Science & Engineering

Airworthiness Certification

Airworthiness Certification verifies that a specific air vehicle can be safely maintained and operated within its described flight envelope.  It shows the air vehicle can safely attain, sustain, and terminate a flight in accordance with approved usage limits (range, speed, weight, altitude, safety). This certification is required for any fixed-wing and unmanned vehicle that is new, or gone through any type of modifications to its configuration and/or envelope.

The Airworthiness Certification requirements are listed in multiple of DoD Guides, Handbooks, Mil-Standards, Instructions, and Regulations. Below is a list of the main ones and their content.

  • MIL-HDBK-516B, Airworthiness Certification Criteria, 5 Feb 2004: MIL-HDBK-516 establishes the airworthiness certification criteria to be used in the determination of airworthiness of all manned and unmanned, fixed and rotary-wing air vehicle systems. It is a foundational document to be used by the system program manager, chief/lead systems engineer, and contractors to define their air system’s airworthiness certification basis.
  • Joint Service Specification Guides (JSSGs) (available via US DoD ASSIST): The complete set of JSSGs and their respective handbooks establish a common framework to be used by Government-Industry Program Teams in the Aviation Sector for developing program unique requirements documents for Air Systems, Air Vehicles, and major Subsystems. Each JSSG contains a compilation of candidate references, generically stated requirements, verification criteria, and associated rationale, guidance, and lessons learned for program team consideration. The JSSGs identify typical requirements for a variety of aviation roles and missions.
    • JSSG-2000 Air System
    • JSSG-2001 Air Vehicle
    • JSSG-2005 Avionic Subsystem, Main Body
    • JSSG-2006 Aircraft Structures
    • JSSG-2007 Engines, Aircraft, Turbine
    • JSSG-2008 Vehicle Control and Management System (VCMS)
    • JSSG-2009 Air Vehicle Subsystems
    • JSSG-2010 Crew Systems
  • Air Force Policy Directive (AFPD) 62-6, USAF Aircraft Airworthiness Certification, 11 June 2010: This Directive establishes policies for formal airworthiness assessments to ensure that AF organizationally operated aircraft are airworthy over their entire life cycle and maintain high levels of safety.
  • Army Regulation 70-62, Airworthiness Qualification of U.S. Army Aircraft Systems, 21 May 2007: This regulation prescribes the policies, responsibilities, processes, and/or procedures for airworthiness qualification and system specification compliance of manned and unmanned aircraft systems and subsystems, including the installation of allied equipment and modifications to Army aircraft. Army aircraft as used herein includes all aviation materiel and aircraft that are Army assigned, bailed, borrowed, loaned, leased, owned, or otherwise authorized for operation by Army personnel, or after modification under an Army contract.
  • Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Instruction 13034.1D, Flight Clearance Policy for Air Vehicles and Aircraft Systems, 15 March 2010: To establish policy, responsibilities, and procedures for executing airworthiness reviews resulting in NAVAIR flight clearances for all Department of Navy air vehicles and aircraft systems.

AcqLinks and References:

Updated: 7/30/2021

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