Flight Authorities and Their Application
By Tony Soulis
Most of us are familiar with the various flight authorities issued by Transport Canada and the manner in which aircraft qualify for such document issuance. In that regard, Canadian Aviation Regulation (CAR) Subpart 507 addresses those requirements and specifies the different types of flight authority that may be issued by the Minister. While the subject matter can be somewhat dry, let's take a few moments to review some fundamentals and familiarize ourselves with the different types of flight authorities and some of their characteristics. For the most part, the issuance of a particular flight authority is greatly influenced by aircraft configuration and operational role.
Canadian flight authorities fall into one of two classes — Certificates of Airworthiness (C of A) or Flight Permits. The most common of the two, is the Certificate of Airworthiness. This document is further identified as either a C of A, or Special C of A. The C of A is issued to an aircraft that fully complies with all standards of airworthiness for airplanes in the normal, utility, aerobatic, commuter, very light aircraft (VLA), transport category; and for rotorcraft in the normal and transport category; glider; powered glider; airship; or manned free balloons — as applicable. At one time, this authority used to be referred to as a Standard C of A. That is no longer the case, as the word Standard is no longer included in the document title.
On the other hand, a Special C of A can be issued to an aircraft that does not meet all of the requirements for a C of A, but does meet other airworthiness standards. In that case, it would fall into a group that includes five certificate classifications: Provisional, Restricted, Amateur-Built, Limited and soon to be — Owner Maintenance. It should be noted that while a Special C of A is recognized domestically inside the country, it will not be recognized outside of Canada, unless otherwise validated by the foreign authority. Some of these certificates are more familiar to Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AME) than others, as they are generally indicative of aircraft engaged in a particular operational role. Others are less common, as they are often limited to a very narrow sector of the aviation industry. In any case, let's look at the variations that cause them to qualify for one classification or another.
The Special C of A - Provisional is a rare bird that is very seldom seen, as it relates to aircraft that have been issued a Provisional Aircraft Type Certificate by our Aircraft Certification Branch. This form of Type Certificate is generally issued to aircraft that are still undergoing type certification, but that have yet to complete the full regulatory type certification program. An example of this might be an aircraft that has completed the bulk of its evaluation activities, but for which further reporting is still required. In most instances, a Provisional Aircraft Type Certificate is issued to address an economic situation and does not affect aviation safety, as the aircraft will eventually qualify for an Aircraft Type Certificate once all administrative requirements are met.
A Special C of A - Restricted is generally associated with aircraft that have been altered or modified from their original type certification basis to meet special purpose operational requirements. The point to remember here is that, it isn't the operational role of the aircraft that determines its classification certificate, but rather, the fact that the aircraft has been modified and no longer conforms to its basis of certification.
The third certificate, Special C of A - Amateur-Built, is fairly straightforward, as this is the only document that can be issued to amateur-built aircraft that comply with CAR 549 design requirements and associated standards (currently going through the last stages of promulgation).
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.
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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