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The pilot in command (PIC) is response for making sure the aircraft is airworthy and safe to fly. If for any reason during the preflight inspection, the PIC finds either a mechanical, electrical or a structural defect, the aircraft is not airworthy.

The most common questioned asked during a check-ride by the DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner) is: "Is the airplane for this checkride airworthy?"

What makes an aircraft airworthy?

These items provide information for the safe operation of all aircraft and must be installed.

  • Placards

  • Compass Card

  • Aircraft Documents


Placards allow pilots to fly and operate the aircraft safely even though curtain instruments and equipment are inoperative. The instruments or equipment must be deactivated and have a placard stating, “Inoperative or INOP”.

The information on placards is either reproduced in the limitations section or directed by an Airworthiness Directive (AD).

Compass Deviation Card:

Compass Card is a type of placard for that instrument. It must be legible and be located on or near the magnetic compass.

Aircraft Documents:

In addition to the above items there are two acronyms you need learn and memorize. You can prove to or CFI and the examiner that the airplane is airworthy.

The first one is ARROW; this document's must be with the airplane at all times per Part 91.203. You, as the pilot in command, should be able to locate them.

  • A - Airworthiness certificate - Does not expire as long as all maintenance and inspection are current and up to date. Must be in view for all passengers and air crew.

  • R - Registration - Owner of the aircraft. Registration is valid for seven years.

  • R - Radio certificate (used for international flights) - Pilots are required to have radio certificate, which are issued by the FCC for International flight’s only i.e., Mexico, Canada or Bahamas.

  • O - Operators manual (different from POH (Pilot Operating Handbook)) - Must be with the aircraft at all times.

  • W - Weight & Balance (specific to that airplane) - Must be current for that particular aircraft.

The second acronym is AVIATE. These inspections must also be current and up to date to make the airplane airworthy.

  • A - Annual

  • V - VOR (every 30 days)

  • I (1) - 100 hour

  • A - Altimeter & Pitot Static (24 calendar months)

  • T - Transponder (24 calendar months)

  • E - ELT (12 calendar months)

Annual Inspection - Required every 12 calendar months for all aircraft.

This Includes: Airframe, Engine, and Propeller. All items must, be signed off by an FAA certified mechanic.

VOR Inspection - Every 30 days for IFR flight.

100 Hour Inspections - Required for all aircraft that are for hire or flight instruction.

Every 100 hours is read from the Tachometer (Tach Time), they may be flown 10 hours over the 100 hours, if the aircraft is in transit for the 100-hour inspection. Must be signed off by an FAA certified mechanic.

Altimeter & Pitot Static - Required every 24 calendar months.

Transponder - Required every 24 calendar months.

ELT and Battery - ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) functional check due every 12 calendar months.

  • Battery must be changed, when the ELT has been in use for more than 1 cumulative hour -OR- when ELT battery life is 50% or lower.

TIP: Before your checkride, be sure you can locate these inspections in the airplane's maintenance logbooks. It is ok to tag them, to make it easier for the DPE to find them.


Be sure you can locate these maintenance inspections in the airplane's maintenance logbooks. On the day of your check-ride the DPE will ask to see them. Put these two acronyms to memory and you will never forget them.


  • AV1ATE


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