The Tag: Reviewing FAA Order 8130.21C

The last time I wrote about the 8130.3 Airworthiness Approval Tag was nine years ago when it first came into existence.

The last time I wrote about the 8130.3 Airworthiness Approval Tag was nine years ago when it first came into existence. Since then, the original FAA Order 8130.21 that created the tag, has been revised three times. This is why the current Order 8130.21C has the suffix letter C on the tail end. To review the current FAA Order including change 1 in detail you can log on to

One of the "C" revisions was to hang a new title on the tag. It is now called "Authorized Release Certificate, FAA Form 8130-3, Airworthiness Approval Tag." Another change created by the "C" revision is the cancellation of the old 8130-3 Form, dated November 1993 and it is replaced with a new 8130-3 form. You can take a look at the new tag by logging on to

After June 1, 2002 you must use the new 8130-3 form, but if you have a part on the shelf that was issued a —3 tag prior to June 1, 2002 the tag is still good. You can order the new —3 tag from Customer Care Center, AML-30 in Oklahoma City at (405) 954-3793 or toll free at 1 (888) 322-9824. The new form’s stock number is 0052-00-012-9005. With that said let’s take a look at the new "revised" form.


The 8130.3 Airworthiness Approval Tag is basically a record-keeping device that declares that the identified product, part, or appliance is airworthy. The tag is not an authorization to install the part! In the early ’90s, the tag creators had high hopes that it would be a universal airworthiness tag, an aviation document that would be recognized worldwide at face value. Alas, it was not to be. This lack of universal acceptance is because there are many big and small regulatory differences between us and other civil aviation authorities on this ball of dust we call home. Plus, we have not achieved the level of trust among all nations to make this concept work. So as of this date we have not achieved the hoped for "universal status" for the 8130-3 tag.

However, there has been some progress made in the harmonization process in the past nine years with Europe and Canadian CAAs and the 8130.3 tag can be used to document:

1. Conformity determinations.

2. Airworthiness approval of aircraft engines and propellers for domestic shipments only.

3. Airworthiness approval of parts and appliances under Part 21 Certification Procedures for Products and Parts.

4. Splitting bulk shipments of previously shipped parts.

5. Approval for return to service after maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, and alterations.

6. Export airworthiness approvals of Class II and III products.

With the exception of item 6, Export airworthiness approvals of Class II and III products, the FAA considers the use of the 8130.3 tag as an "optional" form of record-keeping. Before we review the six uses of the tag, there are some things you should know about the tag itself. First, the tag can be made smaller but not so small that it cannot be read and the overall design of the form and its wording cannot be revised or altered in any way. Second, using an electronic signature may be authorized by the FAA, however an electronic signature does not relieve the responsible individual from ensuring that the part or product described on the tag is airworthy. Third, the tag’s blocks 14 through 18 are used for conformity determinations, airworthiness approval of products/parts, export airworthiness approvals, and splitting bulk shipments of parts. Block 19 through 23 of the tag are used for approval for return to service. Do not put any information in both the airworthiness section (14-18 blocks) and approval for return to service blocks (19-23) or the tag will self-destruct.

Conformity determinations:

The 8130.3 tag may be used to record conformity inspections made by or on the behalf of the FAA on a prototype or test product, part, or appliance prior to type certification to determine that it conforms to the specified data. As a mechanic working for a repair station or an air carrier chances are you might spend your entire career without seeing a 8130-3 tag used for this purpose.

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