Aircraft Equipment Descriptions on FAA Documents

Updated: May 1

The aviation world is full of complex mergers and acquisitions. Textron owns Cessna, Beechcraft, and Hawker but keeps all of them as distinct brand names. Honeywell bought Allied Signal and fully incorporated them into the Honeywell brand. Gulfstream, a subsidiary of General Dynamics, purchased the rights to but still produces several aircraft through Israel Aerospace Industries, a major aerospace manufacturer based in Israel. These are just a few of the more prominent aviation mergers and acquisitions, there are many more.


These mergers and acquisitions matter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and they matter when it comes to documents submitted with the FAA. Whether registering an aircraft, granting a lease or security interest in aircraft equipment, or transferring title to an airframe, one common FAA requirement is a complete and accurate description of the equipment involved. Regardless of the name painted on the side of the aircraft, the manufacturer engraved in the fireproof plate, or the common trade name that an aircraft goes by, the FAA now requires that equipment be described by its FAA designated type certificate description on all documents submitted with the FAA.


The FAA keeps a list of all type certificated equipment and requires that equipment descriptions on FAA documents match such where available. This requirement becomes particularly important yet somewhat unclear when the equipment has been previously described different in the FAA records from the current type certificate description. This situation occurs because the FAA has not always been so strict when it comes to equipment descriptions and previously allowed more leniency with regard to equipment descriptions. Accordingly, many older pieces of aircraft equipment are not described properly by today’s standards in the FAA records.


When working with equipment previously described in a way that would no longer be acceptable, one must make sure to use the equipment description in current documents that is most correct. Accordingly, if your current documents are unrelated to any previous documents which contain the now unacceptable equipment description, you should use the current type certificate description. However, if your current documents relate back to a document containing a now incorrect equipment description, you should use the previous description to maintain consistency.


As you can see from the brief analysis above, the way in which you describe equipment on your FAA documents is incredibly important but not always clear. When it comes to make and model, you simply cannot always believe what you see. If you have questions, call us we can help.