At an airport without an operating control tower, should it be a violation of the Federal Aviation Regulations to land an airplane during VMC daylight conditions on a runway that has been NOTAMed closed?

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    $\begingroup$ Are you asking if it should be a violation, or if it is? $\endgroup$ – fooot Feb 18 '18 at 19:14
  • $\begingroup$ @fooot - I am asking if it should be a violation. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Feb 18 '18 at 19:35
  • $\begingroup$ We don't appreaciate much questions that asks for speculations and opinions. You either ask if it IS, or this question is opinion-based. $\endgroup$ – Federico Feb 19 '18 at 15:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Federico I see your point but I am asking (using the word "should") for those with expertise to use their knowledge of regulatory oversight imperatives, with the underlying need for air safety, to provide their view regarding the propriety of declaring a violation for simply landing on a closed runway. I would argue that landing on a closed runway is not a violation on every occasion. Every court hearing examines all of the elements and circumstances surrounding the event before a finding of violation. My question pertains only to a violation because the runway is closed by NOTAM. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Feb 19 '18 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ I will be happy to discuss this in chat or on meta (your choice), I feel that the comments are not the appropriate place to have a lengthy discussion. If you ask "those with expertise [...] to provide their view" you are using a fancy way of saying that you are asking for opinions, and it is not a good thing to do here. And in fact your only answer does not have opinions in it. I suggest you either ask if it is, or eventually why it is (or is not), but definitely not if it should. $\endgroup$ – Federico Feb 19 '18 at 16:00

There's no specific rule against it, so whether it should be a violation is a matter of opinion. FWIW, AOPA's legal counsel believes it isn't a violation per se, but the FAA has still pursued action against airmen for doing it.

The 'obvious' regulation involved is 91.13:

(a) Aircraft operations for the purpose of air navigation. No person may operate an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.

The NOTAM is presumably there for a good reason and even if the runway seems clear and usable from the air, there may be hazards or poor surface conditions that you can't easily make out. As AOPA's counsel pointed out in the article above, the FAA apparently ignores the requirement to prove "endangerment" but the NTSB also seems to back them up on that, so as a pilot you probably have little chance of arguing successfully that a landing wasn't reckless.

A famous (infamous?) example of landing on a closed runway was Senator Inhofe in 2010. Afterwards he said that no one checks NOTAMs anyway and it just wasn't a big deal, despite there being workers and equipment on the runway at the time. As it happens, he's a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, which oversees the FAA, and he represents Oklahoma, where the FAA has its headquarters. He was required to do remedial training and that might or might not have been appropriate but personally I suspect that if I buzzed some construction workers and then told the FAA that I didn't care about NOTAMs, I'd be a lot more likely to get enforcement action.

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  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife-good comment. But after reading the AOPA's analysis of the case you refer to in the link above ("it isn't a violation per se") the Full NTSB Board sustained the FAA's position that it was a violation. The additional comments in the article regarding 91.13, from my perspective, are alluding to the normal use by the FAA of 91.13 as a "residual" violation added as a result of another regulation (other than 91.13) being violated. Perhaps my point is more a semantic characterization. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Feb 18 '18 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ @757toga Well, you asked if landing on a closed runway should be a violation. I think the best answer is: the FAA and NTSB say "it already is", AOPA says "only if there's endangerment". If you had asked "is it a violation?" then the answer would be "yes" because that's the FAA's position today, at least based on what I could find out. I'm not sure if that answers your question or not, because "should" questions are usually asking for opinions. But my personal opinion is pretty worthless compared to the FAA's :-) $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Feb 18 '18 at 20:04
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    $\begingroup$ no debate from me. My question was prompted from another forum where a controller was talking about using the phraseology "land at your own risk" on the occasion a pilot wanted to land on a closed (yellow X on the runway) runway because of difficult wind conditions. The case you reference has many elements (people working, etc.) that may have contributed to the ultimate outcome (violation). But I guess I am looking for a general response from this community as to whether or not landing on a closed runway, in and of itself, should be a violation. $\endgroup$ – 757toga Feb 18 '18 at 20:16

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