Airplane Flight Manual


  • The Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) is the handbook designed for utilization as an operating guide, much like a car manual, for the pilot
  • The handbook is not designed to be a substitute for adequate and competent flight instruction, knowledge of current Airworthiness Directives (ADs), and applicable FARs or Advisory Circulars (AC)
  • The AFM, or its equivalent, is required to satisfy the requirements of FAR 21.5

Airplane Flight Manual Regulations:


  • Airplane Flight Manual (AFM):
    • The AFM is a document developed by the airplane manufacturer and approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
    • It is specific to a particular make and model airplane by serial number and it contains operating procedures and limitations which meet the requirements of FAR 21.5
  • Pilot Operating Handbook (POH):
    • The POH is a document developed by the airplane manufacturer and contains the FAA approved Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) information
    • The term "POH" came into existence in the mid-1970s as a result of AOPA's and GAMA's efforts to standardize and expand information contained in the owner's manuals or information manuals of the day
  • Airplane Owner/Pilot Information Manual (PIM):
    • The PIM is a document developed by the airplane manufacturer containing general information about the make and model of an airplane
    • The airplane owner's manual is not FAA-approved and is not specific to a particular serial numbered airplane
    • This manual is not kept current, and therefore cannot be substituted for the AFM/POH
    • It is often used as a way to learn and review aircraft information without removing legal information from the aircraft
    • Pilot Information Manuals for a variety of aircraft can be purchased on Amazon

Airplane Flight Manual Chapters:

  • Section 1: General:

    • Provides overall information about the aircraft which includes such things as an overview of the engine and propeller, type of fuel it can carry, max weights and standard dimensions
  • Section 2: Limitations:

    • Provides the FAA approved operating limitations, instrument markings, color coding and basic placards necessary for the safe operation of the airplane its system
  • Section 3: Emergency Procedures:

    • Section provides the recommended procedures for coping with various emergency or critical situations
    • This section is divided into two parts:
      • The first part provides an emergency procedure checklist
        • These supply immediate action sequence to be followed during critical situations with little emphasis on the operation systems)
      • The second part of this section provides the amplified emergency procedures corresponding to the emergency procedures checklist items
        • These contain additional information to provide the pilot with a more complete description of the procedures so they could be more easily understood
  • Section 4: Normal Procedures:

    • All normal operating procedures for that aircraft
    • Two parts similar to the emergency procedures section
  • Section 5: Performance:

    • All of the required and complementary performance information applicable to this aircraft
    • Examples can be found on our performance calculations page
  • Section 6: Weight and Balance:

    • Necessary tables and calculations to determine aircraft stability
    • A weight and balance explanation can be found here
  • Section 7: Description and Operation of the Airplane and its Systems:

    • A general overview of the systems that can and mostly are installed on the aircraft
  • Section 8: Airplane Handling, Servicing and Maintenance:

    • Meant to provide a guideline for handling, servicing, and maintenance for the aircraft
  • Section 9: Supplements:

    • This section provides information in the form of supplements which are necessary for efficient operation of the airplane when equipped with one or more of the various operational systems and equipment not approved with the standard alone
  • Section 10: Operating Tips:

    • Provide particular tips to that aircraft


  • The AFM is the "O" in the acronym "ARROW," which helps us remember the documents required for flight
  • Note that amplifying procedures which may include prohibitions or cautions that are in addition to the "limitations" section can sometimes be found at the end of normal and emergency procedures checklists
  • Note that while commerical AFMs may be convinenent, has issued Safety Alerts for Operators regarding their accuracy and use
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