New DME Testing Procedures One Year On

As many may know the revised FAA Order 8900.2 changed the way Designated Mechanic Examiners (DMEs) currently perform exams for all Airframe and Powerplant applicants. The revised order has a required tool and equipment list all DMEs must meet or they cannot hold the designee authorization.

The new tool and equipment almost makes it impossible for DMEs to meet the new order requirements unless they are tied (facility) to a part 147 school that has both reciprocating and turbine engines as well as many other types of equipment. In the past year the tool and equipment list has been updated again. As a result of this requirement many DMEs across the county cannot or could not meet the requirement and their authorizations were not renewed last October by the FAA. What this means is there is fewer DMEs to test applicants and wait times can be as long as 6-months to test now.

In addition, the new requirement is for all DMEs to use the new planning sheets we download from the FAA testing data base for each applicant. The FAA computer system will pick all the oral questions as well as the 22 or 23 practical projects each applicant must pass the first time.

I have been using the new planning sheet for over a year now and it has increased my preparation time greatly as I do not know which practical projects an applicant will have to perform until I download their individual planning sheet (exam). All of the practical projects come from the NEW Practical Test Standard available for free download on the FAA website. There are a possible 862 practical projects and the FAA will pick 22 or 23 project in total that will cover all five section on the A&P practical exam.

The difference between 22 or 23 projects is some applicants will have two propeller projects instead of one. However, on all exam I have given there is always at least one propeller practical project.

The reason for the new tools and equipment list is to ensure the DMEs can have applicants perform any of the 862 possible practical projects. For this reason I unable to prepare an exam on very short notice as I have to go through the projects to make sure I have all the required tools, equipment and required date before scheduling a test date.

Just from my own experience I have found the failure rate among applicants has gone up. I have also noticed applicant seem to fail in common areas on the practical. Many of the projects are level (3) inspection and aircraft record entries. Many applicant do NOT know the difference between part 43.9 maintenance entry and a part 43.11 inspection record entry.

For all inspection record entries part 43.11 states the mechanic will write a statement the states “I certify” and what type of inspection was completed. The record entries may be a 100-hour inspection, Airworthiness Directive (AD), weight and balance or other type of inspection. Part 91 section §91.417 Maintenance records states what MUST be recorded for inspection including total time that is not required for part 43.9 maintenance entries, but is a good idea to record it.

As a former FAA field inspector I also found many A&P mechanics did not know how to make the proper record entries as required. Even today many Inspection Authorization (IA) make the mistake for not including the “I certify” for inspection record entries and this is a problem in the industry.

However, now on all most every exam I download one of the sections will require at least one record entry and often times more. Knowing how to perform the basic record entry is a requirement all A&P mechanics must master not only to pass the practical exam, but also to perform in the industry where aircraft records are everything.

If I could recommend on thing for all mechanics is to refresh their knowledge rereading part 43.11 and part 91.417 inspection requirements and making a simple checklist what must be included in their aircraft record entries.

Comments

43.11 (a)(4) states "I certify............" or a similarly worded statement. It doesn't appear to mandate the specific words "I certify".

Section 43.11(a)(4) is the only place that requires mechanics to use the two words "I certify" then you can provide a similar worded statement. The point being we mechanics have to certify inspections unlike maintenance tasks that are not certified.

The biggest A&P and IA's make with inspection records is they do not use the "I certicy" and this can be a real mistake if and when something happens to the aircraft.

I am NOT a lawyer or do I claim to be one and cannot provide any legal guidance, I would recommend you contact an aviation attorney to answer any legal questions you have concerning the subject on “I certify”. Having said that I want to provide some background and data on this subject of “I Certify”. At the end I will provide my opinion and only my opinion as a mechanic.

Origin and Etymology of certify
Medieval Latin certificare, from Late Latin, to assure, convince, from Latin certus certain + -ficare to make.

verb | cer·ti·fy
Simple Definition of certify
1: To say officially that something is true, correct, or genuine
2: To say officially that something or someone has met certain standards or requirements
3: To say officially that someone is insane and in need of treatment

Transitive verb
1: To attest authoritatively: as
a: confirm
b: to present in formal communication
c: to attest as being true or as represented or as meeting a standard
d: to attest officially to the insanity of
2: To inform with certainty: assure
3: To guarantee (a personal check) as to signature and amount by so indicating on the face
4: To recognize as having met special qualifications (as of a governmental agency or professional board) within a field

Synonym Discussion of certify
Certify, attest, witness, vouch mean to testify to the truth or genuineness of something. Certify usually applies to a written statement, especially one carrying a signature or seal certified that the candidate had met all requirements. Attest applies to oral or written testimony usually from experts or witnesses attested to the authenticity of the document. Witness applies to the subscribing of one's own name to a document as evidence of its genuineness witnessed the signing of the will. Vouch applies to one who testifies as a competent authority or a reliable person willing to vouch for her integrity.

I search the FAA legal opinions and found two documents that may help us mechanic’s understand this statement “I certify” better.

On October 20, 2015 Mr. Kevin R Pinger sent the FAA a request for legal opinion on this very subject. Re: Legal Interpretation on Whether 14 C.F.R. § 43.11, or Any Other Regulation, Requires the Maintenance Record Entry Approving an Aircraft for Return to Service Following an Annual Inspection to State the Inspection was Performed in Accordance with Appendix D to Part 43.

Based on our (FAA) review of your entry and the regulation, the entry meets the elements set forth in§ 43.11(a) (1) through (4), for the approval for return to service of an aircraft determined to be in an airworthy condition following completion of an annual inspection.

14 CFR § 43.11(a) states, in pertinent part, that the person approving or disapproving an aircraft for return to service after an annual inspection shall make an entry in the maintenance record of that aircraft containing the following information:
( 1) The type of inspection and a brief description of the extent of the inspection.
(2) The date of the inspection and aircraft total time in service.
(3) The signature, the certificate number, and kind of certificate held by the person approving or disapproving for return to service the aircraft ....
(4) [I]f the aircraft is found to be airworthy and approved for return to service, the following or a similarly worded statement- "I certify that this aircraft has been inspected in accordance with (insert type) inspection and was determined to be in airworthy condition."

Section 43.11 does not explicitly require that the logbook entry for an annual inspection state that it was performed "in accordance with Part 43 Appendix D." Section 43.11 does not state the scope for an annual inspection under part 43, rather§ 43.15 provides details on the requirements of the inspection. Section 43.15(c) states:

(c) Annual and 1 00-hour inspections. (1) Each person performing an annual or 1 00-hour inspection shall use a checklist while performing the inspection. The checklist may be of the person's own design, one provided by the manufacturer of the equipment being inspected or one obtained from another source. This checklist must include the scope and detail of the items contained in appendix D to this part and paragraph (b) of this section.

Any checklist utilized in performing an annual inspection must contain at least the scope and detail of the items contained in appendix D, as required by§ 43.15; however, the maintenance record entry does not have to state that. If the Piper P A28-181 manual 100 hour check list you used as a guide contains at least the scope and detail of the appendix D items, you have complied with § 43.15. Moreover, § 43.11 (a)( 4) requires only that the referenced statement "or a similarly worded statement" be used. It is our opinion that your signed statement that "[t]his aircraft is in an airworthy condition and approved for return to service" meets the certification requirement of the regulation.

OPINION
I found it interesting that item (4) [I]f the aircraft is found to be airworthy and approved for return to service, the following or a similarly worded statement- "I certify that this aircraft has been inspected in accordance with (insert type) inspection and was determined to be in airworthy condition."

Then the FAA legal office went on to say “§ 43.11 (a)( 4) requires only that the referenced statement "or a similarly worded statement" be used. It is our opinion that your signed statement that "[t]his aircraft is in an airworthy condition and approved for return to service" meets the certification requirement of the regulation.” What I don’t know is what the A&P/IA actually wrote in the aircraft records. I don’t know if Mr. Pinger wrote, but it would of help clear this up.

What I do know is the FAA will default to the dictionary for certain terms such a “certify” as stated above. It would make since to me to use “I certify” since you are making a certification judgment for annual and 100-hour inspections that the aircraft 1) meets its type design and 2) all parts are within wear limits (safe condition for flight) to be airworthy.

I can contacted the FAA for their input on this subject and will post it when I receive written correspondence back. However, for now I would play it safe and use the statement as provided not to create any confusion.