• Federal Aviation Regulation 91.7 tell us that "no person may operate a civil aircraft unless it is in an airworthy condition"
  • In order to determine airworthiness we need to examine several documents and inspections
  • The pilot must have certain documents that demonstrate they are legal to fly

Determining Airworthiness:

  • Two main factors determine if an aircraft is airworthy:
    • The aircraft conforms to its type certificate and authorized modifications; and
    • The aircraft must be in condition for safe operation
  • The pilot in command of a civil aircraft is responsible for determining whether that aircraft is in condition for safe flight
    • The pilot in command shall discontinue the flight when un-airworthy mechanical, electrical, or structural conditions occur
  • No person may operate any aircraft that has undergone maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, or alteration unless:
    • It has been approved for return to service by a person authorized under Sec. 43.7 of this chapter; and
    • The maintenance record entry required by Sec. 43.9 or Sec. 43.11, as applicable, has been made
  • No person may carry any person (other than crewmembers) in an aircraft that has been maintained, rebuilt, or altered in a manner that may have appreciably changed its flight characteristics or substantially affected its operation in flight until an appropriately rated pilot with at least a private pilot certificate flies the aircraft, makes an operational check of the maintenance performed or alteration made, and logs the flight in the aircraft records
    • The requirement for an in-flight operational check may be waived if, prior to flight, ground tests, inspection, or both show conclusively that the maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, or alteration has not appreciably changed the flight characteristics or substantially affected the flight operation of the aircraft
  • Aircraft must conform to the Type Certificate Data Sheet

Documents Required:

Inspections Required:

  • In addition to the required documentation, inspections must be completed in accordance with the operation
  • The required inspections can be remembered with the acronym "AVIATE:"
    • A – Airworthiness Directives

    • V – VOR Check:

      • Required every 30 days for aircraft operating under Instrument Flight Rules
      • Governed by FAR 91.171
      • May be performed by any pilot
    • I – Inspections:

      • 100 hour:
        • Governed by FAR 91.409(b)
        • Aircraft operated for hire or used for flight instruction must have either an annual inspection or a 100-hour inspection every 100 hours of operation
        • The 100-hour limit may be exceeded by no more that 10 hours for the sole purpose of flying to a location where the inspection can be completed
          • Any excess time over the 100-hour due time will be subtracted from the next 100 hour inspection
      • Annual:
        • Governed by FAR 91.409(a)
        • Required for all aircraft
        • Completed every 12 calendar months, expiring at the end of the month one year after the inspection
        • Must be completed and properly endorsed by a mechanic with an inspection authorization (IA)
    • A – Altimeter/Pitot-Static System (IFR Only):

      • Altimeter inspections and tests are governed by Federal Aviation Regulation 91.411
      • Each altimeter must be tested and inspected within the preceding 24 calendar months or following installation or maintenance on the automatic pressure altitude reporting system of the ATC transponder where data correspondence error could be introduced
      • The static pressure system must be tested and inspected within the preceding 24 calendar months
      • These tests must be conducted by:

        • The manufacturer of the airplane, or helicopter, on which the tests and inspections are to be performed;
        • A certificated repair station
        • A certificated mechanic with an airframe rating (static pressure system tests and inspections only)
      • Altimeter and altitude reporting equipment approved under Technical Standard Orders are considered to be tested and inspected as of the date of their manufacture
      • No person may operate an airplane, or helicopter, in controlled airspace under IFR at an altitude above the maximum altitude at which all altimeters and the automatic altitude reporting system of that airplane, or helicopter, have been tested
    • T – Transponder

      • Transponder inspections and tests are governed by Federal Aviation Regulation 91.413
      • Must be tested and inspected within the previous 24 months or after installation or maintenance where data correspondence error could be introduced
      • Tests conducted by:
        1. A certificated repair station
        2. A holder of a continuous airworthiness maintenance program
        3. The manufacturer of the aircraft on which the transponder to be tested is installed, if the transponder was installed by that manufacturer
    • E – Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)

      • Must be tested and inspected every 12 calendar months
      • Governed by FAR 91.207
      • Must be replaced or recharged if the transmitter has been used for more than one hour of cumulative use
      • Must be replaced or recharged if 50% of its useful life has expired

Required Equipment:

Airworthiness Responsibilities:

  • Pilot In Command:

    • Determine airworthiness
  • Owner:

    • Register the aircraft
    • Maintain the aircraft in an airworthy condition in accordance with FAR 47.403 (see inspections above)


  • It is the owner or operators responsibility to ensure that the airworthiness certificate is valid
  • It is true that the Pitot-Static system does not require an inspection if operating VFR however, if operating in airspace which requires a transponder then the system will be looked at, albeit to a lesser extent than the required IFR check