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Flight in Non-Army Aircraft

AMRDEC Tech Talk By Mr. David B. Cripps 

This situation was at best awkward in Aviation Foreign Internal Defense missions conducted jointly and particularly troublesome when involving Russian-built helicopters. In a series of three ALARACT (All Army Activities) messages, Army senior leadership provided policy guidance requiring risk acceptance at the general officer (GO) level for passenger operations on Mi-8/17 series helicopters.

1214 AMRDECMi-8 Hip Roving Sands 99 / WikipediaThis situation was at best awkward in Aviation Foreign Internal Defense missions conducted jointly and particularly troublesome when involving Russian-built helicopters. In a series of three ALARACT (All Army Activities) messages, Army senior leadership provided policy guidance requiring risk acceptance at the general officer (GO) level for passenger operations on Mi-8/17 series helicopters. Flying as aircrew on these aircraft was even more restrictive, essentially prohibiting Army Aviators to operate Russian-built helicopters in all but the most critical of missions. The Air Force and Navy, however, had no such restrictions. But many of the support contracts were Army contracts, which necessarily follow Army regulations.

To remedy this situation, the Joint Staff assembled a team of aviation and airworthiness experts from the Joint Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), all the Services and several combatant commands to develop an overarching DoD Airworthiness Policy, which was formally published in April 2013 as DoD Directive 5030.61. This new policy clarified the requirement that all aircraft on which DoD personnel (including uniformed military, civil service employees and contractors performing on a DoD contract) fly must have been certified as airworthy by a recognized airworthiness authority.

Many aircraft are considered to be fully airworthy for Army purposes. Army personnel may fly as passenger, and when appropriately trained, as aircrew aboard these aircraft. They include:

  • U.S. military (USN, USMC and USAF) aircraft certified as airworthy by their Service airworthiness authority (AA);
  • U.S. civil registered aircraft with FAA-issued Type Certificate (TC), any applicable Amended or Supplemental TCs (ATC or STCs) and current Certificate of Airworthiness (CoA) for the current configuration, and operated and maintained in accordance with the approved flight and maintenance manuals;
  • Contractor-owned aircraft not in an approved civil configuration but holding an airworthiness certification from a U.S. Service AA;
  • Other U.S. Government Agency aircraft certified as airworthy by their Agency and operated/maintained under provisions of Federal Management Regulation 33-102, Management of Federal Aircraft;
  • Non-U.S. civil registered aircraft for countries holding a current FAA International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) Category 1 rating (see http://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/iasa/ for current listing) with TC and applicable ATC/STCs and current CoA issued by the nation’s civil aviation authority (CAA) for the current configuration of the aircraft;
  • Foreign military aircraft certified as airworthy by their country’s Military Airworthiness Authority (MAA) after that MAA has been assessed and formally recognized by the U.S. DoD’s National Airworthiness Council. Current recognized countries include Australia, Czech Republic, Israel, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden, and United Kingdom. Assessments are currently being planned for France, Italy, Norway, Poland, and Turkey.

For flight in foreign military aircraft other than those certified as airworthy by a recognized MAA, requiring commands should request an assessment of that nation’s MAA to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and we will work with you to meet your mission requirements. If time and resources do not permit an assessment and recognition of the MAA (typically this takes approximately six months with a willing country and requires $50K in reimbursable funding from the requesting command), then a risk acceptance process is required. For passenger operations, we will forward an Operational Appraisal Checklist for the requesting unit to look at the foreign flight operation with which they desire to fly. This checklist is designed to help inform a GO in the unit’s chain of command of any potential airworthiness risk. Once the GO accepts the risk, the intent of DoDD 5030.61 is met. However, for aircrew operations (i.e. anything other than passenger) in aircraft from countries whose MAA has not been recognized, Army Regulation 70-62 requires that we issue an Airworthiness Release (AWR).

The process starts off the same with a request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., following which we will research as much as we can regarding the aircraft on which aircrew operations are intended to be flown. We will prepare a detailed risk appraisal in the form of an Airworthiness Impact Statement and provide it to the requesting command. Depending on the level of the risk, MIL-STD 882E defines the grade/rank of the risk acceptance official who must formally accept the risk via a System Safety Risk Assessment (SSRA) per Army Regulation 385-16. Upon receipt of the signed SSRA, we will issue the AWR for the operation.

Mr. David B. Cripps is the deputy director of the Aviation Engineering Directorate of the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) located at Redstone Arsenal, AL.

Caption:

Looking Back

  • 1956: Memorandum for Members of the Armed Forces Policy Council

    1956: Memorandum for Members of the Armed Forces Policy Council

    Looking Back / By Mark Albertson: “Persistent and intensifying differences among the armed Services over their respective roles and missions, particularly those pertaining to development and operation of guided missiles, impelled Secretary of Defense Wilson[2] to issue on 26 November 1956 a Read More
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