Inoperative Instruments & Equipment

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The Federal Aviation Regulations generally require that all equipment installed on the aircraft be operative at the time of flight. However, depending on the kind of operation and size and type of aircraft, the aircraft may still be airworthy with some specific kinds of equipment inoperative. The following list provides the regulatory means with which to operate aircraft with inoperative instruments or equipment.

14 CFR §91.213 Operations without a Minimum Equipment List (MEL)

Operators of certain nonturbine-powered airplanes, rotorcraft, gliders, or lighter-than-air aircraft may operate without an MEL, subject to some limitations that are specified in 14 CFR §91.213. Learn more.

Minimum Equipment Lists

A Minimum Equipment List (MEL) is a precise listing of instruments, equipment and procedures that allows an aircraft to be operated under specific conditions with inoperative equipment. Operators are required to receive authorization from the FAA to use an MEL in the form of a Letter of Authorization or Operations Specifications. Learn more.

Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings

Nonessential equipment and furnishings (NEF) are those items installed on the aircraft as part of the original certification, supplemental type certificate, or engineering order that have no effect on the safe operation of flight and would not be required by the applicable certification rules or operational rules. Currently, Master Minimum Equipment Lists (MMEL) provide relief only for passenger convenience items located in the cabin, galley, and lavatory areas. Other areas of the aircraft have items installed that are not captured by the MMEL and which are non safety of flight items that must be repaired before further flight if found inoperative when an operator does not have an NEF program. Learn more.

Special Flight Permits – “Ferry Permits”

A special flight permit is a special airworthiness certificate issued authorizing operation of an aircraft that does not currently meet applicable airworthiness requirements but is safe for a specific flight. Ferry permits are issued for the following purposes:

  1. Flying the aircraft to a base where repairs, alterations, or maintenance are to be performed, or to a point of storage.
  2. Delivering or exporting the aircraft.
  3. Production flight testing new production aircraft.
  4. Evacuating aircraft from areas of impending danger.
  5. Conducting customer demonstration flights in new production aircraft that have satisfactorily completed production flight tests.
Learn more.