Aircraft Certificates and Documents


The FAA requires that certain cerficates and documents be carried aboard all aircraft for it to be legal to fly.

Memory Aids

  Document Decription
A Airworthiness Certificate An airworthiness certificate is an FAA document that grants authorization to operate an aircraft in flight. It is issued by the FAA after the aircraft has been inspected and is found to be in an airworthy condition.
R Registration Certificate An aircraft must be registered with the FAA much like a road vehicle must be registered in the state its owners reside. When an aircraft is registered, it receives an N-Number which must be clearly painted on the aircraft empennage (like a license plate) and a registration certificate which must be carried onboard.
O Operating Limitations An aircraft must have onboard a current, approved Airplane Flight Manual. Any additional material, markings, or placards required by the Airplane Flight Manual must be properly displayed within the aircraft. In most aircraft, the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) satisfies this requirement. The POH or AFM must be specific to the serial number of that aircraft.
W Weight & Balance The FAA requires that actual loading information regarding the weight and balance (W&B) of the aircraft be carried aboard. This requirement is with respect to the aircraft itself and its basic empty weight (BEW) and center of gravity (CG). Although it is not a smart idea to fly an aircraft without performing a W&B calculation, it is not legally required.


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