There are lots of regulations that you should memorize in order to be a safe and legal pilot. There are also lots of things that you can easily look up when you need the info. I wish I needed to know the maximum airspeeds in different airspaces, but the planes I fly don’t come near that limit. Unfortunately, many of those make easy to write test questions so they show up on lots of the FAA Knowledge Tests. This post contains things in Part 91 that will probably show up on the CFI or AGI test.
Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command.
The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.
In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.
Each pilot in command who deviates from a rule under paragraph (b) of this section shall, upon the request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.
The pilot in command of a civil aircraft is responsible for determining whether that aircraft is in condition for safe flight. The pilot in command shall discontinue the flight when unairworthy mechanical, electrical, or structural conditions occur. Note that: The owner or operator of an aircraft is primarily responsible for maintaining that aircraft in an airworthy condition, including compliance with Airworthiness Directives.
Alcohol or drugs
No person may act or attempt to act as a crewmember within 8 hours after the consumption of any alcoholic beverage;
While under the influence of alcohol;
While using any drug that affects the person’s faculties in any way contrary to safety; or
While having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or greater in a blood or breath specimen.
Except in an emergency, no pilot of a civil aircraft may allow a person who appears to be intoxicated or who demonstrates by manner or physical indications that the individual is under the influence of drugs (except a medical patient under proper care) to be carried in that aircraft.
Each pilot in command shall, before beginning a flight, become familiar with all available information concerning that flight.
For a flight under IFR or a flight not in the vicinity of an airport, weather reports and forecasts, fuel requirements, alternatives available if the planned flight cannot be completed, and any known traffic delays of which the pilot in command has been advised by ATC;
For any flight, runway lengths at airports of intended use, and takeoff and landing distance information.
Crewmembers—During takeoff and landing, and while en route, each required flight crewmember shall—be at the crewmember station and keep the safety belt fastened. During takeoff and landing, keep their shoulder harness fastened unless there is no shoulder harness or the crewmember would be unable to perform required duties with the shoulder harness fastened.
The pilot in command of that aircraft ensures that each person on board is briefed on how to fasten and unfasten that person’s safety belt and, if installed, shoulder harness.
When moving on the surface, taking off, or landing the pilot in command of the aircraft ensures that each person on board has been notified to fasten their safety belt and, if installed, their shoulder harness.
Safety pilot must possess at least a private pilot certificate with category and class ratings appropriate to the aircraft being flown. [The safety pilot is a required crewmember so must possess an appropriate medical certificate. Basic Med would apply if the safety pilot acts as PIC for the entire flight and the flight conforms to the Basic Med rules. AOPA]
Operating Near Other Aircraft
No person may operate an aircraft so close to another aircraft as to create a collision hazard.
No person may operate an aircraft in formation flight except by arrangement with the pilot in command of each aircraft in the formation.
No person may operate an aircraft, carrying passengers for hire, in formation flight.
Vigilance shall be maintained by each person operating an aircraft so as to see and avoid other aircraft. When a rule of this section gives another aircraft the right-of-way, the pilot shall give way to that aircraft and may not pass over, under, or ahead of it unless well clear.
An aircraft in distress has the right-of-way over all other air traffic.
When aircraft are approaching each other head-on, or nearly so, each pilot of each aircraft shall alter course to the right.
An aircraft towing or refueling other aircraft has the right-of-way over all other engine-driven aircraft.
When aircraft of the same category are converging at approximately the same altitude (except head-on, or nearly so), the aircraft to the other’s right has the right-of-way. If the aircraft are of different categories:
Balloon –> Glider –> Airship –> a powered parachute, weight-shift-control aircraft, airplane, or rotorcraft.
Each aircraft that is being overtaken has the right-of-way and each pilot of an overtaking aircraft shall alter course to the right to pass well clear.
Aircraft, while on final approach to land or while landing, have the right-of-way over other aircraft in flight or operating on the surface, except that they shall not take advantage of this rule to force an aircraft off the runway surface which has already landed and is attempting to make way for an aircraft on final approach. When two or more aircraft are approaching an airport for the purpose of landing, the aircraft at the lower altitude has the right-of-way, but it shall not take advantage of this rule to cut in front of another which is on final approach to land or to overtake that aircraft.
Below 10,000 feet MSL at an indicated airspeed of no more than 250 knots.
At or below 2,500 feet above the surface within 4 nautical miles of the primary airport of a Class C or Class D airspace area at an indicated airspeed of no more than 200 knots.
Underlying a Class B airspace area designated for an airport or in a VFR corridor designated through such a Class B airspace area, at an indicated airspeed of no more than 200 knots.
If the minimum safe airspeed for any particular operation is greater than the maximum speed prescribed in this section, the aircraft may be operated at that minimum speed.
Minimum Safe Altitudes
Except when necessary for takeoff or landing, no person may operate an aircraft below an altitude allowing, if a power unit fails, an emergency landing without undue hazard to persons or property on the surface.
Over congested areas. Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons, an altitude of 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a horizontal radius of 2,000 feet of the aircraft.
Over other than congested areas. An altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.
A powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft may be operated at less than the minimums over other than congested areas if the operation is conducted without hazard to persons or property on the surface.
Compliance with ATC Clearances and Instructions.
When an ATC clearance has been obtained, no pilot in command may deviate from that clearance unless an amended clearance is obtained, an emergency exists, or the deviation is in response to a traffic alert and collision avoidance system resolution advisory. However, except in Class A airspace, a pilot may cancel an IFR flight plan if the operation is being conducted in VFR weather conditions. When a pilot is uncertain of an ATC clearance, that pilot shall immediately request clarification from ATC.
Except in an emergency, no person may operate an aircraft contrary to an ATC instruction in an area in which air traffic control is exercised.
Each pilot in command who (though not deviating from a rule of this subpart) is given priority by ATC in an emergency, shall submit a detailed report of that emergency within 48 hours to the manager of that ATC facility, if requested by ATC.
|Color and type of signal||Meaning with respect to aircraft on the surface||Meaning with respect to aircraft in flight|
|Steady green||Cleared for takeoff||Cleared to land.|
|Flashing green||Cleared to taxi||Return for landing (to be followed by steady green at proper time).|
|Steady red||Stop||Give way to other aircraft and continue circling.|
|Flashing red||Taxi clear of runway in use||Airport unsafe—do not land.|
|Flashing white||Return to starting point on airport||Not applicable.|
|Alternating red and green||Exercise extreme caution||Exercise extreme caution.|
Communications with Control Towers in Class G and E
Unless otherwise authorized or required by ATC, no person may operate an aircraft to, from, through, or on an airport having an operational control tower unless two-way radio communications are maintained between that aircraft and the control tower. Communications must be established prior to 4 nautical miles from the airport, up to and including 2,500 feet AGL.
Each pilot of an airplane must make all turns of that airplane to the left unless the airport displays approved light signals or visual markings indicating that turns should be made to the right, in which case the pilot must make all turns to the right.
Departures from Class E
Each pilot of an aircraft must comply with any traffic patterns established for that airport.
Operations in Class D
Each person must establish two-way radio communications with the ATC facility (including foreign ATC in the case of foreign airspace designated in the United States) providing air traffic services prior to entering that airspace and thereafter maintain those communications while within that airspace. This includes departing from the airport.
From a satellite airport without an operating control tower, must establish and maintain two-way radio communications with the ATC facility having jurisdiction over the Class D airspace area as soon as practicable after departing.
Each pilot operating a large or turbine-powered airplane must enter the traffic pattern at an altitude of at least 1,500 feet above the elevation of the airport and maintain at least 1,500 feet until further descent is required for a safe landing.
Each pilot operating an airplane approaching to land on a runway served by a visual approach slope indicator must maintain an altitude at or above the glide path until a lower altitude is necessary for a safe landing.
Each pilot must comply with any departure procedures established for that airport by the FAA.
No person may, at any airport with an operating control tower, operate an aircraft on a runway or taxiway, or take off or land an aircraft, unless an appropriate clearance is received from ATC.
Operations in Class C
Each person must establish two-way radio communications with the ATC facility (including foreign ATC in the case of foreign airspace designated in the United States) providing air traffic services prior to entering that airspace and thereafter maintain those communications while within that airspace. Same with departing.
From a satellite airport without an operating control tower, must establish and maintain two-way radio communications with the ATC facility having jurisdiction over the Class C airspace area as soon as practicable after departing.
Transponder is required and after 2020-01-01, ADSB.
Operations in Class B
The operator must receive an ATC clearance from the ATC facility having jurisdiction for that area before operating an aircraft in that area.
Large turbine engine-powered airplane to or from a primary airport for which a Class B airspace area is designated must operate at or above the designated floors of the Class B airspace area while within the lateral limits of that area.
The pilot in command holds at least a private pilot certificate. Student, sport, and recreational pilots must have training and endorsement. Only private pilots can takeoff and land at Class B airports.
Communications and navigation equipment requirements.
For IFR operation. An operable VOR or TACAN receiver or an operable and suitable RNAV system; and
For all operations. An operable two-way radio capable of communications with ATC on appropriate frequencies for that Class B airspace area.
Transponder is required and after 2020-01-01, ADSB.
Operations in Class A
Instrument flight rules (IFR) and operations may be conducted only under an ATC clearance received prior to entering the airspace.
Each pilot must maintain two-way radio communications with ATC while operating in Class A airspace.
Transponder is required and after 2020-01-01, ADSB.
Fuel requirements for flight in VFR conditions
No person may begin a flight in an airplane under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed—
During the day, to fly after that for at least 30 minutes; or
At night, to fly after that for at least 45 minutes.
Basic VFR Weather Minimums
Refer to this post.
No person may take off or land an aircraft, or enter the traffic pattern of an airport, under VFR, within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace designated for an airport unless ground or flight visibility at that airport is at least 3 statute miles.
Except as provided in Special VFR, no person may operate an aircraft beneath the ceiling under VFR within the lateral boundaries of controlled airspace designated to the surface for an airport when the ceiling is less than 1,000 feet.
Special VFR operations may only be conducted with an ATC clearance and clear of clouds when flight visibility is at least 1 statute mile. Between sunrise and sunset the person being granted the ATC clearance meets the applicable requirements for instrument flight and the aircraft is equipped as required.
Helicopters have no visibility limit. At night pilot does not have to be IFR rated and the helicopter is not required to be IFR equipped.
Refer to this post.
Emergency Locator Transmitters
Batteries used in the emergency locator transmitters required by paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section must be replaced (or recharged, if the batteries are rechargeable) when the transmitter has been in use for more than 1 cumulative hour; or when 50 percent of their useful life (or, for rechargeable batteries, 50 percent of their useful life of charge) has expired, as established by the transmitter manufacturer under its approval.
Each emergency locator transmitter must be inspected within 12 calendar months after the last inspection.
You may ferry an airplane with an inoperative emergency locator transmitter.
An aircraft while engaged in training operations conducted entirely within a 50-nautical mile radius of the airport from which such local flight operations began does not need an ELT.
An aircraft during any period for which the transmitter has been temporarily removed for inspection, repair, modification, or replacement, may be operated for no more than 90 days after the ELT is initially removed from the aircraft.
Minimum Equipment List
No person may take off an aircraft with inoperative instruments or equipment installed unless the aircraft has within it a letter of authorization, issued by the responsible Flight Standards office, authorizing operation of the aircraft under the Minimum Equipment List.
The approved Minimum Equipment List must provide for the operation of the aircraft with the instruments and equipment in an inoperable condition.
The following instruments and equipment may not be included in a Minimum Equipment List:
(1) Instruments and equipment that are either specifically or otherwise required by the airworthiness requirements under which the aircraft is type certificated and which are essential for safe operations under all operating conditions.
(2) Instruments and equipment required by an airworthiness directive to be in operable condition unless the airworthiness directive provides otherwise.
[The primary purpose of a minimum equipment list is to list the equipment that can be inoperative and still not affect the airworthiness of an aircraft.] [An MEL is a precise listing of instruments, equipment, and procedures that allows an aircraft to be operated under specific conditibns with inoperative equipment. AC 91-67]
A person may takeoff an aircraft in operations conducted under this part with inoperative instruments and equipment without an approved Minimum Equipment List provided the inoperative instruments and equipment are:
Removed from the aircraft, the cockpit control placarded, and the maintenance recorded; or deactivated and placarded “Inoperative.” If deactivation of the inoperative instrument or equipment involves maintenance, it must be accomplished and recorded in accordance with part 43 of this chapter; and
A determination is made by a pilot, who is certificated and appropriately rated under part 61 of this chapter, or by a person, who is certificated and appropriately rated to perform maintenance on the aircraft, that the inoperative instrument or equipment does not constitute a hazard to the aircraft.
If a transponder is installed, it must be turned on while in controlled airspace. It must be inspected every 24 months. Exceptions exist for aircraft not originally certified with an electrical system, balloons, and gliders.
ATC authorized deviations
Requests for ATC authorized deviations at any time for: without operating automatic pressure altitude reporting equipment; inoperative transponder to the airport of ultimate destination, including any intermediate stops, or to proceed to a place where suitable repairs can be made or both.
At least one hour before the proposed operation if not equipped with a transponder.
|Class A, B, C||All|
|Above the ceiling of Class B or C and within lateral boundaries||Below 10,000′ MSL|
|Within 30 nm of at least one airport in Class B||Below 10,000′ MSL|
|Within Contiguous US||Above 10,000′ MSL and above 2,500′ AGL|
|Controlled Airspace–if equipped and maintained.||All|
|DC Special Flight Rules Area||All|
ADSB is required in the same airspace as transponders plus:
Class E airspace at and above 3,000 feet MSL over the Gulf of Mexico from the coastline of the United States out to 12 nautical miles.
No person may operate an aircraft in aerobatic flight over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement; over an open air assembly of persons; within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace designated for an airport; within 4 nautical miles of the center line of any Federal airway; below an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface; or when flight visibility is less than 3 statute miles.
For the purposes of this section, aerobatic flight means an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft’s attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight.
Flight test areas.
No person may flight test an aircraft except over open water, or sparsely populated areas, having light air traffic.
Packed within the preceding 180 days, if its canopy, shrouds, and harness are composed exclusively of nylon, rayon, or other similar synthetic fiber or materials that are substantially resistant to damage from mold, mildew, or other fungi and other rotting agents propagated in a moist environment; or
Packed within the preceding 60 days, if any part of the parachute is composed of silk, pongee, or other natural fiber or materials not specified above.
Unless wearing a parachute, may not execute any intentional maneuver that exceeds a bank of 60 degrees relative to the horizon; or a nose-up or nose-down attitude of 30 degrees relative to the horizon.