||CUA: CLOSED UNACCEPTABLE ACTION
Parachute jump ("or skydiving") operations, which the Federal Aviation Administration defines as the activities performed for the purpose of or in support of the descent parachutists (or "skydivers") who jump from aircraft, are a segment of U.S. general aviation that transports parachutists on at least 2.16 to 3 million jumps annually, according to data compiled by the United States Parachute Association (USPA). Most parachute operations flights are operated under the provision of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 and are typically revenue operations; parachute jump operators provide the flights as part of their services to parachutists who pay to go skydiving, or parachutists pay dues for membership in parachuting clubs.
A-08-63. Require parachute jump operators to develop and implement Federal Aviation Administration-approved aircraft maintenance and inspection programs that include, at a minimum, requirements for compliance with engine manufacturers' recommended maintenance instructions, such as service bulletins and service information letters for time between overhauls and component life limits.
FAA LTR DTD: 1/15/09
The Federal Aviation Administration met with the United States Parachute Association (USPA) to discuss the need to develop maintenance and inspection programs for parachute jump operators. We agree with the intent of these recommendations and will work together to develop the recommended programs. The guidance will be placed in USPA's manual as part of the requirements for the Drop Zone. We anticipate completion and implementation of the procedures and guidance by October 2009.
I will keep the Board informed of the progress of these recommendations and provide a further response by December 31, 2009.
NTSB LTR DTD: 4/26/10
The FAA indicated that it agrees with the intent of these safety recommendations and will work with the United States Parachute Association (USPA) to develop maintenance and inspection programs for parachute jump operators. The FAA further indicated that guidance would be incorporated into the USPA's manual as part of the requirements for the intended parachute landing area, referred to as the "Drop Zone."
The NTSB looks forward to reviewing the details of the developed maintenance and inspection programs and associated guidance material. Pending our review, Safety Recommendations A-08-63 and -64 are classified "Open-Acceptable Response."
FAA LTR DTD: 6/22/10
There are no existing regulations that specifically require parachute jump operators to implement Federal Aviation Administration approved maintenance and inspection programs. However, Title 14 CFR 91.403(a) states, in part, that the owner of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition. Therefore, the owner/operator of an aircraft should review this information and incorporate it as necessary to maintain the continued airworthiness of the aircraft.
In an effort to minimize risk, the USPA and FAA met to address the Board's special investigation report. The FAA and USPA believe that the current regulatory requirements for maintenance are adequate but must be better communicated and disseminated. USPA took an active role in educating owners of jump plane aircraft, pilots, parachutists, and skydiving drop zone operators (DZO) using the association's monthly magazine. In addition, the USPA informs all members of the USPA-affiliated drop zones through its website and email communication.
The USPA's website is located at www.uspa.org/Portals/0/Downloads/GM_MailingNarrativeltrhd.pdf and addresses the following areas:
* 14 CFR 91.409, Aircraft maintenance requirements;
* 14 CFR Part 91, Operations that have impact on aircraft airworthiness;
* 14 CFR 91.213, Minimum equipment list and inoperative instruments and equipment;
* 14 CFR Part 91, Emergency locator transmitters (ELT) and transponder; and
* Operating rules.
USPA Director Mr. Ed Scott, in a September 2009 letter to the DZOs (enclosed), states that his approach to improve safety is two pronged. The first effort is to review the regulations with respect to jump operations and to clarify what is expected. The second effort is to implement a method to validate a DZO's completed actions for compliance with the associated regulations.
A USPA status report (enclosed) is completed by the members and returned to the USPA ensuring that aircraft used in skydiving drop zone operations have complied with the aircraft inspection requirements. The DZOs that do not return these status reports cannot be involved in the USPA group member program. To date, the response by the members show a majority of the 220 USPA-affiliated DZOs are involved in the USPA reporting program. As some DZOs operate on a part-time basis due to seasonal activity, they are to provide reports once they have aircraft on site for the season.
The manufacturers' service bulletins, service information letters, and time between overhaul limitations are recommendations for part 91 operators. Life-limited components listed in the type certificate data sheet are also required compliance items. Although not mandatory, the FAA and USPA recommend that owners/operators review the manufacturer's maintenance manual or any other manufacturer's recommended information and incorporate appropriate actions.
I believe that the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.
NTSB LTR DTD: 1/11/11
The NTSB is pleased with the United States Parachute Association's (USPA) efforts to educate its membership and validate that USPA-member drop zone operators are operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 maintenance requirements. However, the NTSB points out that (1) not all parachute jump operators are USPA members, and (2) USPA members that have demonstrated they are in compliance with Part 91 maintenance requirements still arc not required 10 perform the engine manufacturers' recommended maintenance instructions, as recommended by the NTSB.
At least four of the accident operators mentioned in our SIR did not voluntarily perform the recommended manufacturer maintenance practices on their airplanes' engines. The intent of Safety Recommendation A-08-63 is to ensure that all parachute jump operators (not only USPA members) are held to a level of safety that exceeds the maintenance requirements of 14 CFR Part 91. Although the FAA has provided support to the USPA's efforts to ensure that USPA members comply with current regulatory requirements, the NTSB does not believe that the FAA has satisfied the intent of Safety Recommendation A-08-63. Accordingly, pending the FAA's issuance of a requirement for all parachute jump operators to develop and implement FAA-approved aircraft maintenance and inspection programs as specified in this recommendation, Safety Recommendation A-08-63 is classified "Open-Unacceptable Response."
FAA LTR DTD: 11/16/11
In our previous response, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) explained that there are currently no existing regulations that would require parachute jump operators to implement FAA approved maintenance and inspection programs. The owner/operator of these aircraft has the ability to choose the inspection program in accordance with 91.409. This section details the types of inspections that an individual can utilize, depending on the aircraft and its usage. Section 91.409 (b) states, "no person may operate an aircraft carrying any person (other than a crewmember) for hire, and no person may give flight instruction for hire in an aircraft which that person provides, unless within the preceding 100 hours of time in service the aircraft has received an annual or 100-hour inspection and has been approved for return to service in accordance with 14 CFR part 43 of this chapter." The annual and 100 hour inspections are utilized extensively by persons providing flight instruction, in addition to parachute operations. While the scope and detail of these inspections are not FAA approved, there is no statistical evidence showing that an airplane properly maintained and inspected in accordance with 14 CFR part 43, appendix D is unsafe.
Due to the size and complexity, large turbopropeller-powered multiengine airplanes, often used in jump operations, are required under 91.409 (f) "to use a current inspection program recommended by the manufacturer or establish their own inspection program which is approved by the Administrator."
The FAA encourages operators to voluntarily review and incorporate engine manufacturers' recommended maintenance instructions. This is achieved through service bulletins and service information. However, we can not legally require an owner/operator to unilaterally adopt all such requirements. To do so would be contrary to the Administrative Procedures Act. It would be tantamount to allowing a manufacturer to impose legal requirements. Section 91.403(a) states, "the owner of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition." Therefore, while not mandatory, the owner/operator of an aircraft should review this information and incorporate it, as necessary, to maintain the continued airworthiness of the aircraft.
The FAA has determined that 91.409 and the United States Parachute Association drop zone operators' guidance, as cited in our previous response, satisfy the concerns of the Board's safety recommendation. I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.
FAA LTR DTD: 5/5/12
On August 1, 2011, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published revised Order 8900.1, volume 6, chapter 11, section 5 (enclosed), to include maintenance and operation inspections, aircraft configuration authorization, flight manual supplements, placards, operation waivers, pilot certification and training, and parachute airworthiness. Additionally, on July 21, 2011, the FAA published Order 1800.56 Revision L, appendix A, item 19, Parachute Operations (enclosed). These requirements apply to any parachute operation aircraft under part 91 conducting parachute operations in accordance with part 105. An Aviation Safety Inspector must conduct at least 2 of the following 10 inspections per year on each parachute operation/drop zone located within the Flight Standards District Office jurisdiction. One inspection must be an airworthiness inspection and the other must be an operations inspection. These inspections may be different types (e.g., one maintenance spot inspection and one operations ramp inspection) and could include:
(a) Ramp (1622, 3627, or 5627)
(b) Parachute Jumps (1696)
(c) Spot (3628, 3631, or 5681)
(d) Aircraft Records (3694 or 5694)
(e) Title 14 CFR Part 65 Rigger (senior or master) (3678)
I believe that the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation with the publication of these Orders, and I consider our actions complete.
NTSB LTR DTD: 6/12/12
We do not agree with the FAA that existing 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 maintenance requirements satisfy the intent of this recommendation. Rather, we remain concerned that operators of aircraft used in parachute jump operations are not required to develop and implement FAA-approved aircraft maintenance and inspection programs. Although we acknowledge that the diversity of the parachute operations industry may require flexibility in determining the best mechanisms by which to implement maintenance program requirements, we point out that the FAA has imposed extra requirements on certain Part 91 operators in the past (such as Part 91, Subpart K), and we believe that the FAA could do something similar to address this recommendation for parachute jump operations. Although the FAA has indicated that its actions in response to this recommendation are complete, we request that the FAA reconsider its position. In the meantime, pending our review of a plan that is responsive to this recommendation, Safety Recommendation A-08-63 remains classified "Open-Unacceptable Response."