An airworthiness certificate is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) document granting a pilot’s authorization to fly an aircraft. A pilot can attain two types of airworthiness certificates: A Standard Airworthiness Certificate or a Special Airworthiness Certificate.

FAA requirements must be met to be eligible for any airworthiness certificate, including type, production, and airworthiness. Type certification is the approval of the aircraft’s design and all its essential components.

In contrast, production certification is the approval to manufacture duplicate products under the type design, and an airworthiness certification signifies that the aircraft meets safety standards for operation.

What is the Federal Aviation Administration?

The FAA is an extension of the Department of Transportation. A governing body, the FAA issues and enforces regulations covering manufacturing, operating, and maintaining aircraft navigation and air traffic control, according to

The role of the FAA is to ensure safe and efficient aviation transportation and systems.

Behind the FAA is a team of inspectors, test pilots, scientists, and other aviation experts responsible for the design, certification, safety, and overall “airworthiness” of aviation equipment, products, and programs.

What is a Special Airworthiness Certificate?

A Special Airworthiness Certificate is issued to pilots that fly an aircraft for pleasure and personal use only. This type of aircraft falls under the “primary category.” This type of certificate forbids transporting people or property for hire. In other words, commercial use is illegal.

An aircraft with a Special Airworthiness Certificate must be manufactured under a production certificate, according to This includes an aircraft assembled from a kit under the production certificate holder’s supervision and quality control system. An aircraft built without this is only eligible for an experimental certification.

Our aviation attorneys can match you with the proper certification pending on your aircraft use or business model and walk you through the process to avoid any obstacles.

What is a Special Category Aircraft?

A limited category special airworthiness certificate enables a pilot to operate a surplus military aircraft converted from commercial use under the following terms and conditions:

  • The aircraft has a limited-type certificate
  • The FAA has deemed the aircraft safe to operate
  • The aircraft is only operating in a limited capacity, without people, property, or for compensation or hire

To be eligible, the pilot and aircraft must undergo the same approval process to attain the appropriate certificate under limited circumstances—or face legal consequences. Aviation is one of the most highly-regulated industries in the world.

Our attorneys can help you understand proper FAA protocol and achieve a Special Category Certificate, Special Airworthiness Certificate, or Standard Airworthiness Certificate to avoid delays and possible legal hurdles. Speak with an experienced aviation lawyer today to see how we can assist: 954-869-8950.