Aircraft Mechanic Liability: If You Sign, Your Certificate Is On The Line
A recent NTSB Opinion and Order reaffirms the responsibility of a
mechanic who signs off on an aircraft’s logbook for work performed by
In Blakey v. Adili,
the FAA alleged that the mechanic violated 14 C.F.R. 43.13(a) by
failing to perform a gear retraction test after changing a flat tire on
a Cessna 402. That FAR generally provides that aircraft maintenance
must be performed in accordance with the aircraft’s manual.
In that case, the tire was changed and documents were completed indicating
that the tire was changed and the system was bled, but with no
reference to any gear retraction test. The mechanic signed the
aircraft’s logbook and returned it to service.
The FAA later alleged that the gear drop test required by the aircraft
manual following a tire change was not completed prior to returning the
aircraft to service. It sought to suspend the mechanic’s certificate.
Although there was conflicting testimony in the case as to whether the
mechanic actually performed the tire change on the airplane, the law
judge held and the NTSB affirmed that the mechanic was responsible for
any work performed, or not performed, by virtue of his returning the
aircraft back to service.
The NTSB noted that although “respondent did not perform the work
involved, [but] he signed as mechanic and is, therefore, held
accountable for the work and the manner of its performance.” The NTSB
then affirmed the law judge’s 60-day suspension of the mechanic’s
This case presents a good lesson as to the responsibility and risk
associated with a mechanic’s signing of an aircraft logbook and
returning the aircraft to service when the mechanic doesn’t actually
perform the work. In that situation, the mechanic will be held
accountable for the work that was, or was not performed; regardless of
who did or did not perform the required work.
The moral of the story is that a mechanic needs to confirm that all work
required by an aircraft’s manual was actually performed and satisfy him
or herself that the work that was performed was done in accordance with
the manual. If this isn’t done, a mechanic takes a chance that he or
she could be held responsible for improper or omitted work. Don’t let
this happen: Be diligent and be safe.