N 8900.423


National Policy

Effective Date: 5/31/17



Cancellation Date: 5/31/18



Rotorcraft External-Load Operations

1.    Purpose of This Notice. This notice announces revisions to Advisory Circular (AC) 133-1, Rotorcraft External‑Load Operations; the supporting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Order 8900.1 guidance/policy; and Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 133 letter of authorization (LOA) templates in the Web‑based Operations Safety System (WebOPSS) to align with current regulations and policy. These revisions also address Class B human external cargo (HEC) operations to include portable safety devices (PSD).

2.    Audience. The primary audience for this notice is Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) aviation safety inspectors (ASI) and principal inspectors (PI). The secondary audience includes FSDO managers and supervisors, other operational employees, and Flight Standards (AFS) branches and divisions in the regions and in headquarters (HQ).

3.    Where You Can Find This Notice. You can find this notice on the MyFAA employee website at Inspectors can access this notice through the Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS) at Operators can find this notice on the FAA’s website at This notice is available to the public at

4.    Background. Industry changes have outpaced regulation and policy updates to ensure safe helicopter external-load operations where Class B HEC operations are performed. Industry questions, regional and field office concerns, and numerous safety recommendations from the field have triggered the Commercial Operations Branch (AFS-820) to conduct a thorough review of part 133 related guidance and policy. AFS-820 has updated AC 133-1 and the supporting policy in Order 8900.1 to provide detailed information essential for safe operations with regard to Class B HEC operations.

5.    Guidance. AFS-820 has revised the following documents, which include minor edits to the part 133 LOA templates in WebOPSS.

a.    AC. AC 133-1, Rotorcraft External-Load Operations.

b.    FAA Order 8900.1.

    Volume 2, Chapter 7, Section 1, The Certification Process—Part 133.

    Volume 3, Chapter 51, Section 1, Introduction to Part 133 Related Tasks.

    Volume 3, Chapter 51, Section 3, Evaluate a Rotorcraft-Load Combination Flight Manual.

c.    Part 133 LOA Templates. All part 133 LOA templates were updated to the LOA outline numbering format, including those not specifically mentioned in this notice. This notice contains:

    A sample LOA A001 template in Appendix A.

    A sample LOA A002 template in Appendix B.

    A sample LOA A007 template in Appendix C.

    A sample LOA A025 template in Appendix D.

    A sample LOA A044 template in Appendix E.

    A sample LOA A054 template in Appendix F.

    A sample LOA D085 template in Appendix G.

6.    Explanation of Key Changes.

a.    AC and Order 8900.1. AC 133-1 and the respective Order 8900.1 guidance/policy was updated to align with current rules and regulations and provide detailed information essential for safe operations with regard to Class B HEC operations. The detailed information consists of the following areas:

    Class B HEC briefings, training, and operations;

    Personnel qualifications;

    Operational safety considerations; and


b.    Part 133 Authorizations. The updates to the templates in WebOPSS standardize the language within the part 133 associated paragraphs to refer to them as LOAs, instead of operations specifications (OpSpecs).

7.    Action. ASIs should review AC 133-1; Order 8900.1, Volume 2, Chapter 7, Section 1 and Volume 3, Chapter 51, Sections 1 and 3; and part 133 LOAs A001, A002, A007, A025, A044, A054, and D085. The revisions to the affected part 133 templates are nonmandatory. ASIs should follow the guidance in Order 8900.1, Volume 3, Chapter 18, Section 2, subparagraph 3-711C, Nonmandatory Changes, for reissuing the LOAs to the part 133 operators for which they have responsibility.

8.    Disposition. The information contained in this notice has been incorporated into Order 8900.1. Direct questions or comments concerning the information in this notice to AFS-820 at 202-267-1100.


/s/ John S. Duncan

Director, Flight Standards Service

Appendix A. Sample LOA A001, Issuance and Applicability: 14 CFR Part 133

1.  These letters of authorization (LOA) are issued to [OPERATOR NAME], whose principal base of operation is located at:

Primary Business Address:

2.  The holder of this LOA is the holder of Rotorcraft External-Load Operating Certificate Number [CERTIFICATE NUMBER] and shall hereafter be referred to as the certificate holder. The certificate holder is authorized to conduct the following operations under the authority of 14 CFR part 133:

☐  Class A External Loads

☐  Class B External Loads

☐  Class C External Loads

☐  Class D External Loads

3.  The certificate holder must conduct these operations in accordance with the specific authorizations, limitations, and procedures in these LOAs and all appropriate parts of the CFR.

4.  These LOAs are effective as of the “Effective Date” listed in each paragraph and shall remain in effect as long as the certificate holder continues to meet all appropriate parts of the CFR. These LOAs becomes invalid and must be surrendered when the certificate holder no longer meets the requirements for certification, the certificate holder ceases operations, or upon expiration of the certificate holder’s Operating Certificate issued under part 133, whichever occurs first. These LOAs may be amended or rescinded by the Administrator.

5.     The certificate holder is authorized to use only the business name which appears on the certificate to conduct the operations described in subparagraph 2.

  The certificate holder is authorized to conduct the operations described in subparagraph 2 under the following other business names:

[LOAD DBA names]

Appendix B. Sample LOA A002, Definitions and Abbreviations: 14 CFR Part 133

Unless otherwise defined in this letter of authorization (LOA), all words, phrases, definitions, and abbreviations have identical meanings to those used in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) and Title 49 of the United States Code (49 U.S.C.) as cited in Public Law 103-272, as amended.

Certificate Holder

In these LOAs, the term “certificate holder” means the holder of the certificate described in LOA A001 and any of its officers, employees, or agents used in the conduct of operations under these LOAs.

Class A External Loads

Class A external load is one in which the external load cannot move freely, cannot be jettisoned, and does not extend below the landing gear. Carriage of supplies in an approved cargo rack or bin or a seat affixed to the exterior of the aircraft, to be occupied by a powerline repairman or a cameraman, could be examples of a Class A external load.

Class B External Loads

Class B is an external cargo load that can be jettisoned and is lifted free of land and/or water by a cargo hook or winch. An example of a Class B load operation would be the placement of an air conditioning unit on the roof of a tall building, or a trapeze act.

Class C External Loads

Class C is an external cargo load which can be jettisoned and remains in contact with land or water. An example is a wire stringing operation at a construction project.

Class D External Loads

Class D is an external cargo load other than Class A, B, or C and approved on an individual basis through the issuance of LOA A044. An example would be an operation involving the carriage of an individual in an FAA-approved personnel lifting device. Class D authorization has special considerations, especially in terms of operating rules.

Appendix C. Sample LOA A007, Other Designated Persons: 14 CFR Part 133

1.  The following person is designated as the certificate holder's Agent for Service:

[Agent for Service name and address]

2.  The following personnel are designated to officially apply for and receive letters of authorization for the certificate holder as indicated in Table 1. This table also designates the FAA required Chief Pilot for the part 133 certificate holder.

Table 1 – Designated Persons to Apply for and Receive Authorizations



Parts Authorized




3.  The following personnel or company email boxes are designated to receive Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) and/or Information for Operators (INFO) messages for the certificate holder as indicated below. A receipt of the information by a carrier or person is not required.

Table 2 – Personnel Designated to Receive SAFOs and/or INFOs


Email Address

Telephone No.

Type of Information to Receive







Appendix D. Sample LOA A025, Electronic Signatures, Electronic Recordkeeping Systems, and Electronic Manuals: 14 CFR Part 133

1.  The certificate holder is authorized to use electronic signatures, electronic recordkeeping systems, and electronic manuals in accordance with the subparagraphs and tables contained in this letter of authorization.

  2.  The certificate holder is authorized to use electronic signatures in accordance with the requirements of 14 CFR part 133.

  2.  The certificate holder is not authorized to use electronic signatures.

3.  The certificate holder is authorized to use the electronic recordkeeping system(s) listed in Table 1.

Table 1 – Electronic Recordkeeping System(s)

Kind of Record

Name of Electronic System

Software Version Number

Manual Containing Electronic Recordkeeping System Description





4.  The certificate holder is authorized to use the electronic manual(s) listed in Table 2.

Table 2 – Electronic Manual(s)

Name of Manual


Appendix E. Sample LOA A044, Class D Operations Involving Carriage of Persons: 14 CFR Part 133

1.  The certificate holder is authorized to conduct Class D operations in accordance with 14 CFR parts 91 and 133, and the limitations and provisions of this letter of authorization (LOA).

2.  Carriage of persons is authorized only in accordance with policies and procedures which are outlined in the FAA‑approved Rotorcraft-Load Combination Flight Manual. Operable voice communications must be maintained among the pilot, hoist operator (if used), and at least one ground person who is designated as the principal ground coordinator.

3.  Before conducting Class D operations involving the carriage of persons in a personnel lifting device, the pilot in command must:

a.  Perform one-engine-inoperative hover calculations and determine that the aircraft is able to sustain a hover and maneuver to a landing in the event of a single power unit failure, considering total aircraft and load weight and meteorological conditions at the beginning of and throughout the entire operations.

b.  Perform individual weight and balance calculations to ensure the aircraft and its load is within the:

(1)  Total aircraft weight limits,
(2)  Total external-load weight limits,
(3)  Lateral center of gravity limits, and
(4)  Longitudinal center of gravity limits.

4.  Personal Lifting Devices. No person may be carried in a lifting device unless it has been approved by the Administrator.

5.  This authorization becomes invalid when the certificate holder no longer meets all the requirements of this LOA.

6.  Aircraft authorized for Class D external-load operations.


Aircraft Registration No.

Device Load

Lift Device





Appendix F. Sample LOA A054, Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) Operations: 14 CFR Part 133

1.  The certificate holder is authorized to conduct 14 CFR part 133 external-load operations under IFR in accordance with 14 CFR parts 61, 91, and 133, and this letter of authorization (LOA).

2.  Limitations and Provisions.

a.  The certificate holder is authorized to use the rotorcraft listed in LOA A003 which are specifically identified as IFR operations.

b.  Except as provided in subparagraph 2c below, flight under IFR is authorized in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) when the aircraft is operated beneath a ceiling and the operation has been approved by the air traffic control facility having jurisdiction over the airspace.

c.  Flight under IFR in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) may be conducted for the purpose of repositioning the aircraft and essential personnel to and from the external-load operation site.

3.  In accordance with part 133, § 133.33(f), the certificate holder is authorized to conduct external-load operations in IMC under the following conditions and limitations:

[Text Box]

Appendix G. Sample LOA D085, Aircraft Listing: 14 CFR Part 133

The certificate holder is authorized to conduct operations under 14 CFR part 133 using the aircraft identified in this letter of authorization.

Registration No.

Serial No.

Aircraft M/M/S

[LOAD Operator Data]

[LOAD Operator Data]

[LOAD Operator Data]