Get a Ferry Permit Lately?

One of the necessary and traditional things that maintenance technicians have been doing for many years is what has been the simple task of going to their FSDO or calling an inspector and obtaining a ferry permit for an owner. In some cases, they would even fax one to you if you were out of town. The most common reason to need one is an aircraft is out of annual and needs to be flown over to a shop for the job. 

Special flight permits

These special flight permits have for years been described in FAR 21.197, which is part of Subchapter C, Aircraft, Certification Procedures for Products and Parts. The FAR is quite clear on what is required to obtain the ferry permit, even if the aircraft is not airworthy.You also have a form to fill out, lets review the requirements.

FAR 21.197 (a) “A special flight permit may be issued for an aircraft that may not, currently, meet applicable airworthiness requirements but is capable of safe flight, for the following purposes:

• Flying the aircraft to a base where repairs, alterations, or maintenance are to be performed, or to a point of storage.

• Delivering or exporting the aircraft.

• Production flight testing new production aircraft.

• Evacuating aircraft from areas of impending danger.

• Conducting customer demonstration flights in new production aircraft.

An additional section (b) allows for the issuance of a special flight permit to authorize the operation of aircraft at a weight in excess of the maximum certificated takeoff weight for flight beyond normal range over water or land areas where adequate landing facilities or appropriate fuel is not available.

The second section that applies is 21.199 which sets out the information you must submit to get the permit: the purpose of the flight; 

the proposed itinerary; the crew required; the ways, if any, in which the aircraft does not comply with the applicable airworthiness requirements.(e.g. out of annual); any restrictions the applicant considers necessary for safe operation of the aircraft; and any other information considered necessary by the Administrator for the purpose of prescribing operating limitations. The last sentence of the section simply says that the Administrator may make or require the applicant to perform appropriate inspections or tests necessary for safety. This sentence opens the door to add further requirements.

The form

Form 8130-6 Application for U.S. Airworthiness Certificate (4/11) is the form that is necessary to fill out to provide the information listed above. If a mechanic is filling out the form he must fill out the information as the agent of the registered owner and sign the form as the agent of the owner. You also may be required to get a letter from the registered owner that states you are his agent. This ferry permit section is located on the reverse side of the form called page 2 of 2, but you must direct your attention (as instructed) to Sections II, VI, and VII of the form. This is where the A&P mechanic (or the owner) takes joint responsibility with the FAA and certifies the safety of the aircraft. (As usual, you can find the form online.)

We all know that FAA has all but quit granting field approvals and many other approval requests, and or made it so complex and difficult that many have given up attempting to get them. Mechanics have placed the blame for this on the fear of liability on the part of the FAA in case something would go wrong. It would appear possible that additional onerous requirements will also be required of any request for a ferry permit so as to further insulate the FAA from any possible liability for negligently issuing the permit. Transferring the authority to the mechanic to issue a ferry permit would accomplish this purpose. This might come about with the passage of the Small Aircraft Revitalization Act (SARA), which has recently been signed by the President. A&Ps could be given authority to self-issue ferry permits in addition to added authority to certify airworthiness for many light aircraft without IA authority. The coming rulemaking could include such expanded authority for mechanics.

The ferry permit process has never been contentious in the past. It was a simple straightforward request by the technician to an inspector and he would prepare the permit and hand it to him. But, like the submission and approval of Form 337s and field approvals, you can expect that ferry permits will be parceled out reluctantly and with more added requirements perhaps than as stated in the FAR.

Recent experience

A request from a shop to a FSDO by phone regarding a ferry permit, got a reply to come into the office and visit with the on-duty ASI at the front desk, after making an appointment of course.

The ASI discussed the request with the mechanic and suggested for starters that he might have to obtain a letter from his customer-owner authorizing him to request the ferry permit on the owner's behalf as his agent for this purpose. The form sets out this requirement in that the mechanic must sign the form as agent for the registered owner. The mechanic thought the requirement for a letter authorizing him to act for the customer was sort of strange but continued on. Furthermore, the ASI said that the defects with the aircraft that made it unairworthy may require the assistance of a DER to further attest to whether the aircraft could safely make the flight, in addition to the mechanic's statement to that effect. This made the mechanic think a bit about costs and time for this otherwise no-cost permit, so he said he would come back later.

Form 8130-6 Application for US Airworthiness Certificate (4/11)

In the information for an applicant for an Airworthiness Certificate (which includes a Ferry Permit) it is stated that …

Privacy Act Statement: “Information on FAA form 8130-6 … is solicited under the authority of 49 USC 44103 as implemented by 14 CFR Part 21. The purpose of this information is to evaluate an applicant's application for a U.S. Airworthiness Certificate. Submission of this information is mandatory and will become part of the Privacy Act system of records DOT/FAA 801, Aircraft Registration System. Incomplete submission may result in delay or denial of your request …”

Air Carriers, Part 121, 135

Air carriers having a need to continually move aircraft around will typically have a continuing authority to ferry aircraft, contained in their operations specifications. Both Part 121, 135, and 91k operators can usually obtain this authority for their convenience in moving their aircraft around to their various bases when necessary for maintenance. This self-permitting authority is routinely authorized in the carriers' operations specifications.

Small Aircraft Revitalization Act (SARA) HR 1848 (113th Congress)

As noted above, we all should know that the President has recently signed into law this Act that will soon be reduced to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking by the FAA. After publication, we all will have an opportunity to comment on what the FAA proposes for a new regulation in the implementation of the SARA. All mechanics should be prepared to comment on this proposed regulation so be sure and keep informed when the proposal is published.

One of the significant sections of the new law suggested to be included will be the ability of A&Ps to certify the annual airworthiness of small aircraft without an IA authorization The ARAC committee urged this and other significant acts to be performed by A&Ps that could include the issuance of ferry permits for small aircraft along with their expanded maintenance supervision responsibilities.

The important features of the act attempt to ensure that less complicated airplanes would not be subjected to the same certification and maintenance rules of more complex engines and airframes. The inclusion of extra authority for A&Ps was urged by the ARAC committee. These new rules will be designed to significantly reduce the maintenance costs of owners of small aircraft by allowing for expanded responsibilities for the A&P mechanic.

The key purpose of the new rules among others, will be to retrofit on a cost-effective basis, the older small training aircraft that are badly in need of upgrading of their equipment to include new safety technologies. This, combined with the easing of maintenance and inspection costs will open the door to additional training opportunities for future pilots, and more importantly, expand the opportunities and authority of A&P mechanics. 

Stephen P. Prentice is an attorney with an Airframe and Powerplant certificate, is an ATP rated pilot, and is a USAF veteran. Send comments to aerolaw@att.net.

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