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. The first is a small 3 1/4 by 5 1/2 inch piece of white paper that is required by the Federal Aviation Regulations to be displayed in approximately 94 percent of United States registered aircraft. The FAA form can be found proudly attached to the inside of the cockpit door of brand new Boeing 777, or one can find it peeking out of a sun yellowed plastic display window on the back of the pilot's seat in a not so new, 1967 Cherokee PA-28-140,
The form is required to be there by FAR 91.203 (b), but using a computer search of the FAR, I could not find a single regulation that requires either a technician or a pilot to read it. So there it hangs, pinned to a wall or back of a seat, forlorn, and abandoned by people who have either forgotten or have never been told the power that lies behind the piece of paper that is just a little bit smaller than a post card.
By now you should have figured out that the first piece of paper is the Standard Airworthiness Certificate (Form 8100-2). The second piece of paper we will talk about is the Special Airworthiness Certificate (8130-7).
This certificate is one of the four required documents to be in an aircraft prior to flight (which includes Airworthiness Certificate, Registration Certificate, Radio Certificate, Operations Manual/Placards, and Weight and Balance report).
The Standard Airworthiness Certificate is issued to aircraft that are type certificated in the normal, utility, acrobatic, commuter, transport categories, and for manned free balloons.
For the remaining 6 percent of other aircraft in the U.S. fleet that do not have a Standard Airworthiness Certificate, these guys are issued a Special Airworthiness Certificate.
The Standard Airworthiness Certificate
Now let's look at the words on Standard Airworthiness Certificate, Form 8100-2. My father, a man much wiser than myself, once told me, "Son, any government form or application that contains big and small print — you can bet the big print giveth, and the small print taketh away." Well, Dad was right on with this form. The biggest print on the form is: STANDARD AIRWORTHINESS CERTIFICATE, the rest of the words on the form are so small, it looks the last line on the eye chart for the Philadelphia Lawyer's Bar exam.
There are six blocks on the form, not counting the last three in which the FAA inspector or representative signs.
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 towards my computer keyboard.
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