Charter Pilots Can Now Update Their Own Databases

Aeronautical database updates no longer considered preventive maintenance.

The FAA has added a new section to FAR 43.3, allowing all pilots to make updates to aeronautical databases under certain provisions. In Section K, the regs state that avionics updates are no longer considered a preventive maintenance item and can be performed by the pilot of the airplane.

For those of you who have been making updates to your GPS units for years, this may sound like old news. But with the previous rules, which were implemented in 1996, pilots operating under Part 121, 129 and 135 certificates were unable to make the updates since these pilots are not allowed to perform preventive maintenance. The new rules will help make these operations more efficient. Previously, if a database expired while an aircraft was in a location away from maintenance personnel, the operator would incur unnecessary costs to ensure that the update was completed.

Under the new rules, the database upload must be initiated in the cockpit without disassembling the avionics unit and without using any “tools and/or special equipment,” according to the new guidance. Manufacturers’ instructions or the certificate holders’ procedures with respect to how the database update should be performed and how to determine whether the data is up to date must be followed.

For aircraft that require special tools or equipment, maintenance personnel are still required to make the updates.