Required Paperwork to keep your Aircraft Legal

As  mentioned earlier, Annual Inspection, AD Compliance, VFR/IFR Certifications and the records that indicate they have been properly complied with are very important.

Other paperwork and Inspections that are required are:

Certificate of Aircraft Registration

Before an aircraft can be flown legally, it must be registered with the FAA Aircraft Registry. The Certificate of Aircraft Registration, which is issued to the owner as evidence of the registration, must be carried in the aircraft at all times. 

The Certificate of Aircraft Registration cannot be used for operations when:

  • The aircraft is registered under the laws of a foreign country.

  • The aircraft’s registration is canceled upon written request of the certificate holder.

  • The aircraft is totally destroyed or scrapped.

  • The ownership of the aircraft is transferred.

  • The certificate holder loses United States citizenship.

For additional information, see 14 CFR section 47.41. When one of the events listed in 14 CFR section 47.41 occurs, the previous owner must notify the FAA by filling in the back of the Certificate of Aircraft Registration, and mailing it to:

FAA Aircraft Registration Branch, AFS-750 P.O. Box 25504 Oklahoma City, OK 73125-0504

A dealer’s aircraft registration certificate is another form of registration certificate, but is valid only for required flight tests by the manufacturer or in flights that are necessary for the sale of the aircraft by the manufacturer or a dealer. The dealer must remove the certificate when the aircraft is sold.

Upon complying with 14 CFR section 47.31, the pink copy of the application for an Aircraft Registration Application, Aeronautical Center (AC) Form 8050-1, provides authorization to operate an unregistered aircraft for a period not to exceed 90 days. Since the aircraft is unregistered, it cannot be operated outside of the United States until a permanent Certificate of Aircraft Registration is received and placed in the aircraft.

The F A A does not issue any certificate of ownership or endorse any information with respect to ownership on a Certificate of Aircraft Registration.

NOTE: For additional information concerning the Aircraft Registration Application or the Aircraft Bill of Sale, contact the nearest FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO). 

Airworthiness Certificate

An Airworthiness Certificate is issued by a representative of the FAA after the aircraft has been inspected, is found to meet the requirements of 14 CFR part 21, and is in condition for safe operation. The Airworthiness Certificate must be displayed in the aircraft so it is legible to the passengers and crew whenever it is operated. The Airworthiness Certificate is transferred with the aircraft except when it is sold to a foreign purchaser.

A Standard Airworthiness Certificate is issued for aircraft type certificated in the normal, utility, acrobatic, commuter, transport categories, and manned free balloons. Figure 8-9 illustrates a Standard Airworthiness Certificate, and an explanation of each item in the certificate follows.

  1. Nationality and Registration Marks. The “N” indicates the aircraft is registered in the United States. Registration marks consist of a series of up to five numbers or numbers and letters. In this case, N2631A is the registration number assigned to this airplane.
  2. Manufacturer and Model. Indicates the manufacturer, make, and model of the aircraft.
  3. Aircraft Serial Number. Indicates the manufacturer’s serial number assigned to the aircraft, as noted on the aircraft data plate.
  4. Category. Indicates the category in which the aircraft must be operated. “In accordance with the limitations specified for the “NORMAL, Utility, or other” categories.
  5. Authority and Basis for Issuance. Indicates the aircraft conforms to its type certificate and is considered in condition for safe operation at the time of inspection and issuance of the certificate. Any exemptions from the applicable airworthiness standards are briefly noted here and the exemption number given. The word “NONE” is entered if no exemption exists.
  6. Terms and Conditions. Indicates the Airworthiness Certificate is in effect indefinitely if the aircraft is maintained in accordance with 14 CFR parts 21, 43, and 91, and the aircraft is registered in the United States.

Also included are the date the certificate was issued and the signature and office identification of the FAA representative.

A Standard Airworthiness Certificate remains in effect if the aircraft receives the required maintenance and is properly registered in the United States. Flight safety relies in part on the condition of the aircraft, which is determined by inspections performed by mechanics, approved repair stations, or manufacturers that meet specific requirements of 14 CFR part 43.

A Special Airworthiness Certificate is issued for all aircraft certificated in other than the Standard classifications, such as Experimental, Restricted, Limited, Provisional, and LSA. LSA receive a pink special airworthiness certificate. There are exceptions. For example, the Piper Cub is in the new LSA category, but it was certificated as a normal aircraft during its manufacture. When purchasing an aircraft classified as other than Standard, it is recommended that the local FSDO be contacted for an explanation of the pertinent airworthiness requirements and the limitations of such a certificate.

Transponder (VFR certification): 14 CFR section 91.413 requires that before a transponder can be used under 14 CFR section 91.215(a), it shall be tested and inspected within the preceding 24 months.

Pitot Static (IFR certification): Altimeter System Inspection: 14 CFR section 91.411 requires that the altimeter, encoding altimeter, and related system be tested and inspected in the preceding 24 months before operated in controlled airspace under instrument flight rules (IFR).

Logbook Entries:

Pilots Operating Handbook (POH):

Equipment List:

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