This has been stated in one US type-specific forum.
Can anyone find a reference for it?
It’s self evidently not true here in Europe. For example a Honeywell dealer, with the dealership covering autopilots, can work on Honeywell autopilots. He doesn’t have to be an FAA Repair Station.
A US repair station must have the specific autopilot listed on there certificate in order to work on them unless their certificate was unrestricted all autopilots. I haven’t encountered the latter.
AFAIK a US Repair Station cannot work on an aircraft unless it is listed on their authorisation. I found this when enquiring about getting the Annual done on my TB20. A certain firm wasn’t allowed to do it.
But that isn’t the same thing as suggesting that a Repair Station is required for autopilot work. It would create havoc outside the USA because for many years it has become virtually impossible to become a Repair Station unless another one went bust somewhere. That doesn’t happen often because the FAA allows the RS approval to remain attached to the business premises (the address, in effect) of a company which has gone bankrupt, so that if somebody else starts up in the same hangar a few years later they can restart using that RS approval. Same happens with EASA 145, though not with EASA 21 which is lost when the firm goes bust.
I’d be surprised if you __didn’t__need a Repair Station to do autopilot work on the airframe….including removing it and reinstalling it if it is to be sent out for repair….AIUI only a RS can do the Part 91.411 / 91.413 checks as well….even repairing a magnetic compass (apart from simple adjustment) requires a RS….
Getting a repair station in the US is not particularly difficult to obtain. It is a matter of having the required equipment, facilities, qualified personnel, and an approved manual. The latter takes the most work. Certain types of work do not require a repair station to perform it, while others do. A mechanic can remove and install a replacement autopilot servo, but can’t repair the actual servo. He can send it to an authorized repair station for repair, but can’t do it himself. That same mechanic, performing the same work under a repair station that did not have the autopilot on their certificate would get the repair station in trouble if the work was signed off by the repair station. If it is signed off by the mechanic himself, using his authority and not the repair stations authority, it is OK.
In a similar way, an IA who is an employee of the repair station can perform and sign off an annual on an aircraft that is not on a repair station certificate, but must not use the repair station authority in the sign off, he must use his own IA certificate. Some shops who specialize in particular aircraft types will have a repair station with those types on their certificate. This is particularly true of high end piston and turbine equipment as many of the customers require that a repair station perform the work, but for the vast majority of piston aircraft, shops use individual IA’s and A&P’s in lieu of a repair station and see no need for going thru the hassle of a repair station. If you are going to do avionics, instruments, accessory repair, or special services (transponder and pitot static checks) you need a repair station with those services on the certificate. An A&P can install and an IA can inspect an avionics installation and fill out the 337 for many avionics systems, but often don’t do this because of dealership requirements of the vendors, not because they lack the FAA authority.
If it is signed off by the mechanic himself, using his authority and not the repair stations authority, it is OK.
Many thanks for a super answer, NCYankee!
It helps to explain how the N-reg community outside the USA manages to, ahem, exist
However there is a gotcha: pulling out a recent model King AP computer which contains a barometric altimeter (say the KC225) will open up the static system to the cabin air, which not only makes the aircraft illegal for IFR (I assume) but also does require a Repair Station to test the static system after the AP computer has been reinstalled.
There is/was some US law which made it hard for Repair Stations to be set up outside the USA. I have seen a few of them appear but they were always e.g. big Cirrus or Cessna dealers who presumably pulled some strings back in the USA to get it.
AIUI only a RS can do the Part 91.411 / 91.413 checks as well
That’s true, but AIUI the FAA Repair Station encoder and static system checks required for controlled airspace in the US are airspace specific, i.e. they are not FAA required outside of US controlled airspace or outside of the US. The specifics of any required encoder and static system checks on an N-registry aircraft are therefore driven by the foreign airspace requirement only.
That would be an extremely interesting interpretation!
N-reg owners here in Europe are travelling all over the place to find an FAA 145 RS to do this check.
So…. does that mean that outside US airspace the bi-annual static check can be done by an A&P provided that it is done IAW the FAA requirements?