Federal Aviation Administration

What does that regulation really mean?


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Aviation Law gavel

Every once in a while you may find yourself in a situation where you are not sure if a regulation applies to you or not. Perhaps the specific circumstances of your flight fall in the outskirts of the regulations applicability.

There is actually a place on the FAA website where you can look into the actual legal interpretations of specific regulations and you can personally ask for the FAA to interpret any individual or set of regulations in light of your specific situation.

As was brought out in a recent Flying magazine article:

For instance, a common one that comes up early in instrument training or even getting recurrent is whether you have to fly all of your approaches to the DA or MDA or if you could break them off after crossing the final approach fix and still have them count. You’ll never see this addressed in the FARs or AIM, but the question is valid and makes you pause for a second.

It is impractical that the existing regulations can’t fully account for all possibilities or situations.

Thankfully, this isn’t a new phenomenon, and there’s a solution for pilots: The FAA’s legal interpretation letters. 


Another example is the recent re-interpretation of the instrument approach requirements for the instrument cross-country training flight.

Check out other legal interpretations on the FAA Regulatory Division website.