Sample Aviation Essay Paper on Airworthiness Assignment Individual Report

Airworthiness Assignment Individual Report


The number of aviation accidents since 1942 to 2016 indicate that the number of fatalities in airline accidents have been on a downward trend. The data from the organization indicates a 45% decline. Additionally, Selamat et al.(2015) indicates that currently that there is a 1 in 29.4 million chance of an individual being killed on a single airline flight. According to Howell, Van, & National Research Council (U.S.) (2017), the figures presented are an indication of the increased safety standards that are an effect of the compliance to applicable aviation authorities’ protocols that define the minimum safety level of an aircraft, the passengers transported, and the flying territories. These guidelines are also known as airworthiness regulations and are presented from the initial design of the aircraft or parts of an aircraft, repair of the aircraft to the maintenance of a serviceable airplane (Krause, 2013). Nevertheless, despite the introduction and follow up of the regulations, there have been some instances such as the crash of flight Swiss 111 that indicate there is a prerequisite whereby the regulations may not be well maintained for today’s aircrafts, a factor that requires considerable study. 


Selamat et al. (2015) assertthat air travel remains the safest means of transport to-date. This assumption is based on two factors the first being the reduced number of accidents over the years and secondly the down word trend related to the number of fatalities in the case of an accident. The Aviation Safety Network supports this premise as it indicates that there is a 1 in 29.4 million chance that an individual being killed on a single airline flight (United States, 2009). Engineering excellence, adaptation of relevant safety standards as well as adaptation to new theologies that have reduced human error are the key pillars hat have seen air travel maintain high safety records (De 2010).


De (2006), states the safety of any aircraft is based in stages: the first stage is in its design; the second stage is in the production of material; and the third stage is the repair and maintenance of the aircraft.

Initial Design

Any aircraft design processes involves varied disciplines such as aerodynamics, structures, safety, and flight mechanics. As a result, for an airplane to be considered operational, it is vital to verify plus validate that its construction, as well as design, is in conformity with the different appropriate regulations as presented by authorities. According to Kritzinger, TotalBoox, and TBX (2016), it is at this stage of design that “airworthiness” is introduced into the aviation industry. Airplane airworthiness is defined as the compliance with satisfactory as well as appropriate aviation authority guidelines that designate the lowest safety values of the a plane, parts used in repairs, conditions of maintenance, the passengers, as well as the flown territories. Regulation (EU) 748/2012 indicates that organizations that design aircraft, Changes to aircraft, repairs to aircraft, and parts or appliances are required to fulfill the requirements as defined in Annex or ‘Part 21” (Certification Procedures for Products and Parts). The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) indicates that the design of an aircraft part complies with the appropriate requirements founded on Certification of the organization (IR 21 – DOA) and Certification of the design of products (CS 25 – TC)

Design Organization Approval (DOA)

In reference to European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), each part of an aircraft that is supposed to enter service is required to meet Design Organization Approval (DOA) requirements Implementing Rule (IR) part 21, as published by European Commission Regulation (EC) No 1702/2003). The regulation presented is part of Part 21 (section B). The DOA is particularly based on ensuring that aircraft manufacturers design planes of parts that adhere to safety requirements. Design faults have been indicated to be the third cause of air accidents (Krause, 2016). Currently, as presented by Gratton (2015), there have been approximately 79 documented air crash incidences that have been caused by design or structural failure. The regulations presented by Design Organization Approval are based on ensuring that such accidents are not repeated.

Production Organizations Approvals

In reference to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the production of every part of an aircraft should be manufactured according to the best safety standards provided. Regulations (EC) No 748/2012 – (Part 21), as published by the Agency’s Internal Certification Working Procedures, indicate that each part of an aircraft should be manufactured to particular safety standards. This is because planes are made of a variety of composite materials that are supposed to be in correlation to the safety requirements provided (Soekkha et al.,2007). 

 Production without POA 

In some instances, aircrafts are installed with products that are not officially approved as per the regulations. Over the last half-a-decade, there has been an emergence of customization trends among the leading airline brands. A variety of appliances are introduced to the planes to improve consumer satisfaction. These appliances are allowed as long as they do not interfere with the safety of the aircraft.

Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization (CAMO)

After an airline is sold to an operator, there are safety requirements that are required to be followed. These requirements are covered under Rules EU 1321/2014, which is a continuation of the Airworthiness regulations of the EASA. The scope of the CAMO is set to manage, as well as organize, all paperwork and publications in reference to maintenance and repairs through Part 145, Part M and Part 147.

Maintenance Organizational Approval PART 145/PART M Subpart F (Repair Station) Certificate

A repair station refers to a maintenance process that is offered with a certificate by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulation (14 CFR) Part 145. This includes operational and preventative maintenance, inspiration, as well as the alteration of the aircraft or its parts. The certificate provided will indicate;

The repair station number. This is allocated by the FAA at the time of documentation and is used to comprehend the internal tracing as well as oversight of an aircraft’s maintenance and repair.

What the repair station’s score comprise. This is significant as it indicates what aircraft, parts, or equipment the repair station can work on and the maintenance it can perform.

The name as well as the site of the repair station. This is significant as varied repair stations have different facilities, and therefore, different ratings

PART 147 and Aircraft Mechanics Licensing certificate      

As aforementioned, Part 145 of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires frequent maintenance of aircrafts. Nevertheless, there is a need for the repairs or maintenance obligations to be done by a certified worker. PART 147 under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulation (14 CFR) Part 147 provides technocrats the mandate to take on such obligations.

PART 66 Maintenance Godliness certificate

Certified technocrats are required to go through guidelines that are set to ascertain that all maintenance processes are done in an issuance to manufacturers’ instructions. Alaska Airlines Flight 261 is an example of an airplane accident that occurred due to a certified technocrat not following guidelines (Wilkins& Murphey, 2003).

Case Study

Crash Summary

Swiss Air Flight 111 was a scheduled regular flight from New York to Geneva. The flight was popular flight considering the high number of passengers who used that route including UN workers going to and from the organization’s headquarters. On the night of 2nd September, 1998, at approximately 9:17 pm Atlantic Daylight Time, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 aircraft took to the sky for a routine flight from the John F. Kennedy International Airport. Within an hour of flight time, the pilots detected an odor in the cockpit that was later confirmed to be smoke. As a result, the pilots sent out a “Pan” warning indicating the plane was experiencing a problem that required attention; however, there was no immediate danger. After diagnostics, the pilots came to the conclusion that the air condition system was faulty. At this time, they were unaware of the blazing fire on the ceiling. Nevertheless, after a contestation with air traffic controllers, it was decided that they would make an emergency stop at Halifax for repairs. At approximately 10:21 pm (ADT), the pilots took a detour to dump fuel indicating no immediate danger; however, three minutes later, the flame broke through the cockpit, and the situation changed. The pilots turned to their course, but at 10:31 pm (ADT), air traffic controllers lost contact and it was confirmed that the plane had crashed.     


After Air Flight 111 was confirmed to have crashed, agencies from the U.S., Canada, and Europe were called to retrieve the wreckage, particularly the two black boxes in the McDonnell Douglas MD-11. Within nine days of the search, both black boxes were found in good condition and were transported to the U.S. for analysis. The cockpit voice recorder indicated that the pilots smelled and then saw smoke. After they had gone through the manual for ‘fire of unknown origin,’ the smoke subsided and later returned with fire. The last six minutes of the recording before the crash indicated an electric malfunction. There was a need to find more information and the repackage offered the only way to attain this. Eventually, after months of collection, only 19% of the plane was recovered. The underlying question to-dateremains as to where the fire began and what initiated it.

The senior technical investigators indicated that the first evidence of fire damage was in the first class galley and the cockpit, which consequently became the area of investigation (Griffioen, 2010). This front part of the plane was reconstructed on a full-size wire model of the frame. Through this investigation, it emerged that the source of the fire was from the attic space above the plane, which houses all the plane’s electronic wiring and air conditioning components and insulation.

Figure 1. Image indicating the attic section of a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 model


There were no smoke detectors in the attic and no requirement to have it. A bulkhead wall separates the first class and the cockpit in a McDonnell Douglas MD-11, which meant that the crew in the first class section did not smell the smoke.

Figure 2. Image showing the Bulkhead wall separating the Cockpit and First class section of McDonnell Douglas MD-11


From the reconstruction, it was evident that the fire started in front of the bulkhead above the cockpit ceiling. 

Results of the Investigation

After going through the wiring, it was found out that an arching event had happened and a spark ignited. One of the wires sent to the entertainment unit in first-class chafed on a metal bracket and caused an arching event that ignited metalized Mylar film.At the time metalized Mylar film was installed in 699 planes in the US and turned out to be highly flammable suggesting the other planes were in danger (United States., & National Research Council (U.S.), 2008).

Figure 3. Image showing Image of a burning metalized Mylar film installed in the McDonnell Douglas MD-11

Image of a burning metalized Mylar film Source;

            The martial had been tested almost a decade before the crash and was passed for use having both POA and DOA certificates. The investigation went through the history of the material and found other cases that indicated that the material had caught flame and was a risk. The plane’s manufacturer, McDonnell Douglas, had indicated that all metalized Mylar film be stripped off from their airplanes 4 years before the Swiss air crash had occurred. The US FAA retested the material to confirm the order offered by the manufacturer and found the claims of its flammability as true; however, the material was not banned, as it had not caused a loss of life prior to the Swiss Air Flight 111 accident.

Airworthiness Analysis of Case Study

Using the information provided by investigators, the airworthiness of all McDonnell Douglas MD-11 was compromised from the initial design. The material metalized Mylar film was light and good for the aviation industry; thus, it can be argued that this was the reason for its selection. Forever, the product was highly flammable and was not meant to be certified until improvements were made. The entertainment unit in the first class was Production without POA, and it was indicated that it had been reported to host a high voltage current that could cause a major arching experience resulting in a fire outbreak. This entertainment unit required frequent maintenance and repairs, which was missing. From the case study, the significance of DOA, POA, and CAMO become apparent. A lack of proper product approval was the cause of the Swiss air Flight 111 accident.

TSB came up with eight additional recommendations that were to change airworthiness of aircrafts, with respect to the fire tragedies. Major changes were to be made on testing of materials, certification procedures, inspection of the materials used in construction, and general maintenance. It was unfortunate that the Swissair 111’s electrical system failed, leading to the fight recorder losing power and turning off six minutes before the crash (Dawn 2016, p.2). Therefore, the need for improving the checklist on matters that concern detecting and fighting a fire is evident. Swissair111 lacked fire detection and fighting equipment that could have helped in containing the situation. For this reason, an evaluation and installation of such equipment to an aircraft airworthy is recommended. FAA has worked towards improving the fire resistance capacity of the electrical insulations within the aircraft. Further, according to the TSB report, the certification allowed the use of electrical insulations that could easily melt and burn, propagating the fire.

The Safety Management System (SMS) during the manufacture of aircraft requires critical attention. Swissair111, for instance, did not envisage a situation whereby a fire could arise from the electrical appliances. The situation was worsened by the lack of fire detection and fighting capabilities. Moreover, airworthiness requires a quality evaluation of the individual components. The swissair111 crash report recommended the use of the hardened electrical insulation material that could not easily propagate fire (Wells, 2011). Therefore, it is important to acknowledge the advancements achieved in the aviation industry, especially concerning automation. However, airworthiness should factor a situation whereby automation fails. Alternative controls should be easily accessible to the pilots, making it easy to navigate the aircraft.

According to various reports, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) had written to the FAA to inform them of the flammability of the acoustic insulation blankets after a fire incident with the Chinese B737. However, the complaint was dismissedas the FAA did not act immediately as expected. It is important to acknowledge that FAA later worked to ensure hardening of some of the electrical insulation components, as well as changes in the onboard entertainment system by installing switches that are accessible to the crew (Griffioen, 2010).


Certification sets the stage for a given aircraft to attain airworthiness. Strict adherence to the regulations is the only way to ensure that aircraft designers and constructors produce safe aircrafts. However, faults in regulations may lead to disasters like the one witnessed with Swissair111. Despite that the aircraft passed the airworthiness test, a fault in certification details and checklists led to the accident. There is a need for the continuous evaluation of the certification details in order to detect any emerging issues. Similarly, the quality of different components needs to be independently verified in order to ascertain airworthiness. As noted at the beginning of this paper, airworthiness is not an event, but a continuous process that involves the pilots and other stakeholders. The 1998 Swissair 111 accident helped in coming up with radical changes to the certification details, especially on safety management. The regulations changed in order to ensure the use of quality materials during manufacture and operations. No major accident has been witnessed after the introduction of the changes in the aviation industry.


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De, FF. 2010. Airworthiness: An Introduction to Aircraft Certification. Burlington: Elsevier Science.

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Press Publishing Association

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