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AOPA: No Mandatory Bulletins For Part 91 Aircraft

Says NTSB Decision Gives SBs Same Force Of Law As ADs

A recent decision by the National Transportation Safety Board could prove very expensive for aircraft owners.

That's the word from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, which is questioning a recent ruling against a mechanic that seems to say aircraft manufacturers can make service bulletins mandatory... essentially giving them the same force of law as an FAA airworthiness directive.

AOPA says if the NTSB interpretation stands, the cost to aircraft owners could be substantial, as there are usually far more SBs issued by the manufacturer than ADs approved by the FAA.

"That is neither AOPA's nor the FAA's interpretation of the regulations," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA director of regulatory and certification policy. "Service bulletins are considered advisory, not mandatory, for Part 91 operators."

For that matter, AOPA says the FAA has already spoken... saying in 2001 that "small airplane design approval holders cannot unilaterally impose mandatory compliance with manufacturers' SBs," as long as those planes aren't used commercially.

"We've asked our legal counsel to thoroughly research this issue so that we have all the ammunition to reinforce the longstanding rulings that SBs are recommendations, not mandates, for Part 91 operators," said Gutierrez. "We will always strive to keep general aviation aircraft safe and affordable. The AD process ensures that we do what's needed to fix safety problems but not spend more than necessary."

FMI: www.aopa.org, www.ntsb.gov

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