A special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category is issued to operate an aircraft that does not have a type certificate or does not conform to its type certificate and is in a condition for safe operation.  Additionally, this certificate is issued to operate a primary category kit-built aircraft that was assembled without the supervision and quality control of the production certificate holder.

Special airworthiness certificates may be issued in the experimental category for the following purposes:
  • Research and development:  to conduct aircraft operations as a matter of research or to determine if an idea warrants further development.  Typical uses for this certificate include new equipment installations, operating techniques, or new uses for aircraft.
  • Showing compliance with regulations:  to show compliance to the airworthiness regulations when an applicant has revised the type certificate design data or has applied for a supplemental type certificate or field approval.
  • Crew training:  for training the applicant’s flight crews in experimental aircraft for subsequent operation of aircraft being flight tested in type certificate programs or for production flight testing.
  • Exhibition:  to exhibit an aircraft’s flight capabilities, performance, or unusual characteristics for air shows, motion pictures, television, and similar productions, and for the maintenance of exhibition flight proficiency.
  • Air racing:  to operate an aircraft in air races, practice for air races, and to fly to and from racing events.
  • Market surveys:  to conduct market surveys, sales demonstrations, and customer crew training for U.S. manufacturers of aircraft or engines.
  • Operating amateur-built, kit-built, or light-sport aircraft
  • Special Airworthiness Certificate, Experimental Category for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Optionally Piloted Aircraft (OPA)

Special airworthiness certificates regulations & policies