Common manuals and documents to develop and authorizations you may need:
This list contains descriptions of the most common manuals and documents required for a Part 135 operator.
Letter of Compliance
The Letter of Compliance is required for every level of Part 135 certification. The Letter of Compliance (sometimes called the Statement of Compliance) is a detailed listing of each FAA regulation that pertains to the operator, and an explanation of how the operator is in compliance or will comply with that regulation. In some cases, the means of compliance is stated in one of the operator’s required manuals, in which case that regulation may be referenced to the appropriate place in that manual.
This document must be very specific, and is one of the documents that many operators have difficulty preparing. Typically this document will run well over 100-150 pages.
General Operations Manual
The General Operations Manual (GOM) contains the bulk of the operational policy and procedure for the Part 135 operator. The GOM will contain everything from personnel job descriptions and responsibilities, flight and duty limits, weight and balance procedures, and most other items that specify the methods by which the operator will conduct their operations.
The General Operations Manual is required for all operators except for Single Pilot, and in some cases, Single PIC. This document will often have 150-300 pages. See the GOM page.
The Training Manual (sometimes referred to as the Training Program), is the document that specifies the policies and procedures for training flight crewmembers. This document must properly specify all the FAA-required training items and specify the FAA-required ground and flight training hours. This manual will be used by company instructors to conduct all ground and flight training.
Some training manuals are simple, containing the means for training one type of aircraft where all training is done by the operator itself (sometimes referred as in-house training).
Other training manuals can be very complex, where multiple aircraft types are used, and training is a combination of in-house elements and training from an outside vendor, such as a simulator training company. Procedures for the qualification of instructors and check airmen can add to the complexity.
Training manuals can be 100 pages, or 1,000 pages depending on this complexity.
General Maintenance Manual
Most operators will not require a General Maintenance Manual (GMM). GMMs are required for aircraft with more than nine passenger seats, or for Part 135 Commuter certification.
The GMM typically consists of two parts: A Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP) and a Continuous Analysis and Surveillance System (CASS). The CAMP contains the maintenance procedures for the operator as a whole, and for each aircraft type. The CASS is similar to a quality assurance process, designed to ensure that the maintenance processes are resulting in reliable, airworthy aircraft. The GMM will also typically contain the training program for maintenance personnel.
The continuous airworthiness maintenance program (CAMP, or sometimes CAP), is a very specific maintenance requirement for certain operators. If an operator has an aircraft with more than nine passenger seats (excluding any pilot seat), or for certain transport category aircraft, then the CAMP will be required. The CAMP is far more extensive in scope than the AAIP, which simply specifies inspection requirements.
The CAMP specifies inspections, maintenance, and repair procedures. It also specifies what maintenance personnel may perform these procedures and when. The CAMP will list persons having certain authorities to perform maintenance, other personnel having authority to perform inspections, and which personnel can sign off an aircraft for return to service.
A key component of the CAMP is the continuous analysis and surveillance system (CASS), which is a type of quality assurance program focused on aircraft reliability and safety. The CASS is not necessarily a separate manual, but is a set of processes and controls that assure that the aircraft maintenance program is being followed correctly and is resulting in airworthy aircraft.
A GMM with CAMP/CASS will typically be 300-400 pages in length. See the GMM page.
Minimum Equipment List / Configuration Deviation List
The minimum equipment list (MEL) is a document that allows an aircraft to be dispatched with certain equipment or furnishings inoperative. For Part 135, no aircraft may be dispatched with any equipment or installed items inoperative, unless that aircraft has an approved MEL and the aircraft is dispatched in accordance with the MEL. Most Part 135 operators will have MELs issued for their aircraft, and MELs are usually required for any turbine aircraft.
MELs can be from 100-300 pages.
A configuration deviation list (CDL) is similar to an MEL, except it covers physical items removed or missing from the aircraft, such as landing gear doors, fairings over landing lights, and other non-structural items. Most Part 135 operators will not have a CDL issued for light aircraft.
CDLs can be 50-200 pages.
Approved Aircraft Inspection Program
An approved aircraft inspection program (AAIP) is a document that contains the operator’s procedures for ensuring that an aircraft (or fleet of a similar type) are inspected in a manner that ensures they are compliant with Part 135 and part 91 requirements for airworthiness. AAIPs are not maintenance documents, in that they do not typically specify how routine maintenance is to be accomplished, but instead specify the schedule for inspections, items to be inspected, inspection procedures, and other requirements pertaining to the inspection schedule.
AAIPs typically have sections dedicated to the airframe, powerplant, and avionics. The FAA typically requires the operator to develop an AAIP for any turbine aircraft operated under Part 135. It is optional for piston engine aircraft in most cases. Piston aircraft are often inspected under the typical annual/100 hour requirements specified when aircraft are used for hire.
Air Carrier Certificate
The air carrier certificate is issued by the FAA once you complete all of the necessary certification steps. The air carrier certificate does not contain any specific details about your operation other than your name and air carrier certificate number. The actual privileges and limitations for your operation are contained in your operations specifications, as described below.
Your operations specifications (often referred to as Ops Specs) set the authorized and prohibited types and areas of operation for your air carrier certificate. Your operations specifications will contain many elements, such as what kind of aircraft you can operate, who can conduct your training, the aircraft maintenance program, aircraft engine time limits, takeoff and landing weather limits, and much more. It is crucial as an operator that you understand your operations specifications thoroughly, since operating contrary to them can result in a violation.
Ops specs are issued by the FAA and are about 40-80 pages total.
RNP (required navigation performance) authorizations are required for navigating using long range navigation systems (LRNS) such as GPS or IRS navigation in certain types of airspace. Oceanic operations, for example, require RNP10 or RNP4. Certain terminal and enroute areas require RNP1 or RNP2. Instrument approach authorizations can require RNP.3 or other specifications. Each type of RNP authorization is specific to the area and type of operation you plan to conduct. RNP authorization is not typically a separate manual, but instead procedures and training items integrated into your other manuals.
RNAV authorizations are similar to RNP, but are somewhat less stringent. This authorization is for a specific method of navigation, rather than being for a specific method and region.
Jet / Transport Category Authorization
Adding a jet or transport category aircraft to your certificate requires additional policies and procedures. This authorization also adds several more takeoff and landing performance requirements that lighter aircraft are not required to adhere to. These additional requirements are not particularly challenging to meet, but they do require the operator to develop the means to comply with them.
To operate aircraft in the US from flight level 290 to 410 requires a Reduced Vertical Separation Minimum (RVSM) approval. RVSM compliance has been getting easier since the requirements were initially instituted.
Extended Overwater Operations
Extended overwater operations require the operator to ensure that certain communication and navigation equipment is aboard the aircraft, and to ensure that additional flotation and survival gear is also aboard. This is required for any operations beyond 50 nautical miles from land.
Generally speaking, oceanic operations are those overwater operations beyond one hour flight time from a suitable airport. This authorization is a complex one, requiring special navigation and communication equipment, and special pilot training.