The Five Stage Certification Process

Applicable to Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Falkland Islands, Montserrat and St Helena only.

Application Forms for an AOC are not made available on the website. Any initial enquiries, regarding interest in obtaining an AOC, should be forwarded in writing to: enquiries@airsafety.aero.

The Air Operator Certificate (AOC) and the associated Operations Specifications, provide the basis for ASSI to regulate the activities of an operator and it is the means by which an air operator is authorised to conduct commercial air transport operations, in compliance with the applicable regulations. It also acts as a means to exercise continued safety oversight of an operator.

The Certification Process for an AOC application is a complex and demanding one (for both ASSI and the applicant) and is in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) 5 Phase process:

  • Phase 1 - Pre-Application Phase;
  • Phase 2 - Formal Application Phase;
  • Phase 3 - Document Evaluation Phase;
  • Phase 4 -  Demonstration and Inspection Phase;
  • Phase 5 - Certification Phase.

Phase 1 - Pre-Application Phase

The Pre-Application Phase will determine that the applicant (who will have the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the operation) is not only potentially eligible for the issuance of an AOC, but also has the ability, competence and resources both to conduct safe and efficient operations and to comply with all applicable requirements. It is also used to determine that the organisation has sufficient understanding of the appropriate regulations/requirements, to clarify the expectations of ASSI and determine the suitability of nominated postholders, which can also involve face to face interviews.

If the initial enquiry and proposal appears to be genuine and a realistic prospect, a ‘Prospective Operator’s Pre-Assessment Statement and Intended Operations Specification’ Form is sent to the applicant. The completed form, along with ‘Nominated Postholder’ Forms for relevant staff, would then need to be submitted to ASSI.

All regulations/requirements for AOC holders are available on the ASSI website and the relevant documents need to be understood in great detail if a proposer is to be successful, the key ones being:


Phase 2 - Formal Application Phase

If a prospective applicant is successful, the Formal Application Phase is commenced. An applicant is required to submit a full Application Pack, which consists of a cover letter from the applicant, together with a completed Application Form and ALL documentation required by an AOC holder (Operations Manual, Maintenance Manuals, Training Programmes, aircraft documentation etc.).

The application package would not be formally accepted until all the required documentation is submitted in the application package for evaluation.


Phase 3 - Documentation Evaluation Phase

This is where ASSI review and evaluate all documentation in the accepted Application Pack.

This process can take some time and will result in ongoing communications until all the documentation has been approved or accepted, as applicable.

In addition, during this time, operational and maintenance facilities should be prepared in readiness for the inspection phase and will be necessary for the acceptance/approval of applicable documents.


Phase 4 - Demonstration and Inspection Phase

This Phase involves operational, maintenance control and, where required, aviation security inspections. This is where the applicant demonstrates the ability to comply with the regulations/requirements and to competently manage/operate a commercial air transport operation to a standard acceptable to ASSI.


Phase 5 – Certification Phase

This is where ASSI ensure that the applicant has met all the requirements for certification and that they are fully capable of being an AOC holder, maintaining compliance with the applicable regulations and the Operations Specification to be issued.

The final part of this Phase is the issuing of an AOC and Operations Specification, following which ASSI exercises continued safety oversight of the operator, which includes routine on-site audits, by both Flight Operations Inspectors and Airworthiness Surveyors.

Applicants in other Overseas Territories should contact the Overseas Territory Aviation Authority (OTAA) in that Territory.

Apply for the Renewal/ Variation of an AOC

Find out more about the renewal or variation of an AOC and download the application form.

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