13
$\begingroup$

For the purposes of aeronautical experience for glider ratings, the FAA requires a certain number of "flights". However, I cannot find a definition of "flight" in the federal register: https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-14/chapter-I/subchapter-A/part-1.

I'm looking for a legal definition which meets the obvious need that a winch or tow takeoff be considered a "flight". Furthermore, I'd like a definition which gives clarity to the following edge cases (as well as others not mentioned below):

  • If I do an aborted takeoff after being wheels up, is that a flight?
  • If, in a self-launching glider, I take-off and land with never having turned the engine off, is that a flight?
  • If I do a touch-and-go with a self-launching glider, is that a flight?
$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ It is not in the best interest of the FAA to provide clarity as to the answers to your questions. Confusion works better for them. Related: aviation.stackexchange.com/a/55829/34686 $\endgroup$ May 29, 2023 at 14:39
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I can't agree. The FAA can't (well, at least shouldn't) have a hard requirement without even a definition. Otherwise, a DPE could reject a candidate arbitrarily. This isn't a question of +- a few percent: if in two hours I did 20 touch-and-gos in a self-launching glider it shouldn't be debatable whether I'd satisfied either 1% or 20% of the CDX requirement for 100 "flights". $\endgroup$ May 29, 2023 at 16:03

2 Answers 2

8
$\begingroup$

In my opinion, the 14 CFR Part 1.1 definition of "Flight Time" establishes that a "Flight" (within the meaning of 14 CFR Part 61.109(f), pertaining to the Private Pilot Glider Certification requirements, for example), is when a glider, without self-launch capability (meaning Ground-Tow [auto or winch], or AeroTow), "...is towed for the purpose of flight and ends when the glider comes to rest after landing." (see "Flight Time" definition number 2 below).

I think the principle inherent in this regulatory definition supports the concept that in acquiring "flight time" you are engaged in a "flight." So, if you are required to have 20 "flights" in a glider, for example, any of the 20 AeroTow or Ground-Tow "flights" would begin with the tow and end when the glider comes to rest (see "Flight Time" definition number 2 below). With respect to a Self-Launched Glider, see "Flight Time" definition number 1 below.

Flight Time definition

(1) Pilot time that commences when an aircraft moves under its own power for the purpose of flight and ends when the aircraft comes to rest after landing; or

(2) For a glider without self-launch capability, pilot time that commences when the glider is towed for the purpose of flight and ends when the glider comes to rest after landing.

With respect to your other 3 questions:

  1. If I do an aborted takeoff after being wheels up, is that a flight?

If I had to abort the takeoff, I would not count this as one of the required "flights." I don't have an argument to support this, but it's just my opinion.

  1. If, in a self-launching glider, I take-off and land with never having turned the engine off, is that a flight?

After reviewing the "Private Pilot Practical Test Standards for Glider" (PTS) it appears that if your flight check is done in a Self-Launched glider there is an expectation that at some point after takeoff you will shut the engine down and land without power (it's the same PTS Area of Operation IV. Task Q., on page 1-16, that also applies to Ground-Tow and Aerotow). Therefore, in my opinion, if you did not "turn the engine off," you should not count that flight as a "flight" for the purpose of meeting the required 20 flights (from my example).

  1. If I do a touch-and-go with a self-launching glider, is that a flight?

In my opinion, my answer to your question number 2 applies equally to this question (I don't think it would qualify as one of the 20 required "flights.")

It's very unlikely that there are complete and unambiguous answers to your questions that would be accepted by everyone. But, my answers above represent my opinion based on how I view the applicable FARs and the PTS when read in context together.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ Good answer. I think that, legally, there is no option to treat the self-launching glider as anything other than a glider, as glider is a certification category for the aircraft. So I don't think it's arguable that no glider "flights" occurred when a registered glider left the ground. There must have been at least one. $\endgroup$ May 30, 2023 at 2:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Regarding the aborted takeoff, a simulated rope-break would normally be a "flight", so it's a little harder to get a bead on that. But I think that if we start trying to abuse this lack of clarity by claiming 100 flights which were all crow-hops, dollars to donuts gets that we'll quickly find the FAA puts the kibosh on that. $\endgroup$ May 30, 2023 at 2:40
5
$\begingroup$

FAR 1.1 defines "flight time" as

(1) Pilot time that commences when an aircraft moves under its own power for the purpose of flight and ends when the aircraft comes to rest after landing; or

(2) For a glider without self-launch capability, pilot time that commences when the glider is towed for the purpose of flight and ends when the glider comes to rest after landing.

I'd infer from that definition that one "flight" starts and ends at those events. I can't tell you that's certainly right, but I'd think that an interpretation contrary to that (i.e. that a 2-hour block of time in which multiple touch-and-go's were conducted equates to multiple "flights") would probably be an uphill battle.

In that light, I think each of the first two examples in the question both constitute "one flight" since in each case, movement started (once) and the aircraft came to rest (once) after landing, and that "the flight" that entails a series of touch & go's is also "one flight" since the aircraft only "comes to rest after landing" once.

EDIT: On further reflection... for question #2, it's "a flight," but is it a flight in a glider? If you never turned the engine off, that ("in a glider") part becomes more dubious. And for that matter, #3 being "one flight" gets the same question... if the motor ran the whole time, not just during the T&G, is the whole thing even one "flight in a glider" at all?

That "in a glider" angle on it all is something that a CFIG can address better than I can.

$\endgroup$
5
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Does this mean that you should avoid stopping while taxiing to your final destination at the airport if you can taxi continuously without creating any safety risk, because the first time you stop, you can no longer count time? $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    May 29, 2023 at 21:48
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Someone, no - that is not what it means. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2023 at 21:57
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Someone: In the airline world, your flight time stops when we're at the gate & the doors open, i.e. with the parking brake set & the engines off. That is "coming to rest" after landing. Time still runs even though the aircraft may stop during taxi many times between landing and the gate. Your logged "flight time" certainly does not end at the moment that the wheels stop rolling. If the FAA wanted it like that, then we wouldn't log time the way that we do. FAR 1.1 doesn't end your flight time merely at your first moment being stationary after a landing. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    May 29, 2023 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ good answer. I would add, however, that the glider is an FAA certification category, so engine or not, if an aircraft certified as a glider leaves the ground, then it's flying and there must have been, at least, one flight. $\endgroup$ May 30, 2023 at 2:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @KennSebesta Yeah, I can't speak to how use of the motor full-time affects the count of flights "in a glider" or not. If you're off the ground, as in the 1st question, that has to be a flight. I could see, though, a DPE looking askance if very many of ones "flights" were just a few seconds long & a few feet off the ground, only. How much does one really get out of the 23rd "simulated rope break"? $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    May 30, 2023 at 2:50

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .