FAA Part 135 Air Carrier Certification
An air carrier certificate is required to operate aircraft with with passengers or cargo for hire. There are some exceptions, such as sightseeing or air tours.
Owning and operating your own Part 135 air charter may be of interest if you:
Own or lease your own jet.
Have an experienced flight crew.
Want to reduce the cost of ownership.
Want to generate revenue via air transporation.
Can efficiently market, sell, and operate aircraft.
May benefit from a tax advantage.
Have a passion for aviation.
Small jets, e.g., Gulfstream, Learjet, Citation, are governed by Title 14 Part 135 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Large jets, e.g., Airbus, Boeing, are governed by Title 14 Part 121. Additional guidance is accessible at FAA Dynamic Regulatory System. The number of guidance documents is overwhelming.
A Part 135 certificate authorizes an operator to conduct certain operations for hire The operator must apply, qualify, and be granted FAA authorization via Operations Specifications for each type of operation to be conducted. is performed by the Federal Aviation Administration and is described on their 14 CFR Part 135 Air Carrier and Operator Certification website. See the top of this web page.
|Cost of Manuals Only|
|Part 135 Single Pilot||$3,000|
|Part 135 Basic||$6,000|
|Part 135 Full Operator||$10,000|
The Part 135 Full Operator is further partitioned based on the number of passenger seats.
The following tasks are not included in the above estimated costs and can be extensive.
Other factors that impact certification costs are:
|Average Total Costs|
|Full 135 9 or Less||$55,000|
|Full 135 10 or More||$110,000|
|Full 135 More than 19||$195,000|
The FAA currently has a backlog and there is a two year wait to get started for Part 135 certification.
|Average Total Time|
|Full 135 9 or Less||3 Months|
|Full 135 10 or More||6 Months|
|Full 135 More than 19||12 Months|
USAC has completed hundreds of certification projects over the past three decades. Based on our experience and that of others, an estimate of the factors affecting completion time is summarized in the below table.
|Factors Affecting Completion Time|
|Experience of FAA Inspectors||-100%||+25%|
|Experience of Operator 119 Managers||-400%||+25%|
|Quality of Manuals||-200%||+100%|
|Experience with FAA SAS||-400%||+500%|
USAC Labs created three Full 135 Air Carrier Certificates for aircraft with Ten or More passenger seats using AI and automation technology. The FAA SAS website was replicated in the development environment. This would enable functional and load testing to assure the website was not overloaded. Our AI Document Writer was tailored to accept the Company Profile (form) entered by an Operator (our clients). The Document Writer writes custom manuals based on the Company Profile. These custom manuals are based on manuals that have been approved for over one hundred operators operating worldwide. Automation tools were developed to interact with the FAA SAS website to enter data in the Data Collection Tool (DCT). These three air carriers are fully operational today.
Total time to completion is summarized below. The SAS Data Entry was slowed to 3% of capacity to assure the FAA website was not overloaded.
|Best Total Time to Complete|
|Manual Creation (AI)||30 Minutes|
|SAS Data Entry||4 Hours|
|SAS DCT Data Entry (AI)||4 Hours|
|SAS DCT Response||1 Week|
|Manual Response to Comments||1 Week|
|Minimum Equipment List||4 Weeks|
|Aircraft Conformity Inspection||3 Weeks|
|Company Indoc Training (AUT)||2 Days|
|General Subjects Training (CTS)||2 Weeks|
|Aircraft-Specific Training (CTP)||4 Weeks|
|Proving and Validation Test Flights||1 Week|
|Delay to Get Started||2 Years|
The above table does not include delays, e.g. contract training providers.
It assumes an experienced team of FAA inspectors and operator staff.
Excellent manuals and training are required to assure compliance.
Creating an air carrier certificate for a small aircraft operator may be most cost effective. However, buying and existing company that holds an air carrier certificate may be attractive for large aircraft. There are risks and benefits of both options.
It is possible to purchase a company that holds an air carrier certificate. However, an air carrier certificate is legally not a transferable asset. The solution is to purchase an existing air charter company in good standing with the FAA. When searching for an air charter company to purchase, consider the following:
USAC creates and sells one charter company with an active air carrier certificate each year. It guarantees that there are no judgments, violations, or debt. It provides support, guidance, and training for a period to get an operators aircraft and pilots added to the certificate in the shortest amount of time. You need to have your own aircraft, pilots, and support staff. The risks are minimal.