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Pre-flight Assembly of Gliders

AMENDMENT 43-27

PREFLIGHT ASSEMBLY OF GLIDERS AND BALLOONS

Adopted: April 26, 1987 Effective: June 5, 1987

(Published in 52 FR 17276, May 6, 1987)

SUMMARY: The purpose of these amendments is to discontinue classifying glider and balloon assembly as preventive maintenance, except in certain circumstances; add training requirements for pilots in preflight assembly of glider and balloons and add preflight assembly and post assembly inspections to the preflight responsibilities for glider and balloon pilots. The amendments are needed to ensure the continued assignment of responsibilities for preflight assembly and inspection of gliders and balloons while simultaneously reducing the recording burden on the public.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. George Johnson, Project Development Branch (AFS-360). Office of Flight Standards, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Ave., SW, Washington DC 20591; Telephone: (202) 267-3798.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

BACKGROUND

Part 43, Appendix A, paragraph (c) classifies the installation of certain glider wings as preventive maintenance. Paragraph (c) was amended (amendment No. 43-23; 47 FR 41076; September 16, 1982) to add preflight assembly of balloons to the list of preventive maintenance.

Prior to amendment, balloon assembly classification was in dispute. Some persons considered it maintenance while others viewed it as an operational function. Classification as preventive maintenance in Amendment No. 43-12 (34 FR 14423; September 16, 1969) was intended to unify these viewpoints, utilizing the concept used successfully with gliders for many years. Public comment invited prior to amendment brought only favorable comment.

Amendment No. 43-23 simultaneously amended 43.9 to require the performance and approval for return to service of preventive maintenance to be recorded in the aircraft records. Shortly after the amendment became effective, the FAA received the first of what became numerous complaints about the new record-keeping requirements from glider and balloon operators and their associations. In response, the FAA agreed to review the matter.

A review of the situation revealed that, while 43.9, as amended, requires preventive maintenance to be recorded, 91.173(b)(1) requires the record to be retained only until the work is repeated or superseded by other work or for one year after the work is performed (i.e., until the glider or balloon is reassembled for the next flight). The requirements 43.9 and 91.173(b)(1) are burdensome for gliders and balloons because they are disassembled and assembled so frequently.

The pilot in command is, by virtue of 91.29, responsible for proper assembly of the glider or balloon, whether or not the assembly operation is recorded. Further, the pilot in command has typically performed the assembly and disassembly of gliders and balloons without recording the work for many years. FAA records of accidents and incidents do not indicate that improper assembly has played a significant role in glider or balloon accidents. Therefore, the FAA has decided to classify the installation of glider wings and tail surfaces, specifically designed for quick disassembly and assembly, the installation of balloon baskets and burners, specifically designed for quick removal; and the assembly of gliders and balloons as operations functions. To ensure that pilots recognize their responsibilities and are competent to perform the assembly and preflight inspection properly, Part 61 of the FAR is amended to reference gliders and balloons in the flight proficiency requirements of 61.107 and 61/127.

One June 6, 1986, the FAA issued NPRM No. 86-8 (51 FR 21 722; June 13, 1986). The notice proposed to amend the regulations to discontinue classifying glider and balloon assembly as preventive maintenance , add training requirements for pilots in preflight assembly of gliders and balloons, and add preflight assembly and post-assembly inspections to the preflight responsibilities for glider and balloon pilots.


DISCUSSION OF COMMENTS

Over 150 individual public comments were submitted in response to Notice 86-8. While the great majority of the comments are in agreement with the proposal, three commenters suggest changes that are beyond the scope of this rulemaking. Three comments suggest that the rule be expanded to include assembly/disassembly of additional balloon components. While this recommendation merits further agency examination for possible future rulemaking, it is considered outside the scope of Notice 86-8 and thus is not adopted herein.

One commenter questions the FAA's use of the word "mooring" in proposed 61/107(f)(1) and 61/127(f)(1). The commenter suggests the use of the "tethering". The FAA agrees with the comments, and the amendment has been changed accordingly.
PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT
Information collection requirements in this legislation (43.9) have been approved by the OMB under this provision of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (Pub. 95-511 and have been assigned OMB Control Number 2120-0020.
REGULATORY EVALUATION

The FAA is amending Parts 43 and 61 to discontinue classifying glider and balloon assembly as preventive maintenance, except in certain circumstances; add training requirements for pilots in preflight responsibilities of gliders and balloons; and add preflight assembly and post assembly inspections to the preflight responsibilities for glider and balloon pilots. The editorial versions to Part 91 are intended to make the amendments to parts 43 and 61 consistent with the maintenance record requirements of Part 91.

The primary objective of the final rule is to ensure continued assignment of responsibilities for preflight assembly inspection of gliders and balloons and at the same time reduce the record keeping burden on the public.

The principal area of interest in the rule is the change affecting the installation of glider wings and tail surfaces, specifically designed for quick disassembly and assembly by pilots, and the installation of balloon baskets and burners, specifically designed for quick removal by the pilot. The deletion of these requirements from the list of items classified as preventive maintenance would relieve glider and balloon operators from the burden of complying with the recording requirements of 43.9 for the preflight assembly of gliders and balloons. FAA records of accidents and incidents indicate that improper assembly has not played a significant role in glider or balloon accidents. In this context, these amendments would not derogate safety and would not impose costs. The FAA, therefore, finds that these amendments would involve only unquantifiable benefits since glider and balloon operators would no longer be required to make the maintenance record entries specified in 43.9.

The FAA has determined that this regulation will not affect international trade. Nor is it expected to have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities since there are no costs associated with these amendments. END

Posted: 7/2/1998 By: General News


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