Who first determines the need for an Airworthiness Directive (AD)?

The FAA Aircraft Certification Service has twelve Aircraft Certification Offices (ACO) within four Directorates. Each is responsible for the continued operational safety of products for which it has responsibility. Directorate responsibility is assigned by type of product: Transport Category Airplanes, Small Airplanes, Rotorcraft, or Engines and Propellers.

Aviation Safety Engineers (ASEs) in the Directorate staff monitor assigned products to determine unsafe conditions and the need for ADs. Additionally, the ASEs are responsible for monitoring products manufactured in other countries that are approved for use in the United States and initiating ADs for those products as necessary.

What are the AD functions of the four Directorates?

When an unsafe condition exists, the Directorate responsible for the product will draft, coordinate, and issue ADs based on information provided by an ACO or Directorate Standards Staff.

What is the responsibility of the owner of a Type Certificate?

The Type Certificate owner is responsible for:

  • Notifying the FAA when they become aware of any failure, malfunction, or defect in any product, part, process, or article manufactured by them (14 CFR 21.3);
  • Developing appropriate design changes to correct the unsafe condition(14 CFR 21.99(a)); and,
  • Incorporating the corrective action in future production of the product to ensure the product is in condition for safe operation (14 CFR 21).

What is the responsibility of aircraft owners/operators?

Aircraft owners and operators are responsible for ensuring compliance with the requirements of all ADs that apply to their aircraft. Anyone who operates a product that does not meet the requirements of an applicable AD is in violation of 14 CFR 39.7.