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Flight Manual or Pilots Operating Handbook (POH)

This subject is simple! Every certified aircraft is required to have a Flight Manual or Pilots Operating Handbook (POH) and be operated in accordance with it. As you might have guessed, it is a part of the certification process.

If you buy a certified aircraft and it doesn’t come with a Flight Manual or Pilots Operating Handbook then you will need to get one to be legal to fly. Obviously the original aircraft manufacturer is the best source for one of these. Other possible sources include:

  • Parts suppliers for the aircraft type if the original manufacturer is out of business.

  • General parts suppliers such as Aircraft Spruce and Specialty

  • Aircraft type clubs

  • Other owners of the same type of aircraft.

You can note that you don’t have to carry an original of the Flight Manual or Pilots Operating Handbook it can be a copy, but it does have to be on board.

Airworthiness Directives (ADs)

Airworthiness Directives are mandatory compliance documents for certified aircraft. These are issued by the certification authority for the aircraft in question. Because the majority of certified aircraft in Canada are from the USA, the FAA is the responsible authority for most ADs on aircraft in Canada.

It helps to understand where ADs come from. The certification authority that certified the aircraft issues ADs, not the manufacturer. Often the manufacturer will issue a Service Bulletin to owners in response to an identified problem, but these are not mandatory to comply with. The certification authority may then take the Service Bulletin and issue it as an AD, but not always. In some cases the manufacturer will oppose the issue of an AD, but the certification authority will issue it anyway. Even if the manufacturer is out of business and no longer exists the certification authority may issue an AD on the aircraft if they deem it necessary.

Almost all certified aircraft have been the subject of some ADs during their lifetime, but some aircraft certainly have more ADs than other designs. They can be an annoyance if the owner thinks that they are unwarranted, but they are a mandatory part of owning a certified aircraft they are a key part of the continuing airworthiness aspect of the certification process.

ADs come in two varieties recurring and non-recurring. Recurring ones will require some action, such as an inspection or part replacement, at set intervals. These may be by calendar time (for instance “annually”) or by airframe time (for instance “every 100 hrs”) or sometimes both (“whichever comes first”).

COPA Guide to Certified Aircraft 18

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