, owners of these aircraft were facing the potential of having to comply with extremely invasive inspections, including the removal of the aircraft’s wings, because of multiple updates to Cessna’s maintenance program.
“We want aircraft owners to be involved in their maintenance program,” said Rob Hackman, AOPA senior director of regulatory affairs.
Those who’ve owned their aircraft since it came out of the manufacturing facility and know what type of flight operations it has flown and how it has been maintained may decide that the most up-to-date version of the maintenance program is too intrusive for their aircraft.
Aircraft owners can still opt to have their aircraft go through the most recent maintenance program. Much has been learned about these aircraft in the past 20 to 30 years that led to updates to these programs, so owners should discuss these updates their maintenance providers to determine which parts of the inspections they want performed. Although the intrusive inspections are costly, running more than $250,000 with 12 weeks of down time, the shops are experienced in performing them. These same providers also can give owners insight into the inspections needed.
“Owners need to spend time talking to the mechanics who’ve worked on their aircraft to decide what type of inspections to have performed,” Hackman said. “Owners should consider many factors, including the aircraft’s history, total time, how long they’ve owned it, how familiar they are with its maintenance, and the information they gather from those who have completed the inspections in making their decisions.”