8900.1 CHG 543



Section 3  Evaluate Airworthiness Issues for Part 137


A.    Maintenance: 3202.

B.    Avionics: 5202.

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C.    Operations: 1202.

2-1022    OBJECTIVE. This section provides guidance for evaluating an applicant for a Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 137 certificate.

2-1023    GENERAL. Due to the nature of part 137 operations, the way that the certification team handles the evaluation will depend on the size and complexity of the proposed operation. Aviation safety inspectors (ASI) may find that some of the certification phases overlap. For example, an ASI may review documents from the Document Compliance Phase prior to the meeting held during the Formal Application Phase.

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A.    The Certification Team. The district office has the responsibility of appointing a certification team. The size of the certification team will depend on the complexity of the proposed operation. The team should consist of at least one Operations and one Maintenance ASI. An Avionics ASI may also be required. A member of the team will be designated as certification project manager (CPM). Certification of a part 137 operator that wishes to use an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) requires the inspector to have additional knowledge of Public Law (PL) 112-95, FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, Section 333, Special Rules for Certain Unmanned Aircraft Systems; the 14 CFR part 11 exemption process; 14 CFR part 107; and Volume 16.

B.    Coordination. The CPM must closely coordinate all activities with the appropriate specialty.

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C.    Eligibility Requirements. Part 137 authorizes both private and commercial agricultural aircraft operations. The operator of a UAS either cannot comply with several sections in part 137, or those requirements are not applicable to UAS operations. Therefore, an applicant proposing to use a UAS must receive a grant of exemption with relief from the appropriate sections of part 137 (or other applicable 14 CFR parts) before the certification process reaches the Demonstration and Inspection Phase. The applicant must provide a copy of the exemption to the certification team. The phrase “unless otherwise exempted” is used numerous times in this volume and refers to an operator’s exemption, whether they are operating a small UAS under part 107 or under a PL 112-95, Section 333 exemption for a UAS that weighs 55 pounds or more.

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1)    The private agricultural aircraft operator may not conduct operations over property, unless the operator is the owner or lessee of the property, or has ownership or other legal interest in the crops located on the property. (See Volume 3, Chapter 52, Section 1, subparagraph 3-4233D, Proof of Property Interest.) In addition, the private operator may not conduct operations for compensation or hire over a congested area. (Refer to part 137, 137.35.) A commercial agricultural aircraft operator is not limited by these conditions.
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2)    The private operator/applicant for manned aircraft operations must hold a Private, Commercial, or Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate with appropriate ratings.
3)    The private operator/applicant for unmanned aircraft (UA) operations must hold an exemption from 137.19(b). The exemption will dictate the level of pilot certificate the applicant must hold to conduct operations.
4)    The commercial operator/applicant for manned aircraft operations must have available the services of a pilot having a current Commercial or ATP Certificate with appropriate ratings. (The applicant may be the available pilot.)
5)    The commercial operator/applicant for UA operations must hold an exemption from  137.19(b). The exemption will dictate the level of pilot certificate the applicant must hold to conduct operations.
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6)    The applicant for either a Private or Commercial Agricultural Aircraft Operator Certificate must provide at least one properly certificated Airworthy aircraft equipped for agricultural operations in manned aircraft. Applicants proposing to use a noncertificated UAS must hold an exemption from 137.19(d) and 137.31(a) and (b).
7)    The applicant for a Commercial Operator Certificate may have the services of a chief supervisor of agricultural operations. This supervisor must possess the appropriate knowledge and skills, according to the category of aircraft used (e.g., airplane, rotorcraft, or UAS).

D.    Exemptions.

1)    The operator/applicant using a UAS in their operation will require an exemption from certain applicable 14 CFR parts.
2)    Operations performed under part 107 require an exemption from part 107, 107.36 and  137.19(c); 137.19(d); 137.19(e)(2)(ii), (iii), and (v); 137.31(a) and (b); 137.33(a) and (b); 137.41(c); and 137.42.
3)    Operations with a UAS that weighs 55 pounds or more require an exemption from applicable sections of 14 CFR parts 61, 91, and the sections of part 137 listed above. Please note, this list of regulations may not be all-inclusive to each operator’s situation.

E.    Deviations and Waivers.

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1)    Public aircraft (manned aircraft and UA) used to conduct agricultural operations need not comply with the certification rules of part 137 but must comply with certain operating rules of part 137.
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2)    A rotorcraft (including UAS) equipped for agricultural operations under a 14 CFR part 133 certificate only is limited to the dispensing of water on forest fires.
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3)    The following examples of deviations to part 137 applicability require waivers or Certificates of Authorization (CoA):

    Operations within Class D airspace;

    Operations below visual flight rules (VFR) minimums for manned aircraft, and in accordance with 107.51 for UA; and

    Operations over congested areas.

2-1024    THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS. The following certification process provides for a continuous interaction, from the applicant’s initial inquiry to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) certificate issuance or denial. It ensures that the applicant’s proposed programs, systems, and intended methods of compliance are thoroughly reviewed, evaluated, and tested by use of the following five-phase process:

A.    Preapplication Phase. The applicant will submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) outlining the proposed operation. If the applicant requires information about the application or needs additional guidance, the CPM has the option of conducting a preapplication meeting.

B.    Formal Application Phase. The Formal Application Phase begins when the team receives the application and/or LOI. The entire team then meets with the applicant. Any questions that arise at this time should be resolved.

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NOTE:  An applicant using UAS in the operation must have made petition for an exemption, applicant for a waiver, or CoA before the Formal Application Phase begins.

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C    Document Compliance Phase. During this phase, the application and all other submitted material will be reviewed. If the applicant will become certificated with a UAS, the applicant must provide the CPM with the make, model, and series (M/M/S), if applicable, of the UAS or the type, registration number (FA number), and serial number of the UAS to be used.

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D.    Demonstration and Inspection Phase. During this phase, the applicant will demonstrate the ability to comply with all applicable 14 CFR parts, any conditions and limitations (C&L) in an exemption or waiver (if held), and safe operating practices.

NOTE:  An applicant using UAS in the operation must have a granted exemption, waiver, or CoA in hand before the Demonstration and Inspection Phase begins.

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1)    Commercial agricultural aircraft operators must have a system for maintaining a current list of customers (within the last 12 months) and services provided. This system must include a method of retaining these records. The FAA does not require private agricultural aircraft operators to maintain comparable records detailing their agricultural dispensing operations.
2)    The Maintenance ASI(s) will conduct the inspection of aircraft records, the aircraft, and dispensing equipment for both commercial and private agricultural aircraft operators.
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NOTE:  For UAS, confirm maintenance requirements by referring to C&L in the applicable exemption, waiver, or CoA.

NOTE:  When inspecting previously used dispensing equipment, caution should be used in order to prevent contamination from hazardous/toxic materials.

3)    The size and complexity of the operation will determine the extent of the inspection required at an operator’s base.
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4)    During the certification process, the applicant or designated chief supervisor must demonstrate satisfactory knowledge and skills regarding agricultural aircraft operations, unless previously demonstrated to the FAA, and show a legitimate logbook endorsement, signed and dated, or a signed letter of competency.

E.    The Certification Phase. If certification requirements are met and the certificate is to be issued, the Air Operator Certificate number must be obtained from the Aviation Data Systems Branch (AFS-620).


A.    Prerequisites. Previous experience with part 137 operations.

B.    Coordination. This task requires close coordination between Airworthiness and Operations ASIs.


A.    References (current editions):

    Title 14 CFR Parts 1, 43, 61, and 91.

    Advisory Circular (AC) 137-1, Certification Process for Agricultural Aircraft Operators.

B.    Forms:

    FAA Form 8710-3, Agricultural Aircraft Operator Certificate Application.

    FAA Form 8430-21, Operating Certificate.

C.    Job Aids. None.

2-1027    PROCEDURES.

A.    Preapplication Phase. Provide the applicant with the necessary information and the application form. Advise the applicant to submit an LOI and to ensure compliance with any other applicable Federal, state, and/or local aerial application regulations.

1)    Schedule a preapplication meeting, if necessary.
2)    Obtain a precertification number from AFS-620, if required.
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3)    Discuss required exemptions, waivers, and CoAs, if applicable, for UAS operators.

B.    Formal Application Phase.

1)    Accept the application and review the LOI. The LOI should include the following information:

    Specific type of Agricultural Aircraft Operator Certificate for which applicant is applying (commercial or private);

    Company legal name and appropriate company business names (doing business as (DBA)), principal operation base address, primary airport address, mailing address (if applicable), and telephone numbers;

    Type of aircraft to be operated;

    Type of materials to be dispensed;

    Estimated date when operations or services will begin; and

    Names and addresses of any management personnel or chief supervisor.

2)    Conduct a formal meeting, as appropriate.
3)    Schedule the required inspections.
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NOTE:  For an applicant planning to use a UAS in their operation (which requires an exemption), they must have made petition for an exemption to the applicable 14 CFR parts by the time the Formal Application Phase begins.

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C.    Document Compliance Phase. Review the application and associated documents to ensure that the information is complete and correct. If an applicant or operator proposes to use a UAS in part 137 operations, the inspector must verify there are no discrepancies between the documents submitted by the operator, such as the exemption, waiver, CoA, or associated operating documents, and the proposed operation. If a discrepancy exists, the inspector should contact the General Aviation and Commercial Division (AFS-800) for guidance. If the applicant will become certificated with a UAS, the applicant must provide the CPM with the M/M/S, if applicable), of the UAS type, registration number (FA number), and serial number of the UAS to be used.

D.    Demonstration and Inspection Phase.

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1)    Conduct any knowledge and skill tests (applicable to the category of aircraft used, e.g., airplane, rotorcraft, or UAS), as required.
2)    Inspect the commercial applicant’s record system, as applicable.
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3)    Inspect the aircraft, the aircraft maintenance records, and any records required by the operating documents listed in applicable exemptions, to ensure the following:

    Aircraft are properly certificated and Airworthy, unless otherwise exempted;

    Inspection status is current, unless otherwise exempted;

    Aircraft are appropriately equipped for agricultural operations; and

    Aircraft are in condition for safe operation.

4)    Conduct a facility inspection, as appropriate.
5)    Conduct a debriefing with the certification team to analyze the findings.
6)    Conduct a meeting with the applicant and resolve any deficiencies.
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NOTE:  For an applicant planning to use a UAS in their operation (which requires an exemption), they must have been granted an exemption to the applicable 14 CFR parts by the time the Demonstration and Inspection Phase begins.

E.    Certification Phase.

1)    When the applicant has met all regulatory requirements for certification, the CPM must prepare FAA Form 8430-21, as follows:
a)    Certificate holder’s name. Enter the certificate holder’s full and legal name directly below the words “This certifies that.” Other names, such as DBAs, should also be listed on the certificate. If necessary, list them on an attached letter.
b)    Certificate holder’s address. Enter the address of the certificate holder’s principal base of operations directly below the certificate holder’s name. A Post Office Box address is unacceptable, unless it also reflects the physical location of the principal base of operations.
c)    Certification statement of authority. Specify “commercial” or “private” agricultural aircraft operations.
d)    Certificate number. Obtain a certificate number from AFS-620.
e)    Effective date. The effective date shall be the date all requirements for certification are met. If amending a certificate to reflect an address change or a change of the assigned district office, show the date of original issuance on the new certificate.
f)    Issued at. Enter the four-character alphanumeric designator, city, and state of the certificate‑holding district office (CHDO).
g)    Signature, title, and CHDO designation. The CHDO manager or designee shall sign Operating Certificates issued to operators complying with part 137. Enter the full title of the person signing the certificate in the space provided. Show the designations of the region and the Flight Standards District Office (FSDO).
2)    Ensure that the certification report is prepared. This report establishes the district office file for the operator and must include the name and title of each ASI who assisted in the certification project. The report must be signed by the CPM. The report must contain the following:

    A copy of the LOI;

    The application;

    Schedule of events;

    A copy of the Operating Certificate;

    A summary of any difficulties encountered during the certification process, including a description of corrective actions; and

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    A copy of any authorization for deviation, waiver, or exemption issued.

2-1028    TASK OUTCOMES.

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A.    Complete the PTRS Record.

B.    Complete the Task. Completion of this task will result in one of the following:

    Issuance of a certificate.

    A letter to the applicant indicating the certificate is denied.

    A letter to the applicant confirming termination of the certification process by the applicant.

C.    Distribution of Certification Report.

1)    Retain the original certification report and all supporting documents in the district office file for the operator/applicant.
2)    If any aircraft will be domiciled outside the CHDO’s geographical area of responsibility, the principal inspectors (PI) may wish to provide any or all of the certification files to the appropriate district office.
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A.    Develop Postcertification Plan. When developing a postcertification plan, the inspector should plan to conduct additional surveillance or inspections during the first 90 calendar-days the organization is in business. Accomplishment of the surveillance may require assistance from other district offices.

B.    Conduct Surveillance. According to the established postcertification plan, conduct surveillance at appropriate intervals and update the Web-based Operations Safety System (WebOPSS) and the Enhanced Flight Standards Automation System (eFSAS).

RESERVED. Paragraphs 2-1030 through 2-1045.