Are ICA's Required for Airworthiness?
The simple answer is… not always, as it depends on the aircraft and type of installation. A more relevant question is the inspection and maintenance of the equipment installed covered in the manufacturer’s maintenance manual (AMM).
A manufacturer’s maintenance manual (AMM) was all an aircraft owner needed until recent times. A bone stock airplane coming out of the factory with no aftermarket parts will not have an ICA. Stock aircraft uses CH4 (time limited items) and CH5 (inspection guides) of the AMM for their continued airworthiness.
Although AMM gives many details to take in, ICAs provide more information (learn more about ICAs). In order to maintain airworthiness, the latter gives instructions concerning servicing, lubricating, replacing parts of and appliances within the plane (for items not covered in AMM, i.e. aftermarket installations). These guidelines are usually issued by a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Type Certificate (TC) holder, an outfit with approval for aircraft repairs or design, or the aircraft’s builder. The ICAs are also supplemental to the Illustrated Parts Catalog (IPC) sometimes. Well, losing these precious papers could be disastrous, so look for digital records software like Bluetail.aero to help keep you backup and safe.
Any reasons to have ICAs on hand?
Installing an aftermarket component or system on your plane via a STC will not be covered by the AMM ninety percent (90%) of the time. A good example of this would be the installation of Gogo Wi-Fi system. The AMM does not cover the maintenance requirement of the Wi-Fi system; therefore, as part of the STC, Gogo will have to supply the ICA. Upon the completion of system installation, the shop signing off the work will document the installation of the STC using the form 337. On the form, the installer will clearly state that the component installed are required to be inspected and maintained using the ICA provided by Gogo. Usually this ICA will then be filed together with the 337 into the aircraft permanent records. Assuming the aircraft is being tracked on a tracking program (CAMP, FlightDocs, etc) the new requirement called out by the ICA will then be added to the tracking program.
ICAs remain valid only during the tenure of the design it contains. In fact, a couple of aircraft with non-replaceable parts need no STC holders’ expertise and no ICA, either. On some occasions, AMM would fit instead of bothering the ICA’s. For instance, a faulty cockpit bulb needs to be changed. An alternative STC holder can ensure the repair, and as long as the wiring of the aircraft is not manipulated, that information sits in the AMM. To build on that example, the owner wants to install a brighter bulb than what was factory installed. Then in order to deviate from the factory IPC he must use 337/STC to replace the bulb. Because the periodic inspection of this light is adequately covered in the AMM no separate ICA is needed.
Technicians and engineers won’t have to crack their heads to fix faults on your jet. According to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), aircraft operators and mechanics alike ought to have ICA’s for equipment aboard in hand (especially for older airplanes with lots of aftermarket installations). Having these pointers saves time, and more importantly, ensures efficiency. Besides, in the event of a change in ownership, the new owner is enlightened on the aircraft he has acquired. It is important to have your ICA’s onboard, around the clock, since the need for them may arise at any time. In addition, try not to lose the ICA’s. Getting new copies could lead to a dead-end since your STC or manufacturer might have gone out of business or even forgone your aircraft model.
Whereas ICA may not be required and needed on every aircraft, there is no doubt, that ICA’s and supplemental manuals are worth keeping digitally and having quick access to them. Bluetail.aero is one of the few online aircraft records software companies to offer custom categories to keep all this organized.