A Moment of Silent Prayer
It was just after lunch, on a hot July day when I found my heavy eyelids slowing closing. I was faintly aware that my forehead began its slow motion plunge toward my computer keyboard. As I gently crashed headfirst on to the delete key, I slip unconsciously back to days of yore when I was an instructor at the FAA Academy in OKC in 1985. I was an educator, a teacher and not a lowly pusher of paper. I remember . . . zzzz.
Good Afternoon Inspectors! Today, I would like to talk about a very important piece of bureaucratic paperwork. It is called an Airworthiness Certificate. It is the second most important piece of paperwork in a U.S. registered aircraft. Can anyone tell me the most important piece of paperwork? Yes Mr. Kline, it is the registration certificate. Hmmm, I noticed that some of you look surprised at Mr. Kline’s answer, most likely betting that I misspoke and the airworthiness certificate is the most important of all the aircraft’s paperwork. However, Mr. Kline’s correct response is easily verified by the fact that Block 1 on the Form 8100-2 Airworthiness Certificate itself asks for the ‘N’ number of the aircraft. This need for a registration number before the airworthiness certificate is signed by the FAA or its representative, clearly validates Mr. Kline’s answer.
Two pieces of paper
Continuing on, there are two classifications of airworthiness certificates: Standard and Special.
The Standard Airworthiness Certificate (Form 8100-2) is issued to an aircraft that meets the FAR that applies to Normal, Utility, Aerobatic, Commuter, or Transport category aircraft. It can also be issued to manned Free Balloons. This form is found in approximately 95 percent of all U.S. registered aircraft.
No doubt so very few mechanics ever read it because the small, white piece of paper appears so innocuous as it sits stuffed in the plastic pouch in a general aviation two-seater, or displayed on the cockpit door of a 300-seat transport.
The words Standard Airworthiness Certificate on the airworthiness certificate are followed by six blocks and the approval section in very small print. Blocks 1 through 4, identify the aircraft. Block 5 is titled: Authority and Basis for Issuance. This is a very important block because it identifies the law (Federal Aviation Act of 1958) that created airworthiness certificates and then proceeds with the definition of airworthy: “Meets its type design therefore it is in a condition for safe operation.”
This is not the only place where the definition of airworthy is defined. Recently, the definition of airworthy was added to the glossary section on the newly revised AC 43.23-1B.
Block 6 is titled Terms and Conditions. While most standard airworthiness certificates have no termination date, Block 6 of the airworthiness certificate states the airworthiness certificate is effective as long as the maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations are performed in accordance with Part 21, 43, and 91 of the FAR and the aircraft is registered in the United States.
Note that the standard airworthiness certificate calls out only Parts 21, 43, and 91 rules. These are the core regulations for airworthiness. The big air carrier rules, Parts 121, 127, or 135 are not mentioned because those regulations are for the most part, regulations that define “organizations dealing with air commerce.”
In the last paragraph of Block 6, the registration certificate is again noted as a the primary document clearly stating if the registration is not current and legal, all else including the airworthiness certificate becomes a moot point. The last blocks of the form are for the date, signature of the FAA representative, and Designation number or FAA office number.
There are two very important pieces of paper that are issued by the United States Government that, once issued, are usually forgotten by the aviation community.
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