Avionics News January 2021 - 17

FREQUENTLY ASKED
QUESTIONS
United States
Service difficulty reports
The following is from the federal aviation regulations, FAA Oder 8900.1 and FAA Docket No. 28293;
Notice No. 95-121.

Question: When is a service difficulty report
required to be submitted?
Answer: The simple answer is that a " certificated repair
station must report to the FAA within 96 hours after it discovers any serious failure, malfunction, or defect of an article. "
(14 CFR § 145.221 (a) Service Difficulty Reports)
However, that is only half the answer: When as a function
of time, it clearly states " within 96 hours of discovery. " When
as a function of what, a " serious failure, malfunction, or defect
of an article " requires a bit more conversation.
There are a series of rulemakings beginning in 1995 and
finishing in 2014 that address service difficulty reports. While
a major element of the early rulemaking was to harmonize
the SDR requirements between the operator's requirements in
Parts 135 and 121 and the repair station requirements in Part
145, the definition of serious as used in Part 145 is noticeably
absent from any of these efforts.
The 1995 notice of proposed rulemaking clearly stated:
" The proposed rule would clarify and standardize the type
of information submitted to the FAA allowing the FAA to
identify trends that may affect aviation safety. " In the 2003
final rule, the FAA stated: " The proposed rule would clarify
and standardize the type of information submitted to the FAA
allowing the FAA to identify trends that may affect aviation
safety. " These rulemaking activities didn't directly help with
defining " serious. " Since the definition doesn't exist in the
regulations, if you look at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,
you find the most appropriate definition to be " having
important or dangerous possible consequences. "
This last definition aligns with FAA policy on the topic
(FAA Order 8900.1 V3, CH32, Sect15) where the FAA
states: " A serious failure, malfunction, or defect is any failure,
malfunction, or defect in an aircraft or its related parts and
articles that occurs or is detected at any time if, in the opinion
of the repair station, that failure, malfunction, or defect has
endangered or may endanger the safe operation of an aircraft. "
The FAA further notes that: " When an unusual or
unknown discrepancy is the cause of the article's failure or
malfunction, or the failure or malfunction was caused by a
design or production defect, it shall be further evaluated to
determine if the condition would have required a specifically

enumerated design approval holder or operator report. If such
a report would have been required, a § 145.221 report must be
generated and reported. "
As such, 121.703 and 135.415 contain lists that will
help the repair station determine when an SDR should be
submitted; that is, what type of failure, malfunction or defect
should generate the need to submit an SDR.
The following list is consistent with both 14 CFR Part
135 as well as Part 121. As such, each certificate holder
shall report the occurrence or detection of each failure,
malfunction, or defect concerning:
1.	 Fires during flight and whether the related fire
warning system functioned properly;
2.	 Fires during flight not protected by a related fire
warning system;
3.	 False fire warning during flight;
4.	 An engine exhaust system that causes damage
during flight to the engine, adjacent structure,
equipment, or components;
5.	 An aircraft component that causes accumulation
or circulation of smoke, vapor, or toxic or noxious
fumes in the crew compartment or passenger cabin
during flight;
6.	 Engine shutdown during flight because of
flameout;
7.	 Engine shutdown during flight when external
damage to the engine or airplane structure occurs;
8.	 Engine shutdown during flight due to foreign
object ingestion or icing;
9.	 Engine shutdown during flight of more than one
engine;
10.	 A propeller feathering system or ability of the
system to control overspeed during flight;
11.	 A fuel or fuel dumping system that affects fuel
flow or causes hazardous leakage during flight;
12.	 An unwanted landing gear extension or retraction,
or an unwanted opening or closing of landing gear
doors during flight;
13.	 Brake system components that result in loss of
brake actuating force when the airplane is in
motion on the ground;
14.	 Aircraft structure that requires major repair;
15.	 Cracks, permanent deformation, or corrosion of
aircraft structures, if more than the maximum
acceptable to the manufacturer or the FAA;
16.	 Aircraft components or systems that result in
taking emergency actions during flight (except
action to shut down an engine).
While not a definitive answer, the regulations dating back
to the early 1950s use the ambiguous term " serous. " And
since it was the intent of the FAA in 1995 to harmonize the
data submitted on the SDR forms, this list, while it may not
list every instance of a failure, malfunction or defect that
may have " important or dangerous possible consequences, "
it is a good start for what should be reported. q

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Avionics News January 2021

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Avionics News January 2021 - Intro
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Avionics News January 2021 - Cover2
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