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I've seen the occasional Service Bulletin that is marked Obsolete, and others that Supersede SB-123. If I'm a pilot or A&P looking through logbooks, what resources are available to determine if a given SB still applies to the aircraft?

For example, American SB-131 applies to AA-1, AA-1A, and AA-5 aircraft. However, this scan (pdf) seems to suggest that it's obsolete, and the contents are now in the service manual.

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  • $\begingroup$ I can't speak to the FARs, but based on the issue date of 3 May, 1972, and This information will be added to the next subsequent revision of each applicable Service Manual., I think it's safe to say that this service bulletin is Obsolete. $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Mar 21 '16 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, I got that much - but I'm trying to determine how we'd be able to figure this out in other situations. Then again, when it comes to the FAA, it's rarely safe to assume anything. :) $\endgroup$ – egid Mar 21 '16 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ I'm trying to verify but I believe the manufacturer has to keep records about which SB's apply to which airframe by serial number. Obviously this gets more complicated when manufacturers go out of business but you should be able to call up any manufacturer with a serial number and ask for the active service bulletin numbers. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Mar 21 '16 at 20:40
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, in several cases that's hard as the manufacturer is years out of business. I guess you'd have to track down the type cert holder. $\endgroup$ – egid Mar 21 '16 at 20:41
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This FAA AC outlines how SB's should be drafted. It also says that the Design Approval Holder should make available an easy way to search the SB's

A DAH should develop a robust SB/AD tracking and management system using the following process to ensure overlaps and conflicts between new and existing SB actions are identified and addressed: a. Search capabilities should include the following primary areas:

(1) Make/model or part number of affected product(s),

(2) Major aircraft elements (e.g., engine, strut, wing, etc.),

(3) ATA code,

(4) Maintenance zones,

(5) Service information (e.g., service bulletin number),

(6) Airworthiness limitation sections,

(7) Previously issued ADs, and

(8) Planned ADs (i.e., action(s) that the FAA proposes to mandate in an AD).

This puts the ownership on the company a bit.

The FAA makes all current bulletins available here so you can check if they still list it as current.

There is also a bit of duality between service bulletins and Air worthiness directives. SB's are issued by the company if they feel there is a safety hazard to the aircraft. Most importantly, unless they are issued alongside an AD they may not be mandatory. You can check out this blog post that goes into it a bit more.

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There are two issues here: the first would be the status of the SB itself, and whether the work described in the service bulletin has been competed. The link in Dave's answer links to an FAA website the lists all special airworthiness information bulletins, and SAIBs are not the same as SBs. This problems becomes more challenging when the OEM is not actively creating and/or maintaining the maintenance and service documentation. If the OEM still is open for business, i.e. Cessna, Robinson, Boeing, etc., they usually have a method to subscribe for updated information. The FAA may mandate an easy way to get that information, but that does not mean it is inexpensive. It is through these subscriptions that you get the latest information. For aircraft that no longer have an OEM created maintenance and service documentation, that becomes a challenge. If in doubt, refer to http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC_20-176A.pdf.

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