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Special Airworthiness Certification

Certification for Civil Operated Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Optionally Piloted Aircraft (OPA)

Except for small unmanned aircraft operating under 14 CFR part 107 or a part 107 waiver, a civil UAS cannot conduct air commerce in the National Airspace System unless there is an appropriate and valid airworthiness certificate issued for that UAS. U.S. registration is a prerequisite for the issuance of an airworthiness certificate.

Eligible individuals may apply for the following:

  • 21.17b type certificate for special class aircraft and a 21.183 standard airworthiness certificate for special class aircraft
  • 21.25 type certificate for restricted category aircraft and a 21.185 special airworthiness certificate in the restricted category
  • 21.191 special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category for the purposes of research and development, showing compliance with regulations, crew training, exhibition,and market survey
  • 21.197 special flight permit for the purpose of production flight testing new aircraft

For inquiries regarding 21.17 or 21.25 type certification, individuals should contact the Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office at 562-627-5200.

For inquiries regarding 21.191 experimental certificates or 21.197 special flight permits, individuals should contact their geographic FAA office. FAA Order 8130.34 is used by FAA inspectors to issue experimental airworthiness certificates and special flight permits to UAS, OPA, and OPA/UAS.

Public UAS operators follow Certificate of Authorization or Waiver (COA) procedures.

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