I hope this question is on-topic for the site via ‘aviation safety’, as several aspects of checklist design are important as the actual content of the checklist e.g. ability to quickly hone in on the relevant section.

Although I mention regulations, this question does not refer to any specific jurisdiction.

Are there any regulations, standards or widely adopted guidelines that cover checklist production in the aviation industry? Or is it the case, that each manufacturer / supplier / airline is free to produce their own, with their own unique style?

Any links to any publicly accessible regs \ standards or guidelines would also be of interest.

I’m also interested in how the checklists are typically typeset, if known. I assume that it’ll be via standard software like MS Work or LaTeX, but it’s possible that there’s some really niche software vendors in this area.


1 Answer 1


To answer the title question: no, not really.

Some background is also here: Does the FAA have a best practice for highlighting memory items on a checklist? (different question, so yours is not a duplicate, even though it's also a "no").

To go into the process a bit more for the airlines at least in the U.S.:

Once the plane is sold to the airline, the second certification process takes place. This certification process (FAR Part 121--large commercial transports) is aimed at certifying the carrier to operate the airplane. In order to prepare for this certification, the fleet manager (or the checklist designer) takes the manufacturer's previously approved procedures and modifies them to coincide with the operational concepts and checklist philosophy of the airline.

The FAR Part 121 certification process is conducted by the Principal Operations Inspector (POI) assigned to the carrier. This individual and his staff are the FAA's representatives to the carriers. They are responsible for initial certification, follow-on procedural changes, and regulatory oversight of the carrier. [...]

With the vague and non-specific nature of FAR 121.315, and with no FAA internal guidelines for checklist design criteria, the POI has almost total authority over the approval of the checklist. He or she may approve or dismiss it according to his or her own philosophy of checklist usage.

— Degani, Asaf, and Earl L. Wiener. Human factors of flight-deck checklists: the normal checklist. Vol. 177549. Moffett Field, California: Ames Research Center, 1990. [emphasis added]

Which makes your other question, "Or is it the case, that each manufacturer / supplier / airline is free to produce their own, with their own unique style?" answerable with yes, as long as it gets signed off on.

I tried to check if the regs were updated since 1990, but I could not find any with specifics regarding the design of checklists. (You might also want to look into electronic checklists.)

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @ymb1 - really useful answer. $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2021 at 0:22
  • $\begingroup$ just realised, maybe I should also be asking about QRH's as well as, or instead of, checklists (sorry - I don't come from an aviation background). In your view, does it make a difference or does a similar situation also apply (at least in the US)? $\endgroup$ Dec 12, 2021 at 0:35
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    $\begingroup$ You're very welcome @cristobalito - RE QRH: both fall under the same documentation criteria/process, the normal checklist is used a lot more though (the same linked report touches on that part). $\endgroup$
    – user14897
    Dec 12, 2021 at 0:44
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    $\begingroup$ I worked in an aviation tech pubs dept for years. The OEM determines the formatting standard. Usually using a Univers or similar sans-sarif font, easy to read in low light, for manuals that get used in the cockpit (QRH mostly) but possibly AFM and MEL. The regulator might take issue with a a document submitted for approval like an AFM or QRH written in some outlandish format, but otherwise there isn't any regulatory requirement. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Dec 12, 2021 at 5:57

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