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The first step in earning your CAM certification is applying to take the test.  If you haven’t read it already, Certified Aviation Manager (CAM): 100 Point Application Threshold is a good place to start.  As always, if you are unfamiliar with what the CAM accreditation is, go straight to the source and find out more on the CAM section at the National Business Aviation Association.The second question people invariably ask is, “what do I need to study?”  That is an excellent question.  NBAA lays out recommended resources on the CAM Reference Material web page. They divide it up in NBAA references, Primary Industry references, and Government references.  They do a great job by providing links to purchase the Primary Industry References (e.g. the books) on Amazon.  This web page also allows you to download the numerous resources.  You can find the links to all of these items on the NBAA website or later in this article. You will also find all of the downloads in one folder here:

Downloading all of the online reference materials in one place should save you some time. Just be mindful that these are not “live” documents. Ensure that you refer to the NBAA CAM Material Reference page for updated versions of these documents. Also, remember that NBAA may choose to add or remove recommended study materials at any time.

I perused this web page and was stunned when I realized all the books, circulars, memos, and leaflets that NBAA advocated that I read to prepare for the CAM exam.  Many people I have talked to try to decide which resources to study.  I decided to get them all.  After all, NBAA recommends it, and I wanted to pass the test.  Building a CAM library was really the first step in studying.  Simply familiarizing myself with all the resources available was a great first step to wade into this sea of information.  Building a CAM library is how you do that.

Before I start discussing physically compiling the library, I would like to discuss the issue of cost.  While I totally advocate investing in yourself and your own growth, the cost of the CAM may be a hurdle for some.  That’s why I believe some people try to decide which books to pick out despite NBAA recommending so many resources.  I encourage people to partner with others for their success.  One obvious place to look is to your employer.  Offer your time building the CAM library and ask for your employer to contribute the materials.  After all, if you build the CAM library for your flight department, they aren’t just investing in you, but rather, your employer is investing in whomever pursues their CAM down the road.  Another option is to work with another CAM candidate and share the costs.  You will be better prepared for success if you have all the materials rather than a smattering of books you hope will cover enough material to pass.

Step 1. Buy the books

NBAA lists 13 books as primary resources for questions found on the CAM test.  Four other items in the “Government References” section can be purchased as books, too.  So how much will the books cost?  I have priced out all the books NEW with the cheapest cost of shipping and all the books USED in at least acceptable condition.  These are also priced with the lowest shipping cost.

Though they are listed under the Government References section, there are other additional items that you can purchase as books.  For instance, the AIM and numerous sections of the Code of Federal Regulations are listed.  Instead of downloading and/or printing, just purchase a FARAIM.  Also, it may be easier to purchase the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge and the Airframe & Powerplant Mechanics Airframe Handbook, rather than downloading and printing these books. You may even find some of the longer Advisory Circulars available in book format.   Below are these four books plus the cost of the Primary Industry References.

All 17 books will cost:

NEW:  $741.27

USED: $550.08

How should you organize the NBAA references and the government references?  With the books, you can just purchase them on Amazon prime, slap them on a bookshelf, and voila, you have a CAM library.  But what should you do about the downloadable information?  Should you print them up and put them in binders?  Should you store them in electronic format? Both?  I did both.

Step 2. Download NBAA and Government References into cloud-based storage

Your flight department may be using some type of cloud-based storage already, but if not, there are numerous options.  Box, Dropbox, GoogleDrive, OneDrive, Syncplicity are a few examples.

Be sure to check with your parent company to see if they already utilize a cloud-based storage solution.  If so, you can avoid additional expenses out of your department’s budget and possibly enjoy more security.  Otherwise, there are many options that are a minimal cost or may be free depending on the amount of storage you utilize.

Example of an cloud-based CAM library.

Create a folder for CAM resources and be sure to share with all members of the flight department.  Particularly for flight departments, this type of library offers enormous flexibility because people can access the documents from anywhere.  Whether the Director of Maintenance wants to study from home when all the aircraft are away, or a pilot wants to study from his hotel room in Sheyboygan, those documents will be available.  Just be mindful of organization even in electronic format.  Files should be grouped and arranged logically, and you may need to rename files, so a new user would understand what each file and folder contains intuitively.

Keep the documents organized, so any new user knows intuitively what each folder or file contains.

Step 3A. Print up and bind NBAA and Government References

Many of the Advisory Circulars may be a few pages, and I printed these up myself.  I used a 3-hole-punched these and put them in binders purchased at the local office supply store.  I used tabbed dividers and used a label maker to keep it professional looking.  I did this for most of the items, but some of the documents were several hundred pages.  For these items, I enlisted the help of our company print shop.  This was a great partnership.  They were glad to help and saved us some ink cartridges.  They were better outfitted to print these giant items.  If you don’t have an in-house print shop, consider sending the huge PDFs to your local print store for assistance. 

Binder with Advisory Circulars
Neat. Clean. Organized.

Step 3B. Consider having someone else print these documents due to their length:

NBAA Management Guide

AC 43.13-1B Acceptable Methods Techniques Practices Aircraft Inspection And Repair

AC 43.13-2B Acceptable Methods Aircraft Alterations

AC 43-4 Corrorsion Control For Aircraft

AC 43-206 Part1 Inspection And Repair Of Corrosion On Avionics Equipment

AC 43-206 Part2 Inspection And Repair Of Corrosion On Avionics Equipment

AC 65-15A Airframe & Powerplant Mechanics Airframe Handbook

AC 150-5340-30J Design And Installation For Airport Visual Aids

AC 150-5370-2G Operational Safety On Airports During Construction

United States Customs Border Protection Guide For Private Flyers

These large files are grouped together in the folder “CAM.BigFiles” included in the link at the beginning of the article. You can easily send all of these items to your in-house print shop or local office supply store. Just be mindful that these large PDFs are also in the other folders. If you choose to print them yourself, be careful not to print them twice. These large files are duplicated to make it easy to send elsewhere for printing help.

Here’s that link again:

I typically learn better highlighting important sections and taking notes in the margins, so I lugged home a few binders to study at home.  On the road, however, travelling light is key, so I read everything on the iPad. It is also nice to have physical documents in the hangar that you can quickly reference in the reading room or take back to your desk. Remember, too, some people may be intimidated by electronic systems (outside the flight deck, of course), so that is yet another reason to have paper manuals. Don’t let technology be an impediment to others earning their CAM. There are many reasons to have both formats. Ultimately, you can decide what is best for your flight department.

Some of these documents are big. Get help from your in-house print shop or local office supply store for the biggest ones.

Specific Notes: NBAA References

There are eleven NBAA resources that vary in length from a few pages to a few hundred pages.  The NBAA Management Guide is probably the best known and is an extensive, but general, document covering flight department management.  Some of the other documents delve deeper into subjects covered in the NBAA management guide.  For instance, several of the other NBAA references discuss the taxes implications of business aircraft ownership and operation.  These documents are invaluable because it is content specifically curated by NBAA determined germane to business aviation. 

Specific Notes: Government References

The Government References constitute the bulk of the downloadable reference materials.  Remember a few of these can be purchased as books, which may be worth the cost.  Also, be mindful that some of these items are rabbit holes.  When you click on ”AC 43, Maintenance, Preventative Maintenance, Rebuilding & Alteration,” for instance, and it opens up to 21 additional subparts.  Similarly, “AC 60, Airmen,” opens to six additional subparts.  This will take some time, so plan accordingly.  Also, remember to compound your effort.  We mentioned having your in-house or local print shop print the big items.  Also, considering asking a co-worker to help you build the manuals using an assembly line method.  Save a little effort and purchase the government resources that are available in book format.  Use the provided link to download all items together and save yourself some additional time. Building a CAM library is a big project.

If you’ve read this far, you’re well on your way to building your own CAM library.  It may not feel like studying, but by compiling this library, you have already started retaining the information.  The sheer volume of the CAM material requires strategy, and building the CAM library is the first step.  You’ve already started paying it forward and helping the next person progress in their CAM journey.  Good for you!  One thing we have not yet discussed is the practical nature of these materials.  We, of course, are discussing these materials in relation to the CAM exam, but NBAA has identified these for more than their scholarly significance.  There are answers to day-to-day problems in these texts.  NBAA has identified these because they are solid, cornerstone references for the professional flight department.  Whatever management role you assume, you will have this knowledge within reach to help solve your daily challenges. Get everything together on your bookshelf, and soon, we will talk about cracking those books and studying for your exam!