July 5, 2021
When you experience a maintenance problem:
- Please ALWAYS squawk it in Schedule Master.
- Make a descriptive note in the Blue Book.
- Tell the Maintenance Officer or Plane Captain know about it.
- And, if it may affect the next pilot to fly the plane, as a courtesy you should let them know too.
The reason we should all squawk in Schedule Master is that this creates a historical record for other members to reference prior to flight. If there is a recurring item that has been unsuccessfully addressed and not squawked, a member would have no way of knowing. But it’s also nice to know about problems that have been successfully addressed – especially if they are recurring.
Blue Sky has had three different levels of squawk importance: “Low,” “Medium”, and “Plane Down”. When you squawk a maintenance item, you should continue to use one of these three status levels. Now, thanks to the diligence and perseverance of Tomáš Najzer, we have introduced a fourth squawk status: “Deferred”. This transparency puts us in better compliance with FAR 91.213. Squawks will only be deferred by the Maintenance Officer or a Board Member, so – while you will have the option to select “Deferred” while squawking a problem, please do not. Continue to use one of the other three status levels.
Why the new procedure? There is a small number of squawks that do not affect airworthiness, for example the autopilot “wing rock” on 3DS or the crease in the left aileron on 2SP. These have been recognized for a long time but do not affect your ability or legality to fly the planes. By assigning these squawks a “Deferred” status, we maintain a record so that all members, especially new members, can be aware of their existence. Does this mean they are being swept under the rug and will never be corrected? Absolutely not; in fact, the opposite is true. We are creating a legal ongoing written record. It will actually help ensure that they are corrected at some point in the future because of the record.
The FAA treats Part 91 operations with both an iron fist and a kid glove. For further reading, take a look at 91.213. Paragraph (d) is what applies to us. I have also put together this flow chart, which you may use to see if you think an item qualifies for deferral.
In the FAR, you’ll see that there are effectively three tests that a squawk must pass: 1. It cannot be a required item under FAR 91.205. 2. It cannot be a required item in the POH. 3. It must be determined to present no hazard (this determination can be done by a qualified pilot or mechanic). There’s a little more to it but that’s the important stuff in a nutshell.