Part 135 Single Pilot Certification
About the Certification Process for Single Pilot Operators
The Single Pilot Operation is typically just that, one pilot and one airplane. Provisions also allow for Single Pilot in Command Certifications. Those are typically for 2 pilot required aircraft.
This information, together with the the FAA links and resources available here can get the average single pilot operator through the process. If it is your first time plan approximately 150-200 hours by the time you are finished. Regardless of whether you plan to do it on your own or hire ACCG to assist you, all new operators need to review the information contained on this page, including the applicable FAR's, especially Part 135.
How does this work?
The FAA uses different procedures for cert processing. They are all versions of the "Gate" system and that which you read about in the Advisory Circular
I want to get started
Again, a do-able task, but expect about 150-200 hours of your time for a Single Pilot Operator certification. The biggest task for the Single Pilot Operator is the Statement of Compliance. Download the FAA's Certification Information for Operating Under Part 135 and use it as a guide. The links contained in the document have pretty much all the information. We suggest getting a hold of a Schedule of Events also. It is a convenient document to track submissions and dates. Some Inspectors require it.
You should also review the Inspectors Handbook, the parts regarding the type of certification that you will need.
Tools you will need to fly Part 135
In brief you will need a qualified pilot, a Part 135 ready aircraft, and your Base of Operations or PBO. All sustainable. Meaning the aircraft is 135 insured come time to fly 135, you have enough operating cash to support your operations for at least a few months, and the pilot's heart is beating.
The GATE System
GATE ONE REQUIREMENTS:
- Have Application For DOT Economic Authority
- Facility Selection For Training And Maintenance Completed
- Have Letters Of Intent For Lease Or Purchase Of Aircraft And Facilities
- Submission Of Completed PASI Form
- Submission Of Proposed Schedule Of Events
- Have Key Management Resumes And Personnel Available
GATE TWO REQUIREMENTS
- Formal Letter Of Application
- Have Purchased Or Leased Aircraft And Facilities
- Received "Order To Show Cause" From DOT
- Submitted All Required Documents
GATE THREE REQUIREMENTS
- All Manuals Reviewed, Discrepancies Corrected, And Approved/Accepted As Required
- Training Programs Initially Approved And Sufficient Personnel Trained
- Maintenance Programs Approved And Conformity Checks Completed Satisfactorily
- Facilities Evaluated And Found Satisfactory
- Evacuation Demonstrations Satisfactorily Completed
- Proving Run Schedule Reviewed And Accepted
- All Other Discrepancies And Open Questions Resolved Satisfactorily
Important Information from the FAA's Advisory Circular 120.49
The information below is a summary, for more detailed information
go to Advisory Circular 120-49.
A. This phase consists of the pre-application meeting with the FAA
and the applicant (you must attend). The inspector should discuss the
certification process in depth. Emphasis should be placed on the expectations
of the FAA, what the applicant should expect from the FAA, and the sequence
NOTE: At the end of the meeting, the inspector will give the applicant
a certification package. Upon completion of Gate One, FSDO personnel,
when available, will advise and counsel the applicant on document preparation
for Gate Two.
Gate Three requirements shall be completed prior to commencement of
All requirements of each Gate must be completed before proceeding through
the certification process to the next Gate.
B. Package of pre-certification Information. The pre-application meeting
between the CPM, other certification team members, and the applicant
sets the tone for the rest of the certification process. Therefore,
it is important to be thoroughly prepared. The CPM should review the
PASI and assemble a pre-certification information package to be given
to the applicant.
The pre-certification information package shall consist
of at least the following:
- AC 120-49, if not previously provided
- Applicable certification job aid
- Sample schedule of events format
- Applicable sample of operations specifications
- Other publications or documents the CPM considers appropriate (See
figure 220.127.116.11. for a job aid on cabin safety)
C. Briefing of the Applicant. At the pre-application meeting, the applicant
and any key personnel attending the meeting should be briefed in as
much detail as necessary to ensure that they understand the certification
process using the certification job aid and the schedule of events format
as guides to facilitate the discussion and to ensure that all elements
of the certification process are covered. The applicant should be encouraged
to ask questions about any area of the process not clearly understood.
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At the pre-application meeting, the form, content, and documents required
for formal application are discussed. The formal application must be
submitted to the assigned district office. The applicant is encouraged
to submit the application as far in advance as possible of the intended
The formal application must be in letter format and must contain the
(1) The full and official name of the applicant
(2) A statement that the document is a formal application for either
an air carrier or an operating certification.
(3) The applicant's mailing address and the physical address of the
applicant's intended primary operating location
(4) For an air carrier applicant, the full name and address of the
agent (designated person who has signature authority) for service as
required by Section 1005(b) of the FA Act of 1958, as amended
(5) The names of key management personnel, such as the General Manager,
Director of Operations, Director of Maintenance, Chief Pilot, and Chief
Inspector, as applicable
(6) A note added to the formal application letter if a request for
deviation from management personnel requirements is anticipated. The
request and justification for the deviation, however, shall be made
under separate cover.
(7) The signatures of the following as applicable:-
- The owner when applying as an individual.
- Each partner when applying as a partnership.
- An authorized officer when applying as an organization, such as a company
Formal Application Attachments
The formal application must be accompanied by the following:
(1) Schedule of Events The Schedule of Events lists documents, activities,
and acquisitions required for certification. Each item is accompanied
by the applicant's best estimate of the date the item will be submitted,
acquired, and/or ready for inspection.
(a) The number and types of events and activities that occur during
certification vary according to the operation proposed. The Schedule
of Events must list each document to be submitted, activity to be performed,
and the item to be inspected. The schedule must provide the FAA a reasonable
amount of time for the review and acceptance or approval of each item
(b) The Schedule of Events is intended to encourage an applicant to
submit material well in advance of the date operations are proposed
to begin. If, however, the application is submitted with only the minimum
lead time required by the regulation, complete documents (such as maintenance
manuals) may be required at the time of formal application.
(c) If the applicant plans to petition for exemption, processing time
must also be considered. FAR Section 11.25 requires that a petition
be submitted to AGC-204 at least 120 days before it is needed.
NOTE: Final certification could be delayed if the applicant fails to
accomplish an item or event in a satisfactory manner or in accordance
with the Schedule of Events. In addition, delays may be caused by the
need to correct deficiencies in documents, such as manuals or maintenance/inspection
(2) Company manual. The company manual contains information about the
applicant's organization, general policies, duties, responsibilities,
operational control policy, and procedures. This attachment may be comprised
of one or more manuals or sections of manuals.
NOTE TO: Single Pilot, Single Pilot in Command, and Basic FAR Part
135 Operator air carriers.
a. Because these air carriers are usually limited in size and scope,
they may not be required to comply with all regulatory requirements
for manuals, training programs, and management positions. These air
carriers will normally need less extensive manual and training program
material and fewer management positions. However, these types of air
carriers will not be permitted a reduction in safety standards due to
the limited size and scope of operations.
b. Single Pilot FAR Part 135 Operator. FAR Part 135 does not require
a Single Pilot Operator to develop or maintain manuals, training programs,
or identify specific management positions. Therefore, Company General
Manuals and initial training curriculum attachments are not required
to be submitted with the formal application. However, a resume of qualifications
and experience of the principal owner and/or company officer who will
exercise operational and maintenance/inspection control must be submitted
with the formal application.
c. Single Pilot in Command and Basic FAR Part 135 Operators. FAR Part
135 allows for a deviation from the manual, training program, and management
requirements. A deviation from these requirements may be granted to
an applicant who intends to operate as a Single Pilot in Command or
a Basic FAR Part 135 Operator. The applicant should attach a letter
to the FAA Form 8400-6 identifying the regulations from which deviation
is requested. The letter should provide justification for the proposed
deviations and the number of pilots, both pilot in command and second
in command, which will be used. If the deviation is to be granted, totally
or in part, the applicant will be notified early in the pre-application
phase. In this situation, FSDO personnel will specify for the applicant
the documents and attachments which must accompany the formal application.
(a) When the formal application is submitted, the manual must show
compliance with the applicable paragraphs of FAR Parts 121 and 135.
(b) Team members must ensure all required material is shown on the
Schedule of Events and that adequate time is allowed for review.
(c) The applicant should be encouraged to provide a table of contents.
(3) Initial company training curriculums
(a) At the time of formal application, some training program elements
may not be fully developed. The projected date of submission for training
course curriculums must be in the Schedule of Events. A draft of the
initial company training curriculum, as complete as possible, must be
attached to the formal application.
(b) The initial company training curriculum must include at least the
- Basic indoctrination training
- Emergency training
- Initial aircraft ground training
- Initial aircraft flight training
(c) Curriculums for training maintenance personnel may be included
as part of the operator's manual.
(4) Management resumes. This attachment includes resumes showing the
qualifications, certificates, ratings, and experience of persons selected
for the following, or equivalent,
- General Manager (where applicable)
- Director of Operations
- Director of Maintenance
- Chief Pilot
- Chief Inspector (where applicable)
(a) If it appears that a proposed management candidate does not meet
the appropriate experience requirements, inform the applicant that a
deviation is required to employ that person. If a deviation is requested,
the applicant must show equivalent aeronautical experience.
(b) An applicant may request a deviation to use fewer or different
personnel. The applicant must prove the ability to perform operations
safely under the deviation. The applicant also must show that the proposed
personnel can effectively perform the functions associated with the
positions in accordance with the Federal Aviation Regulations and the
procedures outlined in the proposed manual.
(c) Requests for deviation must be by letter. These requests must be
submitted to the district office as soon as possible. Justification
for deviations must take into account the size and scope of the operation
and the qualifications of the intended personnel. If fewer or different
positions are approved, that approval will be made part of the operations
(d) Normally, full-time employees are expected for Part 135 operations.
However, depending on the size, scope, and complexity of the operation,
part-time management personnel may be accepted.
(5) Documents of purchase, contracts, and/or letters of intent
(a) These documents and/or letters show the applicant is committed
to making arrangements for aircraft and supporting facilities and services
necessary for the proposed operation. Proof of formal purchase, lease,
or contractual arrangement are acceptable. If formal arrangements have
not been completed, letters showing preliminary agreements will suffice
until formal contracts are available. However, formal agreements must
be finalized in sufficient time for FAA evaluation prior to certification.
(b) If the applicant does not plan to make purchases or develop services
until after submitting the formal application, a statement of intent
is acceptable. However, such arrangements must be completed sufficiently
in advance of certification for FAA evaluation.
(c) The following types of equipment, facilities, and services are
to be addressed in these documents, contracts, or letters:
- Station facilities and services
- Weather and NOTAM-gathering facilities and services (SAWRS stations)
- Communications facilities and services
- Maintenance facilities and services
- Aeronautical charts and related publications
- Airport analysis and obstruction data
- Contract training or facilities
(6) Initial compliance statement. The compliance statement ensures
that all applicable regulatory aspects are appropriately addressed during
the certification process. The compliance statement lists each Part
121 or Part 135 regulation pertinent to the proposed operation. The
applicant must describe proposed compliance methods alongside each applicable
regulation. A brief narrative or a specific reference to a manual or
other document is required. Where necessary, the applicant should indicate
that the information will be provided in the final compliance statement.
D. Final Determination of Acceptability. After the formal application
meeting, the Certification Project Manager and the certification team
make a final determination of acceptability. Generally, if the formal
application meeting is concluded without significant disagreements,
it should be considered successful and result in an acceptable formal
application. However, the team may decide there are sufficient reasons
to reject the formal application. These reasons should clearly indicate
that to proceed with the certification project would not be productive.
Such reasons might include inadequate agreements on appropriate courses
of action or evidence that the applicant does not understand the regulatory
requirements and/or the certification process.
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In the document compliance phase, the applicant's manuals and other documents
are reviewed and accepted, approved, or rejected. This phase is accomplished
in the district office by the certification team. Each document is reviewed
in depth to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and conformity
to safe operating practices.
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Demonstration & Inspection
A. Observe Demonstrations And Conduct Inspections. The following events
may occur in this phase, if applicable:
- Airman/Flight Attendant training (classroom, simulator, and aircraft
training) (airmen, crew members, and dispatchers, as applicable)
- Station facilities inspected (equipment, procedures, and personnel)
- Record keeping procedures inspection (documentation of training, flight
and duty times, flight papers, etc.)
- Flight operations (dispatch, flight following, or flight locating
- Approved maintenance program procedures
- Maintenance activities (facilities, personnel, technical information,
spare parts, etc.)
- Aircraft inspection (conformity inspection, aircraft maintenance
- Minimum Equipment List and Configuration
- Deviation List inspection (compliance with Airplane Owner's Manual/Airplane
Flight Manual maintenance procedures, etc.)
- Weight and balance control (procedures, accuracy, and document control)
- Emergency evacuation demonstration (aborted takeoff and/or ditching
- Aircraft proving test (ability of applicant to operate independently,
safely, and in compliance with the applicable Federal Aviation Regulations)
- Any other event appropriate for the type of operation to be conducted
B. Document Deficiencies. If deficiencies are observed during the conduct
of activities and events (training, emergency evacuation, etc.) or certain
items are found deficient (Minimum Equipment List, records, etc.), recommend
appropriate corrective action.
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An applicant is entitled to a certificate when:
- The certification process is completed
- Each significant unsatisfactory item has been corrected
- The applicant has met all regulatory requirements
- It has been determined that the applicant is capable of complying
with the Federal Aviation Regulations
- The applicant's ability to conduct operations in a safe manner
has been demonstrated
NOTE: Before issuing the certificate, non-critical items needing further
resolution should be discussed with the applicant and corrective action
noted in writing.
Certification Flow Chart (FAA)
Certification flow chart from the Operations Inspectors Handbook.