Date: January 08, 2015 Author: Brandon Winters

You might think that an airplane crash is a guaranteed killer, but not everyone dies in the event of a plane collision. There are several factors that can mean the difference between life and death in airplane accidents, one of which is how well safety inspectors perform the phases of a Part 139 Inspection at an airport.

For a comprehensive assessment of aircraft rescue tactics and strategies for firefighters, read Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting, 5th Ed., available from Firebooks.

What is a Part 139 Certificate?

A Part 139 Certificate is a certificate that Title 14 of the federal Code of Regulations (CFR) requires the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to issue to airports that meet the following criteria:

  • Serve air carrier aircraft that have more than 30 seats
  • Serve scheduled air carrier operations in planes that have between 9 and 31 seats
  • Are required by the FAA to have a certificate

Airports that have a 139 Certificate are required to conduct what is known as a Part 139 Inspection annually. However, in some situations, the FAA may require an airport to conduct more than one inspection per year. In any case, FAA Airport Certification Safety Inspectors carry out the inspections, which have a total of eight phases. When each phase is properly performed, aircraft accidents that occur on the runway and soon after takeoff can be minimized.

Phase One: Pre-Inspection Review

Phase one is a pre-inspection review that focuses on inspecting the data in office airport files and the airport certification manual. With this information in hand, the inspection moves to phase 2.  

Phase Two: In-Briefing With Airport Management

Phase two consists of meeting with various airport personnel to coordinate a time for the inspection to take place. With the date and time of the inspection set, the inspection is ready to commence.   

Phase Three: Administrative Inspection of Airport Files

The inspection begins with reviewing data in airport files and associated paperwork, including: Airport Master Record (FAA Form 5010), Airport Certification Manual/Specifications (ACM/ACS) and Notices to Airmen (NOTAM).

Phase Four: Movement Area Inspection

Phase four begins a physical inspection that focuses on ensuring that runways have the proper slope and that other elements of the runway, such as pavement, markings and lighting, are in proper condition.

Phase 4 also includes inspecting the movement area for signs of wildlife, ground vehicle operations and public safety areas to ensure a high level of safety for those on the ground and in the plane.

Phase Five: Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Inspection

The aircraft rescue and firefighting inspection consists of reviewing aircraft rescue and firefighting training records, checking the presence and condition of firefighting equipment  and personal protective equipment (PPE), examining emergency medical care training documentation, and performing an annual, time-response fire drill.

Phase Six: Fueling Facilities Inspection

In phase six, inspectors review airport files for documentation of fueling facility inspections, and check to see if each fueling worker has successfully completed his or her fire safety training course. Accidents at the fueling facility can easily lead to fires that require the firefighting strategies discussed in Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting, 5th Ed.

Phase 7: Night Inspection

As its name suggests, phase seven commences after sundown. Inspectors review the elements of the airport that are indispensable to aircraft that operate at night, including: runway and taxiway lighting and signage, apron lighting and signage, pavement markings, airport beacons, and wind cones.

Phase 8: Post Inspection Briefing With Airport Management

The final phase of the inspection process consists of discussing findings with airport managers. If problems are detected, an official letter of violation will be issued to the airport, and a date by which corrections will be made is set. The letter may also offer safety recommendations.

Contact Firebooks Today

When part 139 inspections are properly performed, aircraft accidents that occur on the runway and soon after takeoff can be minimized. However, part 139 inspections cannot totally prevent these kinds of accidents. That is why it is important for airports that have a Part 139 Certificate to have an onsite firefighting unit that can leap into action and perform firefighting and search and rescue procedures, such as the ones outlined in Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting, 5th Ed.

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