INSPECTOR HANDBOOKS ARE NOT THE LAW

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ARTICLE: Charter Operators Face Grounding Over Training Issue

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One of the difficulties of regulating a complex, diverse, dynamic industry is that the regulators must communicate to the regulated what the rules are. Their bibles include an almost immutable statute, a difficult to change set of regulations (the Federal Aviation Regulations, “FARs”) and a plethora of other documents (ADs, ACs, Orders, Handbooks, INFOs, SAFOs, etc.). Technically only the Act, the FARs and the Ads are mandatory. Inspectors Handbooks are NOT the law; they are instructions from management to the FAA workforce. They have not been subjected to the requirements of the NPRM process.

Without commenting on how the interpretation mentioned in this article was formulated or announced, at a minimum this is a tale of why such shortcuts do not facilitate implementation of an important FAA initiative. The Congress created a hierarchy of powers by which the FAA can enforce its rules; Inspectors Handbooks are not on that list.

It is important for FAA certificate holders (Parts 121, 135, 142, 145, etc.) to learn how to research the statute, the FARs and all of the other regulatory materials. One good way to get that knowledge is to attend a course in which such skills and information are imparted.

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