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The pilot in command (PIC) of an aircraft is the person aboard the aircraft who is ultimately responsible for its operation and safety during flight. This would be the captain in a typical two- or three-pilot aircrew, or "pilot" if there is only one certificated and qualified pilot at the controls of an aircraft. The PIC must be legally certificated (or otherwise authorized) to operate the aircraft for the specific flight and flight conditions, but need not be actually manipulating the controls at any given moment. The PIC is the person legally in charge of the aircraft and its flight safety and operation, and would normally be the primary person liable for an infraction of any flight rule.
The strict legal definition of PIC may vary slightly from country to country. The International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, definition is: "The pilot responsible for the operation and safety of the aircraft during flight time."Flight time for airplanes is defined by the U.S. FAA as "Pilot time that commences when an aircraft moves under its own power for the purpose of flight and ends when the aircraft comes to rest after landing." This would normally include taxiing, which involves the ground operation to and from the runway, as long as the taxiing is carried out with the intention of flying the aircraft.
The U.S. CFR Title 14, Part 1, Section 1.1 defines "pilot in command" as:
...the person who:
- Has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight;
- Has been designated as pilot in command before or during the flight; and
- Holds the appropriate category, class, and type rating, if appropriate, for the conduct of the flight.
Under U.S. FAA FAR 91.3, "Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command", the FAA declares:
- The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.
- In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.
- Each pilot in command who deviates from a rule under paragraph (b) of this section shall, upon the request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.
U.S. FAA FAR 121.533(e) gives broad and complete final authority to airline captains: "Each pilot in command has full control and authority in the operation of the aircraft, without limitation, over other crewmembers and their duties during flight time, whether or not he holds valid certificates authorizing him to perform the duties of those crewmembers."
ICAO and other countries equivalent rules are similar. In Annex 2, "Rules of the Air", under par. "2.3.1 Responsibility of pilot-in-command", ICAO declares:
The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall, whether manipulating the controls or not, be responsible for the operation of the aircraft in accordance with the rules of the air, except that the pilot-in-command may depart from these rules in circumstances that render such departure absolutely necessary in the interests of safety.
In Annex 2, par. "2.4 Authority of pilot-in-command of an aircraft", ICAO adds:
The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall have final authority as to the disposition of the aircraft while in command.
Both FAR 91.3(b) and ICAO Annex 2, par. 2.3.1, specifically empower the PIC to override any other regulation in an emergency, and to take the safest course of action at his/her sole discretion. This provision mirrors the authority given to the captains of ships at sea, with similar justifications. It essentially gives the PIC the final authority in any situation involving the safety of a flight, irrespective of any other law or regulation.
Under U.S. FAA FAR 14 CFR 61.51,logging flight time as a PIC is different and distinct from acting as the legal PIC for a flight. In general, the PIC of a given flight may always log his or her flying time as such, while other crew members may or may not be authorized to log their time on that flight as PIC time, depending on the specific circumstances and the controlling jurisdiction.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the largest modern transportation agency and a governmental body of the United States with powers to regulate all aspects of civil aviation in that nation as well as over its surrounding international waters. Its powers include the construction and operation of airports, air traffic management, the certification of personnel and aircraft, and the protection of U.S. assets during the launch or re-entry of commercial space vehicles. Powers over neighboring international waters were delegated to the FAA by authority of the International Civil Aviation Organization.
General aviation (GA) represents all civil aviation "aircraft operation other than a commercial air transport or an aerial work operation".
Instrument flight rules (IFR) is one of two sets of regulations governing all aspects of civil aviation aircraft operations; the other is visual flight rules (VFR).
In aviation, visual flight rules (VFR) are a set of regulations under which a pilot operates an aircraft in weather conditions generally clear enough to allow the pilot to see where the aircraft is going. Specifically, the weather must be better than basic VFR weather minima, i.e. in visual meteorological conditions (VMC), as specified in the rules of the relevant aviation authority. The pilot must be able to operate the aircraft with visual reference to the ground, and by visually avoiding obstructions and other aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) are rules prescribed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) governing all aviation activities in the United States. The FARs are part of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). A wide variety of activities are regulated, such as aircraft design and maintenance, typical airline flights, pilot training activities, hot-air ballooning, lighter-than-air aircraft, man-made structure heights, obstruction lighting and marking, model rocket launches, model aircraft operations, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and kite flying. The rules are designed to promote safe aviation, protecting pilots, flight attendants, passengers and the general public from unnecessary risk.
An aviation accident is defined by the Convention on International Civil Aviation Annex 13 as an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft, which takes place from the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight until all such persons have disembarked, and in which a) a person is fatally or seriously injured, b) the aircraft sustains significant damage or structural failure, or c) the aircraft goes missing or becomes completely inaccessible. Annex 13 defines an aviation incident as an occurrence, other than an accident, associated with the operation of an aircraft that affects or could affect the safety of operation.
A private pilot licence (PPL) or, in the United States, a private pilot certificate, is a type of pilot licence that allows the holder to act as pilot in command of an aircraft privately. The licence requirements are determined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), but implementation varies widely from country to country. According to the ICAO, it is obtained by successfully completing a course with at least 40 hours of flight time, passing seven written exams, completing a solo cross-country flight, and successfully demonstrating flying skills to an examiner during a flight test. In the United States, pilots can be trained under Part 141 of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations, which allows them to apply for their certificate after as few as 35 hours. However, most pilots require 60–70 hours of flight time to complete their training. The minimum age for a student pilot certificate is 14 for balloons and gliders, and 16 for powered flight. The minimum age for a private pilot certificate is 16 for balloons and gliders, and 17 for powered flight. Pilots can begin training at any age and can solo balloons and gliders from age 14, and powered aircraft from age 16.
Pilot licensing or certification refers to permits for operating aircraft. They are issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in each country, establishing that the holder has met a specific set of knowledge and experience requirements. This includes taking a flying test. The certified pilot can then exercise a specific set of privileges in that nation's airspace. Despite attempts to harmonize the requirements between nations, the differences in certification practices and standards from place to place serve to limit full international validity of the national qualifications. In addition, U.S. pilots are certified, not licensed, although the word license is still commonly used informally. Legally, pilot certificates can be revoked by administrative action, whereas licensing requires intervention by the judiciary system.
Pilot certification in the United States is typically required for an individual to act as a pilot-in-command of an aircraft. It is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). A pilot may be certified under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 61 or 14 CFR Part 141. Pilots may also be certified under 14 CFR Part 107 for commercial drone operations.
A light-sport aircraft (LSA), or light sport aircraft, is a fairly new category of small, lightweight aircraft that are simple to fly. LSAs tend to be heavier and more sophisticated than ultralight aircraft, but LSA restrictions on weight and performance separates the category from established GA aircraft. There is no standard worldwide description of an LSA.
Special visual flight rules are a set of aviation regulations under which a pilot may operate an aircraft. It's a special case of operating under visual flight rules (VFR).
A flight instructor is a person who teaches others to operate aircraft. Specific privileges granted to holders of a flight instructor qualification vary from country to country, but very generally, a flight instructor serves to enhance or evaluate the knowledge and skill level of an aviator in pursuit of a higher pilot's license, certificate or rating.
A flight dispatcher assists in planning flight paths, taking into account aircraft performance and loading, enroute winds, thunderstorm and turbulence forecasts, airspace restrictions, and airport conditions. Dispatchers also provide a flight following service and advise pilots if conditions change. They usually work in the operations center of the airline. In the United States and Canada, the flight dispatcher shares legal responsibility with the commander of the aircraft.
A safety pilot is a rated pilot who helps maintain visual separation from other aircraft, clouds, and terrain while another pilot is wearing view limiting devices for the purposes of simulating instrument conditions.
Airworthiness is the measure of an aircraft's suitability for safe flight. Certification of airworthiness is conferred by a certificate of airworthiness from the state of aircraft registry national aviation authority, and is maintained by performing the required maintenance actions.
A type rating is a licensing agency's certification of an airplane pilot to fly a certain aircraft type that requires additional training beyond the scope of the initial license and aircraft class training.
In aviation, a terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) is generally an on-board system aimed at preventing unintentional impacts with the ground, termed "controlled flight into terrain" accidents, or CFIT. The specific systems currently in use are the ground proximity warning system (GPWS) and the enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS). The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) introduced the generic term TAWS to encompass all terrain-avoidance systems that meet the relevant FAA standards, which include GPWS, EGPWS and any future system that might replace them.
In the United States, skydiving is a self-regulated sport, which means skydivers, in the US, voluntarily follow a set of basic safety requirements established by the U.S. Parachute Association. Federal requirements can be found in the Federal Aviation Regulations. Most of the regulations concern the aircraft, pilot and rules of flight. However, 14 CFR Part 105, "Parachute Operations" regulates when and where jumps may be made and designates the requirements for parachute equipment and packing. For example, 14 CFR Part 105 requires the person packing either the main chute or the reserve parachute to be a certificated rigger, which means he or she has taken an FAA-approved training course and has passed rigorous FAA testing.
First-person view (FPV), also known as remote-person view (RPV), or simply video piloting, is a method used to control a radio-controlled vehicle from the driver or pilot's view point. Most commonly it is used to pilot a radio-controlled aircraft or other type of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The vehicle is either driven or piloted remotely from a first-person perspective via an onboard camera, fed wirelessly to video FPV goggles or a video monitor. More sophisticated setups include a pan-and-tilt gimbaled camera controlled by a gyroscope sensor in the pilot's goggles and with dual onboard cameras, enabling a true stereoscopic view.
In aviation, V-speeds are standard terms used to define airspeeds important or useful to the operation of all aircraft. These speeds are derived from data obtained by aircraft designers and manufacturers during flight testing for aircraft type-certification. Using them is considered a best practice to maximize aviation safety, aircraft performance, or both.