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Airline Certification

June 3, 2014 BE_Post, Blog No Comments


Read the introductory text about the certification process required by the FAA, as well as the additional material at 
http://www.avsog.com/faa_certpahses.html#fap .
Industry experts would unanimously agree that airline certification policies and the industry structure in the U.S. look rather complex to the uninitiated. Every airline seeking to be certified has to go through the 4 mandatory certification phases implemented by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
These steps include the following: Formal Application Phase, Design Assessment Phase, Performance Assessment Phase and Administrative Functions Phase.

The Formal Application Phase includes a meeting where the applicant’s management personnel is questioned in order to clarify certain topics, identify potential problems and assess their knowledge of the manual system. 
Once the package is accepted (this is marked by the issuance of a letter of acceptance), the FAA takes time to evaluate and review the manual system and all and any documentation associated with it. The Design Assessment Phase is characterized as a key milestone where the applicant is to convince the FAA that they are fully responsive to the comments and requirements. 
The Performance Assessment Phase starts with an operational readiness self-audit report with proposed corrections, which is submitted to the FAA. They review the report and give a go-ahead to demonstration events provided it is acceptable. 
The Administrative Functions Phase is the final phase in the certification that includes a lot of paperwork and, provided all tests have been passed with flying colors, concludes the process with a valid certificate. 
1. Match phrases with their definitions (based on both texts):
1. a setback or technical malfunction
2. to be fully committed to something, to be involved
3. a superficial, brief overview
4. to influence directly
5. to involve serious investment of smth
6. anticipatory or extremely motivated
7. to require a break
8. something that holds you back
9. budget limitations
10. the first flight over a new route or of a new plane
a. to enmesh significant resources
b. fiscal budget constraints
c. inhibiting factor
d. to have a direct bearing on smth,
e. to be on board
f. a cursory review
g. pro-active 
h. inaugural flight
i. glitch
j. to need a breather
(Answers: 1i, 2e, 3f, 4d, 5a, 6g, 7j, 8c, 9b, 10h)
2. Answer the following questions to determine how well you know your way around the text: 
1. How many mandatory phases does the FAA certification have? (answer: 4)
2. What is the “lost phase” in the process and why is it the most inhibiting phase? (answer: The Applicant Preparation Phase. Because it requires most time, money and resources)
3. When does one need to submit the basic paperwork and the formal application package? (answer: basic paperwork – 45 days prior to the Formal Application Meeting, formal package – 10 days prior to the meeting)
4. How long does it take to assess the documentation in the Design Assessment Phase? (answer: as long as 90 days)
5. During which phase does the FAA have testing scenarios ready, based on risk worksheets that their personnel have been authoring throughout the certification process? (answer: during the Performance Assessment Phase)
3. Determine whether the following statements are true or false:
1. The reason why FAA deleted the Applicant Preparation Phase is because of fiscal budget constraints (answer: T)
2. The airline board members and FAA certification team will conduct an initial, but cursory, review to determine that the package is either acceptable or will be rejected at the Formal Application Meeting (answer: F)
3. It is important to deal with FAA’a comments in a professional and responsive manner (answer: T)
4. During the Administrative Functions phase it is advised to allow time for all the FAA paperwork to be completed (answer: T)
5. The management and personnel need to be well versed in the proposed manual system (answer: T)
4. Review a short description of steps towards FAA certification listed below. Correct their logical order to make them right:
A. Complete operational readiness self-audit report with proposed corrections and submit it to the FAA.
B. Prepare master manual system and all of the supporting documentation. Understand FAA requirements. 
C. FAA completes the paperwork and you start your inaugural flights. 
D. A letter of acceptance is issued by the FAA. 
E. The applicant’s management personnel are questioned to clarify issues and determine problems. 
(Answer: B – E – D –A – C )
5. Use your active vocabulary to complete the following sentences:
1. After the complete application package is delivered to our Headquarters via mail or courier, we will review the papers within 10 business days and, provided the documents qualify for our program – our office will send you a letter of…………………………… (Answer: acceptance)
2. We were disappointed with the committee's ………………………………. overview of the complaint, as we expected a little more attention to detail. (Answer: cursory)
3. Our philosphy requires that all our employees demonstrate a …………………………….. approach and share their ideas with upper management (Answer: pro-active)
4. ………………………….. are unacceptable after an ………………………… flight, as safety of our passengers is of paramount importance. (Answer: Glitches, inaugural)
5. The new policy required that all management personnel be………………………………….., supporting and cheering for the new program and benefits (Answer: on board)
1. Read the following text describing the types of certification granted to US airlines and answer the following questions:
1. What are the main classifications U.S. airlines are granted with and what is the classification based on? (Answer: major, national and regional – based on the amount of revenue)
2. When an airline is granted a fitness certificate, what does is actually mean? (Answer: that the carrier has the financing and the management in place to provide scheduled service)
3. Who issues fitness certificates? (Answer: The Department of Transportation)
4. What is the name of the operating certificate that majors, nationals and regionals fly under? (Answer: Part 121 of the Federal Aviation Regulations) 
5. Can an airline obtain cargo-service authority without passenger authority from DOT? (Answer: yes, they can)
Types of Airline Certification 
U.S. scheduled airlines are classified by the government on the basis of the amount of revenue generated from operations. These classifications are major, national and regional. 
All airlines hold two certificates from the federal government: a fitness certificate and an operating certificate. 
The Department of Transportation (DOT) issues fitness certificates – called “certificates of public convenience and necessity” – under its statutory authority. Basically, the certificate establishes that the carrier has the financing and the management in place to provide scheduled service. The certificate typically authorizes both passenger and cargo service. Some airlines, however, obtain only cargo-service authority. Commuter airlines that use aircraft with a seating capacity of 60 or fewer seats  or a maximum payload capacity of no more than 18,000 pounds can operate  under the alternative authority of Part 298 of DOT’s economic  regulations. 
Operating certificates, on the other hand, are issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under Part 121 of the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), which spell out numerous requirements for operating aircraft with 10 or more seats. The requirements cover such things as the training of flight crews and aircraft maintenance programs. All majors, nationals and regional's operate with a Part 121 certificate. 
Major airlines generate operating revenues of more than $1 billion annually. Previously called trunk carriers, they generally provide nationwide, and in some cases, – worldwide service. There are many major U.S. passenger airlines such as: Alaska, American, American Eagle, Continental, Delta, Northwest, Southwest, United and US Airways. In addition, some cargo airlines are classified as majors like: FedEx and United Parcel Service. 
National carriers are scheduled airlines with annual operating revenues between $100 million and $1 billion. Many of the airlines in this category serve particular regions of the country, although some provide long-haul and even international service. Among the nationals are some of the former local service lines that, prior to deregulation, were licensed by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to operate between major cities and smaller communities surrounding them. Also in this category are some of the former supplemental carriers, previously licensed by the CAB to operate unscheduled charter service, which supplemented the capacity of the trunk carriers. Like the majors, nationals operate mostly medium- and large-sized jets. They are subject to DOT fitness requirements, as well as the FAA Part 121 operating requirements. Some of the nationals you may have heard of in the past include companies like Aloha, Atlas Air, Emery Worldwide, Evergreen, Hawaiian, Midwest Express and Polar Air Cargo. 
As their name implies, regional carriers are airlines whose service, for the most part, is limited to a single region of the country, transporting travelers between the major cities of their region and smaller, surrounding communities. This has been one of the fastest growing and most profitable segments of the industry since deregulation. Regional carriers are divided into three sub-groups: large, medium and  small. Large regionals are scheduled carriers with operating revenues of  $20 million to $100 million. Most of their aircraft seat more than 60 passengers, so they hold DOT fitness certificates from DOT and must comply with FAA Part 121 operating requirements. Medium regional's follow the same market-niche strategy as the large regionals and operate many of the same type aircraft. Their distinction is simply that they operate on a smaller scale, with operating revenues under $20 million. Small regionals, sometimes called commuters, represent the largest segment of the regional airline business. There is no official revenue definition of a small regional. What distinguishes them as a group, more than anything else, is the size of the aircraft they operate. All have less than 61 seats, which means they do not require a fitness certificate from DOT; DOT only requires that they register their service and make certain annual reports to the department under Section 298 of the DOT economic regulations. 
Cargo Carriers 
Within the categories of major, national and regional airlines are, not only passenger carriers, but cargo carriers as well. While much of the cargo that moves by air is carried in the bellies of passenger jets or in combination aircraft where the main deck is divided into two  sections, one for cargo and one for passengers; other aircraft in use by  principally all cargo carriers, called freighters, carry nothing but freight. 
Freighters are, most often, passenger jets that have been stripped of their seats to maximize cargo-carrying capacity. In addition, their decks are reinforced to accommodate heavier loads, and they typically have other cargo-handling features, such as rollers, built into the floors, extra-large doors, and hinged nose and tail sections. DOT has a special fitness review procedure for all-cargo carriers, but most of the large ones hold a certificate of public convenience and necessity. Among the largest cargo carriers are companies that began in the small package and overnight document-delivery business. These are the integrated carriers, so called because they offer door-to-door service, combining the services of the traditional airline and the freight forwarder. 
2. Use the information from the text to define the following:
1. Passenger jets that have been stripped of seats to carry cargo only are called…………………………………. (Answer: freighters)
2. Carriers that operate in a certain region of the country with operating revenues under $20 mln are called…………………. (Answer: regional (medium) carriers)
3. Airlines that include some of the former local service lines that, prior to deregulation, were licensed by the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) to operate between major cities and smaller communities surrounding them belong to………………………(Answer: national carriers)
4. FedEx and UPS are classified as………………………(Answer: major cargo carriers)
5. Airlines that offer door-to-door delivery service are called……………………………………… (Answer: intergrated carriers)
3. Match the classification with the operating revenues:
1) >$1bln annually
2) $100 mln-1 bln annually
3) $20 mln-100 mln annually
4) <$20 mln
a. medium regionals
b. nationals
c. majors
d. large regionals
Answers:  1c, 2b, 3d, 4a

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