I was just curious, in the past, smoking on planes was permitted.

What is the law surrounding smoking in your own private plane?

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    $\begingroup$ I am reminded of United States Air Force general Curtis Emerson LeMay, who was equally famous for his overbearing command style and his ever-present cigar. He smoked it on his own transport plane, on and around air force bombers in the Pacific theatre, on the flight line, while observing fueling and arming operations -- everywhere. He was such a precipitous and powerful leader that his men believed no aircraft or fuel cell would ever dare to explode in his presence. $\endgroup$ Jan 19, 2014 at 2:38
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    $\begingroup$ @A.I.Breveleri You reminded me of the scene in the 1955 movie "Strategic Air Command" in which LeMay (though not using his name) was played by Frank Lovejoy. He gets off his personal airplane onto the ramp next to, as I remember, a brand new B-47. I want to say the B-47 was being fueled, but I'm not sure of that. Somebody says to the General's aide something like, "He shouldn't smoke here. The airplane might blow up." The aide looks at the man and says, simply, "It wouldn't dare." $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Sep 23, 2017 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


The short answer to "Can I smoke in my own private aircraft?" is "Yes, usually".

As Promised, I looked up the relevant FAR (23.853 - Passenger & Crew Compartment Interiors).

The actual rule is long and verbose, but pretty common sense. The important regulatory bits for most personal aircraft are just two points though. You must:

  • Have "an adequate number" of self-contained ash trays
    You don't want flicked ash or a snubbed cigarette to start an in-flight fire.
  • Have "No Smoking" signs you can illuminate, if the passenger/crew compartments are separated
    This doesn't apply to most of us since our "personal" airplanes are light singles, but if you've got a fancy twin with a curtain or door between you and the passengers you'll need those signs.

For "commuter category" aircraft there are even more requirements. Those requirements don't apply to most "personal" planes, so even though it's probably a good idea to meet some of those requirements if you're going to allow smoking in your personal aircraft they're not legally required.

All that said, while it's likely legal (unless you've removed your ashtrays or your plane didn't come with them) common sense generally dictates you don't want to smoke in your plane - It's bad for the vacuum-driven instruments' filters, will require even more attention to cleaning the inside of your windows, and a loose cigarette in turbulence or a bunch of ashes blown about by an open air vent can be a pretty substantial distraction.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure where Light Sport aircraft fall on this issue - new LSAs are generally not covered/certificated under FAR 23. I suspect like many other LSA things it's "Does the manufacturer explicitly permit/prohibit it in the POH or via placards?" $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Jan 6, 2014 at 1:16
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    $\begingroup$ @DannyBeckett I wasn't actually - I may have been remembering something specific to part 121/135 or transport-category aircraft. It was something about the difference between "flame-resistant" and "self-extinguishing" materials (where the former required a "No Smoking" placard, and it was OK to allow smoking if the cabin was outfitted with the latter). At some point I'll have to go on an archeological dig through the FARs to see if I can find it again. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Jan 6, 2014 at 8:12
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    $\begingroup$ What about airplanes certified under Part 25 instead of Part 23? $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Jan 6, 2014 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know that any Part 25 (transport) aircraft would qualify as "personal", though maybe Warren Buffet wants his own 787 - you know, to draw the Berkshire-Hathaway logo with. The requirements seem similar to Part 23 - It's 25.853. Some areas of 23.853 also specify that they apply to "transport category aircraft" as is the way of federal law's confusing and tangled web. $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Jan 6, 2014 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ Not to mention bad for the health of the pilot, and with the reduced oxygen at altitude healthy lungs are quite important to reducing hypoxia. You didn't seem to be endorsing it anyway but I just thought I might add that in there. $\endgroup$
    – p1l0t
    Jan 19, 2014 at 19:36

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