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What makes for an airworthy plane?

If you own and/or operate a plane in New York or anywhere else in the nation, the Federal Aviation Administration requires that that plane must be "in an airworthy condition." But what does airworthiness mean? reports that two factors go into airworthiness: the plane must conform to its type certificate as well as its authorized modifications; and it must be in a safe operational condition. When you are the pilot in command, you bear the responsibility for determining whether or not the plane is in a safe operational condition prior to flight. If you are the owner of the plane, you bear the responsibility for registering the plane and keeping it in an airworthy condition.

Required airworthiness documentation

As you might expect, airworthiness requires considerable documentation. The acronym ARROW makes it easy for you to remember the five required pieces of documentation as follows:

  • A - an Airworthiness Certificate
  • R - a Registration Certificate
  • R - a Radio Certificate if the plane is going to make an international flight
  • O - an Operators Manual specific to the plane plus a compass deviation card and an external data plate
  • W - a current Weight and Balance sheet specific to the plane

Required inspections

Your plane likewise requires the following periodic inspections, which you can easily remember by the acronym AVIATE:

  • A - Airworthiness Directives
  • V - VOR Check performed by the pilot every 30 days
  • I - Inspections every 100 hours of flight time and annually every calendar year
  • A - Altimeter/Pilot-Static System every 24 calendar months if you fly IFR
  • T - Transponder every 24 calendar months or after the installation or maintenance of anything that could introduce a data correspondence error
  • E - Emergency Locator Transmitter every 12 calendar months

In addition to all of the above, you must have the proper equipment on your plane for both day and night VFR. This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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