Mike Busch has written a column about annual inspections in the U.S., especially about understandings and misunderstandings among U.S. IA’s (inspection authoritiesI think) — many US IAs think that they are a kind of police force responsible for keeping unsafe planes on the ground, and many US owners think that IAs can hold their planes hostage by squawking them.
In the U.S., after an annual inspection, the IA signs off that the plane is airworthy (or gives a discrepancy list to the owner). In Canada, as far as I understand the regs (and as my AME has explained them to me), the AME does not even have to write that the plane passed or didn’t pass an annual inspection, at least not for small, private, piston-powered aircraft. Here’s the exact language from CARS Standard 625, Appendix B — Maintenance Schedule:
(6) Pursuant to CAR 605.86(2), the schedule is considered to be approved for use by owners of small non-commercial operation aircraft and all balloons. Owners need only to make an entry in the aircraft technical records that the aircraft is maintained pursuant to the maintenance schedule.
In other words, I could grab the maintenance schedule, research the ADs, make a list of tasks (inspections and repairs), and take the plane to three different shops, each of which does a third of the work. I would not have to tell any of those shops that the work was part of an annual inspection — each one would simply write what it did into the logbook. Once I was satisfied that everything required for the annual inspection was finished, I would simply return the aircraft to service, and my annual inspection is finished.
In practice, of course, I wouldn’t do things that way. I value my the experience and knowledge of my AME, and I want him to take an active role in keeping the plane safe. And, of course, with or without an IA’s signature, the final responsibility for airworthiness will always lie with the pilot in command.