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Certificate of Airworthiness
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The Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) or Airworthiness Certificate is the formal document issued by the National Aviation Authority (NAA) to certify that an aircraft is airworthy. Each registered aircraft has to gain its own C of A which is achieved when it can be shown to conform to the certificated Type Design and is in a condition for safe operation. As a general rule civil aircraft are not allowed to fly unless they have a valid C of A.
Depending upon the regulatory regime, the C of A will need either periodic re-validation or periodic renewal which may involve the completion of a flight test schedule. In USA, this is explained in FAR Part 21 Subpart H - Airworthiness Certificates. In the EU, a Certificate of Airworthiness is generally of unlimited duration subject to the requirements of EASA Part 21 Subpart H, 21.A.181.. In USA, the validity is explained in FAR Part 21 Subpart H, 21.181 - Airworthiness Certificates.
Airworthiness Review Certificate – EU Operators
The non-expiring C of A is validated by issuing of Airworthiness Review Certificate (ARC). The airworthiness review, a full documented review of the aircraft records, as described in EASA Part M.A.901 [EC, 2014] can be completed by a surveyor operating on behalf of the competent authority or a CAMO and will include items such as:
a. Records of maintenance, modifications, LLPs, configuration, release to service, repairs, recording of hours and cycles, mass and balance etc.
b. A physical survey of the aircraft.
c. Required markings / placards, compliance with flight manual and documentation; no evident defects; no inconsistencies between aircraft and records.
Satisfactory completion of the review results in EASA Form 15a if issued by the Competent Authorities or Form 15b if issued by a CAMO. An ARC may be extended up to 3 years, if the aircraft is maintained within a “controlled environment” i.e. an approved CAMO can issue the ARC and extend it twice. The extension must include a documented verification that the aircraft remains airworthy. A Controlled environment means that the aircraft is:
- continuously managed by an approved / contracted Part M subpart G Organisation for at least 12 months, and
- maintained by an appropriately approved Maintenance Organisation.
An Uncontrolled Environment means that the continuing airworthiness of an aircraft is managed by an owner or operator in accordance with EASA Part M Subpart C [EC, 2014]. The aircraft must be maintained by an appropriately licensed engineer, except for “complex tasks” which can only be certified by a Subpart F or Part 145 approved organisation. Once every 12 months, the owner / operator must contract the services of a CAMO, who must conduct a full Airworthiness Review before making a recommendation to NAA for issue of an ARC. The NAA may also wish to survey the aircraft prior to issuing ARC.
- EC: Commission Regulation (EU) No 1321/2014 of 26 Nov 2014 on the continuing airworthiness of aircraft and aeronautical products, parts and appliances, and on the approval of organisations and personnel involved in these tasks
- EASA: Easy Access Rules for Continuing Airworthiness (Regulation (EU) No 1321/2014)
- FAA: FAR Part 21 Subpart H - Airworthiness Certificates