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The Single Pilot Operation is typically just that, one pilot and one airplane. Provisions also allow for Single Pilot in Command Certifications. Those are typically for operators of aircraft that require 2 pilots, most jet aircraft.

This information, together with the FAA links and resources available here can get the average single pilot operator through the process. If it is your first time plan approximately 150-200 hours by the time you are finished. Regardless of whether you plan to do it on your own or hire ACCG to assist you, all new operators need to review the information contained on this page, including the applicable FAR's, especially Part 135.


How does this work?

The FAA uses different procedures for cert processing. They are all versions of the "Gate" system and that which you read about in the information below.


OK, I want to get started

Again, a do-able task, but expect about 150-200 hours of your time for a Single Pilot Operator certification. The biggest task for the Single Pilot Operator is the Statement of Compliance. Download the FAA's Certification Information for Operating Under Part 135 and use it as a guide. The links contained in the document have pretty much all the information. We suggest getting a hold of a Schedule of Events also. It is a convenient document to track submissions and dates. Some Inspectors require it.

You should also review the Inspectors Handbook. Just the parts regarding the type of certification that you will need.

Tools you will need to fly Part 135

In brief you will need a qualified pilot, a Part 135 ready aircraft, and your Base of Operations or PBO. All sustainable. Meaning the aircraft is 135 insured come time to fly 135, you have enough operating cash to support your operations for at least a few months, and the pilot is qualified.





The GATE System


  • Have Application For DOT Economic Authority
  • Facility Selection For Training And Maintenance Completed
  • Have Letters Of Intent For Lease Or Purchase Of Aircraft And Facilities
  • Submission Of Completed PASI Form
  • Submission Of Proposed Schedule Of Events
  • Have Key Management Resumes And Personnel Available


  • Formal Letter Of Application
  • Have Purchased Or Leased Aircraft And Facilities
  • Received "Order To Show Cause" From DOT
  • Submitted All Required Documents


  • All Manuals Reviewed, Discrepancies Corrected, And Approved/Accepted As Required
  • Training Programs Initially Approved And Sufficient Personnel Trained
  • Maintenance Programs Approved And Conformity Checks Completed Satisfactorily
  • Facilities Evaluated And Found Satisfactory
  • Evacuation Demonstrations Satisfactorily Completed
  • Proving Run Schedule Reviewed And Accepted
  • All Other Discrepancies And Open Questions Resolved Satisfactorily


Important Information from the FAA's Advisory Circular 120.49

The information below is a summary, for more detailed information go to Advisory Circular 120-49.



A. This phase consists of the pre-application meeting with the FAA and the applicant (you must attend). The inspector should discuss the certification process in depth. Emphasis should be placed on the expectations of the FAA, what the applicant should expect from the FAA, and the sequence of events.

NOTE: At the end of the meeting, the inspector will give the applicant a certification package. Upon completion of Gate One, FSDO personnel, when available, will advise and counsel the applicant on document preparation for Gate Two.

Gate Three requirements shall be completed prior to commencement of proving tests.

All requirements of each Gate must be completed before proceeding through the certification process to the next Gate.

B. Package of pre-certification Information. The pre-application meeting between the CPM, other certification team members, and the applicant sets the tone for the rest of the certification process. Therefore, it is important to be thoroughly prepared. The CPM should review the PASI and assemble a pre-certification information package to be given to the applicant.

The pre-certification information package shall consist of at least the following:

  • AC 120-49, if not previously provided
  • Applicable certification job aid
  • Sample schedule of events format
  • Applicable sample of operations specifications
  • Other publications or documents the CPM considers appropriate (See figure for a job aid on cabin safety)

C. Briefing of the Applicant. At the pre-application meeting, the applicant and any key personnel attending the meeting should be briefed in as much detail as necessary to ensure that they understand the certification process using the certification job aid and the schedule of events format as guides to facilitate the discussion and to ensure that all elements of the certification process are covered. The applicant should be encouraged to ask questions about any area of the process not clearly understood.


Formal Application

At the pre-application meeting, the form, content, and documents required for formal application are discussed. The formal application must be submitted to the assigned district office. The applicant is encouraged to submit the application as far in advance as possible of the intended starting date.

The formal application must be in letter format and must contain the following:

(1) The full and official name of the applicant

(2) A statement that the document is a formal application for either an air carrier or an operating certification.

(3) The applicant's mailing address and the physical address of the applicant's intended primary operating location

(4) For an air carrier applicant, the full name and address of the agent (designated person who has signature authority) for service as required by Section 1005(b) of the FA Act of 1958, as amended

(5) The names of key management personnel, such as the General Manager, Director of Operations, Director of Maintenance, Chief Pilot, and Chief Inspector, as applicable

(6) A note added to the formal application letter if a request for deviation from management personnel requirements is anticipated. The request and justification for the deviation, however, shall be made under separate cover.

(7) The signatures of the following as applicable:-

  • The owner when applying as an individual.
  • Each partner when applying as a partnership.
  • An authorized officer when applying as an organization, such as a company or corporation.

Formal Application Attachments

The formal application must be accompanied by the following:

(1) Schedule of Events The Schedule of Events lists documents, activities, and acquisitions required for certification. Each item is accompanied by the applicant's best estimate of the date the item will be submitted, acquired, and/or ready for inspection.

(a) The number and types of events and activities that occur during certification vary according to the operation proposed. The Schedule of Events must list each document to be submitted, activity to be performed, and the item to be inspected. The schedule must provide the FAA a reasonable amount of time for the review and acceptance or approval of each item or event.

(b) The Schedule of Events is intended to encourage an applicant to submit material well in advance of the date operations are proposed to begin. If, however, the application is submitted with only the minimum lead time required by the regulation, complete documents (such as maintenance manuals) may be required at the time of formal application.

(c) If the applicant plans to petition for exemption, processing time must also be considered. FAR Section 11.25 requires that a petition be submitted to AGC-204 at least 120 days before it is needed.

NOTE: Final certification could be delayed if the applicant fails to accomplish an item or event in a satisfactory manner or in accordance with the Schedule of Events. In addition, delays may be caused by the need to correct deficiencies in documents, such as manuals or maintenance/inspection programs.

(2) Company manual. The company manual contains information about the applicant's organization, general policies, duties, responsibilities, operational control policy, and procedures. This attachment may be comprised of one or more manuals or sections of manuals.

NOTE TO: Single Pilot, Single Pilot in Command, and Basic FAR Part 135 Operator air carriers.

a. Because these air carriers are usually limited in size and scope, they may not be required to comply with all regulatory requirements for manuals, training programs, and management positions. These air carriers will normally need less extensive manual and training program material and fewer management positions. However, these types of air carriers will not be permitted a reduction in safety standards due to the limited size and scope of operations.

b. Single Pilot FAR Part 135 Operator. FAR Part 135 does not require a Single Pilot Operator to develop or maintain manuals, training programs, or identify specific management positions. Therefore, Company General Manuals and initial training curriculum attachments are not required to be submitted with the formal application. However, a resume of qualifications and experience of the principal owner and/or company officer who will exercise operational and maintenance/inspection control must be submitted with the formal application.

c. Single Pilot in Command and Basic FAR Part 135 Operators. FAR Part 135 allows for a deviation from the manual, training program, and management requirements. A deviation from these requirements may be granted to an applicant who intends to operate as a Single Pilot in Command or a Basic FAR Part 135 Operator. The applicant should attach a letter to the FAA Form 8400-6 identifying the regulations from which deviation is requested. The letter should provide justification for the proposed deviations and the number of pilots, both pilot in command and second in command, which will be used. If the deviation is to be granted, totally or in part, the applicant will be notified early in the pre-application phase. In this situation, FSDO personnel will specify for the applicant the documents and attachments which must accompany the formal application.

(a) When the formal application is submitted, the manual must show compliance with the applicable paragraphs of FAR Parts 121 and 135.

(b) Team members must ensure all required material is shown on the Schedule of Events and that adequate time is allowed for review.

(c) The applicant should be encouraged to provide a table of contents.

(3) Initial company training curriculums

(a) At the time of formal application, some training program elements may not be fully developed. The projected date of submission for training course curriculums must be in the Schedule of Events. A draft of the initial company training curriculum, as complete as possible, must be attached to the formal application.

(b) The initial company training curriculum must include at least the following segments:

  • Basic indoctrination training
  • Emergency training
  • Initial aircraft ground training
  • Initial aircraft flight training

(c) Curriculums for training maintenance personnel may be included as part of the operator's manual.

(4) Management resumes. This attachment includes resumes showing the qualifications, certificates, ratings, and experience of persons selected for the following, or equivalent,

  • General Manager (where applicable)
  • Director of Operations
  • Director of Maintenance
  • Chief Pilot
  • Chief Inspector (where applicable)

(a) If it appears that a proposed management candidate does not meet the appropriate experience requirements, inform the applicant that a deviation is required to employ that person. If a deviation is requested, the applicant must show equivalent aeronautical experience.

(b) An applicant may request a deviation to use fewer or different personnel. The applicant must prove the ability to perform operations safely under the deviation. The applicant also must show that the proposed personnel can effectively perform the functions associated with the positions in accordance with the Federal Aviation Regulations and the procedures outlined in the proposed manual.

(c) Requests for deviation must be by letter. These requests must be submitted to the district office as soon as possible. Justification for deviations must take into account the size and scope of the operation and the qualifications of the intended personnel. If fewer or different positions are approved, that approval will be made part of the operations specifications.

(d) Normally, full-time employees are expected for Part 135 operations. However, depending on the size, scope, and complexity of the operation, part-time management personnel may be accepted.

(5) Documents of purchase, contracts, and/or letters of intent

(a) These documents and/or letters show the applicant is committed to making arrangements for aircraft and supporting facilities and services necessary for the proposed operation. Proof of formal purchase, lease, or contractual arrangement are acceptable. If formal arrangements have not been completed, letters showing preliminary agreements will suffice until formal contracts are available. However, formal agreements must be finalized in sufficient time for FAA evaluation prior to certification.

(b) If the applicant does not plan to make purchases or develop services until after submitting the formal application, a statement of intent is acceptable. However, such arrangements must be completed sufficiently in advance of certification for FAA evaluation.

(c) The following types of equipment, facilities, and services are to be addressed in these documents, contracts, or letters:

  • Aircraft
  • Station facilities and services
  • Weather and NOTAM-gathering facilities and services (SAWRS stations)
  • Communications facilities and services
  • Maintenance facilities and services
  • Aeronautical charts and related publications
  • Airport analysis and obstruction data
  • Contract training or facilities

(6) Initial compliance statement. The compliance statement ensures that all applicable regulatory aspects are appropriately addressed during the certification process. The compliance statement lists each Part 121 or Part 135 regulation pertinent to the proposed operation. The applicant must describe proposed compliance methods alongside each applicable regulation. A brief narrative or a specific reference to a manual or other document is required. Where necessary, the applicant should indicate that the information will be provided in the final compliance statement.

D. Final Determination of Acceptability. After the formal application meeting, the Certification Project Manager and the certification team make a final determination of acceptability. Generally, if the formal application meeting is concluded without significant disagreements, it should be considered successful and result in an acceptable formal application. However, the team may decide there are sufficient reasons to reject the formal application. These reasons should clearly indicate that to proceed with the certification project would not be productive. Such reasons might include inadequate agreements on appropriate courses of action or evidence that the applicant does not understand the regulatory requirements and/or the certification process.



Document Compliance

In the document compliance phase, the applicant's manuals and other documents are reviewed and accepted, approved, or rejected. This phase is accomplished in the district office by the certification team. Each document is reviewed in depth to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and conformity to safe operating practices.



Demonstration & Inspection

A. Observe Demonstrations And Conduct Inspections. The following events may occur in this phase, if applicable:

  • Airman/Flight Attendant training (classroom, simulator, and aircraft training) (airmen, crew members, and dispatchers, as applicable)
  • Station facilities inspected (equipment, procedures, and personnel)
  • Record keeping procedures inspection (documentation of training, flight and duty times, flight papers, etc.)
  • Flight operations (dispatch, flight following, or flight locating capabilities)>
  • Approved maintenance program procedures
  • Maintenance activities (facilities, personnel, technical information, spare parts, etc.)
  • Aircraft inspection (conformity inspection, aircraft maintenance records, etc.)
  • Minimum Equipment List and Configuration
  • Deviation List inspection (compliance with Airplane Owner's Manual/Airplane Flight Manual maintenance procedures, etc.)
  • Weight and balance control (procedures, accuracy, and document control)
  • Emergency evacuation demonstration (aborted takeoff and/or ditching demonstrations)
  • Aircraft proving test (ability of applicant to operate independently, safely, and in compliance with the applicable Federal Aviation Regulations)
  • Any other event appropriate for the type of operation to be conducted

B. Document Deficiencies. If deficiencies are observed during the conduct of activities and events (training, emergency evacuation, etc.) or certain items are found deficient (Minimum Equipment List, records, etc.), recommend appropriate corrective action.



Certification Phase

An applicant is entitled to a certificate when:

(1) The certification process is completed

(2) Each significant unsatisfactory item has been corrected

(3) The applicant has met all regulatory requirements

(4) It has been determined that the applicant is capable of complying with the Federal Aviation Regulations

(5) The applicant's ability to conduct operations in a safe manner has been demonstrated

NOTE: Before issuing the certificate, non-critical items needing further resolution should be discussed with the applicant and corrective action noted in writing.



Certification flow chart from the FAA Operations Inspectors Handbook.