A Helping Hand - CFR 43.3(g)
I was 12 years old and an “Airport Brat” the first time I wrenched on an airplane. I was riding my bike through the local community airport when I heard a voice calling from one of the hangars. “Hey Kid…..hand me that wrench”. It was like an old hardened voice. “Grab that wrench over there.” I sheepishly handed him what I thought was a wrench and leaned in closer to see what he was doing. “You see kid, this old T-6 hasn’t flown in years, no sense letting it rot away, we got an airplane, and I intend to fly it”.
I had never been up close to a T-6 before, nor had I been in the old hangar it sat in. The walls were lined with pictures of old blue airplanes. “Captain Chuck Downey is the name, the pictures you see on that wall are all of my friends.” “How about this picture” I asked, pointing to a young man with a leather cap. “That was me sitting in my SB2C, I was only 18 years old. Now lets get back at it and hold this wrench”.
The CAF operates more than 5000 flight hours each year and that means there is a lot of maintenance that happens. Hats are off to all of the hard working volunteers who spend countless hours loving on our airplanes to keep them airworthy. Our maintenance volunteers are some of the hardest working and dedicated people in our Organization.
Its also common practice for much of our CAF aircraft maintenance to be accomplished by non-certificated mechanics. This is allowed by Federal Aviation Regulations so long as they have a certificated individual who is supervising and available for consultation. The FAA never defined available but in the last few years “in person” has been added to CFR 43.3(g). Please ensure that when non-certificated persons are working on CAF aircraft that a certificated person is supervising and available “in person” for when consultation is needed.
Whether this “in person” definition includes being in a neighboring hangar or across town we must use discretion within our CAF units. CFR 43.3(g) is clear that if non-certificated individuals have questions or seek consultation, the A&P mechanic must be available to give that person consultation “in person” when requested. Click on the link AP-Supervision-Leter.pdf to see an interpretation given by the FAA on this topic.
Great job everyone and keep the CAF Flying!
V.P. of Safety, Operations, & Maintenance
Editors Note: CAF Colonel, Captain Chuck Downey sadly passed away on February 19, 2016. He was 91 years old. You can read more about Captain Downey’s story and his recognition as the youngest aviator of WWII at the following link. He is deeply missed and certain left a legacy for myself and many others in our organization.