Airworthiness Directives
AOPA's Pilot Information Center has received several inquiries concerning Airworthiness Directives (ADs) this week. Since this is a recurring topic of inquiry I thought it would be good to open up a topic where it can be discussed and information could be shared. Here's some basic information to start this off:

At the simplest terms an Airworthiness Directive is:

"A regulatory notice sent out by the FAA to the registered owner of an aircraft informing the owner of a condition that prevents the aircraft from continuing to meet its conditions for airworthiness. Airworthiness Directives (AD notes) are to be complied with within the required time limit, and the fact of compliance, the date of compliance, and the method of compliance are recorded in the aircraft’s maintenance records."

Generally there are regular ADs and emergency ADs. Regular ADs usually have a time period (flight hours or calendar time) that it must be complied with and can be one-time compliance or recurring (usually an inspection). Emergency ADs bypass the normal rulemaking process and may need to be complied with before the aircraft can fly again, or in the case of avionics you could be restricted to VFR flying till its corrected.

Most of the questions we get are concerning ADs on a certain aircraft or part. This information can be found/searched for on the FAA's AD page. You'll want to remember when using this page that the AD may be under a different name. For example when looking for C172 ADs, you'll have to search for Textron instead of Cessna, as a search of the term Cessna doesn't bring up anything.

ADs are issued for airframe, powerplant, and appliances. Its a good idea to have a list of appliances (mags, starter, avionics, etc.) that are on your aircraft (manufacturer, serial number, time in service) so it makes the AD search and compliance much easier. Putting together AD compliance list that states what ADs have been complied with and which ones are coming due will make your life easier and should make future annuals faster and cheaper. It also will make your life easier when you go to fly and try to determine whether the aircraft is airworthy.

Please feel free to make comments below with more information of ADs that you think that other pilots/owners may find useful or questions you may have on the topic.
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If you own a plane, it's really important that you register to receive AD and other important notices by email.