A Safe Pilot Is Always Learning

Training tips for students and pilots

Safe and airworthy…

You’re planning a fun flight to New Hampshire and are getting ready to preflight. For it to be airworthy, what documents need to be on board the aircraft? What inspections are needed for the aircraft to be airworthy?

As for the required documents, the familiar ‘ARROW’ acronym can be very helpful:


Airworthiness Certificate

Registration Certificate

Radio Operator Permit (Pilot needs for international operations)

Operating Limitations (POH + Placards)

Weight & Balance (Current data for specific aircraft)

In terms of the inspections, you can always dig into the FARs to see what is required. You should review these periodically in case the regulations change, but here is a simple acronym (yes, pilots love acronyms!) to help remember what’s required:


Airworthiness Directives (ADs)


Inspections (Annual + 100 Hour)

Altimeter and Automatic Pressure Altitude Reporting



Static System

Is each of these inspections required for your type of flight operation? How often do they need to be completed?  Let’s take a look:

Airworthiness Directives (ADs): Required for all flight operations, as specified in the specific AD.

VOR: Required for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations only, every 30 days.

Inspections: Annual: Required for all flight operations, every 12 calendar months. 100 Hour: Required for aircraft operated for hire or flight instruction, every 100 engine hours.

Altimeter and Automatic Pressure Altitude Reporting: Required for IFR operations, every 24 calendar months.

Transponder: Required for all flight operations, every 24 calendar months.

ELT: Required for all flight operations (except flight training within a 50-nautical mile radius of originating airport), every 12 calendar months with additional inspections due for the ELT battery.

Static System: Required for IFR operations only, every 24 calendar months.

Once you’re certain your current documents are on board and your inspections were complied with, conduct your preflight. If all required equipment is operational, the aircraft is airworthy. Is it safe?

This is where doing a thorough preflight and using your Pilot-In-Command (PIC) decision making come into play. Be thorough and don’t assume anything – especially in terms of fuel and oil quantity and quality! Never allow yourself to feel rushed by your passengers, your schedule, or any external pressures. If you do feel rushed, it’s time to take a step back and reconsider if it’s smart to make this flight.

Only by knowing both what is required for the aircraft and what to look for during a thorough preflight can you, as PIC, determine the aircraft is both safe and airworthy.

Have a safe flight!

Be safe, have fun & keep learning!


Matt D’Angelo


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