Federal Aviation Regulations
The Federal Aviation Regulations, or FARs, are rules prescribed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governing all aviation activities in the United States. The FARs are part of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). A wide variety of activities are regulated, such as aircraft design and maintenance, typical airline flights, pilot training activities, hot-air ballooning, lighter-than-air aircraft, man-made structure heights, obstruction lighting and marking, and even model rocket launches, model aircraft operation, sUAS & Drone operation, and kite flying. The rules are designed to promote safe aviation, protecting pilots, flight attendants, passengers and the general public from unnecessary risk. Since 1958, these rules have typically been referred to as "FARs", short for Federal Aviation Regulations. However, another set of regulations (Title 48) is titled "Federal Acquisitions Regulations", and this has led to confusion with the use of the acronym "FAR". Therefore, the FAA began to refer to specific regulations by the term "14 CFR part XX".
The FARs are organized into sections, called parts due to their organization within the CFR. Each part deals with a specific type of activity. For example, 14 CFR Part 141 contains rules for pilot training schools. The sections most relevant to aircraft pilots and AMTs (Aviation Maintenance Technicians) are listed below. Many of the FARs are designed to regulate certification of pilots, schools, or aircraft rather than the operation of airplanes. Once an airplane design is certified using some parts of these regulations, it is certified regardless of whether the regulations change in the future. For that reason, newer planes are certified using newer versions of the FARs, and in many aspects may be thus considered safer designs.
- Part 1 – Definitions and Abbreviations
- Part 13 – Investigation and Enforcement Procedures
- Part 21 – Certification Procedures for Products and Parts
- Part 23 – Airworthiness Standards: Normal, Utility, Acrobatic and Commuter Airplanes
- Part 25 – Airworthiness Standards: Transport Category Airplanes
- Part 27 – Airworthiness Standards: Normal Category Rotorcraft
- Part 29 – Airworthiness Standards: Transport Category Rotorcraft
- Part 33 – Airworthiness Standards: Aircraft Engines
- Part 34 – Fuel Venting and Exhaust Emission Requirements for Turbine Engine Powered Airplanes
- Part 35 – Airworthiness Standards: Propellers
- Part 39 – Airworthiness Directives
- Part 43 – Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, Rebuilding, and Alteration
- Part 45 – Identification and Registration Marking
- Part 47 – Aircraft Registration
- Part 61 – Certification: Pilots, Flight Instructors, and Ground Instructors
- Part 63 – Certification: Flight Crewmembers Other Than Pilots
- Part 65 – Certification: Airmen Other Than Flight Crewmembers
- Part 67 – Medical Standards and Certification
- Part 71 – Designation of Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, and Class E Airspace Areas; Airways; Routes; and Reporting Points
- Part 73 – Special Use Airspace
- Part 91 – General Operating and Flight Rules
- Part 97 – Standard Instrument Approach Procedures
- Part 101 – Moored Balloons, Kites, Unmanned Rockets and Unmanned Free Balloons
- Part 103 – Ultralight Vehicles
- Part 105 – Parachute Operations
- Part 107 – Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems
- Part 117 – Flight and Duty Limitations and Rest Requirements: Flightcrew Members
- Part 119 – Certification: Air Carriers and Commercial Operators
- Part 121 – Operating Requirements: Domestic, Flag, and Supplemental Operations
- Part 125 – Certification and Operations: Airplanes Having a Seating Capacity of 20 or More Passengers or a Payload Capacity of 6,000 Pounds or More
- Part 129 – Operations: Foreign Air Carriers and Foreign Operators of U.S. Registered Aircraft Engaged in Common Carriage
- Part 133 – Rotorcraft External-Load Operations
- Part 135 – Operating Requirements: Commuter and On Demand Operations and Rules Governing Persons on Board Such Aircraft
- Part 136 – Commercial Air Tours and National Parks Air Tour Management
- Part 137 – Agricultural Aircraft Operations
- Part 139 – Certification of Airports
- Part 141 – Flight Schools
- Part 142 – Training Centers
- Part 145 – Repair Stations
- Part 147 – Aviation Maintenance Technicians Schools
- Part 183 – Representatives of The Administrator
Regulations of interest
The FARs are divided into tens of thousands of separate sections, many of which have large numbers of researchers using them on any given day. A few of the regulations particularly interesting to laypersons, relevant to current political issues, or of historical interest are listed below.
- nine or less passengers, 12,500 pounds or less MTOW :
- normal : nonacrobatic operation (bank angle < 60°);
- utility : limited acrobatic operation (60° < bank angle < 90°);
- acrobatic : no restrictions
- commuter category: multiengine airplanes, 19 or less passengers, 19,000 pounds or less MTOW, nonacrobatic operation (bank angle < 60°).
This part has a large number of regulations to ensure airworthiness in areas such as structural loads, airframe, performance, stability, controllability, and safety mechanisms, how the seats must be constructed, oxygen and air pressurization systems, fire prevention, escape hatches, flight management procedures, flight control communications, emergency landing procedures, and other limitations, as well as testing of all the systems of the aircraft.
It also determines special aspects of aircraft performance such as stall speed (e.g., for single engine airplanes – not more than 61 knots), rate of climb (not less than 300 ft/min), take-off speed (not less than 1.2 x VS1), and weight of each pilot and passenger (170 lb for airplanes in the normal and commuter categories, and 190 lb for airplanes in the acrobatic and utility categories).
Most of the Federal Aviation Regulations, including Part 23, commenced on February 1, 1965. Prior to that date, airworthiness standards for airplanes in the normal, utility and acrobatic categories were promulgated in Part 3 of the US Civil Air Regulations. Many well-known types of light airplane are type certificated to CAR Part 3, even though they remained in production after 1965. For example, the Cessna 150 and Piper Cherokee are type certificated to CAR Part 3.
The FAA is proposing to institute a new system of performance-based airworthiness standards instead of the current prescriptive design requirements. The current weight and propulsion classifications of small airplane regulations could be replaced by performance and risk-based standards for aircraft weighing less than 19,000 pounds and seating 19 or fewer passengers.
This part contains airworthiness standards for airplanes in the transport category.
Transport category airplanes are either:
- Jets with 10 or more seats or a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) greater than 12,500 pounds (5,670 kg); or
- Propeller-driven airplanes with greater than 19 seats or a MTOW greater than 19,000 pounds (8,618 kg).
Most of the Federal Aviation Regulations, including Part 25, commenced on February 1, 1965. Prior to that date, airworthiness standards for airplanes in the transport category were promulgated in Part 4b of the US Civil Air Regulations which was in effect by November 1945. Effective August 27, 1957, Special Civil Air Regulation (SR) 422 was the basis for certification of the first turbine-powered transport airplanes, such as the Boeing 707, the Lockheed Electra, and the Fairchild 27. SR 422A became effective July 2, 1958, and was superseded by SR 422B, effective August 29, 1959. Only a few airplanes were certified under SR 422A, such as the Gulfstream I and the CL-44. First generation turbine-powered transport category airplanes such as the DC-8, DC-9, and B-727, were originally certified under SR 422B. SR 422B was recodified with minor changes to 14 CFR part 25, which became effective February 1965.
This part contains airworthiness standards for rotorcraft in the normal category. Rotorcraft up to 7,000 lb Maximum Takeoff Weight and 9 or fewer passengers are type certified in this part.
This part contains airworthiness standards for rotorcraft in the transport category. Rotorcraft with more than 7,000 lb (3,200 kg) maximum takeoff weight and 10 or more passengers are type certified in this part. Rotorcraft with more than 20,000 lb (9,100 kg) maximum takeoff weight must be certified to additional Category A standards defined in this part.
This regulation states that the pilot-in-command is the party directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, an aircraft being operated.
Additionally, this regulation states that in an emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot-in-command may deviate from any regulation contained within Part 91 to the extent required to handle the emergency.
Temporary flight restrictions
The pertinent sections of the FAR (14 CFR Sections 91.137, 91.138, 91.139, 91.141, 91.143, 91.145, 99.7) describe temporary flight restrictions (TFR). A TFR is a geographically-limited, short-term, airspace restriction, typically in the United States. Temporary flight restrictions often encompass major sporting events, natural disaster areas, air shows, space launches, and Presidential movements. Before the September 11, 2001 attacks, most TFRs were in the interest of safety to flying aircraft with occasional small restrictions for Presidential movements. Since 9/11, TFRs have been routinely used to restrict airspace for 30 nautical miles around the President, with a 10-nautical-mile (20 km) radius no-fly zone for non-scheduled flights. They are also available to other important people such as presidential and vice-presidential candidates (though Senator John Kerry did not ask for any TFR during the 2004 election).
TFRs are deeply unpopular with pilots in the general aviation sector. Large Presidential TFRs frequently close off not only the airport Air Force One is using but nearby airports as well. Others, including the Transportation Security Administration, argue that they are necessary for national security.
Two-way radio communications failure
Section 91.185 of the Federal Aviation Restrictions deals with loss of radio communications while in flight. If a loss of radio communications were to be encountered during VFR conditions, or if VFR conditions are encountered after loss of communication with the ground and other aircraft, the pilot of the aircraft shall continue the flight under VFR and land as soon as practicable. If, however, the failure occurs in IFR conditions and/or the VFR conditions are not forthcoming, the pilot should continue under the following conditions:
- Route – The pilot will follow:
- The route assigned in the last contact with ATC before loss of communication, or, if being radar vectored, continue direct to the radar fix specified in the vector clearance;
- In the absence of an assigned route, the pilot will follow the route advised by ATC;
- In the absence of an ATC assigned or advised route, the pilot will follow the route set down in the flight plan.
- Altitude – The pilot will continue at the highest of the following altitudes or flight levels:
Private, commuter, and commercial operations
For all pilots, there is an important distinction in the parts that address classes of flight. These parts do not distinguish type of aircraft, but rather type of activity done with the aircraft. Regulations for commuter and commercial aviation are far more intensive than those for general aviation, and specific training is required. Hence, flights are often referred to as Part XX operations, to specify which one of the different sets of rules applies in a particular case. Also, flight schools will often designate themselves as Part 61 or Part 141 to distinguish between different levels of training and different study programs they could offer to the students.
Part 61 is certification for all pilots, flight instructors, and ground instructors.
Part 63 is certification for flight crewmembers other than pilots; such as flight engineers and flight navigators.
Part 65 is certification for airmen other than flight crewmembers; such as Air Traffic Control Tower Operators, Aircraft Dispatchers, Mechanics, Repairmen and Parachute Riggers.
Part 91 is general operating rules for all aircraft. General aviation flights are conducted under this part. Part 91, Subpart (K) prescribes operating rules for fractional ownership programs.
Part 117 specifies flight and duty-time limitations and rest requirements for flightcrew members.
Part 121 is scheduled air carrier (airliners).
Part 133 is external load (helicopter) operations.
Part 135 is a set of rules with more stringent standards for commuter and on-demand operations.
Part 141 is a more structured method for pilot training, based on FAA syllabus and other standards.
Part 21 is certification procedures for products and parts.
Part 39 are airworthiness directives.
Part 43 is maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, and alteration.
Part 145 contains the rules a certificated repair station must follow as well as any person who holds, or is required to hold, a repair station certificate issued under this part.
Part 380 applies to Public Charter air transportation of passengers in interstate or foreign air transportation; whether furnished by a certificated commuter or foreign air carrier, or an air taxi operator, that directly engages in the operation of aircraft; or Public Charter operators
- Flight permits
- Day-night average sound level
- Joint Aviation Requirements
- National Security Area
- Night aviation regulations
- Prohibited airspace
- Restricted airspace
- Safety pilot
- Special flight rules area
- Special use airspace
- Transport category
- "Overview — Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR)" (PDF). FAA.gov. Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved 5 December 2013.
- "Title 14: Aeronautics and Space PART 1 - Definitions". ELECTRONIC CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS. U.S. Government Publishing Office.
- "Title 14: Aeronautics and Space PART 23—AIRWORTHINESS STANDARDS: NORMAL, UTILITY, ACROBATIC, AND COMMUTER CATEGORY AIRPLANES, §23.3 Airplane categories". ELECTRONIC CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS. U.S. Government Publishing Office.
- "FAA Proposes New Part 23 Airworthiness Certification Standards". National Business Aviation Association. March 14, 2016.
- "FAA AC 91-63C – Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs/TFR)". Faa.gov. 2004-05-20. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
- Michael W. Brown (November–December 2003). "TFR: Airspace Obstacles and TFR Trivia. A Pilot's Guide to Understanding Restrictions in Today's National Airspace System" (PDF). Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- "No TFRs for Kerry campaign". Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Online. 2004-08-03. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- Temporary flight restrictions: President Bush travels to Rhode Island
- Thurber, Matt (2003-02-01). "Meet Big Brother". Aviation Maintenance. Access Intelligence, LLC. Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- James Williams. "We're on a Mission: Taking the Mystery Out of Temporary Flight Restrictions" (PDF). FAA Safety Briefing (May/June 2011). FAA. pp. 16–18. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
- "Federal Aviation Regulation Sec. 91.185 – IFR operations: Two-way radio communications failure.". Risingup.com. Retrieved September 26, 2010.
- Federal Aviation Administration's repository of FARs and SFARs
- 14 CFR – Title 14—Aeronautics and Space – Legal Information Institute
- FAR/AIM.org – Online FAR/AIM and other freely available FAA documentation
- Aviation Data Systems