There are a couple of legal DOCUMENTS required to be carried on board. A good way to remember them is by using the acronym: AROWJILI. We use another acronym for aircraft equipment and IMSAFEE for crew members.

Airworthiness Certificate
Owner’s Manual (POH)
Weight and Balance
Journey Log
Licences + Medical + Radio Licence
Intercept Orders

Airworthiness Certificate (or Certificate of Airworthiness, CoA)

The C of A has the serial number for the aircraft, aircraft registration, manufacturer and model. Interestingly, the certificate doesn’t have a date that it expires, but there are conditions that need to be met in order to keep it valid.

A 100 hour inspection cycle (50 hours for most Cessna aircraft) will need to be carried out and properly noted in the Journey Log. Airworthiness Directives (ADs), similar to recalls for cars, will need to be adhered to. Also an Annual Airworthiness Information Report (AAIR) needs to be submitted to Transport Canada (TC), but it doesn’t need to be carried on board. Any defects or snags needs to be rectified by an AME followed with a proper entry in the journey log. The most common way for the C of A to be invalidated is by not adhering to the POH, which is usually the weight and balance limitations.

Amateur built aircraft gets a Flight Permit instead of a CoA. A Temporary Flight Permit may be issued to aircraft operating on a test flight or ferry flight.

Registration (or Certificate of Registration, CoR)

Similar to the C of A, the registration will include the serial of the aircraft and aircraft registration. In addition, the Certificate of Registration will have the owner, address, and purpose of the aircraft. The Certificate of Registration stays valid until the aircraft is sold, taken out of service, or destroyed.

If the current owner has a change of address, they must notify Transport Canada within 7 days.

If the aircraft is sold, the new owner fills out the back of the CoR to apply for a new Registration and submits to Transport Canada. The Interim Certificate of Registration is valid for 90 days.

Owner’s Manual (Pilot Operating Handbook or Airplane Flight Manual)

Each aircraft must have a POH or AFM in the aircraft. The POH has information that you might need such as emergency procedures, performance numbers, limitations, systems, etc. It must include any amendments and supplements. The POH that you’ve purchased from the aviation store is just an information manual and isn’t considered as the official document.

Weight and Balance

There’s two parts to weight and balance regarding checking the official documents.

First is the Weight and Balance Report. This lists the Basic Empty Weight (BEW) and aircraft moment. The BEW is the weight of the aircraft with full oil and unusable fuel. It will also list the weight and arm/moment of each piece of equipment. The equipment list must be updated with any change in equipment. If there’s a 2% change in weight due to the addition or removal of equipment, a new Weight and Balance Report will be required. For aircraft weighing more than 12,500 lbs, it must be reweighed every 5 years.

The second part is the actual weight and balance for the flight. The most recent amendment must be used when computing the actual weight and balance for the flight. The calculated W+B must be within the tolerances set by the POH or else it would invalidate the CoA.

Journey Logbook

The Journey Log has a number of columns that would include the date, departure/arrival airports, pilots, time up/down, flight time, air time, snags/defects, rectification, signature, etc.

Items to check for in the journey log would be any written snags or defects. If it’s not deferred or rectified, the aircraft isn’t airworthy and can’t fly. Deferred items might be legal or illegal depending on the flight (eg. Deferred landing light is ok during the day, but may not be at night). Also check for any recurring snags/defects that you would like to be aware of (eg. spongy brakes, yaw/rolling tendency, stuck airspeed indicator, etc). Maintenance would have an entry indicating the remaining time until the next inspection. It’s usually at 100hr intervals for most aircraft, but the Cessna Progressive Care Program for Cessna aircraft may use 50 hr intervals instead. This hour is based on air time and not flight time. Maintenance may grant a 10 hour extension, but doing so will decrease the amount of hours in the next maintenance schedule (eg from 50 hours to 40 hours). Time until inspection should be calculated to ensure that the flight won’t exceed that time (eg. Time remaining is 1.5, but the air time for the flight will be 2.0).

Other items to check in the journey log would be the annual compass swing and ELT check. There’s also a pitot-static system check every 24 months.

The journey log doesn’t need to be carried onboard if you depart and land at the same airport. The journey log needs to be filled out after every flight. Once the log is full, it must be kept for a minimum of 3 years with the last two entries copied to the new log.

Technical Logbook

The Technical Logbook is another log in addition to the Journey Log. Entry and format of the Technical Log is similar to the Journey Log. Normally, the maintenance department will keep these logs and update them whenever work is done on the aircraft. The Technical Log has four sections:
– Airframe
– Modifications and Installations
– Propeller
– Engine (for each engine)

Since the Journey Log and Technical Log contains a record of work performed on the aircraft, they must NEVER be carried on board the same aircraft.


Aircraft insurance is similar to car insurance. The aircraft must carry proof of minimum insurance. There should be the owner’s information, address, and aircraft registration on the insurance with the start and end dates in order for it to be valid. The amount that’s covered should be at a value that you’re comfortable with. For example, if the amount is only $100000, reconsider a different aircraft or club as the amount may be insufficient to cover your hospital bill.

Licences (pilot licences, medical, radio operator’s licence)

Your aviation booklet has the licences and ratings that you’ve obtained. Depending on your licence/rating, it’ll have the expiry date also. In the second half of the booklet, it’ll initially have your medical and extra pages for the medical examiner to sign-off when you renew the medical.
Your radio operator’s certificate is separate and doesn’t expire.

If you don’t have an aviation booklet yet, you will have a medical certificate, radio operator’s licence, and student permit as three separate individual documents.

Your medical is what keeps your licence/permit valid.
A Category 3 medical is valid to the 1st day of the 61st month (25th month if over 40).
A Category 1 medical is valid to the 1st day of the 13th month (7th month if over 40).
If you hold a CPL/ATPL and you let your medical lapse past the 1st day of the 13th month, your medical is downgraded to a Cat 3 and your licence is downgrade to a PPL. In this case, your Cat 3 is valid for another 48 months.

Intercept Orders

Intercept orders are not legally required on board anymore. BUT it’ll be extremely helpful if you are intercepted by another aircraft. If you don’t have a list printed, it’s located in the rear section of the CFS. A situation where you might need them is when you’ve trespassed into restricted airspace. Normally, a military jet or helicopter will intercept you by flying the same heading, altitude, and speed off to your left. The orders will help if you don’t have the correct frequency to communicate. Obviously the easiest method is by switching frequencies to 121.5 (emergency frequency). Else, use the intercept orders to interpret what the other aircraft is saying and how to get your message across to the other aircraft.

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