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Owners Responsiblity for Maintainence


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I bought a 1999 helo from a well known company. Their pilot/ A&P-AI flew and maintained it since new. When I took delivery of the machine we found over 22 falisifed log book entries with ADs, SBs and CEB signed off yet not ever done. :o

 

The result was the pilot/ A&P-AI had ALL his tickets emergency revoked by the NTSB/FAA and the revocation has stood. I hope his life in the industry is over. <_<

 

However, the owner has taken the stand that they are not responsible for their employees actions but would be willing to reduce the price of the helicopter by the cost of actual repairs. The problem is the owners refuse to entertain they should pay loss of use, interest and all the associated downtime costs while the helo was in the shop for 18 months.

 

So what exactly is the owner responsible for in a case like this? :(

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§ 91.403 General.

 

(a) The owner or operator of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition, including compliance with part 39 of this chapter.

 

(B) No person may perform maintenance, preventive maintenance, or alterations on an aircraft other than as prescribed in this subpart and other applicable regulations, including part 43 of this chapter.

 

© No person may operate an aircraft for which a manufacturer's maintenance manual or instructions for continued airworthiness has been issued that contains an airworthiness limitations section unless the mandatory replacement times, inspection intervals, and related procedures specified in that section or alternative inspection intervals and related procedures set forth in an operations specification approved by the Administrator under part 121 or 135 of this chapter or in accordance with an inspection program approved under §91.409(e) have been complied with.

 

(d) A person must not alter an aircraft based on a supplemental type certificate unless the owner or operator of the aircraft is the holder of the supplemental type certificate, or has written permission from the holder.

 

[Doc. No. 18334, 54 FR 34311, Aug. 18, 1989, as amended by Amdt. 91–267, 66 FR 21066, Apr. 27, 2001; Amdt. 91–293, 71 FR 56005, Sept. 26, 2006]

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Can the employer just say they cannot be responsible because their employee lied and kept them in the dark about the actual work done on this helo?

 

if the employer IS the operator of the aircraft THEY are responsible.

 

The owner or operator of an aircraft is primarily responsible

 

who is the owner?

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The owner is responsible, but they will attempt to show that they had no knowledge of the falsified documents. They will say that the mechanic reported the work completed, and placed the appropriate entries in the maintenance logs. Unless the mechanic, or another employee, fesses up, I doubt you could ever prove that they knew the ADs were not complied with. Try to get them to pay for the downtime, but don't count on it.

Edited by PhotoFlyer
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They will say that the mechanic reported the work completed, and placed the appropriate entries in the maintenance logs.

 

Doesn't make any difference, when the judge asks if your the operator or owner and the answer is yes you're done! period!.

Edited by 67november
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It does make a difference. The owner delegated the maintenance responsibility to an A&P IA, who falsified the documents. Although the owner is responsible, the owner may not be qualified to asses the completeness of the work performed, depending on the scope of the AD. In order for the owner to be liable for damages, it would have to be shown that the owner was AWARE that the documents were false or compelled the A&P to falsify the documents.

 

Lets say a private owner took his aircraft, a Cessna for example, to an A&P to have an engine AD complied with. For the sake of argument we will say the AD required modification of the camshaft. The owner gets his aircraft back, pays for the work, and has a shiny new entry in his maintenance log saying the AD was complied with, however, the documents are false. This owner is not an A&P, and does not have the qualification, to inspect or in any other way determine that the work was ACTUALLY carried out. In a case like this, the owner COULD NOT be responsible, as he took the appropriate steps to comply with the AD.

 

In your interpretation, the owner would have to either be present to witness the work (which he is not qualified to know if it is done correctly), OR he must have ANOTHER mechanic tear the engine back apart and inspect for compliance. In the second case there is STILL no assurance that the AD is complied with.

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We don't know the details...for all we know the owner could be a law firm or large corporation. Since the pilot was responsible for the maintenance as well as flying, it leads me to believe that he either had an employer with little aviation knowledge, or was not under the direct supervision of his employer. In either case, it is entirely within the realm of possibility that the employer was unaware of the issue.

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The owner is a large winery (2nd biggest in the US) and their owner and management are all attorneys.

When presented with the evidence that their employee falsified logs and there was ADs not completed that could have led to the helicopter tail boom falling off from time cracks.

 

My hope was they could be notified that perhaps the rest of their fleet was suspect for problems due to the poor service their AI did and falisifcations he underwrote.

 

Instead they attacked back saying the tail boom cracks were my fault for being a crappy pilot :unsure: and the things they did like "silicone sealing the alternate air door completely shut" was done to protect the engine and the firm agrued in a letter to me that "I should be advised to leave it that way" to prevent FOD and possible engine failure.

 

I see both views presented. I would hope a court would see that the helo was sold "with a fresh annual" done by the sellering firm. I would think that alone would put them in the position they are totally responsible for all reasonable down-time costs to me.

 

 

 

 

§ 91.403 General.

 

(a) The owner or operator of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition, including compliance with part 39 of this chapter.

 

Does IGNORANCE or inexperience exclude the owners from the resposnibility outlined in 91.403? :blink:

 

Seems to me they would have to assume multiple roles of Directory of Maintainence, Flight Dept Director,

Chief Pilot, and other's if they are going to operate aircraft that carry PEOPLE (many of high net worth or below) and even though they may operate as Part 91, they have a duty to KNOW or at least perform oversight of their one man helicopter operations department.

 

 

§ 91.403 General.

 

(a) The owner or operator of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition, including compliance with part 39 of this chapter.

 

Does IGNORANCE or inexperience exclude the owners from the resposnibility outlined in 91.403? :blink:

 

Seems to me they would have to assume multiple roles of Directory of Maintainence, Flight Dept Director,

Chief Pilot, and other's if they are going to operate aircraft that carry PEOPLE (many of high net worth or below) and even though they may operate as Part 91, they have a duty to KNOW or at least perform oversight of their one man helicopter operations department.

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Ignorance is not an excuse. Sounds like you should have your attorney involved. But again, unless you can show they knew the aircraft was unsafe, and the A&P did not act alone to falsify the logs, you don't have a big chance of winning.

 

As far as the alternate air inlet...the manufacturer didn't just put in there on a whim, it has a good reason for being there, and shouldn't be bypassed. With a modification like that, the aircraft is not airworthy.

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Ignorance is not an excuse. Sounds like you should have your attorney involved. But again, unless you can show they knew the aircraft was unsafe, and the A&P did not act alone to falsify the logs, you don't have a big chance of winning.

 

An aviation attorney should be involved for sure. and I say the local FAA inspector by the sounds of it.

 

my suggestion is bail out of the purchase and find something else.

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This happened over 15 months ago. THe purchase was made, then the discovery of falisifications, ergo the FAA already has been involved and the result was the AI getting ALL his tickets revoked and the helicopter going through an extensive complaince check and annual inspection which resulted in a 15 months down time and a couple hundred thousand dollars in SB, CEB and AD costs that would have been "free" if this AI would of just done it by the book instead of falsifying the logs to keep from opening his Snap On box. :(

 

Attorney is on the case but they work at one speed. ;)

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