The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations refer to the term “airworthy”, but you won’t find the term in the normal definitions section. Below you will see a couple of sources with the official definition.

First in PlaneSense- General Aviation Information (FAA-H-8033-19A):


Two conditions must be met for a standard category aircraft to be considered airworthy:

  • The aircraft conforms to its type design (type certificate). Conformity to type design is attained when the required and proper components are installed that are consistent with the drawings, specifications, and other data that are part of the type certificate. Conformity includes applicable Supplemental Type Certificate(s) (STC) and field-approval alterations.
  • The aircraft is in condition for safe operation, referring to the condition of the aircraft with relation to wear and deterioration

Second Listed in FAA Order 8130-2F, Dated November 5, 2004:


The term “airworthy” is not defined in Title 49, United States Code (49 U.S.C.), or in 14 CFR; however, a clear understanding of its meaning is essential for use in the agency’s airworthiness certification program. Below is a summary of the conditions necessary for the issuance of an airworthiness certificate. A review of case law relating to airworthiness reveals two conditions that must be met for an aircraft to be considered “airworthy.” 49 U.S.C. § 44704(c) and 14 CFR § 21.183(a), (b), and (c) state that the two conditions necessary for issuance of an airworthiness certificate:

  1. The aircraft must conform to its TC. Conformity to type design is considered attained when the aircraft configuration and the components installed are consistent with the drawings, specifications, and other data that are part of the TC, which includes any supplemental type certificate (STC) and field approved alterations incorporated into the aircraft.
  2. The aircraft must be in a condition for safe operation. This refers to the condition of the aircraft relative to wear and deterioration, for example, skin corrosion, window delamination/crazing, fluid leaks, and tire wear.

NOTE: If one or both of these conditions are not met, the aircraft would be considered unairworthy. Aircraft that have not been issued a TC must meet the requirements of paragraph (b) above.

Airworthiness Certificate

An airworthiness certificate is issued by a representative of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after the aircraft has been inspected, is found to meet the requirements of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) and is in condition for safe operation. The certificate must be displayed in the aircraft so that it is legible to passengers or crew whenever the aircraft is operated. The airworthiness certificate is transferred with the aircraft, except when it is sold to a foreign purchaser.

An airworthiness certificate is an FAA document that grants authorization to operate an aircraft In-flight. The FAA provides information regarding the definition of the term “airworthy” in FAA Order 8130.2 (as revised), Airworthiness Certification of Aircraft and Related Products, chapter 1.

Classifications of Airworthiness Certificates

The FAA initially determines that your aircraft is in condition for safe operation and conforms to type design or American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International standards, then issues an airworthiness certificate. There are two different classifications of airworthiness certificates: Standard Airworthiness and Special Airworthiness.

Standard Airworthiness Certificate

FAA Form 8100-2, Standard Airworthiness Certificate is the FAA’s official authorization allowing for the operation of type certificated aircraft in the following categories:

  • Normal
  • Utility
  • Acrobatic
  • Commuter
  • Transport
  • Manned free balloons
  • Special classes

A standard airworthiness certificate remains valid as long as the aircraft meets its approved type design, is in a condition for safe operation and maintenance, preventive maintenance, and alterations are performed in accordance with 14 CFR parts 21, 43, and 91.


Are you flying/operating an airworthy aircraft?

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The above article is intended to provide an explanation and augment in pilots or technicians language, topics to introduce aircraft owners and operators with supplemental information for     our VREF subscribers. It is intended as guide. Contact your nearest FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) or for additional information.  The data/information is obtained from numerous FAA and other industry sources. It is edited and believed to be accurate. VREF does not warrant the accuracy or the source material and assumes no responsibility to any person in connection with the use of this VREF article. Permission to reprint this article is granted, so far as the context of the information remains intact and appropriate credit is given to VREF Publishing.