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. [Figure 1]
Aircraft Documents
Figure 1. AC Form 8050-3, Certificate of Aircraft Registration
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 part 47, section 47.41. When one of the events listed in 14 CFR part 47, 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 part 47, 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 FAA 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 must remain with the aircraft unless it is sold to a foreign purchaser.
Aircraft Documents
Figure 2. FAA Form 8100-2, Standard Airworthiness Certificate
A Standard Airworthiness Certificate is issued for aircraft type certificated in the normal, utility, acrobatic, commuter, transport categories, and manned free balloons. Figure 2 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 aircraft.
  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 this case, it must be operated in accordance with the limitations specified for the “NORMAL” category.
  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 Light-Sport Aircraft (LSA). LSA receive a pink special airworthiness certificate; however, there are exceptions. For example, the Piper Cub is in the 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.

Aircraft Maintenance

Maintenance is defined as the preservation, inspection, overhaul, and repair of an aircraft, including the replacement of parts. Regular and proper maintenance ensures that an aircraft meets an acceptable standard of airworthiness throughout its operational life.
Although maintenance requirements vary for different types of aircraft, experience shows that aircraft need some type of preventive maintenance every 25 hours of flying time or less and minor maintenance at least every 100 hours. This is influenced by the kind of operation, climatic conditions, storage facilities, age, and construction of the aircraft. Manufacturers supply maintenance manuals, parts catalogs, and other service information that should be used in maintaining the aircraft.