Role of the FAA

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is empowered by the U.S. Congress to promote aviation safety by prescribing safety standards for civil aviation. Standards are established for the certification of airmen and aircraft, as well as outlining operating rules. This is accomplished through the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), formerly referred to as Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR). Title 14 of the CFR (14 CFR) is titled Aeronautics and Space with Chapter 1 dedicated to the FAA. Subchapters are broken down by category with numbered parts detailing specific information. [Figure 1] For ease of reference since the parts are numerical, the abbreviated pattern 14 CFR part ___ is used (e.g., 14 CFR part 91).

Figure 1. Title 14 CFR, Chapter 1, Aeronautics and Space and subchapters

While the various subchapters and parts of 14 CFR provide general to specific guidance regarding aviation operations within the U.S., the topic of aircraft certification and airworthiness is spread through several interconnected parts of 14 CFR.

• 14 CFR part 21 prescribes procedural requirements for issuing airworthiness certificates and airworthiness approvals for aircraft and aircraft parts. A standard airworthiness certificate, FAA Form 8100-2, is required to be displayed in the aircraft. [Figure 2] It is issued for aircraft type certificated in the normal, utility, acrobatic, commuter or transport category, and for manned free balloons. A standard airworthiness certificate remains valid as long as the aircraft meets its approved type design, is in a condition for safe operation and maintenance, and preventative maintenance and alterations are performed in accordance with 14 CFR parts 21, 43, and 91.

Figure 2. FAA Form 8100-2, Standard Airworthiness Certificate

• 14 CFR part 39 is the authority for the FAA to issue Airworthiness Directives (ADs) when an unsafe condition exists in a product, aircraft, or part, and the condition is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.

• 14 CFR part 45 identifies the requirements for the identification of aircraft, engines, propellers, certain replacement and modification parts, and the nationality and registration marking required on U.S.- registered aircraft.

• 14 CFR part 43 prescribes rules governing the maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, and alteration of any aircraft having a U.S. airworthiness certificate. It also applies to the airframe, aircraft engines, propellers, appliances, and component parts of such aircraft.

• 14 CFR part 91 outlines aircraft certifications and equipment requirements for the operation of aircraft in U.S. airspace. It also prescribes rules governing maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations. Also found in 14 CFR part 91 is the requirement to maintain records of maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations, as well as records of the 100-hour, annual, progressive, and other required or approved inspections.

While 14 CFR part 91 outlines the minimum equipment required for flight, the Airplane Flight Manual/Pilot’s Operating Handbook (AFM/POH) lists the equipment required for the airplane to be airworthy. The equipment list found in the AFM/POH is developed during the airplane certification process. This list identifies those items that are required for airworthiness, optional equipment installed in addition to the required equipment, and any supplemental items or appliances. Figure 3 shows an example of some of the required equipment, standard or supplemental (not required but commonly found in the airplane) and optional equipment list for an aircraft. It is originally issued by the manufacturer and is required to be maintained by the Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS). An aircraft and its installed components and parts must continually meet the requirements of the original Type Certificate or approved altered conditions to be airworthy.

Figure 3. Example of some of the required, standard or supplemental and optional equipment for an aircraft

• 14 CFR part 61 pertains to the certification of pilots, flight instructors, and ground instructors. It prescribes the eligibility, aeronautical knowledge, flight proficiency training, and testing requirements for each type of pilot certificate issued.

• 14 CFR part 67 prescribes the medical standards and certification procedures for issuing medical certificates for airmen and for remaining eligible for a medical certificate.

• 14 CFR part 91 contains general operating and flight rules. The section is broad in scope and provides general guidance in the areas of general flight rules, visual flight rules (VFR), instrument flight rules (IFR), and as previously discussed aircraft maintenance, and preventive maintenance and alterations.