General Requirements for Certification

Unless not required by the specific scope of Part 135 certificate being sought, the following items are required for certification:

Company Ownership

An applicant must be a citizen of the United States of America. If the proposed certificate holder will be owned by a partnership, each member of the partnership must be a U S citizen, if owned by a corporation or association created or organized under the laws of the United States or of any State, Territory, or possession of the United States, the president and two-thirds or more of the board of directors and other managing officers thereof must be a citizen of the United States and at least 75 per cent of the voting interest must be owned or controlled by persons who are citizens of the United States or of one of its possessions.

Principal Base of Operation

At the time of application, the applicant must demonstrate via either documentation of ownership, lease agreement, or a letter of intent that it has established a physical location for its principal base of operation.


An applicant / operator must have the exclusive use of at least one aircraft that meets the requirements for at least one kind of operation. The applicant must either own or have a lease agreement for a period of 6 continuous months from the time of certification to satisfy the exclusive use requirement. The applicant may begin the certification process with a letter of intent showing that an aircraft will be purchased or leased, but in no circumstance will the certification process be completed until the applicant provides a suitable aircraft.

Once the scope of operation is determined a written statement showing that the aircraft and its equipment conforms to the requirements of 14 CFR 135.25, including registration, current airworthiness certification, identification, and current airworthy condition, is required. The certificate holder must also show that the aircraft meets the requirements for all its intended operations.

Maintenance Requirements for Part 135 operations

Depending on the complexity of the aircraft, and the scope of operation, maintenance for Part 135 operations are more stringent than for Part 91 operations.

Aircraft that are type certificated for a passenger seating configuration, excluding any pilot seat, of nine seats or less, shall be maintained under parts 91 and 43 of this chapter and §135.415, §135.417, §135.421 and §135.422. An approved aircraft inspection program may be used under §135.419. This can include annual inspections, 100 hour inspections, and an approved aircraft inspection programs (AAIP).

Aircraft that are type certificated for a passenger seating configuration, excluding any pilot seat, of ten seats or more, shall be maintained under a maintenance program in §135.415, §135.417, §135.423 through §135.443. This includes a continuous airworthiness maintenance program (CAMP). See § 135.425 and AC 120-16G for additional information.

In addition, the aircraft and all its components with manufacturer recommended Time Between Overhauls (TBO’s) must be complied with for an aircraft operated on a Part 135 certificate. The maintenance records must be complete with no gaps in documentation, especially for time or cycle limited components. Any time or cycle limited components that have an incomplete maintenance record must be brought back to a zero time status.

To ensure that the aircraft and maintenance records are in compliance with the requirements of Part 135, the AC will conduct a Conformity Check on the aircraft.

Economic Authority

Applicants who are applying to conduct interstate Commuter operations are required to obtain Economic Authority from the Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT issues the economic authority when it determines that an applicant is “fit, willing, and able” to conduct operations and the applicant has filed evidence of insurance coverage as described below. Because this is a requirement to complete certification, an applicant should apply for the economic authority determination as early as possible to avoid the possibility of delays.

More information and forms are located at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Aviation Policy website.

Applicants who are applying to conduct interstate On-Demand operations must register as an Air Taxi Operator by filing OST Form 4507 – Air Taxi Operator Registration and Amendments – along with the evidence of insurance coverage described below, with the FAA Air Transportation Division, Technical Programs Branch. Applicants must register not later than 30 days prior to the commencement of operations

Forms and more information, including a How to Become an On-Demand Air Carrier Operator (PDF) handbook, can be found on the FAA’s Technical Programs Branch website.


All U.S. direct air carriers operating in interstate or foreign air transportation must file evidence of aircraft accident liability insurance coverage that meets the requirements of 14 CFR Part 205 using OST Form 6410 – US Air Carriers Certificate of Insurance – with the FAA Air Transportation Division, Technical Programs Branch.

A copy of the form and filing information can be found at the FAA’s Technical Programs Branch website.

Management Personnel

In order to become certificated as a Part 135 “Standard” certificate holder, an applicant must designate by name the individuals who will serve as the Director of Operations, Chief Pilot, and Director of Maintenance. For the specific experience requirements required to serve in these positions, refer to 14 AC Part 119.71. If applying for certification as either a “Basic” or “Single PIC” certificate holder, an applicant may request a deviation for certain management positions. For further information regarding management deviations refer toFSIMS AC Order 8900.1, Volume 2, Chapter 4, section 6, paragraph (B) 2-463 and 8900.1 Volume 2, Chapter 2, Section 3.


At the time of formal application, company manuals must be submitted to the AC.

General Operations Manual (GOM)

The certificate holder’s manual (see AC Order 8900.1, Volume 3, Chapter 32, Section 1 ) should contain the certificate holder’s operations policies, methods, and procedures. Crewmembers are required to comply with the operations policies, methods, and procedures contained in the manual. §135.23 contains a list of the items that are required to be included in the GOM. Certificate holders that operate aircraft with 9 or less passenger seats generally include their maintenance procedures in the GOM. For additional information on the maintenance manual requirements refer to AC Order 8900.1, Volume 3, Chapter 32, Section 10.

General Maintenance Manual (GMM)

A separate General Maintenance Manual is required for certificate holders that operate aircraft with 10 or more passenger seats and must include the following three sections:

  1. Administrative policies and procedures;
  2. Detailed instructions for the administration, management, and accomplishment of the elements of the certificate holder’s maintenance program;
  3. Technical data that describes maintenance standards, methods, techniques, and procedures.

For additional guidance relating to maintenance manual requirements refer to 14 AC (§§135.21, and 135.427), as applicable and AC order 8900.1, Volume 3, Chapter 32, Section 11.

Aircraft Flight Manual

Part 135, § 135.81(c) requires that Part 135 operators maintain a current flight manual (or the equivalent information for certain aircraft certified without a flight manual) for each aircraft used in their air transportation operations. To satisfy the Part 135 requirements, operators may use the approved Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) or the approved Rotorcraft Flight Manual (RFM), as applicable, or they may develop, obtain approval for, and use a Company Flight Manual (CFM).

For additional guidance relating to flight manual requirements refer to AC Order 8900.1,Volume 3, Chapter 32, Section 5.

HazMat Manual– Will or Will-Not Carry Program

All Part 135 certificate holders are required to submit a Hazardous Materials Training Program for approval, even if they do not intend to carry hazardous materials. Hazmat training requirements are found in Title 49 of the United States Code (49 USC) and Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR). 

The definition of “hazmat employer” and “hazmat employee” are found in 49 USC Part 171, §171.8.  Hazmat training requirements are found in 49 USC Part 172, Subpart H, and 14 CFR Part 135, Subpart K.

For additional guidance related to hazmat requirements, please refer to the following references:

Training Programs

An applicant, other than one who only uses one pilot in their operation, is required to submit a training program for their pilot crewmembers and, if applicable, flight attendants.

Initial Company Training Curriculum

The training curriculum (completed to the extent possible) must be attached to the formal application letter. Training curriculums must include at least the following curriculum segments, as applicable, for each crewmember position:

  • Basic Indoctrination Training
  • Emergency Training
  • Crew Resource Management (CRM) Training
  • Initial Ground and Flight Training
  • Upgrade Ground and Flight Training
  • Recurrent Ground and Flight Training
  • Requalification Training
  • Differences Ground and Flight Training
  • Transition Ground and Flight Training
  • Hazardous Materials (hazmat)

For additional guidance related to training curriculum requirements refer to §135 Subpart H and FSIMS AC Order 8900.1, Volume 3, Chapter 19. For additional information related to utilizing the services of a an AC approved part 142 training center refer to AC Order 8900.1, Vol. 3, Ch 54, section 6.

Drug and Alcohol Program Requirements

The Department of Transportation's (DOT) rule, 49 AC Part 40, describes required procedures for conducting workplace drug and alcohol testing for the federally regulated transportation industry.  All air carriers and operators requiring certification by 14 AC Part 119 and authorized to conduct Part 135 operations shall have a drug and alcohol program. See 14 AC Part 120.  This program is administered by the Office of Aerospace Medicine, Drug Abatement Division AAM-820.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security program requirements for Part 135 certificate holders

Applicants who intend on conducting operations under 14 AC Part 135 may be required to adopt and implement a Transportation Security Administration (TSA)-approved security program. The size and scope of the security program required will be based on several factors including, but not limited to, kind of operations conducted, maximum certificated take-off weight of the aircraft, aircraft seating capacity, and whether or not they will enplane or deplane passengers within a sterile area of an airport.

For specific security program applicability and requirements refer 49 CFR Section 1544.101 (a) through (i).

For additional guidance regarding TSA Security Program requirements and to find out how to make application for approval of your program, contact the TSA at:

Minimum Equipment List (MEL)

In the absence of an approved MEL and an appropriate Operations Specification authorization, any aircraft listed on a Part 135 Operations Specification, which has inoperative instruments or equipment, may not be operated. Although not an absolute requirement, it is highly recommended that all certificate holders submit an MEL for each type of aircraft they will be operating.

For further information on MEL’s refer to AC Order 8900.1, Volume 4, Chapter 4, Section 3 and Volume 4, Chapter 4, Section 4.

Proving and Validation Testing

Part 135 states that no certificate holder may operate a turbojet aircraft, or an aircraft for which two pilots are required for operations under VFR, if it has not previously operated such an aircraft in Part 135 operations in at least 25 hours of proving tests acceptable to the Administrator. Aircraft proving tests are essentially a full-scale simulation of revenue operations to demonstrate the ability to operate independently, safely, and in compliance with the applicable CFR’s.

Pilots Records Improvement Act (PRIA) of 1996

PRIA was enacted to ensure that air carriers adequately investigate a pilot’s background before allowing that pilot to conduct commercial air carrier flights. Under PRIA, an air carrier cannot place a pilot into service until after it obtains and reviews the last 5 years of the pilot’s records as specified in PRIA. For more information on PRIA see the current Advisory Circular 120-68.

Last updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2022