As we know military aircrafts are not regulated by civil aviation authority organisations,namely FAA, CAA and etc. Is there any possible way to transform a military aircraft( like helicopters) to civil ones? And if it is, where are these conditions mentioned?

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    $\begingroup$ Note for the people answering the question: this question is generic, you should consider also freight or instruction airplanes of army, not just fighters. I read the questions about generic airplanes without official certifications and maintenance record. $\endgroup$ Jun 19, 2019 at 14:02
  • $\begingroup$ Good point, I have added text to my answer to address things like the firefighter ex-military aircraft. The training warbirds fall under the same categories as the other warbirds. There's no special airworthiness category for ex-military training aircraft. $\endgroup$ Jun 19, 2019 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


In the US, ex-military aircraft must be issued a special airworthiness certificate before they can be flown as civilian aircraft. Some aircraft may be denied the certificate outright, but most can be flown this way. The hard part is maintaining them, the cost of operating them, and finding qualified people to crew them, including a qualified flight instructor and even a Designated Examiner if the FAA requires a type rating to fly it.

In some very rare cases, it is possible to get a standard or utility airworthiness certificate, but the aircraft must have been previously approved that way before you can do that.

In the majority of cases, the aircraft is given a special airworthiness certificate under the Experimental category, Exhibition subcategory. This means the aircraft can only be operated to exhibit the aircraft’s flight capabilities, performance, or unusual characteristics for air shows, motion pictures, television, and similar productions, and for the maintenance of exhibition flight proficiency. To fly it, you must meet certain experience requirements and in some cases you need to obtain a pilot type rating for that aircraft.

In other cases, if you want to race the aircraft in air races, you can get a special airworthiness certificate for that purpose, to operate the aircraft in air races, practice for air races, and to fly to and from racing events.

To get the airworthiness certificate in the first place you have to submit a maintenance plan for the aircraft to the FAA (often derived from maintenance plans others have drafted) and have it approved by the FAA, and the aircraft must be subject to regular inspections as per the plan.

Source: FAA Experimental Airworthiness Certificates home page

In yet other cases, some military cargo aircraft are converted for missions such as firefighting. Those are exceptional cases, almost unique to the US in that they are not required to comply with many federal aviation regulations.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has abrogated any responsibility to ensure the continued airworthiness of "public-use" aircraft, including ex-military aircraft converted to firefighting air tankers. Although these aircraft are awarded FAA type certificates, the associated certification processes do not require testing and inspection to ensure that the aircraft are airworthy to perform their intended missions. Source

For other countries I suggest you list the ones you are interested in. I only know the rules for the US/FAA.

  • $\begingroup$ Is it possible to get ex-military aircraft approved for non-commercial general aviation purposes? Like if some multi-millionaire with money to burn and a pilot's license decides to buy an old fighter plane to use for commuting between cities that he has businesses in. $\endgroup$
    – nick012000
    Jun 19, 2019 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @nick012000 There are some very privileged people who do just that with P-51's that were certified as civilian aircraft, and it is somewhat easier to find twin inline engined Cessna O-2's certified the same way from their Cessna Skymaster versions, as well as low and slow birds like the O-1 Birddog, but generally speaking, no, the FAA will not allow that. That said, though, I have to wonder if you could get permission to do that as proficiency maintenance flights... Might be possible but it would be a very hard sell to the FAA. $\endgroup$ Jun 19, 2019 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ @nick012000 you may be interested in en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avro_Vulcan_XH558 , which was re-registered as "G-VLCN" for civilian flight and flown at exhibitions for a few years. $\endgroup$
    – pjc50
    Jun 19, 2019 at 15:27

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