Acting in an official capacity on behalf of a certificated repair station is a serious matter. Improper use of authority can result in violations of the law that risk assessments of civil and/or criminal penalties – notwithstanding the real possibility that aviation safety may be compromised in the process. Understanding the sources and limits on your authority can aid in reducing the chance for unintended violations. Take a few minutes to check your authority and refresh your understanding of your role and obligations.
Depending on your role within the part 145 organization, you may be authorized by the regulations to take certain specific actions and make particular representations. For example, technicians have a particular role and a related set of authorized actions that guide their work and decision-making. Likewise, inspectors have a unique role, must meet specific qualifications under part 145 and their own related limits of authority. Specific roles are designated by the repair station to specifically qualified individuals – to understand your specific roles and responsibilities see your Repair Station Manual (RSM) and Quality Control Manual (QCM).
The authority to perform most of these “operational” roles comes from the regulations and flows to the individual by express actual authority from, and at the discretion of, the company. The RSM/QCM’s organizational chart should depict each role and the chain of command from top to bottom. Needless to say the RSM and QCM should be consistent with the latest regulatory guidelines and requirements of the regulatory authority (FAA, EASA, TCCA, etc.).
In addition to the “operational” roles of those who are directly involved in the maintenance, preventive maintenance, alteration and inspection process, or provide direct supervision, each repair station also has a designated “authorized representative”. The definition for this term has been modified slightly over time but the current version makes it clear that the company must designate a person:
“responsible for, and having authority over all repair station operations conducted under part 145. This person’s duties include ensuring that repair station personnel follow the regulations and serving as the primary contact with the FAA.”
For those Certificated Repair Stations that also comply with EASA requirements the definition of the term is more specific but equally relevant to this discussion:
“Accountable Manager [EASA]: The accountable manager is normally intended to mean the chief executive officer of the organization, who by virtue of position has overall [including in particular, financial] responsibility for running the organization. When the accountable manager is not the chief executive officer, he must have direct access to the chief executive officer and have a sufficiency of maintenance funding allocation.”
In summary the authorized representative means that person who will be held accountable for compliance with the dictates of part 145. This individual will be the point of contact with the government regarding official communications, such as letters of investigation and notices of proposed (or final) civil penalty. More importantly, that person must have authority to buy or fix necessary housing, facilities, equipment, data and materials; hire and fire personnel and ensure personnel are trained, and/or do any other thing that is required for compliance with the applicable regulations.
Similar to the specific grants of authority for the operational roles set out in the RSM and QCM, the repair station’s corporate records should reflect the specific grant of authority for the Chief Executive Officer or other designated individual to serve in this official capacity. If you have been “designated” the accountable manager without the authority to perform the necessary corporate functions, violations can result.