Rules & Regulations


  • There is a saying that the Federal Aviation Regulations are written in blood
  • What it means, is the information contained is there because someone before you has done something which created an unsafe situation that probably resulted in loss of life
  • While difficult to read, and often uninteresting, these regulations are the rules of the sky designed to keep you and other pilots safe
  • Ultimately it creates a known point from which all procedures can then deviate from

Rules and Regulations for Pilots:

Rules and Regulations for Operations:

  • In order to discuss aircraft rules and regulations, their hierarchy must be understood
  • Beyond a pilot's responsibility, aircraft must be maintained in accordance with the operation they are flown
  • Starting with determining airworthiness, aircraft must also follow appropriate Visual Flight Rules or Instrument Flight Rules
  • If the aircraft is to be operated for commercial purposes, pilots must also understand the concept of Carriage

Word Usage

  • The concept of word usage and intended meaning as used in most regulations, as well as this website are:
    • "Shall" or "must" means an action/procedure is mandatory
    • "Shall not" or "must not" means an action/procedure is prohibited
    • "Should" is used when application is recommended
    • "May" and "need not" are used when application is optional
    • "Will" is used only to indicate futurity, never to indicate any degree of requirement for application of a procedure

Compliance Enforcement:

  • Ramp Inspections/Checks:

    • A ramp inspection, sometimes referred to as a "ramp check," is defined as surveillance of an airman, operator, or air agency during actual operations at an airport or heliport
      • Its how the FAA ensures regulatory and safety compliance
    • Common Reasons for a Ramp Inspection:
      1. Observes an unsafe operation in the traffic pattern or in the ramp
      2. Receives notification from air traffic control (ATC) of an unsafe operation
      3. Observes obvious discrepancies that may affect the airworthiness of the aircraft
      4. Conducts routine surveillance activities
      5. Receives a task from the current edition of FAA Order 1800.56, National Flight Standards Work Program Guidelines
    • The inspector is looking at pilot records and the airworthiness of the aircraft
      • Of note, per FAR 61.51, "persons must present their pilot certificate, medical certificate, logbook, or any other record required by this part for inspection upon a reasonable request by:"
        • The Administrator;
        • An authorized representative from the National Transportation Safety Board; or
        • Any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer
    • The FAA will also likely check the airworthiness of the aircraft to be flown, or just flown
    • Guidance can be found at: or by visiting and searching for "Ramp Inspection"
  • Other Required Documents:

    • A student pilot must carry the following items in the aircraft on all solo cross-country flights as evidence of the required authorized instructor clearances and endorsements:
      • Pilot logbook;
      • Student pilot certificate; and
      • Any other record required by FAR Part 61
    • A sport pilot must carry his or her logbook or other evidence of required authorized instructor endorsements on all flights
    • A recreational pilot must carry his or her logbook with the required authorized instructor endorsements on all solo flights:
      • That exceed 50 nautical miles from the airport at which training was received;
      • Within airspace that requires communication with air traffic control;
      • Conducted between sunset and sunrise; or
      • In an aircraft for which the pilot does not hold an appropriate category or class rating
    • A flight instructor with a sport pilot rating must carry his or her logbook or other evidence of required authorized instructor endorsements on all flights when providing flight training

Additional Rules & Regulations:


  • Rules are written in blood and the FAA's mission is to keep air travel safe
    • Don't be afraid to be a part of this effort and if the FAA calls, it may be an opportunity, not a danger
  • While rules and regulations can be traced back to a source, they're not in place to punish
    • The FAA utilizes compliance philosophy with which to educate when reasonable
      • This includes after an accident or incident occurs, or when a negative trend is discovered in those evaluated by a particular examiner
    • This may result in solicit for a "709 ride," with which the FAA has broad authority to institute
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