The rules in aviation exist for a reason. And that reason is safety. As a result, they need to be extensive and cover as many areas as practically possible. How does the FAA achieve this? By publishing guidance known as FAR parts. This series of publications detail the entirety of the rules and regulations surrounding aviation. And there are a lot!
Today I will talk you through how to navigate your way through the FAR parts, what they mean, and give you a handy guide as to the areas you will really want to know about.
What Does FAR Stand for in Aviation?
FAR stands for “Federal Aviation Regulations”. These are a series of rules and laws designed to make aviation as safe as possible. They are extremely extensive and very specific in their level of detail. They cover everything from noise complaints to licenses and everything between.
If you find the term “Part” confusing, think of them as chapters instead.
Here’s an easy way to understand how FAR parts work. This is how they are organized:
- The general document. In this case, “Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations.”
- Within this document are subchapters, given a letter, such as A, B, and C.
- Within the subchapter is the “part”, given a number. It is these numbers that pilots refer to.
- After each part number is a point and another number, each of these numbers is a single specific rule
- Further subdivision. Where appropriate, you’ll see roman numerals like I, ii, iii, iv… etc.
So, while pilots may talk about, say, “part 61”, what they actually may be referring to is, in fact, “Title 14 CFR, Subchapter D, Part 61, rule 63 (iv)….”
Sounds complex, doesn’t it?
Now you can see why we simply refer to them as FAR “parts” and nothing else. It is so much simpler!
How Many Parts are in the FAR?
The FARs start at Part 1 and go to Part 198.
That sounds like a lot, right?
However, don’t panic. There are numerous sections that won’t apply to you as a sport pilot. In fact, many FAR parts don’t apply to pilots at all. There are all sorts of chapters that govern everything about aviation. This includes things like noise complaints, engineer licensing, passenger charges, and much more.
However, don’t assume that all of the sections not related to flying aircraft are irrelevant. There is a lot of good information in there that will still be very valuable to you, even before you set foot anywhere near an aircraft.
Part 141 gives details of approved flying schools. If you are embarking on flight training, this is definitely something that you may want to look out for!
Another area that is of particular value could be medical standards. This gives all sorts of details for things that could prohibit an individual from gaining a pilot’s license. Why could that be relevant?
Well, it would be a shame to invest a large sum of money into training to be a pilot only to discover that there was a condition that prevented someone from getting the license at all!
What is the AIM?
One other valuable FAA document (there are many) is the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM). AIMs are a more detailed discussion of things important to pilots.
The AIMs cover air navigation aids, radar services, airport markings and lighting, airspace categories, air traffic control, and procedures, as well as flight safety and medical issues.
Authorized republishes of FAA material often combine FAR and AIM into a single, thick (900+ pages) document that covers much of what you need to know about the rules of flying. Think of it as your flying bible.
If you would like some advice in preparation for your theory test, I would advise getting hold of one of these publications. Also, equip yourself with some tabs or post-it notes and a highlighter (don’t do this with a borrowed copy).
Work your way through and highlight and bookmark any relevant sections so that you can easily navigate to them.
The oral test before your check ride is an open book.
Provided you can easily navigate the FAR parts and AIM, you should have zero problems passing with a little preparation. For your private-pilot knowledge test, you should be knowledgeable about those regulations that directly affect private aviation. Still, you also should be aware of what rules other pilots fly under.
Which Parts of the Aviation FAR Do I Need to Know?
The FARs (Federal Aviation Regulations) include several parts (think of them as chapters), each dealing with one aspect of flying regulations. You’ll often hear pilots refer to these parts and assume you know what they’re referring to.
The main sections that you need to concern yourself with as a pilot are:
- Part 1: Rules and definitions
- Part 61: Pilot Certification and Training
- Part 67: Medical Standards
- Subchapter E (all of its parts): Airspace
- Part 91: General Flight Rules
- Part 103: Ultralight Vehicles
However, this list is not exhaustive, and I couldn’t possibly hope to envisage every single piece of information that you might need. For now, I would suggest having a good read of the above parts and then taking the time to browse over the various sections of the FAR parts to see if there are any areas of particular interest or are specific to you.
For example, a “Part 103” aircraft is an ultralight because it is built and flown based on regulations in FAR Part 103. FAR Part 61 contains the rules for obtaining a sport pilot certificate. You’ll catch on to these references very soon.
One of the parts of the FARs that you will refer to most is “Part 61.” It covers airmen (meaning men and women), including the certification of pilots, flight instructors, and ground instructors.
As a private pilot, you don’t need to know everything in Part 61 because it also covers commercial pilots and instrument ratings. Still, you will be expected to know the requirements and limitations for the new sport-pilot certificate.
FAR Parts. Closing Thoughts
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It is highly doubtful that anyone can remember all of the information in the FAR parts. In fact, it isn’t wise to do so, as they are regularly amended and updated with new information and rules (such as those rules covering ultralights and sports planes!) Familiarize yourself with those relevant areas and try and have good working knowledge, particularly regarding rules about actually flying! Want to know about airspace rules? You’ve got to see this.
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide