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United States Department of TransportationUnited States Department of Transportation

Air Carrier Certification Consultant Program for 14 CFR Part 121 Air Carrier Applicants

Table of Contents

Certification Consultant Program

The Certification Consultant Program provides guidance on the eligibility requirements and application process for becoming a certification consultant to part 121 air carrier applicants.

A certification consultant provides services to prepare a prospective air carrier applicant for the Formal Application Meeting. The part 121 certification process is complex, and the success of the process depends on the quality of the applicant’s submissions prior to the Formal Application Meeting. Consequently, a certification consultant should be familiar with the certification process to understand that preparation for a Formal Application Meeting involves much more than manual preparation.

Before beginning the certification consultant process, it is important to understand that the FAA does not and will not formally “designate” or “approve” the activities of the consultant group. The agreement signed by the consultant and the Safety Analysis and Promotion Division is considered an “other transaction.” It is not intended to be, nor must it be construed as, a designation, partnership, corporation, or other business organization.

Once the application and eligibility requirements are successfully completed, a certification consultant will be added to the FAA Qualified Certification Consultants list. Addition to the list means the certification consultant organization has demonstrated to the FAA that it is qualified to assist an applicant through the certification process up to the Formal Application Meeting. There is no limitation placed on consulting services beyond Formal Application as long as the air carrier applicant is advised that the FAA-recognized certification consultant service ends at the beginning of the Formal Application Meeting.

No certification consultant may advertise or otherwise offer to perform services using words such as “FAA approved” or “FAA designated” or words of similar meaning. A certification consultant is qualified and found “eligible” to be listed on the FAA Qualified Certification Consultants list. Advertising with words such as “approved” or “designated,” are sufficient grounds for termination of the agreement.


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Application Package and Required Qualifications

A prospective Certification Consultant must submit a formal letter of request to the Certification and Evaluation Program Office (CEPO) accompanied by the documents or statements listed below, which are used to determine eligibility:

  1. Signed resumes of the Operations and Airworthiness persons who will perform the authorized functions.
    Operations personnel should have experience in flight, cabin or dispatch as required by the applicant’s proposed scope of operation. Airworthiness personnel should have experience in maintenance and avionics as required by the applicant’s proposed scope of operation. Resumes should include information that documents and demonstrates the following:
    • Training and experience in part 121 air carrier operations or equivalent experience. Technical expertise in operations and/or airworthiness, as applicable, are necessary to qualify consultants to assist 121 applicants design and document air carrier safety-critical processes that are eligible for acceptance or approval by the FAA.
    • Two years’ experience working with the part 121 certification process.
      The FAA recognizes that the certification process presents unique challenges that many experienced air carrier personnel have never encountered. Individuals have spent their entire careers in air carrier operations and have never been involved in certification activities. It is rare to find air carrier personnel who have experience documenting air carrier processes and developing manual systems. Often, the high level of professionalism and specific experience that air carrier personnel possess is simply not sufficient to understand all the interrelated and complex air carrier systems to adequately design and document air carrier safety-critical processes.
    • Ability to apply Flight Standards System Safety Processes, including Risk Management to air carrier operations or equivalent experience.
    • Training dates of completed Aviation System Safety / Aviation Safety Management System related training courses.
  2. Written procedures and documented methods that the Certification Consultant will use to facilitate air carrier systems process design including Safety Management System processes.
    This requirement comprises very important written procedures and methods (manuals) used by the Certification Consultant to assist an applicant in creating a successful application package. This includes documented procedures for effective process design and implementation of a Safety Management System as well as all other safety-critical processes. Process and procedure design methods must address hazard identification and risk mitigation strategies within the operating systems and environment. The procedures should address the complexity and interrelationships within and between each airline system process before process design and documentation begins.
    Refer to the Company Manuals and Programs (PDF) section and the Element Design Assessment (EDA) (PDF) section for additional information.
  3. A signed statement from the certification consultant applicant attesting to the following:
    • To the best of its knowledge and belief, the persons serving as management of the organization have not been convicted of, or had a civil or administrative finding rendered against them for any of the following; commission of fraud, embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsification, destruction of records, making false statements, receiving stolen property.
    • The certification consultant meets specified eligibility requirements, including a complete understanding of airline systems, processes and manual design.
  4. Name Addresses, telephone numbers or contact information for at least three references
  5. The completed application will be submitted by one of the methods listed at the bottom of this page.


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    Application Package Review and Interview with Certification Consultant Applicant

    CEPO personnel will review the Certification Consultant application and required attachments for completeness. Certification Consultant applications with missing or incomplete documentation or information will be returned. CEPO personnel will contact references and evaluate documents for accuracy.

    If all eligibility requirements are met, an interview will be scheduled with the applicant. A notification letter/email will provide information on the location of the interview and the manner in which it will be conducted.

    Personnel listed in the Certification Consultant application package are required to attend the interview. During the interview, the consultant group should be prepared to demonstrate eligibility and discuss and how its personnel intend to assist 121 applicants understand the FAA’s system safety-based approach to air carrier certification and the applicant’s duties to provide service with the highest degree of safety in the public interest. This includes design and documentation of safety-critical processes that comply with the regulations, and implementation of a Safety Management System (SMS) to address hazard identification and risk management in their operating systems and environment. Certification Consultant applicants should be prepared to discuss the following topics:

    • Describe the company’s organizational structure.
    • Describe how you prepare the air carrier applicant for formal application, including each person’s assigned responsibilities in that process.
    • Describe your knowledge of the FAA’s application of system safety, risk management and SMS. (See 8900.1, Volume 10, Chapter 1 and Volume 17. )
    • Describe who is responsible to provide service with “highest degree of safety in the public interest” and what that means in the context of air carrier operations (See 8900.1, Volume 10, Chapter 1, Section 1).
    • Required persons may be asked to describe their knowledge of the FAA’s Certification Process. (See 8900.1, Volume 2, Chapter 3 Section 1 - 5: (Section 1, Section 2, Section 3, Section 4, Section 5)).
    • Required people may be asked to define “process” (See 8900.1, Volume 10, Chapter 1, Section 4, Table 10-1-4B Terms and Definitions).
    • Describe your organization’s process for designing and documenting the applicant’s safety- critical processes (See 8900.1, Volume 10, Chapter 1, Section 2, Table 10-1-2B).
    • Describe how you interact with applicant personnel to design their safety-critical processes.
    • Describe how to use the SAS Data Collection Tools (DCTs).
    • Describe how the FAA evaluates the design of an applicant’s safety-critical processes (See 8900.1, Volume 10, Chapter 1, Section 1).
    • Describe how you ensure that all regulatory requirements for a process are met.
    • Describe the method used to audit a process and how audit results are used to improve the process.
    • Describe the method for an air carrier process and manual development and understanding of air carrier systems, processes, and manual design.
    • The applicant will receive a comprehensive debriefing following the interview. If the interview results are not satisfactory, specific remedial action will be discussed so the applicant can proceed after the unsatisfactory items have been addressed.

    If the interview results are satisfactory, the CEPO Certification Consultant Seminar will be discussed for scheduling. Arrangements will be made for the certification consultant manager to sign the Agreement. After signing the agreement, the certification consulting group’s name and contact information will be added to the FAA Qualified Certification Consultants list.


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    Certification Consultant Responsibilities

    1. The certification consultant shall continue to ensure the integrity of its management; i.e., no conviction or civil or administrative finding has been rendered against them for: commission of fraud, embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsification or destruction of records, making false statements, or receiving stolen property.
    2. The certification consultant shall provide a signed letter, electronic format and delivery preferred, to the CEPO, at the address or email shown below, within 10 working days if the certification consultant no longer meets the eligibility requirements. For example, the termination of any contractual agreement that results in the consultant group being unable to meet the eligibility requirements may be cause for termination of the agreement.
    3. The certification consultant shall provide a signed letter, as described above, to the FAA Certification Project Manager (CPM) and the CEPO if a disagreement arises between the consultant and the new air carrier applicant that may affect the quality of the certification process or jeopardize the certification consultant's qualification and eligibility.
    4. The certification consultant shall provide a signed letter, as described above, to the CEPO within 10 working days when terminating any relationship as a Certification Consultant with an air carrier applicant.

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    Periodic FAA Assessments to Maintain Certification Consultant Eligibility

    A certification consultant agrees to initial and recurring assessments by the FAA.

    Once qualified and found eligible as a certification consultant, the FAA may periodically evaluate the effectiveness of the certification consultant’s methodology to prepare an air carrier applicant for formal application.

    Failure of a certification consultant to adequately prepare the air carrier applicant for formal application could result in an unsatisfactory evaluation.

    An unsatisfactory evaluation of a certification consultant may result in termination or non-renewal of this Agreement.


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    Duration and Renewal Criteria

    Unless sooner terminated or renewed, the signed Agreement remains in effect for twenty-four (24) months after the month in which it was signed.

    The Parties may terminate this agreement at any time by giving at least thirty (30) days’ notice in writing to the other party.

    Ninety (90) days prior to the renewal date, a certification consultant seeking renewal must provide a signed letter of request, electronic format and delivery preferred, for renewal to the CEPO. If the manager of the CEPO approves the request for renewal, the certification consultant will remain on the FAA qualified list.

    In addition to the qualifications stated in the agreement, a certification consultant must have been actively engaged in at least one part 121 certification project or its equivalent during the previous twenty-four months.

    Beyond the qualifications stated in the agreement, in order to be renewed, a certification consultant must also complete any mandatory and applicable recurrent training, to include biennial seminar, scheduled by the CEPO.


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    Termination of Agreement

    The FAA will terminate this Agreement and remove the certification consultant from the FAA-qualified list when any of the following occur:

    1. The consultant receives an unsatisfactory evaluation pursuant to Article VII of the Agreement.
    2. The consultant fails to meet the continuing eligibility requirements stated above.
    3. Advertising with words such as “approved” or “designated” as stated earlier.

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    Inquiries and Communications

    All inquiries and communication related to the Certification Consultant program may be submitted by one of the following methods.

    Email: 9-AFS-900-Certification-Consultant@faa.gov

    Postal Mail:
    Safety Analysis and Promotion Division
    Attn: Certification and Evaluation Program Office Manager
    13873 Park Center Road, Suite 160
    Herndon, VA 20171


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