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Thread: 91.307 Ambiguity

  1. #1
    rwanttaja's Avatar
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    91.307 Ambiguity

    This is something I've wondered about for ~45 years.

    14 CFR 91.307 says, in part:

    "(c) Unless each occupant of the aircraft is wearing an approved parachute, no pilot of a civil aircraft carrying any person (other than a crewmember) may execute any intentional maneuver that exceeds—"... and continues with the definitions of aerobatic flight.

    The "Other than a crewmember" part bugs me. This implies that if ONLY required crew is aboard, no parachutes are required. So if one is flying solo, they don't have to wear a 'chute.

    Has there been any formal clarification of this from the FAA?

    Ron Wanttaja

  2. #2

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    Nope. Nothing to clarify. If you are flying an aircraft with one pilot seat and one passenger seat, and you put someone in that passenger seat, you both must wear parachutes if you fly acro.

    Most aircraft that fly acro have only one required crew member, the single pilot. If there were two required crewmembers, then with only those two individuals (souls) on board, no parachutes need be worn in acrobatic flight. Off the top of my head I can not think of any US civilian Acrobatic Category aircraft that have more than one required crew member.

    Flight test operations, and other types of operations done under FAA Certificates of Authorization are covered by specific operating limitations that may or may not spell out required wearing of parachutes.

    So in general, solo flight does not require the wearing of a parachute if aerobatics are flown.

    I will note that spins are specifically exempted to be a non-acrobatic maneuver. CFI candidates must do spins. I do not see the local folks wear parachutes for that, although as someone who regularly does spins, (editorial comment) I think that they should as most of that community are under-trained in that area. That said, we do not see CFI candidates spinning into the ground.

    Hope this helps,

    Wes
    N78PS
    Last edited by WLIU; 12-29-2015 at 12:46 PM.

  3. #3
    Byron J. Covey
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    Quote Originally Posted by rwanttaja View Post
    This is something I've wondered about for ~45 years.

    14 CFR 91.307 says, in part:

    "(c) Unless each occupant of the aircraft is wearing an approved parachute, no pilot of a civil aircraft carrying any person (other than a crewmember) may execute any intentional maneuver that exceeds—"... and continues with the definitions of aerobatic flight.

    The "Other than a crewmember" part bugs me. This implies that if ONLY required crew is aboard, no parachutes are required. So if one is flying solo, they don't have to wear a 'chute.

    Has there been any formal clarification of this from the FAA?

    Ron Wanttaja
    Just an FYI. There are other definitions within the FARs for "aerobatics." I think that the may be three, but it has been a long time since I looked. One such example is here:

    §91.303 Aerobatic flight.

    No person may operate an aircraft in aerobatic flight—
    (a) Over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement;
    (b) Over an open air assembly of persons;
    (c) Within the lateral boundaries of the surface areas of Class B, Class C, Class D, or Class E airspace designated for an airport;
    (d) Within 4 nautical miles of the center line of any Federal airway;
    (e) Below an altitude of 1,500 feet above the surface; or
    (f) 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.


    BJC

  4. #4
    Byron J. Covey
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    Quote Originally Posted by WLIU View Post
    ...

    I will note that spins are specifically exempted to be a non-acrobatic maneuver. CFI candidates must do spins. I do not see the local folks wear parachutes for that, although as someone who regularly does spins, (editorial comment) I think that they should as most of that community are under-trained in that area. That said, we do not see CFI candidates spinning into the ground.

    Hope this helps,

    Wes
    N78PS
    Wes:

    Do I remember correctly that the spin exemption applies only for training (meaning that a CFI is on board) or for demonstrating competency (meaning that a certified flight examiner is on board)?

    Thanks,


    BJC

  5. #5

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    I do not venture into that territory, so looking up the text of 91.307 I see

    "(2) does not apply to -- ..... spins or other flight maneuvers required by the regulations for any certificate or rating when given by
    (i) a certificated flight instructor
    ...."

    So I read it as a single exception for dual instruction. Does not appear to cover examiners during flight tests and I know of no flight test that includes spins as a demonstrated practical test item.

    I will note that there is no FAA instructional certificate for aerobatics. If I may editorialize a little, when I see a CFI offer to teach acro, I first look for IAC trophies on the office wall. That is currently the available yardstick for civilian aerobatic experience. If I see even a first place Sportsman trophy, and the word on the ramp is that the individual can teach, my confidence in having a valuable aerobatic instructional experience goes up a notch vs someone who is "just" a CFI. There are indeed non-competitor CFI's who can teach acro, but without some sort of credential or merit badge, you have less confidence in advance that the individual has mastered the topic.

    Best of luck,

    Wes
    N78PS

  6. #6
    Byron J. Covey
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    Quote Originally Posted by WLIU View Post

    So I read it as a single exception for dual instruction. Does not appear to cover examiners during flight tests and I know of no flight test that includes spins as a demonstrated practical test item.

    Wes
    N78PS
    I was thinking that CFI candidates had to demonstrate a spin during their flight test.


    BJC

  7. #7

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    I doubt that any FSDO would buy into the logic expressed in post #6 if two pilots in a Pitts S-2 or Extra 300 were ramp checked and one pilot represented that he or she had been or was going to fly aerobatics two up.

    And as an experienced aerobatic pilot and competitor, I would consider it very very unwise to try to teach while not wearing parachutes. There is a reason that the IAC safety online forum was originally titled "All Airplanes Break". Aerobatic instruction offers a much higher likelihood that a "student" over-stresses the ship. Posters who have not spent time in the aerobatic community do not appreciate how much they do not know.

    One benefit of IAC membership is online access to the multi-volume "Tech Tips" books. These books have 40 years of write ups on many many failure issues that have occurred in aerobatic aircraft and how they can be prevented in the future. Some of the articles are very sobering reading. Highly recommended.

    And finally, the late Neil Williams could tell you how awful it can be to not be wearing a parachute and wishing you were. His successful "crunch" landing after having a structural failure was a very very near thing...

    Best of luck,

    Wes
    N78PS
    Last edited by WLIU; 01-01-2016 at 07:02 AM.

  8. #8
    Byron J. Covey
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    Quote Originally Posted by WLIU View Post
    I would consider it very very unwise to try to teach while not wearing parachutes. There is a reason that the IAC safety online forum was originally titled "All Airplanes Break".
    Years ago I bought my first S-1S. All the insurance companies wanted gobs of time in type to insure me, and I hade none. I struck a deal with one company: If Bill Thomas called them and said that I could fly the airplane, they would insure me.

    Getting ready for the first flight, I asked: "What will you say if we need to bail out?'

    "We will not need to bail out."

    "But what if we do?"

    "We will not need to bail out."

    "OK, Bill. If I decide to leave, you will know because there will be a big hole in the canopy."

    Got a long, strange look over that. I thought for a moment that he was not going to fly with me.

    He did, and called the insurance company, and they insured me.

    BTW, Bill was the best instructor that I have flown with. I learned all about flat spins from him.


    BJC
    Last edited by Byron J. Covey; 01-01-2016 at 10:43 AM.

  9. #9
    Byron J. Covey
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike M View Post
    "Regspeak" thus allows a non-CFI to give aerobatic instruction to a certificated aviator without parachutes which comes pretty darn close to 91.13!

    Or not. Your FSDO may vary.
    How does the non-CFI, or even a CFI, become a crew member?


    BJC

  10. #10

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    Nope. Required crew is set during aircraft certification and where more than one crew member is required for the operation of the aircraft, it is spelled out in the Airplane Flight Manual(s). Not variable and not mission related unless that "mission" is conducted under a Certificate of Authorization.

    Do more reading.

    Wes
    N78PS

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