Service Bulletin Interpretation Fought

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AOPA is fighting a potentially expensive NTSB ruling that it believes would allow manufacturers' service bulletins to carry the same legal weight as an airworthiness directive on Part 91 aircraft. The case revolved around an A&P mechanic's engine repair that did not comply with instructions contained in publications issued by the engine and parts manufacturers. The upshot of the legalese, according to AOPA, is that the NTSB's ruling in that case changes the service bulletins from an advisory nature to mandatory under the law. "That is neither AOPA's nor the FAA's interpretation of the regulations," said Luis Gutierrez, AOPA director of regulatory and certification policy. "Service bulletins are considered advisory, not mandatory, for Part 91 operators." Now, while it seems prudent that service bulletins be complied with, the difference here is in who decides what's mandatory. AOPA and the FAA believe that responsibility lies with the FAA and not with individual companies. AOPA also notes that not all service bulletins become ADs and that's the way it should be because not all SBs relate to immediate airworthiness concerns. Gutierrez said the FAA has issued several clear statements on the issue and AOPA will use them as ammunition in its fight.