Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC)

In this article, we will examine what is Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC)?, what is it for?, how to get it?, and what are the other details?

AOC is a document that allows an air operator company to use aircraft for commercial purposes in certain subjects and areas. If the operators want to use their aircraft for commercial purposes, they must purchase AOC.

According to the definition of ICAO; AOC is a certificate authorizing an operator to carry out specified commercial air transport operations (ICAO Annex 6).

Besides, AOC certificate refers to Air Carrier Operating Certificate in USA.

The AOC certificate is an approval given to the operating company by the relevant national aviation authority (NAA). The AOC document generally checks whether the necessary systems are in place to protect the operator’s assets, personnel and public safety. In addition, the AOC document determines which type of aviation activity the operator is permitted to and which type of aircraft it can use.

Air Operator's Certificate
source: wikipedia, dragonfly aviation


Which type of aviation activity is meant by this? The AOC document can be issued to operate in the areas listed below.

• Aerial surveying
• Aerial spotting
•Agricultural operations
• Aerial photography
• Aerial advertising
•Fire fighting
•Air ambulance or aeromedical
•Flight training
•Public transport

An aircraft operator cannot operate outside the fields of activity specified in the AOC document. AOC documents are approved by the National Aviation Authority (NAA) as we mentioned. Besides, let’s see what an AOC document covers in general. As an example, we can look at IR-OPS ORO.AOC (EU-OPS 1.175) details of the general rules for Air Operator’s Certification.

An AOC specifies:

(a) Name and location (principal place of business) of the operator;
(b) Date of issue and period of validity;
(c) Description of the type of operations authorized;
(d) Type(s) of airplane(s) authorized for use;
(e) Registration markings of the authorised aeroplane(s) except that operators may obtain approval for a system to inform the Authority about the registration markings for aeroplanes operated under its AOC;
(f) Authorized area of ​​operation;
(g) Special limitations; and
(h) Special authorisations / approvals.

There are requirements that an aircraft operator must meet in order to obtain Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC). These requirements are determined by the relevant NAA. However, we can mention some common conditions sought by all NAAs. These conditions are as follows:

Sufficient personnel with the required experience for the type of operations requested,
Airworthy aircraft, suitable for the type of operations requested,
Acceptable systems for the training of crew and the operation of the aircraft (Operations Manual).
• A quality system to ensure that all applicable regulations are followed:
The appointment of key accountable staff, who are responsible for specific safety critical functions such as training, maintenance and operations,
• Carriers Liability Insurance (for Airlines) – Operators are to have sufficient insurance to cover the injury or death of any passenger carried,
* Proof that the operator has sufficient finances to fund the operation,
• The operator has sufficient ground infrastructure, or arrangements for the supply of sufficient infrastructure, to support its operations into the aerodromes requested.

Further reading on this topic:

Air Operator Certification and Surveillance Handbook (ICAO)