FAA Definitions

[A] [B] [C] [D] [E] [F] [G] [H] [I] [J] [K] [L] [M] [N] [O] [P] [Q] [R] [S] [T] [U] [V] [W] [X] [Y] [Z]

The following is a list of the most commonly used terms and their FAA definitions:

FAA Definitions begining with the letter A

Administrator. The Federal Aviation Administrator or any person to whom he has delegated his authority in the matter concerned.

Air Carrier. A person who undertakes directly by lease, or other arrangement, to engage in air transportation.

Air Commerce. Interstate, overseas, or foreign air commerce or the transportation of mail by aircraft or any operation or navigation of aircraft within the limits of any Federal airway or any operation or navigation of aircraft which directly affects, or which may endanger safety in, interstate, overseas, or foreign air commerce.

Aircraft. A device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air.

Aircraft Category. The term “category,” as used with respect to the certification of aircraft, means a grouping of aircraft based on their intended use or operating limitations, for example, normal, utility, acrobatic, or primary. For purposes of this order, gliders and balloons will be referred to as categories rather than classifications.

Aircraft Classification. The term “classification,” as used with respect to the certification of aircraft, means a broad grouping of aircraft having similar characteristics of propulsion, flight, or landing, that is, airplane, rotorcraft, glider, or balloon.

Aircraft Engine. An engine that is used or intended to be used for propelling aircraft. It includes turbosuperchargers, appurtenances, and accessories necessary for its functioning, but does not include propellers.

Airframe. The fuselage, booms, nacelles, cowlings, fairings, airfoil surfaces (including rotors but excluding propellers and rotating airfoils of engines), and landing gear of an aircraft and their accessories and controls.

Airplane. An engine-driven fixed-wing aircraft heavier than air, that is supported in flight by the dynamic reaction of the air against its wings.

Airworthy. An aircraft that meets its type design and is in a condition for safe operation.

Amateur-Built Aircraft. Sometimes referred to as home-built aircraft. These aircraft have been issued an experimental certificate under § 21.191(g).

Appliance. Any instrument, mechanism, equipment, part, apparatus, appurtenance, or accessory, including communications equipment, that is used or intended to be used in operating or controlling an aircraft in flight, is installed in or attached to the aircraft, and is not part of an airframe, engine, or propeller.

Applicable Standard. A manufacturing/design/maintenance/quality standard, method, technique, or practice approved by or acceptable to a civil aviation authority.

Approved. Unless used with reference to another person, means approved by the Administrator.

Approved Design Data. Applicable design data that has been granted an approval (for example, type certificate, supplemental type certificate, technical standard order authorization, parts manufacturer approval, or equivalent) by the relevant civil aviation authority.

Authentication. The means by which a system validates the identity of an authorized user. This may include a password, personal identification number, cryptographic key, badge, stamp, or combination thereof, or any other method of identifying an authorized user.

Authorized Area. For DERs, an authorized area applies to the specific portion or system of the aircraft, or the type of engine or propeller, or specialized area to which a delegated function applies. For DAR's, an authorized area is the area or region covered by the DAR's managing FAA office, or other approved location on a case by case basis.

Authorized Instructor. A person who holds a valid ground instructor certificate under 14 CFR part 61 or part 142, or a person who holds a current flight instructor certificate issuedunder 14 CFR part 61.

Authorized Representative. Any individual within an organizational delegation that is authorized in the procedures manual to make findings of compliance, and determinations of conformity and/or airworthiness on behalf of the FAA.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter B

Balloon. A lighter-than-air aircraft that is not engine driven, and that sustains flight through the use of either gas buoyancy or an airborne heater.

Bilateral Agreement. The term “bilateral agreement” means an executive agreement between the U.S. Government and the government of another country to facilitate the airworthiness approval or acceptance of civil aeronautical products exported from one country (contracting state) to the other. There are two types of bilateral agreements related to airworthiness: Bilateral Airworthiness Agreements (BAA) and Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements (BASA). These agreements are not trade agreements, but rather technical cooperation agreements. These agreements are intended to provide a framework for the airworthiness authority of the importing country to give maximum practicable creditto airworthiness certification functions performed by the airworthiness authority of the exporting country using its own certification system.

Brake. Horsepower means the power delivered at the propeller shaft (main drive or main output) of an aircraft engine.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter C

Category:

(1) As used with respect to the certification, ratings, privileges, and limitations of airmen, means a broad classification of aircraft. Examples include: airplane; rotorcraft; glider; and lighter-than-air; and

(2) As used with respect to the certification of aircraft, means a grouping of aircraft based upon intended use or operating limitations. Examples include: transport, normal, utility, acrobatic, limited, restricted, and provisional.

Category of Special Airworthiness Certificates. The term “category” also is used to identify the six specific certification processes and the seven types of special airworthiness certificates issued.

Certificate of Authority (COA). An FAA letter and/or supplement specifying the kinds of designations for which the person concerned is qualified. The COA also indicates the expiration date and is updated upon issuance of any subsequent renewals. The FAA may revoke the designee COA at any time, for any reason the Administrator considers appropriate.

Certification Office. The FAA certification office at which the applicant applies for airworthiness certification or related approval: Manufacturing Inspection District Office (MIDO), Manufacturing Inspection Satellite Office (MISO), Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), International Field Office (IFO), Certificate Management Office (CMO), or CertificateManagement Unit (CMU).

Class:

(1) As used with respect to the certification, ratings, privileges, and limitations of airmen, means a classification of aircraft within a category having similar operating characteristics. Examples include: single engine; multiengine; land; water; gyroplane; helicopter; airship; and free balloon; and

(2) As used with respect to the certification of aircraft, means a broad grouping of aircraft having similar characteristics of propulsion, flight, or landing. Examples include: airplane; rotorcraft; glider; balloon; landplane; and seaplane.

Classification of Airworthiness Certificates. The term “classification” also is used todistinguish between the standard and special airworthiness certification processes and certificates.

Commercial Operator. A person who, for compensation or hire, engages in the carriage by aircraft in air commerce of persons or property, other than as an air carrier or foreign air carrier or under the authority of Part 375 of this title. Where it is doubtful that an operation is for “compensation or hire”, the test applied is whether the carriage by air is merely incidental to the person's other business or is, in itself, a major enterprise for profit.

Compliance Inspection. A physical inspection performed by the Aircraft Certification Office (ACO) engineer or the DER when authorized. This inspection provides an opportunity to review an installation and its relationship to other installations on a product to determine compliance with 14 CFR/Civil Air Regulation (CAR) requirements, which cannot be adequately determined from an evaluation of the technical data.

Computer Hardware. A computer and the associated physical equipment directly involved in the performance of communications or data processing functions.

Computer Software. Written, printed, or other technologically accepted media such as programs, routines, and symbolic languages used in the operation of computers.

Configuration, Maintenance, and Procedures (CMP) Document. A document approved by the FAA that contains minimum configuration, operating, and maintenance requirements, hardware life-limits, and Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) constraints necessary for an airplane-engine combination to meet ETOPS type design approval requirements.

Conformity Inspection of Prototype Products and Related Parts. An inspection to determine the applicant’s compliance to 14 CFR part 21, Certification Procedures for Products and Parts, § 21.33(b) and any other inspections necessary to determine that the prototype products and related parts conform to the proposed design drawings and specifications.

Conformity Inspection of Production Products and Related Parts. An inspection that may be necessary to determine that completed production products and related parts conform to the approved type design and are in a condition for safe operation.

Consensus Standard. For the purpose of certificating light-sport aircraft (LSA), an industry-developed consensus standard that applies to aircraft design, production, and airworthiness. It includes, but is not limited to, standards for aircraft design and performance, required equipment, manufacturer quality assurance systems, production acceptance test procedures, operating instructions, maintenance and inspection procedures, identification and recording of major repairs and major alterations, and continued airworthiness.

Crewmember. A person assigned to perform duty in an aircraft during flight time.

Critical Characteristic. Any feature throughout the life cycle of a flight safety-critical aircraft part (FSCAP) which, if nonconforming, missing, or degraded, could cause a catastrophic failure resulting in loss or serious damage to the aircraft or an uncommanded engine shutdown resulting in an unsafe condition. A characteristic can be critical in terms of dimension, tolerance, finish, or material; an assembly, manufacturing, or inspection process; or an operation, field maintenance, or depot overhaul requirement. A manufacturing-critical characteristic is produced during the manufacturing process. An installation-critical characteristic, such as torque, is critical in terms of assembly or installation.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter D

Delegated Function. For DERs, a delegated function applies to the technical areas involved in determining compliance with applicable airworthiness regulations.

Deliverable Software. Computer software with a part number that meets FAA standards for software design and use.

Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) - Maintenance. An individual appointed in accordance with § 183.33 who holds a mechanic’s certificate with an airframe and powerplant (A&P) rating under 14 CFR part 65, Certification: Airmen Other Than Flight Crew-members, or a person who holds a repairman certificate and is employed at a repair station certificated under 14 CFR part 145, Repair Stations, and who meets the qualification requirements of this order.

Designated Airworthiness Representative (DAR) - Manufacturing. An individual appointed in accordance with § 183.33 who possesses aeronautical knowledge and experience, and meets the qualification requirements of this order.

Designated Engineering Representative (DER). An individual appointed in accordance with § 183.29 who holds an engineering degree or equivalent, possesses technical knowledge and experience, and meets the qualification requirements of this order.

There are two types of DER's:

(1) Company. An individual appointed to act as a company DER for the employer to approve or recommend approval of technical data to the FAA.

(2) Consultant. An individual appointed to act as an independent (self-employed) consultant DER to approve or recommend approval of technical data to the FAA.

Designated Manufacturing Inspection Representative (DMIR). An individual appointed in accordance with § 183.31 who possesses aeronautical knowledge and experience, is employed by a production approval holder (PAH) or a PAH’s approved supplier, and meets the qualification requirements of this order.

Digital Certificate. A digitally signed statement that binds the identifying information of a user, computer, or service to a public/private key pair.

Digital Signature. A secure digital means of conveying the same meaning as an individual’s handwritten signature in an electronic document, which when printed may or may not contain anexact copy of the originating handwritten signature.

DOD CAGE Code. The Department of Defense Commercial and Government Entity (DOD CAGE) code identifies the manufacturer of the part or product produced under government contract.

Dual-Use Product or Part. Any product or part manufactured for civil application by a production approval holder (PAH) authorized by the FAA and produced under a U.S. military contract. The military product (or part thereof) has the same part number and configuration as its civil counterpart and is manufactured using the same FAA-approved design, materials, and manufacturing processes. This could also include any product or part originally produced for the military which currently holds a normal, utility, acrobatic, or transport type certificate (TC) issued under 14 CFR part 21, Certification Procedures for Products and Parts, § 21.27.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter E

ETOPS Significant System. An airplane system, including the propulsion system, the failure or malfunctioning of which could adversely affect the safety of an ETOPS flight, or the continued safe flight and landing of an airplane during an ETOPS diversion. Each ETOPS significant system is either an ETOPS group 1 significant system or an ETOPS group 2 significant system.

(1) An ETOPS group 1 Significant System—

(i) Has fail-safe characteristics directly linked to the degree of redundancy provided by the number of engines on the airplane.

(ii) Is a system, the failure or malfunction of which could result in an IFSD, loss of thrust control, or other power loss.

(iii) Contributes significantly to the safety of an ETOPS diversion by providing additional redundancy for any system power source lost as a result of an inoperative engine.

(iv) Is essential for prolonged operation of an airplane at engine inoperative altitudes.

(2) An ETOPS group 2 significant system is an ETOPS significant system that is not an ETOPS group 1 significant system.

Extended Operations (ETOPS). An airplane flight operation, other than an all-cargo operation in an airplane with more than two engines, during which a portion of the flight is conducted beyond a time threshold identified in part 121 or part 135 of this chapter that is determined using an approved one-engine-inoperative cruise speed under standard atmospheric conditions in still air.

Exception. A case in which a rule, general principle, etc., does not apply.

Exemption. Approval to be free from current regulations in 14 CFR.

Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft. An aircraft issued an experimental operating light-sport category aircraft airworthiness certificate. Experimental light-sport aircraft applies to those aircraft for which the certificate is issued regardless of the purpose within § 21.191(i), Operating light-sport aircraft.

Export. When a product or article is found to be airworthy, meets the special conditions of the importing country/jurisdiction, and is transferred from one civil aviation authority’s (CAA) regulatory authority to another CAA’s regulatory authority.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter F

Fireproof:

(1) With respect to materials and parts used to confine fire in a designated fire zone, means the capacity to withstand at least as well as steel in dimensions appropriate for the purpose for which they are used, the heat produced when there is a severe fire of extended duration in that zone; and

(2) With respect to other materials and parts, means the capacity to withstand the heat associated with fire at least as well as steel in dimensions appropriate for the purpose for which they are used.

Fire Resistant:

(1) With respect to sheet or structural members means the capacity to withstand the heat associated with fire at least as well as aluminum alloy in dimensions appropriate for the purpose for which they are used; and

(2) With respect to fluid-carrying lines, fluid system parts, wiring, air ducts, fittings, and powerplant controls, means the capacity to perform the intended functions under the heat and other conditions likely to occur when there is a fire at the place concerned.

Flame Resistant. Not susceptible to combustion to the point of propagating a flame, beyond safe limits, after the ignition source is removed.

Flammable. With respect to a fluid or gas, means susceptible to igniting readily or to exploding.

Flash Resistant. Not susceptible to burning violently when ignited.

Flightcrew Member. A pilot, flight engineer, or flight navigator assigned to duty in an aircraft during flight time.

Flight Safety-Critical Aircraft Part. Any part, assembly, or installation containing a critical characteristic whose failure, malfunction, or absence could cause (1) a catastrophic failure resulting in loss or serious damage to the aircraft, or (2) an uncommanded engine shutdown resulting in an unsafe condition.

Foreign Air Carrier. Any person other than a citizen of the United States, who undertakes directly, by lease or other arrangement, to engage in air transportation.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter G

Guidance Material. The direction provided by a guide; these are FAA policy and advisory materials.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter H

Heavy Ultralight. An ultralight vehicle that does not meet 14 CFR part 103 requirementsbecause of its weight, speed, or fuel capacity. It also may not meet the requirements for an experimentaloperating amateur-built airworthiness certificate as described in § 21.191(g).

Helicopter. A rotorcraft that, for its horizontal motion, depends principally on its engine-driven rotors.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter I

In-flight Shutdown. (IFSD)For ETOPS only, when an engine ceases to function (when the airplane is airborne) and is shutdown, whether self induced, flightcrew initiated or caused by an external influence. The FAA considers IFSD for all causes: for example, flameout, internal failure, flightcrew initiated shutdown, foreign object ingestion, icing, inability to obtain or control desired thrust or power, and cycling of the start control, however briefly, even if the engine operates normally for the remainder of the flight. This definition excludes the airborne cessation of the functioning of an engine when immediately followed by an automatic engine relight and when an engine does not achieve desired thrust or power but is not shutdown.

Instrument. A device using an internal mechanism to show visually or aurally the attitude, altitude, or operation of an aircraft or aircraft part. It includes electronic devices for automatically controlling an aircraft in flight.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter L

Large Aircraft. Aircraft of more than 12,500 pounds, maximum certificated takeoff weight.

Light-Sport Aircraft. A category of simple, very basic, small, lightweight, low-performance aircraft. It is an aircraft other than a helicopter or powered-lift.

Light-Sport Category. With respect to aircraft certification, the light-sport category adds a new group of aircraft based on the definition in § 1.1, limiting size, weight, and speed, and how the aircraft is equipped. This category contains four classes of aircraft: airplanes and gliders, powered parachutes, weight-shift-control, and lighter-than-air aircraft. The factors of intended aircraft use, operating limitations, and privileges of this category place it in hierarchy between the primary and experimental categories.

Light-Sport Eligible Kit. An eligible kit is one that is of the same make and model aircraft that has been issued a light-sport category airworthiness certificate by the FAA. The kit is manufactured by the same entity that built the aircraft, and that aircraft has been issued the LSA airworthiness certificate. Once built, the owner-assembled kit aircraft is eligible for the experimental, operating LSA certificate.

Lighter-Than-Air Aircraft. Aircraft that can rise and remain suspended by using contained gas weighing less than the air that is displaced by the gas.

Load factor. The ratio of a specified load to the total weight of the aircraft. The specified load is expressed in terms of any of the following: aerodynamic forces, inertia forces, or ground or water reactions.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter M

Maintenance. Inspection, overhaul, repair, preservation, and the replacement of parts, but excludes preventive maintenance.

Major alteration. An alteration not listed in the aircraft, aircraft engine, or propeller specifications—

(1) That might appreciably affect weight, balance, structural strength, performance, powerplant operation, flight characteristics, or other qualities affecting airworthiness; or

(2) That is not done according to accepted practices or cannot be done by elementary operations.

Major repair. A repair:

(1) That, if improperly done, might appreciably affect weight, balance, structural strength, performance, powerplant operation, flight characteristics, or other qualities affecting airworthiness; or

(2) That is not done according to accepted practices or cannot be done by elementary operations.

Managing Office. The FAA office assigned the responsibility by the appointing office for supervising, monitoring, training, tracking, and recommending renewal of a designee.

Manufacturer. A person who causes a product or part thereof to be produced. See Production Approval Holder (PAH). For FAA purposes, “manufacturer” and “PAH” are used interchangeably. A manufacturer is a PAH.

Military Surplus Product or Article. A product or article that originally was released as surplus by the U.S. military, even if subsequently resold by a manufacturer, owner/operator, repair facility, or any other parts supplier.

Military-Unique Flight Safety-Critical Aircraft Part (FSCAP). Any FSCAP specifically and uniquely designed and manufactured for the U.S. military, for which there is nocorresponding FAA-approved type design or production approval holder (PAH) engine, propeller, or article produced for civilian application. Breakout products or articles produced specifically for military use by a manufacturer other than an FAA PAH using military-provided designs, drawings, and specifications also are considered military-unique.

Minor Alteration. An alteration other than a major alteration.

Minor Repair. A repair other than a major repair.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter O

Operate. With respect to aircraft, means use, cause to use or authorize to use aircraft, for the purpose (except as provided in §91.13 of this chapter) of air navigation including the piloting of aircraft, with or without the right of legal control (as owner, lessee, or otherwise).

Organizational Authorized Representative. An individual within the ODAR who is permitted to perform authorized functions on behalf of the FAA.

Organizational Designated Airworthiness Representative (ODAR) - Maintenance. An organization appointed in accordance with § 183.33 that meets the qualification requirements of this order and that holds a repair station certificate with appropriate ratings or an air carrier operating certificate with an FAA-approved Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program.

Organizational Designated Airworthiness Representative (ODAR) - Manufacturing. An organization that holds an FAA production approval or a non-PAH that has a high probability of obtaining a production certificate (PC). An ODAR is appointed in accordance with § 183.33 who possesses aeronautical knowledge and experience and meets the qualification requirements of this order.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter P

Part Out. To remove a part from or disassemble an aircraft, engine, propeller, or assembly of parts.

Person. An individual, firm, partnership, corporation, company, association, joint-stock association, or government entity. It includes a trustee, receiver, assignee, or similar representative of any of them.

Powered Parachute. A powered aircraft comprised of a flexible or semi-rigid wing connected to a fuselage so that the wing is not in position for flight until the aircraft is in motion. The fuselage of a powered parachute contains the aircraft engine and a seat for each occupant, and is attached to theaircraft’s landing gear.

Preventive Maintenance. Simple or minor preservation operations and the replacement of small standard parts not involving complex assembly operations.

Previously Manufactured Aircraft. Existing aircraft-like vehicles meeting the definition of light-sport aircraft that do not meet the provisions of 14 CFR part 103, Ultralight vehicles, and are in a ready-to-fly condition.

Production Approval Holder. A holder of a production certificate (PC), an approved production inspection system (APIS), a parts manufacturer approval (PMA), or a technical standard order (TSO) authorization who controls the design and quality of a product or part thereof.

Propeller.A device for propelling an aircraft that has blades on an engine-driven shaft and that, when rotated, produces by its action on the air, a thrust approximately perpendicular to its plane of rotation. It includes control components normally supplied by its manufacturer, but does not include main and auxiliary rotors or rotating airfoils of engines.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter R

Rotorcraft. A heavier-than-air aircraft that depends principally for its support in flight on the lift generated by one or more rotors.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter S

Show. Unless the context otherwise requires, means to show to the satisfaction of the Administrator.

Small Aircraft. Aircraft of 12,500 pounds or less, maximum certificated takeoff weight.

Statement of Compliance. A statement of compliance (SOC) is a signed statement made by the aircraft manufacturer stating that the aircraft (specific by serial number) was designed, manufactured, and is supported with a monitoring and correction of safety-of-flight within a continued airworthiness system, in accordance with the appropriate consensus standards.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter T

Terminal Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) -

TCAS I. A TCAS that utilizes interrogations of, and replies from, airborne radar beacon transponders and provides traffic advisories to the pilot.

TCAS II. A TCAS that utilizes interrogations of, and replies from airborne radar beacon transponders and provides traffic advisories and resolution advisories in the vertical plane.

TCAS III. A TCAS that utilizes interrogation of, and replies from, airborne radar beacon transponders and provides traffic advisories and resolution advisories in the vertical and horizontal planes to the pilot.

Type Certificate Data Sheet (TCDS). The type certificate data sheet is a document that includes a formal description of the aircraft, engine or propeller. It lists limitations and information required for type certification including airspeed limits, weight limits, thrust limitations, etc.

Time in Service. With respect to maintenance time records, means the time from the moment an aircraft leaves the surface of the earth until it touches it at the next point of landing.

Two-Place Ultralight Training Vehicle. This is a two-place, noncertificated vehicle operated under a valid training exemption to part 103.

Type:

(1) As used with respect to the certification, ratings, privileges, and limitations of airmen, means a specific make and basic model of aircraft, including modifications thereto that do not change its handling or flight characteristics. Examples include: DC–7, 1049, and F–27; and

(2) As used with respect to the certification of aircraft, means those aircraft which are similar in design. Examples include: DC–7 and DC–7C; 1049G and 1049H; and F–27 and F–27F.

(3) As used with respect to the certification of aircraft engines means those engines which are similar in design. For example, JT8D and JT8D–7 are engines of the same type, and JT9D–3A and JT9D–7 are engines of the same type.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter U

Ultralight-like Vehicle. A vehicle that is similar to an ultralight but does not meet the definition or requirements of § 103.1.

Ultralight Vehicle. As defined in part 103, an ultralight vehicle is a vehicle that—

(1) Is used or intended to be used for manned operation in the air by a single occupant;

(2) Is used or intended to be used for recreation or sport purposes only;

(3) Does not have a U.S. or foreign airworthiness certificate; and

(4) If unpowered weighs less than 155 pounds; or

(5) If powered, weighs less than 254 pounds empty weight, excluding floats and safety devices intended for deployment in a potentially catastrophic situation; has a fuel capacity not exceeding 5 U.S. gallons; is not capable of more than 55 knots calibrated airspeed at full power in level flight; and has a power-off stall speed that does not exceed 24 knots calibrated airspeed.

FAA Definitions begining with the letter W

Weight-Shift Control Aircraft. A powered aircraft with a framed pivoting wing and a fuselage controllable only in pitch and roll by the pilot’s ability to change the aircraft’s center of gravity (CG) with respect to the wing. Flight control of the aircraft depends on the wing’s ability to flexibly deform rather than the use of control surfaces. (commonly referred to as a hang glider)

Go from this "FAA Definitions" page back to the Home Page