Types of Part 135 Certificates
There are essentially five types of Part 135 certifications, and within each of these five types, there are many options.
This is the simplest type of certification. This allows an operator to have only one pilot available for revenue flights. No additional PICs or SICs may be used. This certificate only requires a Letter of Compliance, no General Operations Manual or Training Manual are required. Depending on the aircraft, an MEL or AAIP may be required, along with other documents depending on the authorizations needed. This certification also does not require any key management personnel (Director of Operations, Chief Pilot, or Director of Maintenance).
For some operators, this is all they need. If you only plan to operate one aircraft and use just one pilot, this may be a good starting point.
Other operators will use this certification to gain the required experience operating under 135 in order to become qualified to be a Director of Operations or Chief Pilot.
Single Pilot in Command
This certification is similar to the Single Pilot, except it is typically used for aircraft requiring more than one crewmember. This certification permits one PIC and up to three SICs. The requirements for key management may be reduced by the FAA depending on the nature of the operation. A Letter of Compliance is required. However, in many cases the FAA will remove the requirement for a General Operations Manual and Training Manual. However, an MEL and AAIP may be required, along with any required documents for other authorizations.
This is the minimum certificate for any operator that needs to use more than one PIC. The Basic certification permits up to five total aircraft (with certain other restrictions), and up to five pilots. The pilots may be PICs or SICs. This certification requires all three key management personnel, however the FAA may permit two of these positions to be held by one individual, provided they are qualified to hold both positions.
This certification requires a General Operations Manual, a Training Program, and Letter of Compliance at a minimum. As is the case with the other certifications, additional documents and manuals may be required depending on the authorizations needed for that operator. Aircraft having more than 9 passenger seats will require additional maintenance documentation and procedures, along with a General Maintenance Manual.
Standard 135 Certification
Sometimes referred to as an unlimited certification, this authorization does not restrict the number of pilots or aircraft. Because this certification does not restrict the size of the operator, all three key management personnel are required – no management positions can be combined. Required manuals and documents are otherwise similar to the Basic certification. Aircraft having more than 9 passenger seats will require additional maintenance documentation and procedures, along with a General Maintenance Manual.
This certification is the least common of the available authorizations. This certification is used when an operator wants to conduct regularly scheduled service between city pairs, much like an airline does. Aircraft may not be equipped with more than nine passenger seats for commuter operations. The maintenance, operational, and training requirements for this certificate are much more specific than the other certifications.