Airworthiness of an Aircraft


Airworthiness Certificate of an Aircraft


The ability of an Aircraft to fully operate and function for a safe flight is termed as Airworthiness. For a safe flight operation, all the Aircraft’s components should meet design requirements and good condition for ready to fly. The Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aircraft Certification Service includes more than 1300 engineers, scientists, inspectors, test pilots and other safety professionals.They are responsible for oversight of design, production, Airworthiness certification, and continued Airworthiness programs for nearly all US civil aviation products such as large and small Airplanes, engines, rotorcraft, and propellers and foreign import products. An Aircraft must operate under certain limits in the standards which are set by the particular national civil aviation authority. Regular checks such as weekly, monthly, 6-month or yearly are required and if any Aircraft exceeds the limits, it would not be Air-worthy and as a result, the certificate would be revoked. 

An Airworthiness certificate is a document granted by FAA which permits to operate an Aircraft in flight. Only FAA Aviation safety inspectors and authorized representatives of administrator are authorized to issue FAA Airworthiness certificate.The standard Airworthiness certificate remains valid as long as Aircraft meets its approved design type, condition for operation, and maintenance, preventative maintenance. The Aircraft owner is responsible for maintaining the Aircraft in an Airworthy condition. If in any case, the Aircraft no longer meeting the standard limits set by FAA, the authorities can revoke the certificate. 

An Airworthiness Directive (AD) is the notification to the owners and the operators of certified Aircraft that a known safety failure with particular model of Aircraft, engine, avionics or other system existed should be corrected. The purpose of Airworthiness Directive is to alert the Aircraft owners that a particular Aircraft may have an unsafe condition or the Aircraft may not be in conformity with its basis of certification or of other conditions which may affect the Aircraft’s Airworthiness. ADs can be categorized into two, Those of an emergency nature requiring immediate compliance prior to further flight, and Those of a less urgent nature requiring compliance within a specified period of time.

An Airworthiness Certificate is an FAA document which grants authorization to operate an Aircraft in flight. Who may apply for an Airworthiness certificate? 

A registered owner or owner's agent of an Aircraft may apply for an Airworthiness certificate. 

Classifications of Airworthiness Certificates

The FAA initially determines that your Aircraft is in condition for safe operation and conforms to type design or American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International standards, then issues an Airworthiness certificate. There are two different classifications of Airworthiness certificates: Standard Airworthiness and Special Airworthiness.

Standard Airworthiness Certificate

FAA Form 8100-2, Standard Airworthiness Certificate is the FAA’s official authorization allowing for the operation of type certificated Aircraft in the following categories:






Manned free balloons

Special classes

A standard Airworthiness certificate remains valid as long as the Aircraft meets its approved type design, is in a condition for safe operation and maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations are performed in accordance with 14 CFR parts 21, 43, and 91.

Special Airworthiness Certificate

FAA Form 8130-7, Special Airworthiness Certificate, is an FAA authorization to operate an Aircraft in U.S. Airspace in one or more of categories in Figure 3-1.

Regulations and Policies

There are a number of regulations and policy documents that provide additional guidance on the subject of Airworthiness.

Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations

14 CFR Part 21, Certification Procedures for Products and Parts

14 CFR Part 21, Subpart H, Airworthiness Certificates

14 CFR Part 45, Identification and Registration Marking

14 CFR Part 91, Section 91.313, Restricted category civil Aircraft: Operating limitations

14 CFR Part 91, Subpart D, Special Flight Operations

14 CFR Part 91, Section 91.715, Special flight authorizations for foreign civil Aircraft

14 CFR Part 375, Navigation of Foreign Civil Aircraft Within the United States

FAA Orders (as revised)

FAA Order 8130.2, Airworthiness Certification of Aircraft and Related Products

FAA Order 8900.1, Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS)

FAA Advisory Circulars (ACs) (as revised)

AC 20-27, Certification and Operation of Amateur-Built Aircraft

AC 20-139, Commercial Assistance During Construction of Amateur-Built Aircraft

AC 21-4, Special Flight Permits for Operation of Overweight Aircraft

AC 21-12, Application for U.S. Airworthiness Certificate, FAA Form 8130-6

AC 45-2, Identification and Registration Marking • AC 90-89, Amateur-Built Aircraft and Ultra-light Flight Testing Handbook

In aviation, Airworthiness is the measure of an Aircraft's suitability for safe flight. Certification of Airworthiness is conferred by a certificate of Airworthiness from the state of Aircraft registry national aviation authority, and is maintained by performing the required maintenance actions.

Documents Required:

Aircraft must have documentation to show compliance with federal regulations

Those documents can be easily remembered through the acronym "AROW" or "ARROW:"

A – Airworthiness Certificate

R – Registration Certificate

R – Radio Certificate (international flights)

O – Operators Manual (specific for that Aircraft) and placards (Compass deviation card/External data plate

W – Weight and Balance (current and specific to your Airplane)

Required Equipment:

Visual Flight Rules:


T - Tachometer (one for each engine)

O - Oil Pressure Gauge (one for each liquid cooled engine)

M - Magnetic Direction Indicator

A - Airspeed indicator

T - Temperature gauge (each liquid cooled engine)

O - Oil temperature gauge (each liquid cooled engine)

F - Fuel Gauges

L - Landing gear position indicator lights (retractable landing gear)

A - Altimeter

A - Anti-Collision light system (strobes), if manufactured after 3/11/1996

M - Manifold pressure gauge (each altitude engine)

E - Emergency Locator Transmitter

S - Seat belts & shoulder harness (front seats)

Night VFR (FLAPS):

Day VFR requirements, plus:

F - Fuses (spares) or circuit breakers

L - Landing lights (if for hire)

A - Anti-collision lights

P - Position Lights

S - Source of energy (adequate to power all electrical and radio equipment)

Instrument Flight Rules:


G - Generator or alternator

R - Rate of turn indicator (turn coordinator or turn & bank indicator)

A - Altimeter, sensitive, adjustable for barometric pressure (Kollsman window)

B - Ball (slip-skid indicator [inclinometer])

C - Clock (digital or analog displaying hours, minutes, and seconds)

A - Attitude indicator

R - Radios (radio communication and navigation equipment suitable for the route to be flown)

D - Direction (gyroscopic) indicator (directional gyro or heading indicator)

Inoperative Equipment:

If any other item is inoperative, 14 CFR section 91.405 states that it shall be placarded as required by Sec. 43.11

Following scheduled inspections:

Aircraft shall have discrepancies repAired unless it is permitted to be in operative by 91.213

Maintenance personnel shall make appropriate entries in the Aircraft maintenance records indicating the Aircraft has been approved for return to service

Equipment impacting safety of flight must be repAired, but items that are not required may remain inoperative indefinitely provided they are appropriately placarded

Manbir Kaur [Aero Engineer] 

Director    [Business Development]  

AirCrews Aviation Pvt. Ltd.


Aero Engineering Career Guide

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