Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Amy M. Cox, PhD


There are multiple airworthiness (AW) certification paths for aircraft platforms and their modifications. Specifically, military commercial derivative aircraft (MCDA) have a unique opportunity to pursue either FAA certification, military certification or a combination of both. Policy tells MCDA programs to pursue FAA certification to the maximum extent possible, however, the policy lacks clarity regarding where that extent ends. This concept of extent encompasses multiple factors and the choice of an AW basis is a complex decision. Under ideal conditions the decision maker, the program manager, has the experience and insight to support their decision, however, this is not always the case. This research unpacks the factors weighed by experienced personnel in an effort to inform future AW decisions. A comparative case study analysis was conducted using the same military specific modification on two MCDAs and one military specific aircraft. Interview data from multiple stakeholders was gathered for each case. While, the data set is small, it is representative, and generalizable to a common type of platform modification. A recurring challenge is a lack of experience in AW among Program Mangers. The distilled insights from this research provides continuity and lessons learned. An AW PM Guidance Sheet summarizes key decision factors and is a key deliverable of this research. The objective of this Guidance Sheet is improved and informed decision making for future certification decisions.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number