ARSA Managing Director & General Counsel Marshall S. Filler spent August undergoing and recovering from not one, but two open-heart surgeries. The initial procedure included installation of a “bovine replacement” for Filler’s aortic valve. An infection imperiled the original implant, requiring a subsequent operation to remove the bull and install a mechanical valve and pacemaker.
After stimulating intense debate as to whether the installation of a bovine valve constituted major repair (aren’t lawyers made of bull) or alteration (the PAH was no longer available and the DAH did not provide ICA), ARSA’s team provides this update in terms the aviation community can appreciate:
- Marshall’s 2021 annual inspection was accomplished by a new mechanic, (doctor), who determined that a previously untroubling engine pressure/timing issue (heart murmur) had turned unacceptable for continued service. The mechanic issued a disapproval for return to service with a list of discrepancies requiring consultation with an engine expert (cardiologist) who subsequently referred Marshall to a specialist in engine maintenance and alteration (cardiac, thoracic, and vascular surgeon) for detailed inspections and determinations of the maintenance and alteration needed for continued operation.
- After obtaining a ferry permit from the maintenance specialist (surgeon) to undertake a golf outing before grounding, Marshall reported to the heavy maintenance facility (hospital) for needed repairs and alterations the first week in July. The heavy maintenance provider (surgeon and his team) performed a biological (bovine) replacement of an important pump component (aortic valve) and issued the return to home (service) after five days monitoring.
- The release to service (home) was revoked after three weeks due to foreign object damage (an infection in the replacement material and basic structure). Upon an emergency return to the heavy maintenance provider (hospital) in late July, the infected area was flushed repeatedly, and the data (samples of the infected area) was sent to laboratories for testing and analysis by an expert (infection disease (ID) doctor) while corrective actions were developed.
- The ID doctor performed immediate corrective and preventive actions by introducing cleansing agents (strong antibiotics) to arrest the spread of the foreign object through other vital systems. At the same time, the heavy maintenance provider (surgeon and team) determined that the replacement component needed to be removed and swapped with artificial material (mechanical valve).
- After successful accomplishment of the engine (heart) major alteration (installation of mechanical valve) in early August, extensive inspections, monitoring, and testing was performed on fluid pressures, levels, elements, and operational stability. The results necessitated the installation of engine (heart) monitoring and adjustment equipment. The heart utilization monitor (HUM or pacemaker) was installed after which a fluid level and content replacement process (blood transfusion) brought the engine up to acceptable performance standards and another approval for return to service for limited operations was issued.
- Since his release from the heavy maintenance facility (hospital) Marshall is operating under a provisional airworthiness certificate, which requires periodical operational tests and performance reviews with a particular focus on fluid (blood) elements (essential minerals, hemoglobin, etc.) and levels (antibiotics, coumadin, kidney functions). Adjustments to and monitoring of the HUM system (pacemaker) have been accomplished and that item has been approved for return to service with instructions for continued ability (ICA) requiring periodic monitoring and adjustment depending upon the activity reports being automatically uploaded to the principal anatomical safety inspector (ASI or cardiologist).
- With respect to the engine and aircraft, the ICA have been issued for the recovery and testing phases of operations. Final ICA are expected to include consistent monitoring of fluid (blood) levels and organ functions, recurring inspections of the structure (rib cage), adjustments to the HUM and supplemental inputs (antibiotics, coumadin, aspirin, etc.). The ICA will be issued on or before his standard airworthiness certificate is issued that allows him to return full operations. Service bulletins and other monitoring adjustments are expected over the next six to twelve months.
- His principal ASIs (cardiologist and ID) expect a standard airworthiness certificate to be issued six to eighteen months from completion of work.
- As with all operational approvals, they are only good if required maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations are performed, including mandatory inspections.
Marshall can communicate while under the provisional certificate and happily accepts personal messages from dispatch (cell phone) or via ACARS (email).