Certain instruments and equipment must be installed and operating for flight. Airplanes such as the Cessna 172 Skyhawk or Cessna 162 Skycatcher are manufactured with instruments, displays or other equipment installed. Other approved instruments or equipment may be added later and an airplane may still be airworthy with some of the original items removed or non-operational. The Pilot in Command (PIC) has the responsibility to determine airworthiness based on the Manufacture’s equipment list or the minimum instruments and equipment required by FAR 91.205
The Manufacturer’s Equipment list which is located in the Weight and Balance section of the FAA-Approved Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) or contained in the Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) will indicate the items approved by the FAA-approved type certificate.
Minimum instrument and equipment required by FAR 91.205 will set for the the different flight conditions for day, night, Visual flight rules (VFR) and Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)
Required For Visual Day Flying
There are basic requirements for visual flying which include instruments for how high, how fast, and which direction including:
- Airspeed Indicator
- Magnetic Direction Indicator
- a simple “wet” (“whiskey”) magnetic compass meets the requirement
- most airplanes will have a gyroscopically stabilized heading indicator as either a stand along instrument or integrated into the electronic flight display
Instruments for indicating engine performance and operation:
- Oil Pressure Gauge
- Oil Temperature Gauge
- Fuel Gauge(s)
Safety Equipment for the pilot and passengers:
- seat belt for each occupant
- shoulder harness in front seat (if manufactured after 1978 although older airplane may have retrofit)
- emergency locator transmitter (ELT)
- anti-collision light system (red or white & required if manufactured after March 1996)
Required For Visual Night Flying
- all instruments required for day flights
- position lights
- red – wingtip
- green – right wingtip
- white – tail
- anti-collision light system (older airplanes not requiring it for day must have for night)
- adequate electrical source for all installed electrical equipment and radio equipment
- spare fuses if the electrical system uses fuses (Cessna 172 Skyhawk and 162 Skycatcher use circuit breakers instead of fuses)
Other Possible Requirements
- landing gear position indicator (for retractable landing gear)
- coolant temperature gauge (for liquid cooled engines)
- manifold pressure gauge (constant speed propellers, blade pitch can be changed)
- oxygen equipment (high altitude flying)
Determine the equipment on your airplane
the equipment list is located in the Weight & Balance section of the AFM which identifies four categories of flight equipment RSOA
- “R” – Required equipment (must be installed and operable)
- “S” – Standard equipment (normally installed but not required)
- “O” – Optional equipment (is neither standard nor required)
- “A” – Additional equipment (added after aircraft certification)
Another place to look for the list of required equipment for your specific operation is in the Limitations section of the FAA approved Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) or Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) for the (KOEL) Kinds of Operation Equipment List. This will tell you the specific instruments that need to be operating for your flight conditions such as day or night VFR (visual flight rules).
Inoperative Instruments and Equipment
In some cases the aircraft can still fly even if some of the equipment is not working properly. The FAA has defined rules for inoperative instruments and equipment in FAR 91.213.
The first step in determining if you can fly or not is to check to see if your aircraft has a Minimum Equipment List (MEL) which is a list of equipment that can be inoperative, yet legally able to fly provided the instructions in the MEL are followed. A MEL it obtained through the FAA. Most MELs are for large aircraft or a fleet of aircraft such as a secondary coffee maker in a Boing 757.
Most small general aviation aircraft do not have a MEL but the next step is to look at the Kinds of Operations Equipment List in the Limitations section of the AFM/POH.
You will need to determine if the inoperative flight equipment is listed as required for your flight. If it is required, you cannot fly until it is fixed. If it is not required, then proceed to the list of equipment in the regulations for the type of flight being conducted (FAR 91.205).
If the inoperative equipment is not listed in FAR 91.205, then it is not required for your flight but you must deactivate the equipment and placard/label the equipment a INOP (inoperative) before you fly.