Restricted Airworthiness Certification

Aircraft that qualify for a restricted airworthiness certification are special built or modified for a special purpose like agricultural spraying or external load operations (see the list below of special purpose operations).

These aircraft are restricted to those operations only and may be restricted to flying in certain airspace.

Restricted airworthiness certification is governed by FAR 21.185 .


Aircraft that are eligible for a special airworthiness certificate, in the restricted category, are as follows:

- Aircraft type-certificated in the restricted category and manufactured under a Production Certificate (PC), Approved Production Inspection System (APIS), or a Type Certificate (TC) only;

- Aircraft type-certificated in the restricted category that were surplus military aircraft of the U.S. Armed Forces and manufactured in the United States;

- Aircraft that are imported to the United States and type-certificated in the restricted category in accordance with FAR 21.29 and that have been certified by the country of manufacture to conform to the approved type design; and

- Type-certificated, standard category aircraft that have been modified and approved for a restricted purpose under FAR 21.25 , including aircraft type-certificated under CAR 8.10(b) for agricultural operations.

Aircraft may be considered eligible for a special airworthiness certificate, in the restricted category, when found to comply with the noise requirements of FAR 36, in accordance with FAR 21.185(d) .

Modified aircraft that were either surplus military aircraft of the U.S. Armed Forces or previously type-certificated in another category (FAR 21.185(b)), must satisfy the following to beconsidered eligible for a special airworthiness certificate in the restricted category:

- The modification conforms to the FAA-approved data forming the basis for the restricted TC.

- The aircraft is in a good state of preservation and repair and is in a condition for safe operation.

Special Purpose Operations

As authorized under the provisions of FAR 21.25, special purpose operations for restricted category aircraft include the following:

- Agricultural (spraying, dusting, seeding, and livestock and predatory animal control).

- Forest and wildlife conservation.

- Aerial surveying (photography, mapping, and oil and mineral exploration).

- Patrolling (pipelines, power lines, and canals).

- Weather control (cloud seeding).

- Aerial advertising (skywriting, banner towing, airborne signs, and public address systems).

- Any other operation specified by the Administrator.

If a person wishes to obtain approval for a new special purpose operation previously not approved under FAR 21.25, application with supporting justification should be made by letter to the Aircraft Engineering Division, Attn.: AIR-110.

If accepted, AIR-110 will provide public notice with request for comment in the Federal Register on the new proposed special purpose operation and will consider all comments before making a final decision.

Operating Limitations

All aircraft type-certificated in the restricted category must be operated in compliance with the limitations prescribed in FAR 91.313 .

In addition, for turbine-powered aircraft (TPA), piston-powered aircraft over 800 horsepower, rotorcraft, large aircraft (over 12,500 pounds), and any other aircraft as deemed necessary, the limitation concerning pilot qualifications should be prescribed.

The FAA also may prescribe additional operating limitations as deemed necessary for the special purpose involved. The additional limitations will be enumerated on a separate sheet, and then dated, signed, and attached to airworthiness certificate.

Airworthiness Certificate

When an application is made for a restricted category airworthiness certificate requesting one of the special purposes shown above, the purpose will be entered in block A of the airworthiness certificate ( Form 8130-7 .)

Carriage of cargo for compensation or hire is prohibited for any restricted category operation, including any special purpose of FAR 21.25 unless it is incidental to the aircraft owner/operator's business.

If this is the case, additional limitations will be attached the certificate identifying the cargo that can be carried. This does not apply to nonpassenger carrying civil rotorcraft external load operations conducted under FAR 133, Rotorcraft External-Load Operations.

Display of Marks

In addition to the nationality and registration marks required by FAR 45.21 and that the word “RESTRICTED” is displayed in accordance with FAR 45.23 .

Back to the Special Airworthiness Certification Page

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