U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

10801 Pear Tree Lane
Suite 200
St. Ann, Missouri 63074


October 2004 




Thought for the month..... Some people think they are thinking,
when they are actually rearranging what they don't know.

The Regs are Rules Without Standards... Frustrated airmen often call the FSDO trying to get a better idea of exactly what a regulation means. For example, in 91.111, how close is "so close as to create a collision hazard"? Or, in 91.119, what is a "sparsely populated area"? And how abrubt does a maneuver have to be before it becomes aerobatic flight as specified in 91.203?

Very often, the FAR's do not provide a standard for us. At first this seems vague and unhelpful, but I have come to appreciate that it really provides flexibility. The framers of the regulations understand that there are too many variables in aviation to carve rules into stone. How close is too close? Like most things in aviation the answer is - it all depends. How big are the aircraft? How fast are they going? Are they the same category aircraft? Two balloons can get really close to each other before they become a collision hazard. Two 747's can't.

When standards are provided in the FAR's, they are always minimum standards. For example, 91.126 - When approaching to land at an airport without an operating control tower in Class G airspace 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. Making left turns at a nontowered airport is the minimum we have to do, but we all know there are a lot more things that should be done. The expanded standards for this rule are given to us in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), Advisory Circulars and Handbooks.

The most obvious examples of the regulations not providing standards are in Part 61. This part specifies the requirements we must meet for certification as a pilot. Each certificate has aeronautical knowledge and flight proficiency associated with it that are requirements without standards. We must do performance and ground reference maneuvers but we aren't told what they are. We must do slow flight and stalls, but we're not told how the maneuvers are to be performed. Those things are provided to us in the practical test standards and in the Airplane Flying Handbook.

As competent airmen we are expected to know both the rules and the standards that apply to them - and to comply with both. Any pilot who flies at the minimum standards of the FAR's, is a minimal pilot. This may become an even more important factor in the months and years to come.

A new Sport Pilot certificate has been established, along with a Light-Sport Aircraft category. The new category and certificate means that we all have to get back into the regulations and review the standards that apply. Who has the right-of-way, a glider or a weight-shift controlled aircraft? What kind of traffic pattern does a powered parachute have to make? Are light-sport aircraft allowed in Class B? If you can't answer these questions, you may want to find out. Don't just rearrange what you don't know, that's not really thinking.

Upcoming Events

October 16
SIU Auditorium
Carbondale, IL
The Successful Cross Country
9:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.

October 21
Mt. View Airport
Mt. View, MO. (Vaughn Hangar)
Aeronautical Decision Making
7 to 9:00 P.M.

October 23
Mid-Coast Training Center
18 Mark Allen Drive
St. Louis Downtown Airport
8th Annual Helicopter Safety Seminar
9 A.M. to 4 P.M.

October 30
1st Class Air Hangar
Capital Airport
Springfield, IL
The Successful Cross Country
9:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M.

November 2
Shoney's Restaurant
Rolla, MO
Aeronautical Decsion Making
6:30 to 9 P.M

December 4
Skyline Aeronautics
Spirit of St. Louis Airport
Midair Collision Avoidance
9 A.M. to 12 P.M.

December 11
Southwest Illinois College
Granite City Campus
IFR/VFR/ Refresher and Companion/Maintenance Seminar
9 A.M. to 4 P.M.

Register at http//faasafety.gov for E-mail notification of safety seminars in the St. Louis District.

Operations Safety Program Manager
1-800-322-8876 extension 4835