VOLUME 3 GENERAL TECHNICAL ADMINISTRATION
CHAPTER 25 OPERATIONAL CONTROL FOR AIR CARRIERS
Section 1 General Topics
3-1921 BACKGROUND AND DEFINITIONS. This section contains background
information, definitions of terms, and direction and guidance to be used by
principal operations inspectors (POI) concerning operational control. POIs should
be thoroughly familiar with this information before reviewing a certificate
holder’s operations manual. Operational control with respect to a flight means
the exercise of authority over initiating, conducting, or terminating a flight
(refer to Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part
certificate holder’s operational control system should include all of the elements
of operational control, such as crewmember and aircraft requirements, dispatch
and operational control personnel requirements, management personnel, lease
agreements, etc. POIs should be thoroughly familiar with this material when
preparing those portions of a certificate holder’s operations specifications
(OpSpecs) that relate to operational control (OpSpec A008, Operational Control).
This section is related to Safety Assurance System (SAS) Element 3.3.1 (OP),
A. Chapter Contents. This section contains general information
on topics pertinent to the operational control of all air carrier operations
conducted under 14 CFR parts
Section 2 contains
information and guidance specifically related to part
and flag dispatch systems and operating rules.
Section 3 contains
information specifically related to part
flight release systems and operating rules.
Section 4 contains
information specifically related to part
operations, supplemental operations conducted outside the contiguous
United States, and extended overwater operations.
Section 5 contains
information specific to part
locating requirements, part
and operational rules.
B. Additional Guidance.
Volume 3, Chapter 26, Sections 1 through
information regarding regulatory requirements and guidance regarding aviation weather information.
Volume 4, Chapter 4 contains information regarding aircraft minimum equipment
lists (MEL) and Configuration Deviation Lists (CDL).
C. General Regulatory Requirements and Operational Control Functions. In
accordance with part
the certificate holder is responsible for operational control of
all flights it conducts. Section
places the responsibility for operational control with the certificate
part 121 domestic
and flag operations, the pilot in command (PIC) and aircraft
dispatcher have joint responsibility to exercise operational control of a particular
flight. For part
operations, operational control of a particular flight
is the responsibility of the PIC and the Director of Operations (DO). The DO
may delegate certain operational control functions to other individuals, but
he or she cannot delegate the responsibility for those functions. Operational
control functions include, but are not limited to:
· Preflight planning;
· For part
preparation and dissemination of dispatch/flight releases;
· Canceling a flight due to potential hazardous or unsafe conditions;
· Ensuring that only those operations authorized by the OpSpecs
· Ensuring that only crewmembers who are trained and qualified in
accordance with the applicable regulations are assigned to conduct a flight;
· For part
ensuring that no flight is started unless it has been authorized
by a dispatcher or person authorized to exercise operational control in accordance with §
§ 121.595, or §
121.597, as applicable;
· Ensuring that crewmembers are in compliance with flight and duty
time limitations and rest requirements prior to departing on a flight;
· Designating a PIC and, where applicable, a second in command (SIC)
for each flight;
· Providing the personnel who perform operational control functions
(PIC, dispatcher, etc.) with access to all necessary information for the safe
conduct of the flight (for example, weather, Notices to Airmen (NOTAM), airport
aeronautical data (analysis), and inoperable instruments and equipment);
· Specifying the conditions under which a flight may be dispatched
or released (weather minimums, flight planning, airworthiness of aircraft, aircraft
loading, and fuel requirements);
· For part
ensuring that when the conditions, limitations, and authorizations
specified in a dispatch or flight release cannot be met, the flight is either
cancelled, delayed, rerouted, or diverted;
· For part
ensuring that each flight is conducted in accordance with
the conditions and limitations of the dispatch or flight release;
· Ensuring that each flight is operated in accordance with the limitations
of the MEL and CDL;
· For part
monitoring the progress of each flight and initiating timely
actions when the flight cannot be completed as planned, including diverting
or terminating a flight;
· For part
locating a flight for which a Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) flight plan (FP) has not been filed;
· For part
ensuring rapid and reliable communications in accordance with §§
121.122, as applicable;
· Restricting or suspending operations in accordance with §
121.553, or §
· Exercising the emergency authority described in §§
D. Operational Control Systems. Operational control systems vary
with the kind of operation the certificate holder is authorized to conduct (i.e.,
domestic, flag, supplemental, commuter, or on-demand). In descending order of
precision and complexity, the three general operational control systems are
flight dispatch, flight following, and flight locating. Each certificate holder
must include policies and procedures appropriate to the system being used in
1) Dispatch Systems. Sections
certificate holders who conduct domestic and flag operations
to employ certificated aircraft dispatchers to exercise operational control
of flights operated by the certificate holder.
2) Flight Following Systems. Section
the major responsibility for the operational control of part
operations with the DO and the PIC. The DO may delegate
the functions for initiation, continuation, diversion, and termination of a
flight to other employees; however, the DO always retains full responsibility
for these functions. The persons exercising operational control in a part
flight following system are often referred to as “flight
followers.” Aviation safety inspectors (ASI) should be aware that certificate
holders may apply different job titles to these individuals. No matter what
job title the certificate holder elects to use, §
the certificate holder to list each person authorized
to exercise operational control in its operations manual.
3) Flight Locating Systems. Section
requires a certificate holder conducting part
to establish procedures for locating each flight and retaining
flight locating information at the certificate holder’s principal place of business
or at other places designated by the certificate holder. Sections
a certificate holder to list the name and title of each individual
authorized to exercise operational control in the certificate holder’s operations
manual. A certificate holder conducting part
may delegate the authority to exercise operational control
of a specific flight to the PIC, but the overall responsibility for operational
control always rests with the certificate holder. If an FP is not filed with
air traffic control (ATC), the certificate holder must be able to establish
the location of the flight to provide timely notification to an FAA facility
or search and rescue facility if an aircraft is overdue or missing. The certificate
holder’s flight locating system must provide the certificate holder with the
location, date, and estimated time for reestablishing communications if a flight
will operate in an area where communications cannot be maintained.
holders must describe their system for exercising operational
control in OpSpec A008. POIs may allow certificate holders to list the name
and section of the manual that contains the description of the operational control
systems in A008 in lieu of describing the system itself in the OpSpec. In such
cases, POIs must ensure that the manual references listed in A008 remain current
and that the sections of the manual referenced in A008 that describe the operational
control system provide an accurate description of the system.
E. Certificate Holder’s Manual. Sections
certificate holders to prepare and keep current a manual
for the guidance of flight, ground, and management personnel in the performance
of their duties and responsibilities. The certificate holder’s manual must identify
the person who has overall responsibility for operational control and those
persons to whom authority to exercise operational control has been delegated.
The certificate holder’s manual must contain policies and procedures regarding
the operational control functions of flightcrews, dispatchers, and other persons
authorized to exercise operational control. The procedures must include at least
information on the operational control functions listed in paragraph 3-1921C.
NOTE: At no time should a person who is not authorized to exercise operational
control attempt to exert any pressure or authority that would impede the duties
of a person who is responsible for operational control. POIs will encourage
certificate holders to establish policies and procedures that prevent this from occurring.
F. Organizational Structure. Operational control functions can
be central to a single department, such as flight operations, or they can be
diversified throughout the air carrier’s (certificate holder’s) organization. Most part
holders create specialized departments for dispatch, maintenance
control, crew scheduling, load control, and other operational control functions.
Despite the fact that operational control functions may be carried out by multiple
specialized departments, those departments are still typically part of the flight
operations organization. No matter how the certificate holder’s operational
control system and organization is structured, the certificate holder is always
responsible to do the following:
· Establish policies and procedures that ensure all necessary functions
have been accomplished before a flight is authorized to depart;
· Establish effective internal communications, operating procedures,
and administrative controls to meet this obligation; and
· Ensure that these procedures are published in the certificate
holder’s operations manual.
1) FAA Evaluation. ASIs must evaluate each certificate holder’s
operational control system to ensure that the certificate holder complies with
all applicable regulations, and that the system is effective and provides for
an adequate level of safety in the operations being conducted.
2) Inadequate Operational Control. If an ASI finds that a certificate holder’s
operational control system does not provide an adequate level of control to
ensure safety, the ASI should carefully document the facts and report them to
the POI. The POI in turn will evaluate the facts and inform the certificate
holder of the necessary changes that need to be made to ensure adequate operational
control is maintained at all times. If at any time a certificate holder is unwilling
to make the necessary changes, the POI may find it necessary to amend the certificate
holder’s OpSpecs in accordance with 14 CFR part
G. Services Provided by Contractors. Certificate holders may
contract for certain equipment and facilities. Certificate holders conducting parts
cannot under any circumstances contract responsibility for operational control (§§
Certificate holders conducting part
operations may arrange to have flight following facilities
provided by persons other than its employees, in accordance with §
however, all operational control responsibilities remain with the
certificate holder at all times. If a POI elects to approve a part
certificate holder to use such a flight following facility,
the POI and the certificate holder must describe its use in OpSpec A008. Certificate
holders are always responsible for ensuring that the training and qualification
of contract personnel meets all regulatory requirements, and that contract personnel
are performing their duties in accordance with the certificate holder’s policies
and procedures. The certificate holder must also have an effective means of
maintaining responsibility for the actions and/or inactions of contract personnel
should they fail to comply with Federal regulations or the certificate holder’s
policies and procedures. All contract arrangements must be clearly and completely
defined in the certificate holder’s manual.
3-1922 AIRCRAFT DISPATCHERS. An aircraft dispatcher (sometimes referred
to as simply “dispatcher” in this chapter) is an individual employed by a certificate
holder in accordance with the requirements of §§
Aircraft dispatchers must be trained and qualified in accordance
with the requirements of part
121 subparts N,
O, and P. Aircraft dispatchers are responsible for exercising
operational control for certificate holders conducting part
and flag operations and are required to hold an aircraft dispatcher
airman certificate. Certificate holders conducting part
part 135 operations
are not required to use certificated aircraft dispatchers
to exercise operational control; however, it’s typical for a certificate holder conducting part
operations to maintain a dispatch center and employ certificated
3-1923 AERONAUTICAL DATA. Certificate holders must provide the information
necessary to plan, conduct, and control flight operations. The information must
be available to flightcrews, dispatchers, and other persons authorized to exercise
operational control. Most of this information can be obtained through subscriptions
to a government service or to a commercial aeronautical information and charting
service. Certificate holders should be expected to supplement these services
when necessary and, in all cases, are responsible for ensuring that the information
used is accurate and complete. Certificate holders must also supply other data
such as NOTAMs, track messages, and airport obstruction data, when applicable.
The certificate holder must describe his or her system of obtaining and distributing
airport aeronautical data in OpSpec A009, Airport Aeronautical Data. The certificate
holder’s system must contain guidance and procedures by which flightcrew members,
dispatchers, and operational control personnel can acquire and apply this information.
for Aeronautical Data. Sections
as applicable, require certificate holders who conduct part
to have an approved system for obtaining, maintaining, and
distributing current aeronautical data to the appropriate personnel. A certificate
holder must provide this data for each airport it uses to ensure a safe operation.
for Aeronautical Data. Section
the aircraft operator (the certificate holder) to provide
the pilot, and for that pilot to use, current aeronautical charts. Section
a certificate holder to use airports that are adequate
for the proposed operation, considering such items as size, surface, obstructions,
and lighting. Part
135 subpart I
contains takeoff and landing performance limitations for large
transport category aircraft. Section
an on-demand operator, using large transport category
aircraft, to have approved Destination Airport Analysis in its manual. Aeronautical
charts, verification of airport adequacy, takeoff and landing limitations, and
Destination Airport Analysis all require the use of airport aeronautical data.
C. Airport and Facilities. The Airport/Facility Directory (A/FD)
contains vital information on airports, seaplane bases, and heliports that cannot
be readily depicted in graphic form. Certificate holders must make this information
available to flightcrews, dispatchers, and operational control personnel.
1) Examples of what is contained in an A/FD include, but are
not limited to:
· Types of Navigational Aids (NAVAID),
· Airport hours of operation,
· Weather sources,
· Type of airspace,
· Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF),
· Types of available fuel,
· Runway bearing strength,
· Airport lighting, and
· Special notices and operational procedures.
2) ASIs should inform certificate holders that such information
is removed from the NOTAM system when it is published in the A/FD. This information
is obtained from the Aeronautical Information Publications (AIP) of the country
for operations outside the United States. A/FDs are typically published in printed
form, but may be accessed digitally at
D. NOTAMs. NOTAMs contain time-critical aeronautical information
regarding temporary or unanticipated changes or hazards affecting communication,
navigation, or airport facilities. Information contained in NOTAMs can have
a direct effect on decisions regarding the safety of flight. Certificate holders
must have a method of providing NOTAMs to flightcrews, dispatchers, and operational
control personnel for domestic and international operations in airspace covered
by NOTAM systems. More information on NOTAMS is contained in
Volume 3, Chapter 26, Section 6.
NOTAMs include information such as:
· Airport or aerodrome closures,
· Runway, taxiway, and ramp closures,
· Temporary or permanent obstructions,
· Inoperative communication facilities,
· Inoperative or unmonitored NAVAIDs,
· Airspace restrictions and changes,
· Changes to or inoperative satellite equipment, and
· Radar service availability.
E. Oceanic Track Messages. Oceanic track messages contain the
coordinates of routes in oceanic airspace such as those located in the North
Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The North Atlantic Tracks (NAT) are published for
the North Atlantic Organized Track System (NAT OTS (typically referred to as
NAT Tracks)), and the Pacific Organized Track System (PACOTS) is published for
the Pacific Ocean to connect the West Coast of the United States and Japan.
Western Pacific and Northern Pacific Track NOTAMs are also available as international
NOTAMs under the location identifiers of the respective air route traffic control
center (ARTCC); examples are Oakland Center (KZOA) or Anchorage Center (PAZA).
Flightcrews operating over these routes are required to have all current valid
track coordinates available in the cockpit to verify FP coordinates should an
in‑flight rerouting become necessary. Dispatchers and other persons authorized
to exercise operational control must have access to the appropriate oceanic
track message for the preflight planning and en route phase of each flight operating
in an organized track system (OTS). Information regarding current track messages
can be accessed at
F. Aircraft Performance and Airport Obstacle Data. ASIs must
ensure that certificate holders comply with the performance requirements of part
121 subpart I or part
135 subpart I,
as applicable. Certificate holders operating transport category
and commuter category airplanes must obtain and use airport obstacle data to
calculate takeoff and landing performance (see Volume 4, Chapter 3) for departure,
destination, and alternate airports. Certificate holders must comply with en
route obstacle clearance requirements, including contingency planning for engine
failure. ASIs should see Volume 4, Chapter 3 for direction and guidance on aircraft
3-1924 WEATHER INFORMATION FOR CONTROL OF FLIGHT OPERATIONS. See
Volume 3, Chapter 26, Sections 1 through
for information regarding aviation weather.
3-1925 FLIGHT PLANNING. ASIs must ensure that certificate holders
conduct flight planning that meets at least the following requirements:
· Adheres to the standards of navigational accuracy required in
the airspace traversed,
· Meets regulatory fuel requirements,
· Meets aircraft performance parameters,
· Satisfies ATC information and reporting requirements,
· Satisfies driftdown and supplemental oxygen requirements where
· Ensures a safe operating environment.
NOTE: The degree of sophistication required in flight planning depends
on the type of operations (e.g., domestic, international Extended Operations
(ETOPS), redispatch/rerelease), navigation conducted, and airspace traversed.
A. FPs. The term “flight plan” means a paper document or a file
of electronic data prepared for purposes of flight planning, en route operation,
and navigation. Flight planning consists of selecting an appropriate aircraft
cruise schedule and applying forecast wind, temperature, aircraft weight, and
aircraft performance data to a planned route to predict estimated time en route
(ETE) and estimated fuel consumption. The term “ATC flight plan” is used in
this chapter to mean the subset of information extracted from the FP that is
filed with ATC to obtain an ATC clearance.
B. Contents of an FP.
1) Method of NavigationClass I.
a) Class I Navigation is any en route flight operation that contains a route
or a portion of a route that is conducted within the designated operational
service volume of standard airway navigation facilities (very high frequency
(VHF) omni-directional range station (VOR), VHF omni-directional range station/distance
measuring equipment (VOR/DME), Non-Directional Beacon (NDB)). Class I Navigation
· En route flight operations over routes designated with a minimum
en route altitude (MEA) gap; and
· Operations within the service volume using pilotage or any other
means of navigation that does not rely on the use of VOR, VOR/DME, or NDB.
b) FPs based solely on Class I Navigation should include at least the following:
· Fix or intersection identifiers, segment distances, ETE for each
segment, and an estimate of fuel consumption for each segment (A segment or
zone is the distance between two waypoints (WPT)); and
· A summation of distance, time, and fuel to show regulatory compliance.
NOTE: The dispatch/flight release may be attached to the FP.
2) Method of NavigationClass II. Long-range Class II Navigation
is navigation conducted beyond the operational service volume of standard International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) NAVAIDs. An FP containing a route or a portion
of a route based on Class II Navigation should contain at least the following elements:
· WPTs (fixes for the portion of the route conducted by Class I
· The WPT latitude and longitude coordinates and identifier/name
· The course leaving the WPT (true course for polar operations and
areas of magnetic unreliability (AMU));
· Forecast segment wind direction and speed, and any associated
· Wind profiles for the route of flight based on the planned flight
level and levels above and below;
· Forecast temperature (or temperature deviation) and true airspeed (TAS);
· Segment distances, estimated groundspeed (GS), and segment ETE;
· ETE for flight information region (FIR) boundaries;
· Estimate of fuel consumption for each segment;
· Calculation of equal time points (ETP), if required for compliance
with engine out fuel or oxygen requirements;
· A summation of distance, time, and fuel to indicate regulatory
and ICAO compliance;
· A means of predicting clear air turbulence, such as the height
of the tropopause, maximum wind level, temperature gradients, or shear index;
· For ETOPS, a display of the ETOPS critical fuel scenario (CFS)
requirements, including distance, fuel, and time to en route alternates, and
the amount of additional fuel needed to accommodate the CFS;
· An ATC ICAO FP indicating the communication, navigation, and surveillance
capabilities and airspace authorizations, including the filed route must be
attached to the operational FP; and
· The dispatch/flight release may also be attached.
C. Computation and Verification. An FP may be calculated manually,
but is most often computed by electronic means. In either case, ASIs must ensure
that each certificate holder’s manual contains specific policies, procedures,
formats, and forms to be used for flight planning. POIs will verify that the
certificate holder’s policies and procedures contain a requirement for flightcrew
members, dispatchers, and operational control personnel to verify the accuracy
of FPs. Computer-generated FPs can be subject to input errors. Use of a computed
FP does not guarantee accuracy. Computer systems that contain internal software
to check for errors in FPs are desirable, but are still subject to error if
the inputted data is incorrect. POIs will ensure that the certificate holder’s
manual contains adequate procedures for flightcrews, dispatchers, and operational
control personnel to scrutinize all computer-generated and manually generated
FPs for accuracy.
D. Fuel Performance Calculation. Flight planning systems utilized
by certificate holders must provide accurate fuel performance calculations.
POIs must ensure that each certificate holder has a method to substantiate the
estimated fuel performance for any given flight. Substantiation of fuel performance
may be as simple as comparing the planned arrival fuel with the actual arrival
fuel to see if the actual fuel burned en route was correctly estimated in the
FP calculation. This is particularly important when a certificate holder conducting
part 121 flag
or supplemental operations is issued OpSpecs such as B043, Special
Fuel Reserves in International Operations; B044, Planned Redispatch or Rerelease
En Route; or any other OpSpec that provides any kind of relief from the fuel
requirements of §
Each PIC conducting part
is required to carry a copy of the completed load manifest,
FP, and dispatch or flight release (along with other documents) to the destination
in accordance with §§
Certificate holders conducting part
are required to retain a copy of these documents for 3 months.
Amendments recorded by the flightcrew become part of the dispatch or flight
release and must be retained accordingly. See paragraph 3-1928 for the part
for the disposition of flight documents.
PICs of certificate holders conducting part
are not specifically required by regulation to carry an FP
on all flights; however, POIs of part
holders will ensure that each certificate holder’s manual
system contains procedures that accomplish the following:
· Inform the PIC of the required information to be contained in
ATC FPs that ensure compliance with 14 CFR part
· Ensure compliance with §
135.209 or §
· Ensure compliance with §§
135 subpart I
· Ensure compliance with §§
135.217, and §
· Familiarize PICs with all available information required by §
1) Load Manifests. Section
a PIC of a multiengine aircraft to carry a copy of the
completed load manifest in the aircraft to its destination. Part
holders must retain these load manifests for 30 days in accordance with §
load manifest must contain the following:
· Number of passengers;
· Total weight of the loaded aircraft;
· Maximum allowable takeoff weight for that flight;
· Center of gravity (CG) limits of the loaded aircraft;
· CG or an acceptable entry from an approved schedule;
· Flight or registration number;
· Origin and destination of flight; and
· Identification of all crewmembers and their position assignments.
2) Valid Track Coordinates. Flightcrews must carry the valid
track coordinates in the cockpit during flights over organized and flexible track systems.
G. Navigation Methods and FPs. Detailed information regarding
navigation classes and methods can be found in Volume 4, Chapter 1.
H. Dispatch or Flight ReleasePart
are often attached to a dispatch or flight release for
part 121 operations.
The requirements of a dispatch or flight release are set forth in §§
respectively. POIs must ensure that a certificate holder’s dispatch
or flight release includes all of the elements required by regulation. In addition
to what is required by §§
the following information must also be contained in a dispatch
or flight release, based on specific types of operation:
· For operations over mountainous terrain, terrain clearance, and
driftdown alternate airport (when required) information in accordance with the
engine inoperative en route requirements of
· For planned redispatch/rerelease operations, all information required
by OpSpec B044;
· MEL and CDL items when required by the certificate holder’s FAA-approved
MEL management program; and
· For any operations conducted in accordance with nonstandard OpSpec
authorizations, deviations, or exemptions, any information required by the OpSpec,
deviation, or exemption.
3-1926 SELECTION OF ALTERNATE AIRPORTS. A critical element of preflight
planning is the selection of alternate, departure, en route, and destination
airports. PICs, dispatchers, and operational control personnel have a range
of latitude to accommodate individual circumstances. Certificate holders must
provide specific direction and guidance to PICs, dispatchers, and operational
control personnel for the selection of takeoff, en route, and destination alternate
NOTE: Additional information regarding the selection of alternate airports
can be found in
Volume 3, Chapter 25, Sections 3 through
A. Terrain. When selecting alternate airports, dispatchers, operational
control personnel, and PICs must exercise particular caution when conducting
operations in mountainous areas. POIs must ensure that certificate holder’s
procedures for operations to alternate airports comply with part
I (particularly §§
121.197) or part
135 subpart I
(in normal and engine-out configurations).
B. Weather, NAVAIDs, and Airport Conditions. Dispatchers, other
persons authorized to exercise operational control, and PICs must be aware of
the effect of weather conditions, inoperative NAVAIDs, and airport conditions
when selecting alternate airports. Inoperative NAVAIDs, shift in wind direction,
and contaminated runways, or closed runways can all render an airport unacceptable
as an alternate.
3-1927 LOAD CONTROL. Certificate holders must have a means of adequately
planning payload and limiting it if necessary when hazardous weather and/or
en route conditions dictate the need to carry additional fuel, or when restrictions
posed by runway conditions, terrain, altitude, or inoperable instruments or
equipment require the aircraft be operated at restricted weights. The weight
at which an aircraft can be released is limited by takeoff, en route terrain
clearance, and landing performance limitations (see Volume 4, Chapter 3).
A. Loading Assumptions. Dispatchers and operational control personnel
must take into account the estimated or actual payload when calculating (or
computing) an FP. When working with an estimated payload, dispatchers and persons
authorized to exercise operational control must be prepared to amend the FP
and dispatch/flight release, as necessary, upon discovery of the actual payload
when it varies significantly from that which was estimated. POIs must ensure
that certificate holders provide guidelines on what constitutes a significant
variance in payload to flightcrews, dispatchers, and persons authorized to exercise
operational control. Some certificate holders actually include weight adjustments
in specific decrements on, FP or Weight and Balance (W&B) document.
B. Manual Considerations. ASIs must ensure that the certificate
holder’s manual system contains information and procedures for the computation
and control of fuel loads, payloads, takeoff weights, and aircraft CG. Each
certificate holder’s manual must clearly delineate the category of employee
(e.g., dispatcher, load planner, etc.) making these computations. The certificate
holder’s manual(s) must contain adequate information and procedures for employees
for performing these calculations, and methods to ensure that they are calculated
accurately. The certificate holder’s manual(s) must also contain procedures
for flightcrews, dispatchers, and other persons authorized to exercise operational
control to ensure that all necessary calculations have been completed accurately
before an aircraft departs.
FOR DISPOSITION OF FLIGHT DOCUMENTS. In accordance with §§
PICs conducting part
are required to carry certain flight documents in the airplane
to its destination. Certificate holders are also required to retain these documents
(or a copy) for at least 3 months. Some of these documents include, but are
not limited to:
· A copy of the completed load manifest (or information from it),
· A copy of the dispatch or flight release, and
· A copy of the FP.
NOTE: Principal inspectors (PI) should review the actual regulatory
requirements of §§
and subparagraph 3-1925H for a full list of documents required for retention.
A. Amendments to a Dispatch or Flight Release. All amendments
to the dispatch or flight release recorded by the flightcrew, dispatcher, or
person authorized to exercise operational control in accordance with
§ 121.631(g) are
considered to be part of the release, and as such are subject
to the same disposition (retention) requirements as the original dispatch or
flight release. Amendments to a release should include at least the following information:
· The reason for the amendment (for example, a change in altitude,
route, airport, or addition/removal of an MEL);
· The conditions and limitations of the amendment (e.g., those imposed
by route, airport, or inoperative instruments or equipment);
· Information such as weather and NOTAMs when a new airport is being added;
· The name of the individual authorizing the amendment (e.g., a dispatcher);
· The name of the person concurring to an amendment (e.g., the PIC); and
· The date and time the amendment is effective.
NOTE: Certificate holders must have a method of retaining all recorded
amendments to a dispatch or flight release as part of, or attached to, the original release. Section
121.631(g) does not
specify the method in which an individual may record
his or her amendment, and there is typically more than one way an amendment will be recorded.
1) Amendments Recorded in Writing. Many certificate holders utilize
paper (hard) copies of dispatch or flight releases. Amendments transmitted and
recorded by flightcrews, dispatchers, or persons authorized to exercise operational
control will often be accomplished by writing it down (pen and ink) on the actual
dispatch or flight release. Certificate holders must have a method of retaining
all handwritten, pen and ink amendments as part of the original dispatch or
flight release in accordance with §§
applicable to the type of operation).
2) Amendments Recorded Electronically. Certificate holders whose flightcrews,
dispatchers, and persons are authorized to exercise operational control transmit
and record their amendments electronically via the Aircraft Communication Addressing
and Reporting System (ACARS) must have a means of retaining electronically recorded
amendments as part of the original dispatch or flight release.
3) Amendments Recorded by Voice. Whether a certificate holder
utilizes a paper or electronic copy of a dispatch or flight release, amendments
are often made via voice communications. These communications can occur on the
ground or en route using a cellular phone, high frequency (HF), VHF, or satellite
communications (SATCOM). Section
a certificate holder to retain all en route communications
between the certificate holder and his or her pilots for 30 days. However, this
should not be confused with the certificate holder’s responsibility to retain
an amendment as part of a dispatch or flight release, which takes precedence
over the requirement to retain en route communications. Therefore, any and all
amendments relayed and recorded by voice, whether the aircraft is on the ground
or en route, must be retained with the dispatch or flight release for 3 months,
in accordance with the requirements of §§
B. Signature on a Dispatch or Flight Release. Sections
a signature on a dispatch or flight release by either the PIC (part
operations) or both the PIC and the dispatcher (part
and flag operations). These signatures are part of the dispatch
or flight release and must be retained as such in accordance with the requirements of §§
as applicable. POIs of certificate holders who desire to utilize
an electronic signature on a dispatch or flight release must follow the policy
related to electronic signatures contained in
Volume 3, Chapter 31, Section 2.
The policy includes the FAA’s standards for what constitutes a valid electronic
signature. Guidelines for certificate holders are also contained in the current
edition of Advisory Circular (AC)
Electronic Signatures, Electronic Recordkeeping, and Electronic
Manuals. POIs may not approve a certificate holder to use an electronic signature
that does not meet the standards set forth in
Volume 3, Chapter 31, Section 2.
The method whereby the FAA authorizes a certificate holder to use electronic
signatures is OpSpec A025, Electronic Signatures, Electronic Recordkeeping Systems,
and Electronic Manual Systems.
NOTE: A dispatcher may delegate his or her authority to sign a dispatch
release for a particular flight, in accordance with §
However, there is no such provision in part
a PIC to delegate his or her authority to sign a dispatch or flight
release. Therefore, only the PIC can sign the dispatch or flight release and
cannot delegate his or her authority to do so at any time.
C. Electronic Documents. Certificate holders who desire to electronically
retain the documents required by §§
first obtain FAA acceptance and authorization to use an electronic
recordkeeping system. The FAA accepts and authorizes an electronic recordkeeping
system through the issuance of OpSpec A025. Before authorizing a certificate
holder to use an electronic recordkeeping system to retain dispatch or flight
releases, POIs must first ensure the electronic system also retains the electronic
signatures of the PIC and dispatcher (dispatcher for part
and flag operations only). This will require the certificate
holder to obtain FAA authorization to use electronic signatures. Electronic
retention of a dispatch or flight release must also include a means to retain all amendments
issued and recorded in writing, electronically, and/or by voice.
FOR EN ROUTE COMMUNICATION RECORDS FOR DOMESTIC AND FLAG
OPERATIONS. In accordance with §
each certificate holder conducting domestic or flag operations
must record each en route communication between the certificate holder and its
pilots using a communication system as required by §
The rationale behind this rule is to enable the National Transportation
Safety Board (NTSB) and the Administrator to discharge fully their respective
accident investigation and safety regulatory responsibilities.
A. Definition of “En Route.” Section
en route as the time the airplane pushes back from the
departing gate until the time the airplane reaches the arrival gate at its destination.
1) Gate. For the purposes of this chapter, a “gate” is defined
as the location at which an airplane is parked. The term “gate” applies to a
jet bridge at an airport terminal, a parking spot on the airport ramp area,
or a hard stand.
2) Push Back. The term “push back” is used to describe an airplane
being towed (pushed) rearward away from a gate by a vehicle (e.g., tug or tractor).
However, not all airport operations (such as those from a hard stand) require
an airplane to be “pushed back.” Therefore, the time an airplane “pushes back”
is considered to be when an airplane is towed rearward away from the gate, taxis
rearward under its own power (powerback), or taxis forward under its own power.
3) Arrival at Gate. An airplane is considered to have reached
the arrival gate when the flightcrew has set the parking brake at the gate.
B. Communication Systems. Each certificate holder conducting
domestic or flag operations must record all en route communication between the
certificate holder and its pilots. This requirement applies to all communication
systems utilized by the certificate holder. Examples of communication systems
include VHF and HF radio, data link, ACARS, and satellite, cellular, digital,
or analog (landline) telephone.
C. Contents of Records. Section
the minimum information each certificate holder must
record. The most common and preferred practice is for a certificate holder to
record en route communications electronically. However, a certificate holder
may manually record en route communications. In accordance with §
each en route communication record must contain at least the
1) The date and time (specify local time or universal coordinated
time (UTC)) of the contact (communication). This should include the time the
contact was initiated and the time the contact was concluded.
2) The flight number.
3) Aircraft registration number.
4) Approximate position (e.g., closet WPT or NAVAID) of the aircraft
during the contact.
5) Flight call sign.
6) The narrative of the contact. The narrative must contain sufficient
information to describe the event that prompted the en route communication.
For example, if the communication is initiated to provide a position and fuel
report, the narrative should include the position of the aircraft and the fuel
on board. Any en route communications used to relay an amendment to a dispatch
release must include the details of the amendment. See subparagraph 3-1928A
of this section to review the details that should be included in an amendment.
D. Retention of En Route Communication Records. Section
a certificate holder to retain en route communication
records for at least 30 days. En route communications that relay an amendment
to a dispatch release are governed by the requirements of §
must be retained for 3 months. (See subparagraph 3-1928A.) Each
certificate holder’s manual must specify the methods the certificate holder
uses to retain en route communication records based on each type of communication
system utilized by the certificate holder.
1) Electronic Retention. A certificate holder who desires to retain en route
communication records electronically must first obtain FAA acceptance and authorization
to use an electronic recordkeeping system to retain the records. The FAA accepts
and authorizes a certificate holder to use an electronic recordkeeping system
through the issuance of OpSpec A025. Before approving electronic retention of
en route communication records, POIs must confirm that the electronic retention
includes a method to enter, store, and retrieve all the information required by §
POIs must follow the directives contained in Volume 3, Chapter
31, and review the current edition of AC
to authorizing a certificate holder to retain en route communication
2) Paper Retention. A certificate holder who retains en route
communication records on paper must have policies and procedures to ensure the
information required by §
recorded for each en route communication and retained for
either 30 days in accordance with §
3 months in accordance with §
amendments to dispatch releases.
3) Availability to the Administrator. In accordance with §
each employee of, or person used by, the certificate holder who
is responsible for maintaining the certificate holder’s records must make those
records available to the Administrator. Any certificate holder who retains an
electronic voice recording of en route communications must have a method and/or
device to provide voice recordings to the Administrator, upon request.
3-1930 AIRWORTHINESS OF AIRCRAFT. Section
the dispatch or release of an aircraft unless it is Airworthy
and has all required equipment installed, as prescribed in §
that before an aircraft can be operated, it must have an
airworthiness release (or appropriate logbook entry) and be signed by a properly
authorized person. Information regarding compliance with the airworthiness requirements
of 14 CFR can be found as follows:
· Compliance with §
be found in
Volume 10, Chapter 9, Section 1;
· Compliance with §
the FAA-approved MEL requirements of §
be found in
Volume 4, Chapter 4, Section 1; and
· Compliance with §§
be found in
Volume 3, Chapter 43, Section 1; and
Volume 3, Chapter 43, Section 2.
3-1931 CREW QUALIFICATION AND CREW FLIGHT TIME LIMITATIONS AND REST REQUIREMENTS.
Each certificate holder is responsible for assigning specific personnel to operate
each flight, including the designation of a PIC. Flightcrew members and certificate
holders are jointly responsible for ensuring that flightcrew members are qualified
in accordance with the regulations (including special airport qualifications)
and are in compliance with flightcrew member duty and rest requirements before
a flight departs. Certificate holders may delegate these responsibilities to
a specific department such as crew scheduling; however, the certificate holder
must establish procedures by which operational control personnel can verify
that these requirements have been accomplished.
NOTE: Certificate holders should have policies in place addressing flight
segment (typically referred to as leg) assignment and the division of flightcrew
members’ duties during critical phases of flight when environmental conditions
(cold weather operations, wind shear, thunderstorms, etc.) are marginal or severe.
Special consideration should be given to line flying experience and background
qualifications in determining when the PIC may delegate control of the aircraft
and under what adverse weather conditions control of the aircraft should be
accomplished by the PIC.
3-1932 CREW MEDICAL QUALIFICATION AND PROCEDURES DURING TEMPORARY MEDICAL DEFICIENCY.
A. Responsibility of Certificate Holders and Flightcrew Members. Title 14 CFR part
61.53 and 14 CFR part
required flightcrew members from flight duty while they have
a known medical or physical deficiency. These sections rely solely on the ability
of flightcrew members to honestly determine their medical fitness. It is incumbent
on individual airmen to be certain that they have no illness or physical impairment
that would affect their medical fitness for flight. The NTSB believes that air
carrier certificate holders should share the responsibility for verifying flightcrew
members’ medical fitness for flight duty. However, it is not always easy for
certificate holders to determine the extent of a crewmember’s medical fitness.
In order to maintain the highest level of safety, required flightcrew members
must not fly under conditions that would make them unable to meet the requirements
for their current medical certificate. This decision should not be influenced
by fear of company reprisals.
B. POI Responsibility. POIs should encourage their assigned air
carriers to have established sick leave policies and procedures, especially
those concerning the release of flightcrew members from duty when they develop
sudden temporary illnesses such as colds, flu, or fevers. These policies and
procedures should not discourage flightcrew members from taking sick leave when
they are ill.
RESERVED. Paragraphs 3-1933 through 3-1945.