When a passenger boards an aircraft, they want to feel confident that everything has been checked for safety. As Satair’s Julika Kerres explains, there is a robust regulatory system in place to ensure that an aircraft and all of its parts are airworthy. 

Would you set foot in an aircraft that hadn’t been deemed safe to fly? Of course not. When we board an aircraft, we assume that it has been thoroughly inspected and deemed safe.  

Luckily, this assumption is correct. Aviation safety is highly regulated and all organisations that design, produce, operate or maintain an aircraft or individual aircraft part must follow these regulations. A complicated set of requirements ensures that an aircraft and its parts are always airworthy – from the initial design stage through regular operation. 

Initial airworthiness

But what does ‘airworthy’ actually mean? Satair training services manager Julika Kerres said that airworthiness is based on a number of legal requirements.

“Airworthiness means all of the processes ensuring that, at any time in its operating life, the aircraft complies with the airworthiness requirements in force and is in a condition for safe operation,” she said. 

There are two stages of airworthiness. The first, initial airworthiness, covers everything involved in the design and production phases. 

In order to design an aircraft or aircraft part, a company must be a 21J-approved company. This means that it has received a Design Organisation Approval (DOA) that complies with Part 21, Subpart J of the airworthiness regulations of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The design must also live up to the EASA’s CS-25 certification specifications for large aircraft. These regulations are an important first hurdle to clear. 

“Both sets [of regulations] make sure that the part meets its type design and can go into production,” Kerres said. 

Once the design has been approved, the production process can only be carried out by a 21G organisation, meaning that the company in question has lived up to Part 21, Subpart G of the EASA regulations. The production has to be based on a design or drawing of a 21J organisation. 

Continuing airworthiness

The second stage of airworthiness begins as soon as an aircraft or part leaves the manufacturing site for the first time. From then on out, aircraft and parts must live up to continuing airworthiness requirements. 

There are regulations that pertain to the operations and aircrews, as well as to all maintenance activities. According to Kerres, material management organisations must follow “a whole set of rules” related to continuing airworthiness. 

Part M of the EASA regulations ensures that an aviation maintenance firm is certified as a Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation, a so-called CAMO. A Part 145 company is a maintenance company that has been approved to execute specific tasks on a specific aircraft. Part 66 rules apply to the qualifying maintenance personnel who sign off the release certificates, and this maintenance personnel can only be trained by a company that has been certified under Part 147 of the EASA regulations. 

It is, admittedly, all rather complicated. But that’s the point, as Kerres explains in the video below.

“Airworthiness might seem a little complex but its regulations are absolutely essential to protect our business and to make sure that safety is given throughout the whole life cycle and supply chain,” she said.

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