Pilot Counsel

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Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2002

A number of FAA enforcement cases that recently came across my desk remind me that Section 61.15(e) of the federal aviation regulations continues to generate an unusually large number of enforcement actions against pilots. This is the regulation that requires pilots to report certain automobile driving infractions to the FAA.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2002

High on the list of ugly surprises is finding out, after an accident, that the insurance you have paid big bucks for doesn't cover the damage to your aircraft. Here is a recent case with an important lesson for aircraft owners and pilots.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2002

Each year at AOPA Expo — our association's convention — we hold an insurance seminar and invite representatives of the leading general aviation insurers to respond to our members' questions. I moderate the seminar.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2002

Many of you have followed the extensive press coverage given to the events on Capitol Hill after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The United States Congress has been preoccupied with airline and airport security.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2001

Last month we explained the legal requirements of notams that advise pilots of emergency air traffic rules and temporary flight restrictions (see "Pilot Counsel: Emergency Rules Notams," November Pilot). A proliferation of such notams were published in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks and a number of pilots are being investigated for violating them.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2001

Recent events have dramatically illustrated how important it is for pilots to check notams (notices to airmen) as part of preflight planning. In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon several weeks ago, the FAA issued a notam that immediately grounded all civil flights in this country.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2001

Last month we traced the regulatory background against which the current fractional aircraft ownership programs developed, and how they exist today (see "Pilot Counsel: Fractional Aircraft Ownership, Part 1," September Pilot). We concluded by identifying the FAA's concern about how to regulate these programs (www.aopa.org/members/files/topics/fractional.html).

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2001

The fractional ownership of an aircraft is an evolving legal concept that has developed over the last 10 to 15 years, mostly at the high end of general aviation. Industry sources tell us that fractional ownership programs now manage some 625 aircraft, mostly business jets — with another 1,000 on order — on behalf of about 3,050 owners holding some 4,100 shares.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2001

It is against the law to shoot at civilian aircraft in flight. It is against international law.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2001

Not surprisingly, a recent disaster has spurred pilots to want to learn (or refresh) what they must do to minimize the risk of getting shot down during an in-flight interception. In case you missed it, about three months ago a Peruvian military jet intercepted and shot down an innocent civilian single-engine Cessna 185 on floats (U.S.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2001

As general aviation pilots, we are charged with knowing the regulatory requirements for supplemental oxygen aboard the aircraft that we fly. (Airliners and some other commercial aircraft have stricter requirements.) The requirements are spelled out in FAR 91.211.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2001

Most of the judges in our federal and state judicial systems are not pilots, although I am happy to note that the number of pilots among judges is increasing. Anyway, it is still unusual to find a judge's legal decision affecting pilots that is written by a pilot.

Topics Pilots

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2001

A case study Many, if not most, pilots have made low passes in their airplanes, sometimes to say hi to friends or family on the ground, sometimes just to sightsee. These low passes are perfectly legal operations so long as they are not done carelessly or recklessly, and so long as they are done at or above the minimum safe altitudes set out in the Federal Aviation Regulations.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2001

Anyone who has been involved in the buying or selling of a used aircraft has probably wrestled with this nagging legal problem: Who is responsible for defects discovered in the aircraft after it has been sold? There are some standard techniques that we have developed over the years to try to address this problem. They are usually very helpful, and they work most of the time, but, as we will see, imaginative lawyers may attempt to find ways around them.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2001

In November in this column ("Pilot Counsel: Small Airports and the Law," November 2000 Pilot) I talked about a recent court decision because it gave us a real-life example of some principles of law that help protect airports. The case involved a dispute between a small private airport and its nearby landowners.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2001

The logging of flight time can sometimes create real legal problems for pilots. This is especially true, as a recent case tells us, if the FAA believes that a pilot is intentionally padding his or her time to meet some FAA requirement.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2000

An unspoken truth in general aviation is that FAR 91.171 is one of the most chronically "violated" regulations on the books. It is the regulation that requires a VOR equipment check before any flight under the instrument flight rules.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2000

Here is a recent case that tells us something about the law as it relates to an important and typical airport situation. It is the situation of a small general aviation airport that has existed in a sparsely populated area and is now being threatened by nearby residential and commercial development.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2000

The use of cellular telephones in connection with private flying has become very popular. It is not at all unusual to see a pilot in or near an aircraft on the ground using a cell phone.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2000

Do you sometimes rent an aircraft from a fixed-base operator? Most of us have, and will. When you do, do you ask to see the aircraft's logbooks to make sure that the aircraft has a current annual inspection? If you don't ask to see the logbooks, do you at least ask the FBO about the inspection status of the aircraft? Most of us don't do either, normally.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2000

Many of you are already members of the AOPA Legal Services Plan. This is a program that is available exclusively to AOPA members.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2000

Do you know the technical difference between ground visibility and flight visibility? It could be important. Suppose you are sitting in your aircraft on the ground at a satellite airport (an airport that is in the same surface airspace area as the primary airport on which the airspace designation is based).

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2000

It seems that we can expect more uncomfortable one-on-one discussions between pilots and FAA inspectors about possible regulatory violations. We previously reported on the relatively new FAA Streamlined Administrative Action Process (SAAP) program now in effect (see "Pilot Counsel: FAA’s Ticket Program," September 1999 Pilot) and offered some legal guidance to pilots.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2000

There is good news and bad news. The bad news—well, maybe it would be better to call it sad news—is that celebrated airshow pilot Bob Hoover has announced that he is canceling his performances scheduled for the rest of this year.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2000

When filing an IFR flight plan, must a pilot choose a cruising altitude/flight level in accordance with the hemispherical rule? The simple answer is, "No." If you would like to have a different altitude or flight level, there is no harm in asking. It is not a violation of the regulations to do so.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2000

A recent legal interpretation of the FAA Chief Counsel’s Office gives us an opportunity to review an important set of regulatory requirements. These requirements sometimes go unnoticed because they are one-time requirements.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2000

We in general aviation have a relatively unique federal law on the statute books. It is called the General Aviation Revitalization Act of 1994.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2000

In a recent FAA enforcement action, a pilot’s Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate was suspended for 30 days for violating the regulation on the minimum fuel requirements for the flight of an airplane in VFR conditions. It’s a regulation that we don’t have much occasion to look at in detail.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 1999

Suppose a friend calls on Labor Day weekend to tell you that an air ambulance aircraft, along with its pilot, nurse, and doctor, is stranded because of a mechanical problem, and they need somebody to fly a mechanic to the aircraft to get it operational. He tells you that they have tried to get a charter but have been unable to do so.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 1999

Buying an aircraft, whether it is new or used, is a big event in anyone's life. For many of us, it will be the biggest single purchase we will make, next to buying a home.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 1999

It's a fact of life. Many airports are under constant pressure from local residents who complain about the sound and sight of airplanes.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 1999

There was a proposal to have FAA inspectors issue Federal Aviation Regulations violation citations "on the spot," much like traffic tickets issued by police or state troopers for alleged motor vehicle violations. For that reason it was dubbed the "FAA ticket program." The good news for pilots is that the proposal has now been revised significantly as a result of objections by AOPA and other industry organizations.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 1999

A hot issue at recent flight in-structor certificate revalidation courses is the legal liability of the flight instructor. It seems that flight instructors are becoming more and more aware that they could be sued, not only for something that happens during the flight instruction period, but also for something that happens afterward — something that somebody could say was caused by faulty flight instruction given earlier.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 1999

"Why should I have to worry about any of the federal aviation regulations dealing with alcohol and drugs? I don't abuse alcohol. I don't use illegal drugs.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 1999

Pilots are on official notice. The Federal Aviation Administration has taken the unusual step of publishing in the Federal Register what it calls an "interpretive rule." Of course, most people, including pilots, don't read the Federal Register (a daily voluminous monster covering the actions of every federal agency), but this is the way in which the federal government makes official public pronouncements; and in this case, it is the FAA's way of formally delivering the bad news to pilots that the agency is effectively reversing a line of legal precedents that are favorable to pilots.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 1999

The Aviation Safety Reporting Program, which has been around for almost 25 years, is a good one for pilots. It provides protection from the loss of a pilot's certificate.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 1999

Pilot magazine has been featuring a yearlong series of articles on how to handle various in-flight emergencies (see "In-Flight Emergencies: What's Going On?" p. 145).

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 1999

If you are an aircraft owner, you have been up to your ears in aircraft repairs, inspections, and generally what the FAA calls maintenance. You might be surprised to learn (or be reminded about) how much responsibility an owner-pilot has after an aircraft comes out of maintenance.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 1999

Insurance is a tricky business for aircraft owners and pilots. Reading and understanding an aircraft insurance policy is not easy or pleasant.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 1999

A 10,000-hour corporate pilot was grounded by the FAA on an emergency basis because of a single air traffic control incident. That's a pretty extreme action.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 1998

In the following law case, both the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are critical of a pilot's reliance on "eyeballing" the fuel quantity in the tanks and of relying on the fuel gauges to ensure the minimum fuel required by the regulations. The facts of the case will stir up a lot of sympathy and empathy and will give us an opportunity to review the regulations.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 1998

Last month we reviewed in detail what we call the "standard" VFR weather minimums. This is a simplified, but nevertheless accurate, version of the very complicated minimums of FAR 91.155.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 1998

It has been some time since we last reviewed the rules that tell us the minimum weather conditions that we must have before we may conduct a flight under visual flight rules (VFR). These minimums are set out in Federal Aviation Regulations 91.155 and 91.157.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 1998

We pilots can glean practical flying tips from some of the legal decisions of the National Transportation Safety Board in FAA enforcement cases. These are real-life cases, not textbook hypothetical situations, against which we can measure our own everyday flying practices and improve them.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 1998

Faithful readers of this column know that from time to time we have attempted to cover all of the major flight rules governing a pilot in the operation of a typical general aviation aircraft. For a change, I thought it might be interesting to cover a number of provisions in these rules that govern situations that most pilots don't normally encounter.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 1998

Almost a year ago we went through a major overhaul of Part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulations. This is the part that deals with pilot and flight instructor certification.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 1998

Here is an FAA enforcement case that suggests to us lessons to be learned about maintaining our pilot logbooks. For one thing, it shows us how strictly the FAA can construe the regulations requiring logbook entries.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 1998

"Runway incursions" is a high-sounding term that is currently being bandied about by safety gurus. So high-sounding that I have trouble imagining that it applies to my flying.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 1998

Here is a recent legal opinion that I believe pilots will find interesting, and maybe even educational. In assigning "fault," in the legal sense, the decision talks about the relative responsibilities of the pilot on the one hand and FAA air traffic personnel on the other, for a situation that developed into a fatal accident.

Pilot Counsel

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 1998

When departing an airport on an IFR clearance, must a pilot comply with an IFR departure procedure established for that airport? Most of you will recognize that I wouldn't be asking such a question if the answer is as obvious as the question implies. There is some debate about it.