The FARs for mere mortals.
As a Single Pilot Part 135 operator — in other words, a commercial pilot allowed to do on demand air taxi and charter flights; more later — I’m required to take an annual check ride with an FAA examiner. The check ride isn’t just a flight to prove I can perform the required maneuvers. It’s also an oral exam that lasts 1 to 2 hours and is designed to confirm that I know my aircraft, my operating rules, and the FARs.
About the FARs
FAR stands for Federal Aviation Regulations. Technically, the regulations are really Titles 14 and 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, so some very few people might refer to them as 14 CFR or CFR Title 14 or some other combination of that information. Most people don’t. Most people just call them the FARs.
If you’re reading this in another country, you likely have rules and regulations like this. I don’t know what they’re called or what they contain. And if you are reading this as a pilot flying in another country, don’t depend on what you read here to correspond to your country’s rules. It might be interesting, however, to get comments that explain how something differs in your country, so don’t be shy about sharing what you know.
Blogging the FARs
Like most pilots’ I don’t know the FARs by heart. I don’t even know the ones I’m supposed to know by heart. I simply know that regulations exist and where I can look them up in the big, fat book that’s revised annually. And, of course, I do know the gist and meaning of the regulations that affect my operations on a regular basis.
In an effort to
- refresh my memory about the regulations I’m supposed to know,
- translate those regulations, which are written in FAA-dialect legalese, into a language I’m more familiar with, like plain English,
- provide myself with reference material for future study,
- provide site visitors interested in aviation with some information they might find useful, and
- generate a comments-based discussion about some of the FARs and why they’re important, stupid, good, bad, or whatever,
I’ve decided to write a series of blog entries that explore the various FARs.
If you’re not a pilot, you may not find this too interesting. I understand. Many pilots don’t find this too interesting, either. But they are the rules and we do need to be familiar with them. If you have any interest in aviation and how the system works to remain safe, you might find some of these posts very interesting. If so, enjoy. And ask questions in the Comments if you need clarification.
If you are a pilot, please remember that I’m not an expert. I read FAA-dialect legalese no better than the next guy and there is a chance that I might misinterpret something. If you think I got it wrong, speak up in the Comments area for the article in which the error appears. But please do back it up with some other reference so I can confirm the correction. If you have more to add about a topic — especially stories about how that topic affected you — please share your experience. We can all learn together. Personally, I learn better from stories than from boring 1000-page books written in legalese.
All of these articles will appear in the Flying category of this site. If you just care about flying and not about the other things I write about, I recommend that you subscribe to the category with an RSS reader, the live bookmarks feature of Firefox, or some other subscription method. (You can also subscribe to get new content automatically by e-mail.) That’ll filtering out my geeky computer stuff and my occasional political rants.
The FARs I’ll Cover
I’m not going to cover all of the FARs here. I’m only going to cover the ones that directly affect my operations, the ones I’m likely to be asked on my check ride. These are the same one you might be asked on a private, commercial, or Part 135 check ride. And of course, being a helicopter pilot, I won’t be dealing with any airplane-only regulations. In fact, if you’re a pilot and you read these, you’re likely to get a good picture of how airplane and helicopter operations differ. Don’t worry; I’ll make a special note if anything I write about is helicopter-specific.
Generally speaking, I’ll be covering material from FAR Parts:
- 1 – Definitions and Abbreviations
- 61 – Certification: Pilots, Flight Instructors, and Ground Instructors (I’ll concentrate on Pilots)
- 67 – Medical Standards and Certification
- 71 – Designation of Class Airspace Areas; Service Routes; and Reporting Points
- 73 – Special Use Airspace
- 91 – General Operating and Flight Rules
- 119 – Certification: Air Carriers and Commercial Operators
- 135 – Operating Requirements: Commuter and On Demand Operators
- SFAR 73 – a Special regulation for Robinson helicopter operators
I won’t be covering them in this order. I’ll be covering them in the order I study them in. And the articles I write are likely to appear here weekly over an extended period of time, so don’t expect to read it all next week.
Some Additional References
If you’re interested in FARs, you’ll likely find some of the following reference material quite useful:
- FARs online. You can read the current version of the FARs on the Web on the FAA’s Web site. This should be the most up-to-date version of the FARs available for free.
- AIM or Aeronautical Information Manual. This is the plain English text that actually explains the rules and provides additional how-to information for pilots. Every U.S. certificated pilot should have and read this book. Normally, when you buy a book containing the FARs, the AIM is appended to it. So what you’re really buying is a FAR/AIM. My understanding of this document is that the text is prepared by the government and is in the public domain. A variety of publishers print books of the information and some add illustrations and supplemental text to the AIM part of the book. So you’ll find several versions of the book. I buy the ASA version shown here for financial reasons; I’m required to buy it every year and usually get an offer to get it sent to me for under $15 as soon as it’s printed (normally late in the previous year). But there are other versions out there and you can even buy the AIM as a separate book, without the FARs.
- FARs in Plain English by Phil Croucher. This book attempts to do what I’m doing here, but for most of the FARs. I have this book and don’t really care for it, primarily because some of the rules I need are omitted and the book isn’t updated regularly. (The FARs are updated every year.) The book is also quite expensive for us poor pilots, retailing for $44.95.
Please do share your comments about this little project. The Comment link is below. I’d also be interested in learning about other online resources, as well as opinions of the ones listed here.