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Federal Aviation Regulations

Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), are rules prescribed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), pertaining to all aviation activities in the U.S.  FARs can be found in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).  FARs were enacted by the federal government; subject to the authority guaranteed under the Commerce Clause by the Constitution, for enacting laws in relation to the regulation of air navigation[i].  The federal government through FARs regulates a wide variety of activities such as airplane design, typical airline flights, pilot training activities, hot-air ballooning, lighter than air craft, man-made structure heights, obstruction lighting and marking, model rocket launches, and model aircraft operation.

Generally, FARs were designed:

  • to promote safe aviation, protection of pilots, passengers, and general public from unnecessary risk; and
  • to protect the national security of the U.S, especially in light of the September 11, 2001 attacks.


FARs are arranged into hundreds of sections, which are called parts due to their organization within the CFR.  Each part relates to a specific type of activity.  For instance, Part 21 provides for the rules pertaining to certification procedures for products and parts.  It explains the rules with respect to procedural requirements for the approval of certain materials, parts, processes, and appliances.  However, most of the FARs are designed to regulate certification of pilots, schools, or aircraft rather than the operation of airplanes.

Under FARs, flights are classified into three classes namely, private, commuter, and commercial.  Hence, the parts of FARs distinguish aircrafts on the basis of the type of activity instead of the type of aircraft.  The regulations relating to commuter and commercial aviation are more restrictive and lengthier, when compared to general and private aviation regulations.  As a result, the training requirements for commuter and commercial pilots are highly demanding and the regulations are more numerous and extended.

Apart from Part 21, FARs has the following parts:

  • Part 23-Prescribes airworthiness standards for airplanes in the normal, utility, aerobatic, and commuter categories.  It dictates the standards required for issuance and change of type certificates for airplanes belonging to the above categories[ii];
  • Part 25-Prescribes airworthiness standards for the issue of type certificates, and changes to those certificates, with respect to transport category airplanes[iii];
  • Part 26-Prescribes requirements for support of the continued airworthiness of and safety improvements for transport category airplanes.  These requirements may include performing assessments, developing design changes, developing revisions to Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA), and making necessary documentation available to affected persons[iv];
  • Part 27-Prescribes airworthiness standards for the issue of type certificates and changes to those certificates for normal category rotorcraft with maximum weights of 7,000 pounds or less and nine or less passenger seats[v];
  • Part 29-Prescribes airworthiness standards for the issue of type certificates and changes to those certificates for transport category rotorcraft[vi];
  • Part 31-Prescribes airworthiness standards for the issue of type certificates and changes to those certificates for manned free balloons[vii];
  • Part 33-Prescribes airworthiness standards for the issue of type certificates and changes to those certificates for aircraft engines[viii];
  • Part 34-Prescribes requirements for fuel venting and exhaust emission for turbine engine powered airplanes;
  • Part 35-Prescribes airworthiness standards for the issue of type certificates and changes to those certificates for propellers[ix];
  • Part 36-Prescribes noise standards for the issue of type certificates, changes to type certificates, and standard airworthiness certificates for subsonic transport category large airplanes, subsonic jet airplanes, propeller-driven small airplanes, propeller-driven commuter category airplanes except those airplanes that are designed for ‘agricultural aircraft operations’, concorde airplanes, helicopters except those helicopters that are designated exclusively for ‘agricultural aircraft operations’[x];
  • Part 39-Prescribes a legal framework for FAA’s system of Airworthiness Directives[xi];
  • Part 43-Prescribes rules governing the maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, and alteration of any aircraft having a U.S. airworthiness certificate, foreign-registered civil aircraft used in common carriage or carriage of mail, and airframe, aircraft engines, propellers, appliances, and component parts of such aircraft[xii];
  • Part 45-Prescribes the requirements for identification of aircraft, aircraft engines, and propellers that are manufactured under the terms of a type or production certificate, certain replacement and modified parts produced for installation on type certificated products, and nationality and registration marking of U.S. registered aircraft[xiii];
  • Part 47-Prescribes the requirements for registering aircraft under 49 USCS § 44101 to 49 USCS § 44104[xiv]; and
  • Part 49-Prescribes the requirements for recording of aircraft titles and security documents.  It applies to the recording of certain conveyances affecting title to, or any interest in any aircraft registered under 49 USCS § 44101 to 49 USCS § 44104, any specifically identified aircraft engine of 750 or more rated takeoff horsepower, or the equivalent of that horsepower, any specifically identified aircraft propeller able to absorb 750 or more rated takeoff shaft horsepower, and any aircraft engine, propeller, or appliance maintained by or for an air carrier certificated under49 U.S.C. 44705[xv].


[i] Abdullah v. American Airlines, 969 F. Supp. 337, 345 (D.V.I. 1997).

[ii] 14 CFR 23.1.

[iii] 14 CFR 25.1.

[iv] 14 CFR 26.1.

[v] 14 CFR 27.1.

[vi] 14 CFR 29.1.

[vii] 14 CFR 31.1.

[viii] 14 CFR 33.1.

[ix] 14 CFR 35.1.

[x] 14 CFR 36.1.

[xi] 14 CFR 39.1.

[xii] 14 CFR 43.1.

[xiii] 14 CFR 45.1.

[xiv] 14 CFR 47.1.

[xv] 14 CFR 49.1.

Inside Federal Aviation Regulations