FAA A&P License and the Inspection Authorization
An inspection authorization is another rating on top of the airframe powerplant (A&P) that mechanics may wish to obtain. The inspection authorization or IA as it is commonly called, allows for a mechanic to sign off an annual inspection on an aircraft and also return to service an aircraft that has had a major repair or alteration. Rules governing the inspection authorization can be found on the FAA website here. To become get your Inspection Authorization, you must;
- Possessing a FAA A&P rating for (3) three years, and being engaged in maintaining aircraft for 2 years prior to the date of your application.
- Having a fixed base of operation.
- Having the equipment, facilities, and inspection data available to properly perform Inspection Authorization (IA) duties and functions.
- Have been actively engaged, for at least the last 2-year period before the date he applies, in maintaining aircraft certificated and maintained in accordance with the FARs;
- Pass a written test on his ability to inspect according to safety standards for returning aircraft to service after major repairs and major alterations and annual and progressive inspections performed under Part 43 of the FARs.
Should You Get the Inspection Authorization?
Many get the IA in order to make a little extra money performing annual inspections on aircraft. Another reason many people get the IA is for better job opportunities or promotions. Some might even get it because it seems like the next logical step in the progression of their career. After getting the FAA A&P license, the IA just makes sense for a lot of people.
Downsides to getting the IA is that you are opening yourself up to more scrutiny by the FAA. Exercising the privileges of the IA can, in some circumstances, be more headache than it is worth. For instance, signing off an annual inspection has inherent risk associated with it, even if you do everything right. The IA also has to be maintained by performing certain tasks as prescribed in 65.93 (see below). The renewal process is now every 2 years although the yearly requirements are still the same. Depending on the situation, it may not make economical sense to accept more risk and responsibility by acquiring the IA just to make your resume look good. Careful consideration should be done before making a decision.
Inspection authorization: Renewal.
[(a) To be eligible for renewal of an inspection authorization for a 2-year period an applicant must present evidence during the month of March of each odd-numbered year, at an FAA Flight Standards District Office or an International Field Office, that the applicant still meets the requirements of Sec. 65.91(c) (1) through (4). In addition, during the time the applicant held the inspection authorization, the applicant must show completion of one of the activities in Sec. 65.93(a) (1) through (5) below by March 31 of the first year of the 2-year inspection authorization period, and completion of one of the five activities during the second year of the 2-year period:
(1) Performed at least one annual inspection for each 90 days that the applicant held the current authority; or
(2) Performed at least two major repairs or major alterations for each 90 days that the applicant held the current authority; or
(3) Performed or supervised and approved at least one progressive inspection in accordance with standards prescribed by the Administrator; or
(4) Attended and successfully completed a refresher course, acceptable to the Administrator, of not less than 8 hours of instruction; or
(5) Passed an oral test by an FAA inspector to determine that the applicant's knowledge of applicable regulations and standards is current.
(b) The holder of an inspection authorization that has been in effect:
(1) for less than 90 days before the expiration date need not comply with paragraphs (a)(1) through (5) of this section.
(2) for less than 90 days before March 31 of an even-numbered year need not comply with paragraphs (a)(1) through (5) of this section for the first year of the 2-year inspection authorization period.
(c) An inspection authorization holder who does not complete one of the activities set forth in Sec. 65.93(a) (1) through (5) of this section by March 31 of the first year of the 2-year inspection authorization period may not exercise inspection authorization privileges after March 31 of the first year. The inspection
authorization holder may resume exercising inspection authorization privileges after passing an oral test from an FAA inspector to determine that the applicant's knowledge of the applicable regulations and standards is current. An inspection authorization holder who passes this oral test is deemed to have completed the requirements of Sec. 65.93(a) (1) through (5) by March 31 of the first year.]
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