No, not my decision. Although, considering the cost of my airplane, the equipment and other airplanes around me, I technically make four million dollar decisions every time I taxi to parking. But this is about Airworthiness Directives (pronounced Eh Deez).
Anytime there is a failure of some part on a manufactured airplane and it is deemed to be a design flaw, or something that could happen anytime to another airplane, an airworthiness directive may be issued, requiring you to inspect, replace or modify something. The American FAA issues ADs, and usually Transport Canada just copies them. I think they call it promulgation. I imagine Transport Canada issues them too, if they get to the problem first, but the Americans have so much more aviation they tend to lead the way here. If there is an AD for your airplane, you are required to comply with it within the specified time, or your airplane is deemed unairworthy. The specified time may be "before you fly your airplane again," "within N days," "within M flight hours" or the like. There are one-time ADs, which are usually expensive, but you comply with them once and it's done, and there are recurring ADs which usually just require a trained individual to inspect something to see if it's broken, but are annoying because they have to be done every N hours of flight, and there is no leeway. They cannot be postponed a few hours even when other maintenance legally can be.
I think I've explained most of this before, probably many times while waiting for ADs to be completed, but I happened to run across a document today showing part of the logic process that goes into determining whether a problem with an airplane ends up as an AD or just a Service Bulletin. It shows how quickly a bureaucratic decision can multiply.
Costs of Compliance
We estimate that this AD affects 8,000 airplanes in the U.S. registry.
We estimate the following costs to do the inspection and parts replacement:
Labor Cost: 4 work-hours X $80 per hour = $ 320
Parts Cost: $190
Total Cost Per Airplane: $510
Total Cost on U.S. Operators: $4,080,000
It's some inexpensive (two hundred bucks is a cheap airplane part) part buried somewhere that takes two guys most of an hour to take the airplane apart to get at it, a few minutes to replace, and then another hour to reassemble test and certify. And that's a one-time AD.
Speaking of decisions with consequences, some time ago I told my boss about my blog. I was sitting in a hangar typing on my laptop and he ambushed me with some friendly question like "what are you doing?" and, being completely untrained in the art of lying, I told him I was blogging. I figured the word "blog" makes most people think of twilight fan fiction, emo angst and accounts of shopping trips, and that he would be even less inclined to read it than he is to read my status reports. But he asked for the blog URL. He read some of it, laughed and moved on. I figured that would be the end of it. After all What business owner has time to read blogs?
Then, weeks later, I was taking video of a tractor engine that was on the verge of catching fire. A contractor was using the self-destructing tractor as a tug, and I was teasing him that using that vehicle to tow airplanes in for maintenance was like a sign painter advertising his skills with a billboard done in crayon. I mean you can't keep your own tractor in good repair, but we should trust you with an airplane? The boss saw me intently pointing the camera. "For your blog?" he asked. The look on my face was probably something like "Uhh, you remember that?" and I answered, "Yeah, if it works out." (It didn't, too dark to see what was going on). I suppose this blog is more interesting than the paperwork and terse status reports I keep sending him, but the status reports are more up-to-date.
And as I've said from the beginning, if anyone associated with the operations described in this blog wants anything removed, censored or changed, no problem. Plus I can write more verbose status reports, too. Just ask.