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My understanding is that aircraft regularly have inspections for defects just like cars in the U.K. have an annual MOT test to check their condition and safety.

My question is, who can do these inspections and what qualifications/certifications do they need?

I'm primarily interested in CAA requirements but FAA requirements would also be interesting to know.

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I can speak to the FAA requirements. The basic requirement for the annual inspection (commercial aircraft have additional requirements) comes from 14 CFR Part 91.409

§91.409 Inspections.

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, no person may operate an aircraft unless, within the preceding 12 calendar months, it has had—

(1) An annual inspection in accordance with part 43 of this chapter and has been approved for return to service by a person authorized by §43.7 of this chapter; or...

And the related requirement regarding who can perform this is covered in Part 43 and is in two parts; who can perform the work and who can approve the return to service.

The work must be performed by someone specified in 14 CFR Part 43.3 in which the general case is:

§43.3 Persons authorized to perform maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, and alterations.

(a) Except as provided in this section and §43.17, no person may maintain, rebuild, alter, or perform preventive maintenance on an aircraft, airframe, aircraft engine, propeller, appliance, or component part to which this part applies. Those items, the performance of which is a major alteration, a major repair, or preventive maintenance, are listed in appendix A.

(b) The holder of a mechanic certificate may perform maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations as provided in Part 65 of this chapter.

(c) The holder of a repairman certificate may perform maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations as provided in part 65 of this chapter.

And the approval for return to service must be per 14 CFR Part 43.7

§43.7 Persons authorized to approve aircraft, airframes, aircraft engines, propellers, appliances, or component parts for return to service after maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, or alteration.

(a) Except as provided in this section and §43.17, no person, other than the Administrator, may approve an aircraft, airframe, aircraft engine, propeller, appliance, or component part for return to service after it has undergone maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, or alteration.

(b) The holder of a mechanic certificate or an inspection authorization may approve an aircraft, airframe, aircraft engine, propeller, appliance, or component part for return to service as provided in Part 65 of this chapter.

Requirements for mechanics and inspection authorizations are spelled out in 14 CFR Part 65, Subpart D.

The regulations also allow manufacturers and repair stations among a limited number of others to perform the work as well. (see links)

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  • $\begingroup$ "The holder of a mechanic certificate" seems vague. What certificate is that? Is there an FAA mechanic scheme? $\endgroup$ – Notts90 Dec 6 '16 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Notts90 It means a licensed A&P (Airframe and Powerplant). Mechanics who work on aircraft must go through a lengthly certification process, but that doesn't mean that the person performing your inspection is a licensed A&P, they just have to be working under the supervision of a licensed A&P. It takes 2000 hours of experience to get the A&P license from the FAA. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Dec 6 '16 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer so any competent person under the supervision of a licensed A&P mechanic can perform the inspection? Is there a specific name for the license? $\endgroup$ – Notts90 Dec 6 '16 at 14:35
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    $\begingroup$ In the FAA world, this is a Mechanics Certificate but are more commonly called A&P's. Yes, any "competent" person can perform the work, however it has to be signed off by a certificated A&P in the log book so it would behoove the A&P signing off to verify the work, ultimately their certificate is the one on the line. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Dec 6 '16 at 14:40
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer that's the answer I was looking for. Thank you! If you post it I'll accept. $\endgroup$ – Notts90 Dec 6 '16 at 20:29

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