U.S. Department
of Transportation

Federal Aviation

St. Louis
Flight Standards District Office

10801 Pear Tree Lane
Suite 200
St. Ann, Missouri 63074


June 2000 




Thought for the month..
Pay attention to good advice, it might become law.

Some Interesting Implications....We are all familiar with the practical test standards. They have been around for a number of years and we have come to accept them as the way to train and test individuals for various certificates. In the front of each PTS are some instructions on how the standards should be used. Each one states that: "FAA inspectors and designated pilot examiners shall conduct practical tests in compliance with these standards. Flight instructors and applicants should find these standards helpful during training and when preparing for the practical test."

The Code of Federal Regulations permit the FAA to publish standards containing specific tasks in which pilot competency shall be demonstrated. Some of the information in the PTS includes actions that are directive in nature, indicating that they are mandatory. This gives the PTS's the same authority as the regulations. A practical test standard is not an Advisory Circular. An AC provides information, which is, as it states, advisory in nature. We cannot be violated for failing to comply with an AC, but that doesn't mean we won't be held accountable for the information provided in them. The NTSB, and administrative law judges who hear appeals to FAA actions, historically consider the information in Advisory Circulars as the right and proper thing a prudent pilot should do. If we were violated for some action that was contrary to a procedure addressed in an AC, it would be difficult to defend ourselves before an Administrative Law Judge.

Some of the AC's we are most familiar with are: AC 61-21 Flight Training Handbook, AC 61-23 Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, AC 91-23 Pilot's Weight and Balance Handbook, and AC 60-14 Aviation Instructors Handbook. These have all been around in various forms for years, but recently some changes have occurred. Those manuals have all been superceded and updated. Much of the material is the same, but some AC's have been combined and republished. Some have new material, and they all have colorful new covers. But, that's not all that has changed. They are no longer AC's. Each has picked-up a new designation as a handbook with an 8083 series designation. That 8000 series designation should be familiar, because it's the same as the Practical Test Standards (8081).

So what's the big deal? Who cares if the FAA put pretty new covers on their books and changed the way they're classified. Well, the deal is that changing the way the material is designated has moved the information out of the "advisory" category. This makes a lot of what we might have considered nice to know information, need to know information. It adds a little more muscle to the great body of aeronautical knowledge we must learn.

One of the documents which has been around in advisory form for many years is "Plane Sense". In its new handbook form it is FAA-H-8083-19. It covers subjects such as buying an aircraft, owner responsibilities, aircraft maintenance and maintenance records, and generally, everything that an aircraft owner should be aware of. It references the regulations that must be complied with to maintain an airworthy aircraft, and specifies the records an owner must keep. It also identifies exactly what entries must be made into the aircraft maintenance records, and who can make them. It's no longer advisory.

The Airplane Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-3, supercedes the AC 61-21A, Flight Training Handbook. It also supercedes AC 61-9B, Pilot Transition Courses for Complex Single Engine and Light Twin-Engine Airplanes, and AC 61-10A, Private and Commercial Pilots Refresher Courses. Chapter 14 of the Handbook deals with transitioning to a multiengine airplane. It contains much of the information from the old AC, along with some changes. One change is in the engine inoperative procedures. The old 9-step procedure has been replaced by a 7-step procedure to be followed in the event of an engine failure. It's no longer advisory.

The Aviation Instructor's Handbook has quite a bit of new material. It has been expanded to include computer-based learning and reflects new concepts on how we learn and how to teach. Some of the things incorporated into the Handbook include the procedures for the positive exchange of the flight controls, and aeronautical decision making. Flight instructors must know and be able to teach this information as it is presented. It's no longer advisory.

Practical tests become directive as a result of the use of the words "shall" and "will". I haven't looked through all the handbooks, but I haven't seen those words used in the ones I have reviewed. Occasionally, the word "must" is used to indicate a desired or critical action, but each handbook preface refers the reader to 14 CFR (FAR's) as the final authority.

The Handbooks still reflect the most commonly used practices and principals used in aviation. They are the primary references for the practical tests, it is material we are required to know and teach. The interesting implication is that these reference materials are no longer advisory. With their new designation they seem to occupy a gray area, somewhere between good to know and directive, and seem to have aquired new authority as a result.

Upcoming Events

Jun. 1

Spirit of St Louis Airport
Thunder Aviation
Runway Incursions
Airport User Meeting
7pm to 9pm.

Jun. 5
Florissant Valley College Multi-purpose Room
GPS for VFR Operations
7pm to 9pm.

Jun. 6
Parks College Hangar, St. Louis Downtown Airport (CPS)
Preventive Maintenance for the Airplane Owner
7pm to 9pm.

Jul. 6 (new date)
St. Louis FSDO
Working CFI Safety Seminar
8am to 3pm.

Sep. 16
Highland Airport, Highland, Illinois
St. Louis Soaring Association Open House and Safety Day
9am to 1pm.


Safety Program Manager

1-800-322-8876 x 4835