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Fri, Jan 20, 2006

ANN's Daily Aero-Tips (01.20.06): Service Bulletins

Aero-Tips!

A good pilot is always learning -- how many times have you heard this old standard throughout your flying career? There is no truer statement in all of flying (well, with the possible exception of "there are no old, bold pilots.") It's part of what makes aviation so exciting for all of us... just when you think you've seen it all, along comes a scenario you've never imagined.

Aero-News has called upon the expertise of Thomas P. Turner, master CFI and all-around-good-guy, to bring our readers -- and us -- daily tips to improve our skills as aviators, and as representatives of the flying community. Some of them, you may have heard before... but for each of us, there will also be something we might never have considered before, or something that didn't "stick" the way it should have the first time we memorized it for the practical test.

It is our unabashed goal that "Aero-Tips" will help our readers become better, safer pilots -- as well as introducing our ground-bound readers to the concepts and principles that keep those strange aluminum-and-composite contraptions in the air... and allow them to soar magnificently through it.

Look for our daily Aero-Tips segments, coming each day to you through the Aero-News Network. Suggestions for future Aero-Tips are always welcome, as are additions or discussion of each day's tips. Remember... when it comes to being good pilots, we're all in this together.

Aero-Tips 01.20.06

A reader asks: What are service advisories, and are they optional?

  1. Service Advisories, sometimes called Service Instructions or Service Letters (depending on the manufacturer), are letters from aircraft, engine or component makers that point out inspections, alterations or procedures they recommend be made to their products. These may simply be notices that a component supplier has issued its own bulletin (for instance a GPS manufacturer’s bulletin that may affect your airplane), or the result of isolated discrepancies reported by mechanics in the field.
  2. Service Bulletins, or SBs, are factory-recommended modifications, maintenance or inspection items, usually as a result of repeated problems found in the field and reported in multiple Service Difficulty Reports from mechanics.
  3. Mandatory Service Bulletins, or MSBs, are Service Bulletins, compliance with which is considered "mandatory" by the manufacturer for an airplane's warranty to be in effect. Nonetheless they are not “mandatory” for noncommercial airplanes. MSBs tend to address more critical airframe longevity or safety-of-flight items, and often form the basis of an FAA Airworthiness Directive (AD). In fact, most ADs refer to a MSB for compliance instructions.

Regardless of the manufacturer’s terminology, however, only FAA Airworthiness Directives are “mandatory” for privately operated airplanes. This isn’t to say that some SBs and MSBs don’t warrant compliance even if it’s not required. Budgeting for the occasional, unexpected maintenance or repair is just one of the joys of airplane ownership.

Aero-tip of the day: Different designations of manufacturers’ bulletins identify varied levels of safety. Each notice should be reviewed on its own merits when an owner decides whether and when to comply with these non-mandatory directives.

FMI: Aero-Tips

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