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General Information

An applicant for a 135 Air Carrier or Operating certificate should determine the type, kind, and scope of operations they wish to conduct prior to beginning the certification process. In addition, they should understand the requirements for those operations, which include equipment, facilities, personnel, manuals and programs. An applicant should also become familiar with the certification process and its requirements so that they can make informed decisions before initiating a certification request with the FAA. The intent of this webpage is to provide the applicant with a general overview of Part 135 certification, and the links to the FAA’s Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS), which contains the current FAA official policy information on specific subjects.

If you have any questions, please contact the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).

Types of 14 CFR 135 Operations

The two basic types of certificates that are available to be issued to U.S. applicants are based on what type of services the applicant will be providing and where they want to conduct operations. Those types of certificates are:

  1. Air Carrier Certificate

  2. An Air Carrier certificate is issued to an applicant that will conduct interstate, foreign, or overseas transportation, or will carry mail.

  3. Operating Certificate

  4. An Operating certificate is issued to an applicant that will conduct intrastate transportation, which is transportation that is conducted wholly within the same state of the United States.

Kinds of 14 CFR 135 Certificate Operating Authorities

Another important consideration when starting the certification process is for the applicant to determine the kind of operations that they wish to conduct. 14 CFR 135 certificate holders can conduct On-demand operations, which may include limited scheduled operations, or Scheduled (Commuter) operations, which allow unlimited scheduled operations as well as On-demand operations. Each kind of operation, On-demand or Commuter, has specific limitations associated with them. These include the number of passenger seats that can be installed on the aircraft, maximum payload limits, and whether turbo-jet aircraft can be used in that kind of operation.

  1. On-demand

  2. On-demand operations can be conducted in airplanes that have a passenger seating configuration of 30 seats or less, a maximum payload capacity of 7500 pounds, or in any rotorcraft.

    On-demand certificate holders can also conduct limited scheduled operations with the following additional restrictions:

    • Less than 5 round trips per week on at least one route between two or more points according to published flight schedules,
    • No turbo-jet airplanes can be used, and
    • Airplanes are limited to a maximum passenger seating configuration of 9 seats or less.
  3. Commuter

  4. Commuter operations may be conducted in airplanes which have a maximum passenger-seating configuration of 9 seats and a maximum payload capacity of 7500 pounds, or in any rotorcraft. Commuter operations cannot be conducted in any turbo-jet aircraft.

    A certificate holder with Commuter authority can also conduct On-demand operations.

More information on the type and kind of certificates, as well as general certificate information is located at FSIMS FAA Order 8900.1 Volume 2, Chapter 2, Section 1 and Volume 2, Chapter 2, Section 2.

Scope of Part 135 certificates

A 14 CFR 135 certificate holder has further options depending on the scope of the operations that they wish to conduct. The scope of operations is authorized by the FAA thru the issuance of Operations Specifications (OpSpecs). The following different scopes of operations are available:

  • 135 Single Pilot

  • A single-pilot operator is a certificate holder that is limited to using only one pilot for all part 135 operations. That specific pilot is listed by name and certificate number on the FAA issued Operations Specification (OpSpec) A040. The use of any pilot(s) other than the single pilot listed on OpSpec A040 is not authorized. In general, the regulations do not require a single-pilot operator to develop and maintain manuals or training programs, designate a Director of Operations, Chief Pilot, or a Director of Maintenance. However, they are required to designate the management officials responsible for operational control and to provide a Hazardous Materials (HazMat) training program. Additional information regarding certification of single-pilot operators is contained in FSIMS FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 6.

  • 135 Single Pilot in Command

  • A single Pilot In Command (PIC) operator is a certificate holder that is limited to using only one PIC and up to a maximum of 3 Second In Command (SIC) pilots for all part 135 operations. The PIC and the SIC(s) are listed by name and certificate number on the FAA issued OpSpec A039. The certificate holder is only authorized to use those pilots in the specific duty positions listed in OpSpec A039. The certificate holder is not authorized to use any other pilots, nor are any pilots allowed to serve in a duty position (PIC or SIC), unless they are listed in that duty position in OpSpec A039. Single PIC certificate holders have limitations on the size of aircraft and the scope of operations that are allowed, which include:

    • Aircraft are limited to those type certificated with 9 passenger seats or less,
    • Operations are limited to the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean,
    • No Category II or Category III instrument approach operations are allowed.

    Although required by regulation, deviations can be granted for a required manual, training programs, and certain management positions. Additional information regarding Single Pilot in Command certificate holders is contained in FSIMS FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 6.

  • 135 Basic

  • A 135 Basic operator is a certificate holder whose operation is also limited in the size and scope of their operations. They have the following limitations:

    • Maximum of five pilots, including SIC’s,
    • Maximum of 5 aircraft can be used in their operation,
    • Maximum of 3 different types of aircraft can be used,
    • Aircraft are limited to those type certificated with 9 passenger seats or less,
    • Operations are limited to the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean,
    • No Category II or Category III instrument approach operations are allowed.

    Part 135 Basic operators are required to develop and maintain manuals, training programs, and have the required management positions. However, due to the limited size and scope of these certificate holders, specific limited deviations to those requirements may be authorized by the FAA. Additional information is contained in FSIMS FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 2, Chapter 4, Section 6.

  • Standard Part 135

  • A standard part 135 operator is a certificate holder that does not have pre-set limits on the available size or scope of their operations. The applicant must apply, qualify, and be granted FAA authorization thru OpSpecs for each type of operation they wish to conduct. Standard Part 135 operators are required to develop and maintain manuals, training programs, and have the required management positions.

As a certificate holder’s business evolves, they may decide to change the scope of their operation. Should the operator decide to request authority for a change in the scope of their operations, an abbreviated certification process may be required. The certificate holder should contact the managing Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) or Certificate Management Office (CMO) for a determination of any additional certification requirements.

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This page was originally published at: https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/atos/135_certification/general_info/