One of the first things that you will need to do is determine what FAA certifications are going to be required for what type of flying business you are going to operate. For example, will you need an Air Carrier Certificate or an Air Operator certificate? The information below will help with direction and guidance for the issuance of air carrier certificates and operating certificates.
Single Pilot certificates/Single Pilot in Command certificates are issued to those who operate with 1 Pilot in Command. They may have more than 1 aircraft. Single Pilot in Command certificates are for those that operate aircraft that require 2 pilots.
Basic and full Part 135 certificates (also called Standard) are the same except basic operators are limited to 5 aircraft and 5 pilots. Full operators do not have the option to combine FAR 119 management personnel. All positions are required; Director of Operations, Chief Pilot, and Director of Maintenance.
Regardless of the complexity of your operation, the step by step process toward obtaining your certificate is essentially the same. It involves gaining a clear understanding of what you must do, submission of documents to the FAA for review and approval, training your personnel, having your facilities, record keeping system, and aircraft inspected by the FAA, having pilots complete competency checks by the FAA, and finally, receiving your certificate.
The first formal action that you will take is submitting to the FAA a Pre-application Statement of Intent, or PASI. This is done using FAA's form 8400-6. The form information provides the FAA with a general description of your proposed operation, identifies your key personnel, and a general description of your operation.
This PASI is what gets the machinery in motion toward certification. Upon receiving it, the FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) will assign the Certification Project Managers, later you will be assigned a Principal Operations Inspector, a Principal Airworthiness Inspector, and a Principal Avionics Inspector.
Generally, any one of the three Inspectors could be your primary contact person at the FAA during the certification process. The Principal Operations Inspector will be responsible for your manual, training program, and pilots. The Principal Airworthiness Inspector will be your contact person for matters relating to the aircraft, airworthiness and maintenance programs, and the Principal Avionics Inspector will be the person who makes sure that requirements relating to the installation and maintenance of aircraft avionics equipment are dealt with.
After the FAA District Office receives your Pre-application Statement of Intent, You will be contacted to schedule a meeting at your local FAA District Office. It will be at this meeting that details of your operation will be discussed, specific requirements decided upon, and a timetable for certification steps established. All your key management personnel, including the Chief Executive Officer, Director of Operations, Chief Pilot, and Director of Maintenance should plan on attending this meeting. Depending on the complexity of your operation, further meetings with appropriate members of your management team may be required to deal with specific matters.
Once the requirements for your particular operation have been established, you will be preparing various documents, manuals, and establishing management systems as required for your individual situation. You will be preparing your Letter of Compliance. During this period, you and your management personnel will have frequent contact with the Principal Inspectors to iron out the details and obtain approval and acceptance of specific requirements. Training programs must be approved, manuals reviewed and accepted, and various aircraft maintenance programs and procedures must be approved. The contents of your Operations Specifications will be finalized. You must also submit registration documents and proof of insurance to the Department of Transportation in Washington.
After your training program has received initial approval, you will be training your pilots in accordance with this program. If you have company check airmen, they will be observed by the FAA while conducting initial checks of other pilots. If you do not have company check airmen, the FAA will conduct the competency checks after the training has been completed.
During this period, you will be making the initial training records for your company personnel, bringing your aircraft up to standards including re-weighing of aircraft if required, and ensuring that all provisions of your maintenance program have been complied with.
Once all systems are in place and all documents have been approved or accepted, and after your aircraft meet all requirements and your pilots have been trained and checked, you are ready to make formal application for certification. This is done on FAA form 8000-6, and is your statement that you meet all requirements to hold an Air Carrier Operating Certificate.
After receipt of your application form, the FAA district office will schedule a final inspection. This inspection will cover your record keeping systems, a physical inspection of your aircraft and its records, and will ensure that all systems and methods of compliance are actually in place. During this time, the FAA will be preparing your Operations Specifications, and upon successful completion of the inspection, these Operations Specifications and your Operating Certificate will be given to you.
During the preparation for certification, you will be asked to compose a Letter of Compliance. This is a document that serves to create a common understanding between you and the FAA that you have the ability and mechanisms in place to conduct an operation in full compliance with all the appropriate regulations. It serves to ensure that you are aware of and have considered each portion and part of the regulation as it applies to your particular operation. This document is a list of each regulation, starting with FAR 135.1 and continuing to the end. Each regulation is listed together with your company's individual method of meeting the requirement of that regulation. It is up to you and you only to establish the means and method to address each requirement. A sample Letter of Compliance, appropriate to a typical Basic Operator is included as Appendix A at the end of this guide.
Unless you are a single pilot or single pilot-in-command operator, you must develop an operations manual for your use in telling your employees what procedures must be followed by them in conducting the company's operations. This manual may contain any policy or procedure guidance that you wish, but MUST contain detailed procedures for a number of specific areas which are set forth in FAR 135. The required subjects are given in FAR 135.23, 135.79, 135.123, 135.173 and 135.175. We have included a checklist of manual contents as appendix B to this guide.
You are required to establish procedures to ensure that if a flight becomes overdue, timely notification is given to search and rescue authorities so that a search for the overdue aircraft can begin as soon as possible. While filing of a FAA Flight Plan will accomplish this in many cases, there are still some circumstances where the filing or closing of a flight plan may not be practical. These procedures must be written and must be explicit. The name or position of the person responsible for flight progress monitoring, the method that the pilot uses in notifying this person of the flight's progress, and the exact steps for the designated person to take should a flight become overdue must be given. Note that this procedure must ensure the same level of safety and timeliness that would be achieved if a FAA flight plan was filed. It must provide for the same information to be recorded as a FAA flight plan as specified in FAR 91.83. This procedure may be contained in the operations manual, but if your company is not required to have a manual, this procedure must still be written and furnished to the FAA district office for review and acceptance. A sample written Flight Locating procedure is included as Appendix D. Management Personnel.
FAR 135.37 requires that each certificate holder have a Director of Operations, a Chief Pilot, and a Director of Maintenance. FAR 135.39 gives the required qualifications for these persons. If you are a single pilot operator, you are not required to have these personnel. A Single Pilot-in-Command and a Basic Operator may combine these positions into two and in some circumstances, one position, but the person designated as holding the combined positions must meet all the requirements for all of the positions. The main requirement, in addition to holding the required certificates, is that the person must have three years experience as pilot-in-command IN FAR 135 OPERATIONS in the case of Director of Operations and Chief Pilot, and three years experience as a mechanic maintaining the same category and class of aircraft in the case of Director of Maintenance. While the regulations allow for the FAA to approve a deviation from these requirements, this deviation is usually approved only if the person comes quite close to meeting the requirements AND has significant other pertinent experience.
FAR 135.77 requires that each certificate holder exercise Operational Control of each flight. This means that the company itself, not individual pilots, customers, or others, must actively make the necessary decisions regarding dispatch of flights, compliance with regulations, etc. You may designate whatever company personnel you wish to exercise this operational control, but their names must be specifically listed in the operations manual.
All certificate holders, whether or not they have a pilot training program, and whether or not they elect to transport hazardous materials, must have a written hazardous material training program. This program may be fairly simple for a single pilot operator who does not carry hazardous materials. limited simply to a program dealing with how to recognize hazardous materials should they be presented by a customer for shipment. For a operator who decides to offer the service of carriage of these materials, the training program must include all of the subjects listed in FAR 135.333. This written training program will be evaluated by the FAA Regional Office hazardous materials specialist who is assigned to the Air Transportation Security division.
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If you are pursuing revenue air service or repair station certification, your at the right place. The information that is available here on the site will more than familiarize you with the information you need to get started. The regulatory requirements information is available through out, subjects have explanation narratives to help you understand the requirements.
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