Certification & approval

We’ve shown this section at the end of the list, but actually you need to be thinking about and preparing for your aircraft’s certification/approval process from the start of the preliminary design. It’s essential to choose your aircraft’s category, (microlight, SEP etc) and establish a route to approval with your regulator (LAA, BMAA etc) at an early stage.  Normally this involves showing compliance with an appropriate design code. CS-VLA is the most common design code for LAA aircraft, while BCAR Section S is used for microlights.

Design codes

TL 1.13 Guide to CS-VLA

The normal way of presenting your evidence that the aircraft  complies with each of the requirements of a design code is by producing a set of reports, (normally loads reports, stress reports, load test reports etc) the key document being a compliance checklist which cross-references the other reports and shows how and where you have proven compliance.

Download blank compliance checklist

FAA AC 23-24 defines the following methods of compliance:

Flight Test (FT)
Ground test (GT)
Analysis (AN)
Design (DE)
Similarity (SI)
Equivalent Level of Safety Finding (ELOS)
Petition for Exemption (PExmpt)
Not applicable (N/A)

In addition, refer to the AMC (acceptable means of compliance) guidelines found in the appendix to most airworthiness standards. Some FAA ACs provide information on specific topics. If in doubt, and where no other guidance is available, make you own proposal to your certification office (LAA/BMAA etc) and come to an agreement.

"You and Your Regulator"  presentation

"Certification Case Study" presentation

Amateur-built aircraft also need to comply with the CAA's guidelines (CAP 659). To assist manufacturers/importers/builders, we've produced a checklist to help establish compliance with the '51% rule'.

51% checklist

See also:

TL 1.07 Acceptance Procedure for a New Design

TL 1.17 Aircraft Loads and Load Testing

TL 1.21 Report Writing Guidelines

Photography (mostly) Neil Wilson

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