Clear of Clouds? An Assessment of Appealed 91.155 Enforcement Actions

Main Article Content

Trevor Simoneau
Tyler B. Spence

Abstract

When flying under visual flight rules, pilots must remain clear of clouds. The exact distance varies by airspace class, and this is determined by specific regulatory requirements found within 14 C.F.R. Section 91.155. But there are important questions about the extent to which pilots comply with this regulation, as determining one’s exact distance from clouds is challenging. In this conference paper, we assess the decisions of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 20 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) legal enforcement actions involving a violation of cloud clearance requirements. Among these cases, we examine how 91.155 violations were discovered, the form of sanction imposed by the FAA, the timelines associated with appeals for these cases, and the vote composition of the NTSB in these decisions.      

Article Details

Section
Proceedings

References

Administrator v. Beckman, NTSB Order No. EA–4207 (1994). https://www.ntsb.gov/legal/alj/OnODocuments/Aviation/4207.pdf

Administrator v. de Mooy, NTSB Order No. EA–3502 (1992). https://www.ntsb.gov/legal/alj/OnODocuments/Aviation/3502.pdf

Administrator v. Fullerton, NTSB Order No. EA–5866 (2020). https://www.ntsb.gov/legal/alj/OnODocuments/Aviation/5866.pdf

Administrator v. Powell, NTSB Order No. EA–4299 (1994). https://www.ntsb.gov/legal/alj/OnODocuments/Aviation/4299.pdf

Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. (1993, April 5). Airspace reclassification: Relearning your ABCDs. https://www.aopa.org/news-and-media/all-news/1993/april/05/airspace-reclassification

Anderson, E. E., Watson, W., Marshall, D. M., & Johnson, K. M. (2015). A legal analysis of 14 C.F.R. part 91 see and avoid rules to identify provisions focused on pilot responsibilities to see and avoid in the national airspace system. Journal of Air Law and Commerce, 80(1), 53-233. https://scholar.smu.edu/jalc/vol80/iss1/13

Barry, J. A. (2014). FAA legal enforcement actions. In D. Heffernan & B. Connor (Eds.), Aviation regulation in the United States (pp. 405–417). American Bar Association.

Federal Aviation Administration. (2016). Pilot’s handbook of aeronautical knowledge. https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/files/2022-03/pilot_handbook.pdf

Federal Aviation Administration. (2022). Order 2150.3C with Change 10. https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Order/FAA_Order_2150.3C_includingCHGS1-10.pdf 20

Goh, J., & Wiegmann, D. A. (2001). Visual flight rules into instrument meteorological conditions: An empirical investigation of the possible causes. International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 11(4), 359–379. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327108IJAP1104_3

Goh, J., & Wiegmann, D. A. (2002). Relating flight experience and pilots’ perceptions of decision-making skill. Proceedings of the 46th Annual Meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 46(1), 81–85. https://doi.org/10.1177/154193120204600117

Hamilton, J. S., & Nilsson, S. (2020). Practical aviation and aerospace law (7th ed.). Aviation Supplies and Academics.

Harper, R., & Bliss, T. (2023). Identification, evaluation, and causal factor determination of maintenance errors common to major U.S. certificated air carriers. Collegiate Aviation Review International, 41(1), 56–74. https://doi.org/10.22488/okstate.23.100230

Lozier, M. (2007). Flying VFR in the weather. Flying Safety, 63(11), 12–13.

Major, W. L., Carney, T., Keller, J., Xie, A., Price, M., Duncan, J., Brown, L., Whitehurst, G. R., Rantz, W. G., Nicolai, D., & Beaudin-Seiler, B. M. (2017). VFR-into-IMC accident trends: Perceptions of deficiencies in training. Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering, 7(1), 50–57. https://dx.doi.org/10.7771/2159-6670.1153

Morris, C. C. (2005). Midair collisions: Limitations of the see-and-avoid concept in civil aviation. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 76(4), 357–365. https://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/asma/asem/2005/00000076/00000004/art00007?crawler=true&mimetype=application/pdf

O’Hare, D., & Smitheram, T. (1995). “Pressing on” into deteriorating conditions: An application of behavioral decision theory to pilot decision making. International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 5(4), 351–370. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327108ijap0504_2

Pope, S. (2015, November 3). Judging VFR cloud distances. FLYING. https://www.flyingmag.com/technique-tip-week-judging-vfr-cloud-distances/

Wiggins, M., & O’Hare, D. (1995). Expertise in aeronautical weather-related decision making: A cross-sectional analysis of general aviation pilots. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 1(4), 305–320. https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-898X.1.4.305

Wilson, D. R. & Sloan, T. A. (2003). VFR flight into IMC: Reducing the hazard. Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research, 13(1), 29–42. https://doi.org/10.15394/jaaer.2003.1567

Yodice, K. A. (2014). NTSB adjudication of airmen and air agency appeals. In D. Heffernan & B. Connor (Eds.), Aviation regulation in the United States (pp. 437–448). American Bar Association.