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Start Up Airlines: Getting an AOC and the Right Postholders

Starting up a company is never easy, starting an airline has all sorts of specific challenges that are hard to be estimated the first time around.

Starting an airline requires a substantial investment for completing the certification process, leasing or purchasing planes, recruiting, training, route planning, facilitating maintenance paying personnel and purchasing a range of services and securing take-off and landing slots at different airports. It sounds like if you own a large amount of money, you will be able to start an airline. However, is that true? Prior to commencing commercial air operations, the funding is not the only criteria to be considered, but it’s also all about whether you will be granted by national aviation authority an AOC certificate.

National aviation authorities (NAA) perform an all-encompassing technical and economic inspection of the airlines (AOC audit). Important criteria are the financial capacity of the airline and verification of a qualified and structured postholder organization. If an AOC has been issued for the first time, it is valid for a limited period. During that period, it can be recalled at any time by the NAA. Now let’s go through what we should understand about those two-key criteria.

Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC)

An air operator's certificate (AOC) is the approval granted by a national aviation authority (NAA) to an aircraft operator to allow it to use aircraft for commercial purposes. This requires the operator to have personnel, assets and systems in place to ensure the safety of its employees and the public. This document will as a minimum detail the aircraft types which may be used, for what purpose and in what geographic region.


In order to obtain an AOC, apart from ensuring safe, economic and high-quality flight operations of the aircraft, an airline has to set up an operation unit called the postholder organization that is required by the applicable regulations specifying minimum safety and related procedures for commercial passenger and cargo fixed-wing aviation. The structure of a postholder organization composes of an Accountable Manager who is the responsible leader of the organization, four associated postholders and a Quality Manager. Associated postholders include Crew Training, Technical Operations, Flight Operations, Ground Operations and Quality Management. The accountable manager holds the highest position within the flight operation organization. He is personally responsible to the national authorities for assuring financing, operations and qualified maintenance of the fleet. He also needs to ensure that definite and sustainable processes are established and documented in operations manuals.

Brookfield Aviation is the world’s leading supplier aviation of personnel at all levels. We particularly provide a service for any new airline who may require any key management personnel/postholders or consultants in any discipline to help establish an AOC, if required, and provide the expertise required for a successful operation. These posts could be in the management of Flight and Ground Operations, Training, Engineering, H.R., Finance, IOSA Audit, or CEO /COO. We have extensive connections to senior management within airlines around the world, built up over our many years in the business and present day, and we can identify numerous candidates for any position you may have available. We also have our in-house consultancy for aviation safety and security which can be tailored to any regional environment.

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