Aerodrome and Heliport Certification

The intent of an aerodrome certificate is to convey to aircraft operators that the operator of an aerodrome has agreed to operate and maintain their facility in compliance with accepted international safety standards.   The certification process establishes the baseline for continued monitoring by the Civil Aviation Authority and applies to both fixed and rotary wing aircraft aerodromes.

Governing Regulations

The principle legislation governing aerodromes in the Cayman Islands is the Air Navigation (Overseas Territories) Order AN(OT)O, as amended from time to time, with gazetted guidance material provided in the Overseas Territory Aviation Requirements (OTAR) Part 139 for aerodromes. OTAR 139 specifies the certification process and obligations and incorporates by reference the standards and recommended requirements in ICAO’s Annex 14 Vol. 1 for fixed wing aircraft and Vol. 2 for Helicopters. This OTAR is supported by Overseas Territories Aviation Circulars (OTACs) which are available on the Aviation Safety Support International (ASSI) website for further guidance on the requirements.

Certification Applicability

The regulatory requirement for aerodrome certification in the Cayman Islands applies to any of the following operations:

  • The aerodrome handles aircraft which are flying for the purpose of international operations;
  • The aerodrome handles aircraft having a type certificated maximum passenger seating capacity of 10 or more for the purpose of commercial air transport operations;
  • The aerodrome handles aircraft having a maximum total weight authorized (MTWA) of 15, 000 kg or more operating a flight for the purpose of commercial air transport;
  • The Governor considers it in the public interest to require certification (Article 155 applies)

Certification Requirements

Before a certificate is granted, the CAA must be satisfied that the physical conditions on the maneuvering area, apron and obstacle limitation surfaces of the aerodrome are acceptable and that the scale of equipment and facilities provided are adequate for the flying activities which are expected to take place.  The associated design is based on the demands from the maximum or critical aircraft using the facilities.

An Aerodrome certificate is granted to an individual or a company or any other legally constituted authority that satisfies the CAA that the criteria for certificate issue have been met. Once a certificate is granted, the CAA is obliged to satisfy itself that a certificate holder continues to meet certification requirements. An aerodrome certificate is not a saleable asset and cannot be transferred from one person to another.

If the identity of a certificate holder is to change, application for grant of a new certificate must be made to the CAA by the prospective certificate holder. As with any new application, grant of an aerodrome certificate will be subject to the applicant satisfying the CAA on the requirements of AN(OT)O Article 155 as amended, and OTAR Part 139 Certification of Aerodromes. In addition to the aerodrome characteristics, these requirements will include the demonstration of competence by the applicant to secure that the aerodrome and its airspace are safe for use by aircraft. In assessing an applicant’s competence, matters taken into account will include:

  1. The previous conduct and experience of the applicant.
  2. The organisation, staffing and equipment to be provided.
  3. The arrangements for the maintenance of the aerodrome and its facilities and equipment.
  4. The adequacy of the aerodrome manual.
  5. Any other arrangements made including the adequacy of safety management systems.

The Director General of Civil Aviation, under the authority of the Governor, can provisionally suspend or vary any certificate, license, approval, permission, exemption, authorization or other document issued pending inquiry or consideration of a case. On sufficient grounds after an inquiry, they may revoke, suspend or vary any such authorities.

  • Aerodrome design and operation standards
    • OTAR 139 – Certification of Aerodromes:
      • Incorporates by reference Annex 14 Vol 1 & 2
  • Aerodrome Manual content:
    • AN(OT)O article 155 sub para (2)(d) requires aerodrome manual to be adequate and appropriate. OTAR 139.51 specifies requirements and OTAR 139.53 specifies content;
    • ICAO Doc 9774 provides specific guidance.
  • SMS program content:
    • The requirement for an SMS Program is specified in AN(OT)O article 155 sub para (2) (c) and OTAR 139.75 (h&j) ; OTAR 139 33(b) (5)
    • ICAO Annex 19 and Doc 9859 provides SMS content
  • Appropriate consideration of Services provided by or associated with the operation of the aerodrome:
    • Aeronautical Telecommunications Services
    • Aeronautical Information Services
    • Air Traffic Services
    • Meteorological Services to Aviation
    • Rescue and Fire Fighting Services

The Application Process

The applicant should either be the owner of the land, or have obtained the landowner’s permission for the use of the site as an aerodrome. A proposal to use land as an aerodrome may be subject to the requirements of applicable planning regulations and applicants are advised to consult the Cayman Islands Government Planning Department before embarking on any such project. The intended applicant should also consult with the CAA before committing to expenditure on developing or equipping an aerodrome.

The initial application for an aerodrome certificate must be made on the Aerodrome Certificate Application Form. The completed form should be returned to the CAA together with a map showing the aerodrome location and boundaries (preferably on a scale 1:25 000) and the appropriate application fee.

Additionally, survey data in the form of charts, profiles, sections, evidence of pavement strengths and surface textures etc, relating to the aerodrome site, must be provided by the applicant as required by the CAA. An application for the variation of a certificate must be made in writing and be accompanied by the relevant survey and other information where there are any changes in the aerodrome characteristics.

The CAACI should be contacted for preliminary site assessment before work or resources are committed to the project. Note, the CAACI will charge for such services provided on an hourly basis;

  • Site suitability must also be coordinated with Air Traffic Services for assessment against impact on existing airspace requirements;
  • Ownership of the affected property must be resolved. The applicant can either be the owner of the site or have the landowner’s written permission for use of the proposed site;
  • The Planning Authority must be involved. The possession of an aerodrome certificate does not absolve a certificate holder from observing other statutory requirements; and
  • Applications should be submitted in sufficient time to allow for detailed consideration and inspection of the aerodrome before the certificate is issued.

Note: The granting of an aerodrome certificate does not release the holder from observing other statutory requirements.


Documents required for Aerodrome Certification include:

  • the Aerodrome Manual;
  • the Aerodrome Safety Management Manual; and
  • the airport certificate;

The operational information from these documents will be distributed to the flying public through:

  • the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP); and
  • NOTAMs

An Aerodrome Manual is required for certifying an aerodrome as an airport. The drafting of this document is the responsibility of the aerodrome applicant and the completed draft must be approved by the Governor (designated to DGCA) to signify that the airport meets certification standards and there are no apparent shortcomings which would adversely affect safety of flight at the airport.

The development and approval of this document is used by the CAACI as the process for confirming compliance with the certification requirements. The Aerodrome Manual then serves as:

  1. a legal reference between the airport operator and the regulatory Authority, with respect to the standards, conditions and levels of service to be maintained for certifications. Certification is based on compliance with all the conditions listed in the AOM and ongoing safety oversight assessments apply site specific checklists based on risk assessment of the aerodrome operations;
  2. a reference document for airport users and tenants, and
  3. a legal instrument to record and approve changed of the airport’s standards, conditions or levels of services.

Content and format for the Aerodrome Manual is outlined in OTAR 139.53, ICAO Doc 9774 and its Appendix 1 which is available from the CAACI upon request.

The holder of an aerodrome certificate is required by AN(OT)O article 155 sub para (2)(d) and OTAR 139.75 (h) to have an SMS Manual acceptable to the Governor that describes the structure of the organisation and the duties, powers and responsibilities of the officials in the organisational structure. This can be part V of the AOM or referenced as a separate annex.

Core elements of an SMS Manual are to include:


  • 1.1 Management commitment and responsibility
  • 1.2 Safety accountabilities and responsibilities
  • 1.3 Appointment of key safety personnel
  • 1.4 Coordination of emergency response planning
  • 1.5 SMS process and documentation


  • 2.1 Hazard identification
  • 2.2 Risk assessment and mitigation


  • 3.1 Safety performance monitoring and measurement
  • 3.2 The management of change
  • 3.3 Continuous improvement of the SMS


  • 4.1 Training and education
  • 4.2 Safety communication

The aerodrome certificate documents that:

  1. the applicant and his/her staff have the necessary competence and experience to operate and maintain the aerodrome safely; and
  2. the Aerodrome Manual prepared for the aerodrome contains all of the relevant information; and
  3. the aerodrome facilities, services and equipment meet the required standards; and
  4. the aerodrome operating procedures ensure the safe operations of aircraft and/or the safety of air navigation; and
  5. an acceptable safety management system is in place at the aerodrome; and
  6. appropriate arrangements are in place for the provision of:
    1. the Aeronautical Information Service; and
    2. the Meteorological Service.

In addition, the Governor has been satisfied that:

  1. the Air Traffic Service Unit, including the Air Traffic Service Engineering Unit, has been approved in accordance with the requirements of OTAR Parts 172 and 171; and
  2. the Rescue and Fire Fighting Services have been approved in accordance with the requirements of OTAR Part 140; and
  3. the Instrument Approach Procedures have been approved in accordance with the requirements of OTAR Part 176.

The aerodrome certificate document has 2 sections:

  • a Certificate page; and
  • a record of conditions for the approval.

The “Conditions for Approval” section is included by the authority of the Governor to grant a certificate subject to conditions as he thinks fit as a means of achieving a satisfactory level of safety. It is also a standard condition of a certificate that the holder must inform the CAA of changes to data concerning the aerodrome so that appropriate promulgation of the change and amendment to the Cayman Islands AIP can be made.

A sample ‘Anytown’ Aerodrome Certificate is provided for reference.

Regulatory Reference Material

  • CAACI Audit Policy and Procedure Manual
  • ICAO Publications access available through request to CAACI:
    • ANNEX 14 Vol 1 Aerodrome Design and Operations;
  • ANNEX 14 Vol 2 Heliports;
  • Annex 19 Safety Management
  • Doc 9774 Manual on Certification of Aerodromes
  • Aviation Safety Support International (ASSI) SSI website for Overseas Territories Advisory Circulars with particular reference to:


OTAC Part 13-1 Occurrence Reporting
OTAC Part 139-1 Survey Requirements for Certification of Aerodromes and Approval of IFPs
OTAC Part 139-2 Safety Management Systems
OTAC Part 139-4 Commercial Air Transport & Private Operations
OTAC Part 139-3 Documenting the Safety Management System
OTAC Part 139-6 Wildlife Management
OTAC Part 139-7 Aerodrome Pavement Strength – Overload Operations
OTAC Part 139-8 Aerodrome Emergency Planning and Emergency Exercises
OTAC Part 139-9 Aerodrome Manual
OTAC Part 139-10 Relationship between the Aerodrome Certificate Holder and the Rescue & Fire-Fighting Service (RFFS)
OTAC Part 139-11 Prevention of Runway Incursions
OTAC Part 139-13 Aerodrome Certification and Inspection
OTAC Part 139-15 General Requirements for Aerodrome Certificate
OTAC Part 139-16 Aerodrome Standard Library
OTAC Part 139-17 Accountable Manager
OTAC Part 139-20 Aerodrome Obstacle Survey Information Checks
OTAC Part 139-21 Aerodrome Emergency Planning Modular Exercises
OTAC Part 139-22 Quality Management Systems
OTAC Part 139-23 Runway Pavement Characteristics and Maintenance
OTAC Part 139-24 Safety Assessments (Aeronautical Studies, Safety Cases, Risk Assessments)


OTAC Part 140-2 Safety Management Systems
OTAC Part 140-3 Documenting the Safety Management System
OTAC Part 140-4 Relationship between the Aerodrome certificate Holder and the Rescue and Fire-Fighting Service (RFFS)
OTAC Part 140-5 Rescue and Fire-Fighting Management of Extinguishing Agents
OTAC Part 140-6 Rescue and Fire-Fighting Services Resourcing
OTAC Part 140-7 Rescue and Fire-Fighting Services Training and Competence
OTAC Part 140-8 Quality and Management Systems
OTAC Part 140-9 Safety Assessments (Aeronautical Studies, Safety Cases, Risk Assessments)

Aeronautical Information Services for Aviation

OTAC Part 175-1 Aeronautical Information Services
OTAC Part 175-2 Quality Management System

Aviation Security

OTAC Part 178-1 Airport Security Programmes and Security Operating Procedures
OTAC Part 178-2 National X-Ray Competency (NXCT)