Today I saw this video on Vimeo that shows a pilot flying a new solar glider (N- registered aircraft) in Italy without wearing a parachute (I believe in US is not mandatory).

Actually here in Italy it is mandatory to wear parachutes in gliders (at least I- registered). In our club we carry them also on our D- gliders but I don't know if it is also mandatory.

What is the scope of local regulations for foreign aircrafts? Do they have to comply also with this issue or is it up to the user, since it is a factor that only affects him?

Please feel free to edit my question with better words if my text is incomprehensible.

  • $\begingroup$ I can't really answer your question, but a little background: FAR §91.307 says: "(c)Unless each occupant of the aircraft is wearing an approved parachute, no pilot of a civil aircraft carrying a person (other then a crewmember) may execute an intentional maneuver that exceeds - (1) A bank of 60 degress relative to the horizon; or (2) A nose-up or nose-down attitude of 30 degrees relative to the horizon." There is more to it, read it up if you want. Gliders usually exceed these limits, so you should have a parachute in an N registered glider. $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2015 at 18:48
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    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't be surprised that the country of registration determines most of the applicable regulation. Regarding air safety overall this is the country of flight, but this may be intended to public safety, not pilot safety. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Feb 8, 2015 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ In general, you take the most restrictive regulation of the country of registration, the country of licensing and the airspace. There is really no general answer to this - you have to study all three sets of regulations. $\endgroup$
    – jwoolard
    Feb 10, 2015 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ Glider airframes encounter 3 G's +/- on a good wave run, it can get violent..... not wearing a parachute is just flat foolish. I side on safety... if the airframe comes apart you still have a hard time getting out. $\endgroup$
    – user17597
    Oct 18, 2016 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ @howardhughes I agree with your reasoning, but gliders are designed for +5.6 gs. Also, the seat pan is shaped such that the head is too low without a parachute supporting your behind. However, in small cockpits is is sometimes helpful to place the chute behind the head - helped me in some older types. $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2016 at 7:17

1 Answer 1


For US (N-reg aircraft), this is defined in 14 CFR 91.703, Operations of civil aircraft of U.S. registry outside of the United States. It says:

(a) Each person operating a civil aircraft of U.S. registry outside of the United States shall—

(1) When over the high seas, comply with annex 2 (Rules of the Air) to the Convention on International Civil Aviation and with §§91.117(c), 91.127, 91.129, and 91.131;

(2) When within a foreign country, comply with the regulations relating to the flight and maneuver of aircraft there in force;

(3) Except for §§91.117(a), 91.307(b), 91.309, 91.323, and 91.711, comply with this part so far as it is not inconsistent with applicable regulations of the foreign country where the aircraft is operated or annex 2 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation; [...]

That suggests that in most cases the pilot should follow the foreign (Italian) regulations:

  • 91.703(a)(2) says you have to follow foreign regulations on "flight and maneuver"
  • 703(a)(3) says you should (mostly) follow part 91 unless it's "inconsistent" with the foreign regulations

It all seems a bit vague to me, and what "inconsistent" means is probably the kind of thing that keeps lawyers busy. But also note that there are specific rules applying to operating foreign aircraft in the US. 14 CFR 91.711, Special rules for foreign civil aircraft, begins:

(a) General. In addition to the other applicable regulations of this part, each person operating a foreign civil aircraft within the United States shall comply with this section.

So foreign aircraft in the US are expected to follow US regulations as far as possible, which is consistent with 91.703: an N-reg aircraft abroad follows the foreign rules as far as possible, and a foreign aircraft in the US follows US rules as far as possible.

Since both the US and Italy are ICAO members, I would expect Italian law to roughly mirror US law on this, although that may be a dangerous assumption. For an authoritative answer, I would ask both the FAA and the Italian authorities.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks @Pondlife. So as per my understanding, the guy in the video (with a N-registered glider flying in Italy) would legally have had to wear a parachute? (Just for info, in US is only mandatory for aerobatics I believe, in Italy is always mandatory). $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2015 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ @maximusboscus If wearing a parachute is included in "flight and maneuvers" then yes, but since that isn't defined clearly in the regulations I don't really know. My guess is that "flight and maneuvers" is intended to mean that you should follow local rules on flight paths, altitude, speed etc. but what happens inside the aircraft is still governed by the US regulations. It's like driving from Italy to the UK: you must drive on the left and obey the local speed limits, but no one says you must switch your GPS to English or change the speedometer to miles per hour. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Feb 18, 2015 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the response and funny comparison haha. I am trying to find the italian regulations about the use of parachutes in glider but until now no success :( $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2015 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife In the car analogy, wouldn't a parachute be more accurately represented by something like seat belts which are always present but might be legally required in some places but not others? $\endgroup$
    – user9394
    Jan 17, 2017 at 10:36

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