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Ability Authority Integrity

You have worked hard to receive a FAA Certificate; you demonstrated a level of ability.  You studied and passed the testing and practical exams.  Now you are certificated.  As a Certificated individual you have been given authority to operate or maintain a US registered aircraft.

In this article, I want to speak to those receiving an Airframe and Powerplant certificate.  As a certificated A & P mechanic you are the individual responsible for the decision to allow an aircraft to fly.  You are the individual which determines if the aircraft is Airworthy.

The pilot has a role to play in the operation of an aircraft.  In that role the pilot determines if the aircraft is safe.  The pilot will make that decision based on the preflight check list.  If the pilot moves a switch and the response is incorrect, the aircraft is not safe.  It is at that point the pilot will contact maintenance.  The pilot’s job is almost complete.  A conversation with maintenance personnel is essential for proper corrective actions.  The pilot and mechanic are part of a team to ensure the aircraft is airworthy.

For an aircraft to be operational it must be airworthy.  Airworthiness is a combination of two requirements, it must be Safe and meet the Type Design.  A pilot does not typically have access to the data to know if the aircraft meets the type design criteria.  It is maintenance which has that information.

With information to determine airworthiness an A & P mechanic has been given the authority to approve an aircraft for return to service.  An A & P mechanic has access to data and has the skills to ensure the aircraft has met the standards for airworthiness.  An A & P mechanic must use the ability and authority to ensure the aircraft being maintained are kept, not only in an operational condition but also in an airworthy condition.

By the certification given to an A & P mechanic, by the federal government, they have the authority to perform repairs, alterations, and maintenance on all U.S. registered aircraft.  With the appropriate certificate and employment, an A & P mechanic has the authority to perform repairs, alterations, and maintenance on the employer’s aircraft.

There is no doubt the authority is broad and far reaching, it has been given in many ways and with few limitations.  With this authority given comes equal responsibility accepted.  This responsibility changes and evolves with the ever-changing ability of the A & P mechanic.

There is no doubt a Certificated Individual has been granted authority with broad and far-reaching influence, but their ability comes from outside and within. This ability from within is the talent an individual brings to the table with each task performed throughout their career and life.  This innate quality allows each individual to use those life experiences to make judgments and choices about their own ability to safely and competently complete a task.

Now the ability from outside.  This ability comes from forces outside the Certificated Individual’s control. These forces include but are not limited to the weather, the aircraft, parts, tools, and help. Without a good management team behind the Certificated Individual, his ability will invariably be impaired.

As you examine these forces, see how they can affect your judgment, the result associated with that judgment and how you can learn from those choices.  It must be understood that the employer hired the A & P mechanic because of their ability and authority.

Another commodity they purchased is far more important, the individual’s integrity.  Without integrity, ability and authority mean nothing.  It is integrity that protects the aviation industry.  Integrity protects the lives that depend on individuals to do their job right the first time.  It is integrity which follows approved data, uses manufacturers guidance and standards.  It is integrity that is the bedrock which everything else is standing.

Personal integrity is the bedrock that the aviation house is built upon. Regardless of what the rules say, each individual has a moral and ethical requirement to ensure what is done and how it is done, it is done right.  As a great philosopher once said, “There is nothing wrong with doing it right”.

Each of us in the aviation industry has an investment in the industry, with ability, authority and most importantly, integrity, each of those working within the industry can work to ensure a place within this industry, and together we can ensure the health and longevity of OUR industry.

Be safe, Be strong and Stay Professional,

Jeffery N. Howard

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