In direct response to AOPA requests, the FAA has told all of its inspectors that dual brakes are not required in aircraft utilized for either instruction or checkrides.
The agency has published a "Flight Standards Handbook Bulletin for General Aviation," which advises local inspectors that the FAA "has held that both flight instruction and practical tests may be conducted in an airplane without dual brakes when the instructor/examiner determines that the instruction or practical test, as applicable, can be conducted safely in the aircraft."
Echoing arguments AOPA presented earlier this year, the FAA noted that "numerous makes and models of both single- and multi-engine civil aircraft, not equipped with two sets of brakes or a central handbrake, have been used to provide flight instruction required for virtually all certificate and rating areas."
The problem was the way some inspectors were interpreting FAR Parts 91.109 and 61.45, which require that aircraft used for flight instruction or practical tests must have dual controls. Some FAA regions took that to mean that the aircraft brakes must be operable from either pilot seat.
But many popular aircraft, such as the Mooney M20-series airplanes, many Beech Bonanzas and Barons, Piper Apaches, and many tandem-seat aircraft, were certified as "dual control" without dual brakes. In some parts of the country, FAA inspectors were "violating" pilots and instructors for flight training in these popular aircraft.
In April, AOPA obtained a "letter of interpretation" from the FAA's assistant chief counsel stating that dual brakes were not required for flight instruction. But left unanswered was the question of whether dual brakes are required for the CFI (certificated flight instructor) and MEI (multiengine instructor) practical tests.
The FAA promised AOPA to resolve that issue as well. The agency finally "closed the loop" by issuing the flight standards bulletin that directs all aviation safety inspectors to "advise certificated flight instructors, certificated pilot schools, and affected aircraft owners and operators within their jurisdiction, that...civil aircraft with a single set of brakes, with or without a central handbrake, may continue to be used for flight instruction or practical tests...."
For more information, see AOPA's regulatory brief.
The 360,000-member Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association is the world's largest civil aviation organization. More than one half of the nation's pilots are AOPA members.
August 11, 2000