progressive inspections


still fly a load or two
Jan 26, 2005
Total Time
Question for a mechanic. I have a friend who has a cessna. He claims it to be on a progressive inspection program. I know this aircraft has not flown for some time. Where does an annual come into play? Or is all this predicated on an hourly basis only? I have very little knowledge in this area and could use some help. He has ask me to go get the airplane for him in another state and bring it home to him. I know if it was out of annual it would require a ferry permit, but what about this progressive. Thanks...


Well-known member
Dec 14, 2001
Total Time
If it's on a progressive inspection program, then there is no annual. It must provide, however, for a complete inspection of the airplane in a 12 calendar month period. However, depending on how the program is set up, it may require X number of inspections in a calendar period to qualify for airworthiness. You need to know more than "it's on a progressive." You need to know just what airworthiness requirements and inspection requirements apply to this specific program, as a progressive inspection program is aircraft-specific or in the case of a fleet, fleet-specific and sometimes even serial number specific.

Progressive inspections may be tailored around flight hours (eg, at 300 hrs. this inspection is done, at 450, that is done, etc), or cycles or landings, or other measurements, and may vary with the component in question. In a progressive inspection, multiple parameters may apply...the airframe in general may be on an hourly, while various components have greater or shorter inspection periods in order to qualify. The overriding consideration is that all parts of the progressive must be completed within a 12 calendar month period.

If the aircraft is flown while out of compliance with any of those values (and again, I can't tell you what they are: you have to look at the inspection program for yourself to see what's been prescribed for the airplane), then the aircraft isn't airworthy.

If the aircraft is taken off the progressive inspection program, assuming it was current when it was taken off, then it's got one year before an annual comes due. This isn't one year from the time of the last inspection...but one year since the last complete progressive was completed. As an example, if an aircraft was operated on a progressive between January and December of last year, with the entire progressive having been completed in that 12 month period, and it's taken off the program in July, then it's good until the end of December this year.

The base regulation establishing a progressive is found in 14 CFR 91.409(d):

§ 91.409 Inspections.

(d) Progressive inspection. Each registered owner or operator of an aircraft desiring to use a progressive inspection program must submit a written request to the FAA Flight Standards district office having jurisdiction over the area in which the applicant is located, and shall provide—
(1) A certificated mechanic holding an inspection authorization, a certificated airframe repair station, or the manufacturer of the aircraft to supervise or conduct the progressive inspection;
(2) A current inspection procedures manual available and readily understandable to pilot and maintenance personnel containing, in detail—
(i) An explanation of the progressive inspection, including the continuity of inspection responsibility, the making of reports, and the keeping of records and technical reference material;
(ii) An inspection schedule, specifying the intervals in hours or days when routine and detailed inspections will be performed and including instructions for exceeding an inspection interval by not more than 10 hours while en route and for changing an inspection interval because of service experience;
(iii) Sample routine and detailed inspection forms and instructions for their use; and
(iv) Sample reports and records and instructions for their use;
(3) Enough housing and equipment for necessary disassembly and proper inspection of the aircraft; and
(4) Appropriate current technical information for the aircraft.
The frequency and detail of the progressive inspection shall provide for the complete inspection of the aircraft within each 12 calendar months and be consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations, field service experience, and the kind of operation in which the aircraft is engaged. The progressive inspection schedule must ensure that the aircraft, at all times, will be airworthy and will conform to all applicable FAA aircraft specifications, type certificate data sheets, airworthiness directives, and other approved data. If the progressive inspection is discontinued, the owner or operator shall immediately notify the local FAA Flight Standards district office, in writing, of the discontinuance. After the discontinuance, the first annual inspection under §91.409(a)(1) is due within 12 calendar months after the last complete inspection of the aircraft under the progressive inspection. The 100-hour inspection under §91.409(b) is due within 100 hours after that complete inspection. A complete inspection of the aircraft, for the purpose of determining when the annual and 100-hour inspections are due, requires a detailed inspection of the aircraft and all its components in accordance with the progressive inspection. A routine inspection of the aircraft and a detailed inspection of several components is not considered to be a complete inspection.