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. Every individual 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, member states must use non-expiring C of A (EASA Form 25), as described in EASA Part 21 Subpart H. This non-expiring C of A is validated by issuing of Airworthiness Review Certificate (ARC), EASA Form 15a. The work to perform this review is carried out by the relevant Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization (CAMO) working on behalf of the operator.
Airworthiness Review Certificate – EU Operators
To satisfy the requirement for this Airworthiness review, a full documented review of the aircraft records is carried out by CAMO, as described in EASA Part M.A.710 [EC, 2014]:
a. Records of maintenance, modifications, LLPs, configuration, release to service, repairs, recording of hours and cycles, mass and balance etc.
b. Airworthiness review staff of CAMO shall carry out 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.
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.