If you tell you client you won't touch it because it's 20+ years old irrespective of condition then you are not doing your job.
#1 - as a freelance rigger, (not a factory, DZ, or manufacture rigger) - I don't have a "job" where I have any moral, emotional, financial, or other implied obligation to provide services to anyone. If I was a subcontractor or employee of an organization I may have responsibility to follow their company policy and standards as long as they were not illegal, or quit that employment.
#2 - When I earned my rigger's ticket, no one made me agree to an oath, like Doctors might with the Hippocratic oath, that makes it part of my "job" to certify something I am uncomfortable accepting the risk to certify. I can say no to anything I want (and the customer can find someone who wants to say yes).
#3 - If someone got hurt, there are two possible liability exposures a rigger might face. The FAA enforcement, which this letter may protect against. And the civil wrongful death lawsuit, which this letter does not address. The plaintiff's attorney will argue while the rigger's actions were against the recommendations of the manufacture, and a professional should have followed the manufacturer's instructions... A good lawyer could easily convince a jury that this FAA letter simply covers government enforcement (and it may not even be admissible if the attorney can convince the judge their claims for relief were not related to regulations)... That their client would not be dead but for the actions of the rigger ignoring the time limit recommended by the manufacture, so the rigger's actions are the proximate cause for their client's death...
So, I as a rigger, reserve the right, to simply say, "Dear customer, the manufacture (or PIA/Industry Publications, etc) published a concern with components of this age, so I would rather not pack that parachute. It may be perfectly airworthy, the FAA does not prohibit me from packing it, but I am unwilling to risk it because no one will stand behind my decision if I am wrong. Sorry."
To the earlier poster - My JOB is (as a rigger) is to certify that at the time I saw it it was airworthy and serviced in accordance with the FAA regulations, manufacturer's requirements and recommendations, and my company's policy concerning any further limits on condition and/or age. We warrent no future condition, though we note that you are required by the FAA to have it inspected again at 180 days (for use in the USA). At my discression, I may refuse to service any rig, of any age, for any reason I see fit (including applicability for stated/intended use and/or customer attitude).
That sir, is my job as described by my employer (an LLC, of which I am the principle owner)
There is no requirement for me to do anything more.
Freelance Rigger, JW
PS - I do appreciate getting a copy of the FAA letter. May (or may not) change what I choose to do with regard to my own/old gear, but not what I choose to service for others.
(This post was edited by fcajump on Oct 1, 2012, 8:30 AM)