Non-Incident Statements – What are they all about?
Non-Incident Statements – What are they all about?
When you buy a used car, a typical first question might be, “has this car been involved in an accident?” After all, if the car has had significant damage, surely this would affect the purchase price. For an aircraft, this is similar, but not exactly the same. Just like a car gets hit by a shopping cart, or gets a door ding from a disrespectful person in the parking lot, aircraft are exposed to numerous sources of damage. With baggage loaders, jetways, catering trucks, fuel trucks, and lavatory trucks all driving around and interacting with the aircraft throughout the operation, damage is almost inevitable. Hopefully this damage is limited to minor scratches and dents. However, on rare occasions, the aircraft is involved in an incident or accident where the damage is substantial.
So what is an accident, incident, and substantial damage? Fortunately, the FAA and the NTSB have provided definitions:
Aircraft Accident – an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and until such time as all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage. All aspects of the exceptions to substantial damage (see “Substantial Damage”) are to be considered before making a final substantial damage determination that would classify the occurrence as an accident
Incident – an occurrence other than an accident associated with the operation of an aircraft, which affects or could affect the safety of operations.
Substantial Damage – damage or failure which adversely affects the structural strength, performance, or flight characteristics of the aircraft, and which would normally require major repair or replacement of the affected component. Engine failure or damage limited to an engine if only one engine fails or is damaged, bent fairings or cowling, dented skin, small punctured holes in the skin or fabric, ground damage to rotor or propeller blades, and damage to landing gear, wheels, tires, flaps, engine accessories, brakes, or wing tips are not considered substantial damage for the purpose of this order.
Do these definitions make it perfectly clear when an aircraft has been in an accident or incident? Unfortunately, like almost all definitions, they don’t cover all the possible scenarios. As clear as these definitions appear, there will always be the gray area between an accident, incident, and an event that isn’t reportable.
So this brings us to the non-incident statement that appears to have grown in popularity to the extent that it is perceived to be a legal requirement at lease return. In many lease returns, the lessor requests a non-incident statement to be provided from the operator, signed by the head of QA to cover the airframe, each engine, the landing gear, and on occasion other major components of the aircraft. Most often the operator is willing to provide such a statement, but is it required? The short answer is that it is not a requirement from any aviation authority, but it may be a contractual requirement in the lease. From our perspective, the requirement for the NIS is a business requirement, not an airworthiness requirement. The Lessor would like assurance that the Aircraft and all its parts are not tainted or devalued as a consequence of having been in an accident. If the aircraft has had an accident, many would believe that the parts on that aircraft are tainted and have lost value.
What does a NIS state? There are two statements that appear to be in common use. One follows the IATA guidance regarding the overall Aircraft and Engines. The other follows guidance in FAA Advisory Circular and addresses the ability to use the aircraft parts.
IATA – A statement from the Quality Assurance Manager or designee of the lessee identifying the serial number of the Aircraft and the serial number of the installed Engines and confirming that they have not been involved in any accident while in the possession of the lessee.
If the aircraft / engines were involved in any sort of incident or accident as defined by Annex 13 to the Chicago Convention, that its airworthiness has been re-established by an approved maintenance organization in accordance with instructions from the TC or STC holder and supported by an authorized release certificate.
FAA Advisory Circular – A statement from the head of Quality Assurance certifying that to its knowledge based solely on certain documentation in their possession or control as of (beginning of lease), with respect to the subject Aircraft, that the Aircraft has not been subject to classification under Paragraph 8 (c) of FAA Advisory Circular 20-62E (dated 12/23/2010).
Is an NIS for each part necessary? It is AVITAS’s opinion that a single statement using the capitalized terms Aircraft and Engines with their respective serial numbers covers all the parts, assemblies, and components of that Aircraft.
Discussion topic – what is the status of the components and other engine of an aircraft that had an engine tailpipe fire during taxi for takeoff? Are all the parts tainted? Are only some of the parts tainted?