• Aliena Sütterlin

What does Airworthiness really mean?

I work with aircraft, clients, engineers, pilots and partners all day, everyday and we all have a combined goal, which is to take care of an aircraft to ensure that our clients can keep on flying. We are, in part, responsible for keeping an aircraft in the air. But I recently had to stop and ask myself, what does being ‘airworthy’ actually mean in our industry? Is airworthiness only dependent on continuing airworthiness organizations (CAMO)?

I've overheard many different discussions within Business Aviation about how to define the common used word. There are many broad definitions and there are also many sub-definitions including:

Continuing Airworthiness

“meaning 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” - EASA

Continued Airworthiness

“all the actions associated with the upkeep of a type design and the associated approved data through life.” - MAA


“when an aircraft or one of its components parts meets its type design and is in a condition for safe operation”. - FAA

Airworthiness and Environmental Certification

“the aircraft must be operated in accordance with the applicable environmental documentation” in regards to products, parts and appliances”.
- EU Commission Regulation

And it doesn’t stop there, there are many different explanations from the different agencies (EASA, FAA, ICAO, IATA). As well as a difference in definitions of airworthiness applying to the military and special operations.

Airworthiness Infographic

Wow. That’s a lot of simultaneous words, meaning and describing different things.

So which one is correct?

Well, my conclusion would be that “airworthiness” cannot simply be summarized within one stand-alone sentence or definition. And that’s because airworthiness includes so many different areas in aviation.

It is not only the Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization (CAMO), but also the maintenance, personnel, education, certification and licensing departments that are concerned with keeping an aircraft in the air. You could even go as far as linking the aircraft manufacturers in its first stages of production.

Therefore, my personal definition of airworthiness is about the collaboration between all of the different aviation departments in order to make the aircraft airworthy, and as a result, able to fly safely.

I think it’s easy to forget the entirety of the jobs we all do, it’s easy to be focused on the single sector and not appreciate that without our sector running smoothly, the other sectors cannot succeed. We all rely on each other to keep the process running, so I like the idea that we are collectively gathered under the term ‘airworthiness’ working in different ways to keep our clients happy.

So next time you’re confronted with the word airworthiness, stop and take a moment to figure out which part of airworthiness are you contributing to in your job.

Based on that, I would like to ask: How are you involved? How would you describe airworthiness? What does it mean to you? - I’d be glad to hear what you think in the comments below.

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