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Are You Legal To Fly With Flaps Inop - Answered

Tecnam P2006T Dtom

A few weeks ago, we asked if you could fly a Tecnam P2006 twin with flaps inoperative, without using an approved MEL. The post generated a lot of response on our site, as well as on Facebook. The vote was split, with 716 people saying the aircraft could fly and 944 people saying it couldn't. I voted no.

I don't work for the FAA - so my vote counts as much as yours. And, the question left me wondering what the official answer was. So, I called the Denver FSDO and described the scenario. They took the time to research the answer.

What's the scenario? The Tecnam P2006's flaps are stuck in the "up" position. Flaps are not required for any normal procedure, and published takeoff and landing distances are available for no-flap operations. The flaps are not included in the aircraft's Kinds of Operation Equipment List, but the flap position indicator is. Flaps aren't mentioned in the aircraft's equipment list.

If we're going to fly an aircraft that has inoperative equipment, we have three choices - use an MEL, defer the equipment via FAR 91.213(d), or get a special flight permit (ferry permit) under FAR 91.213(e).

FAR 91.213(d) - Operations Without An Approved MEL

This aircraft doesn't have an approved MEL, so 91.213(d) provides our only option to fly the aircraft without delay. What does it require?

FAR 91.213(d) allows a pilot to take-off an aircraft with inoperative instruments or equipment. The Tecnam P2006 is covered by the section, because it is a "small, non-turbine powered aircraft."

So, what can be broken? FAR 91.213 says that the instruments and equipment can't be part of the VFR-day type certification instruments and equipment required by the regulations under which the aircraft was type certified.

The aircraft's type certificate data sheet may shed some light on this, but while it's available online, I doubt you'll have it in the plane with you. When you find it online, you'll see control movement tolerances and other specifications, but not a lot about required equipment or instruments. In this case, it's not any help.

The equipment can't be required by the aircraft's equipment list, or the aircraft's Kinds of Operation Equipment List. Both of these can be found in the aircraft's tail-specific flight manual. In this case, the manual does not list flaps as required in the Kinds of Operation Equipment List, and flaps don't appear on the equipment list at all.

The equipment can't be required by FAR 91.205, or any other rule under FAR Part 91 for the flight. And FAR Part 91 doesn't mention flaps.

The equipment can't be required to be operational by an airworthiness directive - which it isn't.

Finally, the pilot must determine that the aircraft is safe to fly. Let's say you think that it's safe to go without flaps.

If all of these conditions are met, the pilot may fly the aircraft if the equipment has been deactivated or removed, the cockpit control placarded, and any maintenance logged.

So, can you fly the P2006 with the flaps inop? The FAA says no. Here's why.

What Is And Is Not Equipment

The flaps aren't listed on the aircraft's equipment list at all. And, FAR 91.213 allows pilots to fly aircraft with certain instruments and equipment inoperative.

If the inoperative component isn't listed on the aircraft's equipment list, it's not equipment. In this case, the flaps are considered a secondary control surface - not instruments and equipment - so they're not covered by 91.213(d).

What's the take-away here? FAR 91.213(d) only covers instruments and equipment - so if a broken component isn't listed on the aircraft's equipment list - it's not an instrument or equipment, and you need to get a special flight permit to fly with it inoperative.

Aleks Udris

Aleks is a Boldmethod co-founder and technical director. He's worked in safety and operations in the airline industry, and was a flight instructor and course manager for the University of North Dakota. You can reach him at aleks@boldmethod.com.

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