FARs for jets

More rules for the jet set

April 1, 2012


April 2012
Turbine Pilot Contents

As if a pilot flying a jet for the first time didn’t have enough to learn—what with all the new systems, aerodynamics, and performance topics to master—there also are new (to the transitioning pilot, that is) FARs with which to become familiar. Mostly contained in subpart F of Part 91, these rules apply only to airplanes weighing more than 12,500 pounds or to “turbojet-powered multiengine airplanes” of any size.

Part 91.503 and 91.513 specify equipment that must be accessible to pilots. Some are not surprising, and would normally be carried in any airplane: checklists with normal and emergency procedures, en route and approach charts. Specific emergency equipment is also required, notably a portable fire extinguisher and a first aid kit. The required emergency equipment must be regularly inspected to demonstrate continued serviceability.

Of interest is the requirement for multiengine airplanes to carry “one-engine inoperative climb performance data.” One popular light jet manufacturer delivers aircraft with this information only accessible via computer software, not in paper format in the aircraft flight manual. This means that to be legal for flight a pilot must have a computer, with the performance software loaded, within arm’s reach.

Another easy-to-overlook equipage requirement is the need to carry a flashlight “having at least two size-D cells.” Despite this being a legal requirement, most new light jets are delivered without a complying flashlight; the new pilot usually must purchase this item before the first flight.

The FAA is now requiring that jet pilots demonstrate every year that they are still capable of flying to the same level as demonstrated when adding a type rating.

Overwater operations are another area where the FARs are more restrictive for jets than small aircraft. Every passenger must have a life preserver for any flight greater than 50 nm from shore. Flights more than 100 nm from shore require a life raft with survival kit, flares, and a “self-buoyant, water-resistant, portable emergency radio signaling device” with its own power source. These limits come into play even if you’re not flying to an island destination. On the East Coast one will pass well more than 100 nm from shore flying the Atlantic Routes (ARs), which run in a nearly straight line from the coast of North Carolina to southern Florida.

Additional rules specify that jets operate at higher minimum altitudes than their piston or turboprop brethren. Except for landing, they may never be operated less than 1,000 feet above the surface—while overwater or in remote areas, other aircraft may operate with no specified minimum altitude. Additionally, in Class D airspace, jets must operate 1,500 feet above the surface until commencing descent for landing.

Finally, a recent change to FAR 61.58 has implications for operators of jets flown by a single pilot. Previously limited to jets that required two pilots, now pilots of any jet aircraft must pass an annual proficiency check to serve as PIC. This check consists of all the maneuvers completed during the checkride for a type rating, and must be administered by an examiner. Essentially the FAA is now requiring that jet pilots demonstrate every year that they are still capable of flying to the same level as demonstrated when adding a type rating, effectively mandating the recurrent training required by most insurance underwriters. Pilots who fly multiple jets are allowed to alternate aircraft types for the check, but a proficiency check must have been completed in the specific type to be flown within the past two years at the maximum.

Neil Singer is a Master CFI and a mentor pilot in Cessna and Embraer jets.