The 7 Steps Companies Take to Obtain an Air Operator Certificate (AOC)

Blank copy of Air Operator Certificate

An Air Operator Certificate is a legal authorization issued by the aviation regulatory authority of any country that allows an operator to engage in commercial air transport activities. The AOC signifies that an operator has met stringent safety, maintenance, operational, and regulatory requirements, ensuring that the operation is conducted with the highest level of safety and professionalism. Aircraft management companies and their clients must follow a stringent process to acquire an AOC.

The AOC Application Process – Here’s How It Works:


  1. Eligibility Assessment: The first step for an aircraft management company who wants an AOC is to undergo an eligibility assessment conducted by the relevant aviation regulatory authority. This involves evaluating the company’s organizational structure, operational plans, management team, and financial stability. Companies must demonstrate their capability to maintain and operate aircraft in accordance with the established standards. And that’s the easy part. Now the real work starts.


  1. Documentation Preparation: A comprehensive set of documents must be submitted to the regulatory authority, showcasing the company’s operating procedures, safety management system, maintenance programs, training protocols, and emergency response plans. These documents must align with international aviation regulations and standards set by organizations like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the relevant national aviation authority. 


  1. Safety Management System (SMS) Implementation: A robust SMS is a cornerstone of aviation safety. Aircraft management companies need to establish an effective SMS that identifies and manages operational risks, fosters a culture of safety, and maintains ongoing communication and reporting mechanisms.


  1. Training: All personnel involved in the aircraft management company’s operations, from pilots and maintenance technicians to ground staff and management, must undergo appropriate training to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out their responsibilities safely and efficiently.


  1. Aircraft Maintenance: Demonstrating the ability to maintain aircraft to the highest standards is a critical component of the AOC application. Companies must present a comprehensive aircraft maintenance program that outlines inspection schedules, maintenance procedures, and compliance with manufacturer recommendations.


  1. Test Flights and Evaluations: Before an AOC is granted, the regulatory authority may require test flights and evaluations to assess the company’s adherence to safety and operational standards. These evaluations are designed to ensure that the aircraft management company is capable of operating aircraft safely and effectively.


  1. Final Review and Approval: Once all documentation, processes, and evaluations have been reviewed and deemed satisfactory by the regulatory authority, the aircraft management company will receive its AOC. This signifies that the company is authorized to engage in commercial air transport operations.


Attaining an AOC signals a company’s commitment to safety, operational excellence, and regulatory compliance. As you’ve read here, it requires meticulous planning, extensive documentation, and rigorous adherence to international aviation standards.

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