Toeing the Line: The Basham Letter

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Following is the complete text of the September 29, 1999, letter from Lauren D. Basham, acting manager of the FAA's certification branch, to Ken Medley. As referenced in the AVweb article "Toeing the Line: An FSDO Changes the Definition of 'Dual Controls'."

U.S. Department
of Transportation
Federal Aviation

800 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, DC 20591


September 29, 1999

Mr. Kenneth A. Medley
Arlington, VA  22207

Dear Mr. Medley:

This is in response to your letter requesting clarification on whether dual instruction/flight tests may be conducted in airplanes that do not have brakes on the right side.

Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Part 91, section 91.109(a)(1)(2) state, in part, that no person may operate a civil aircraft (except a manned free balloon) that is being used for flight instruction unless that aircraft has fully functioning dual controls. However, instrument flight instruction may be given in a single-engine airplane equipped with a single, functioning throwover control wheel in place of fixed, dual controls of the elevator and ailerons when:

  1. The instructor has determined that the flight can be conducted safely; and
  2. The person manipulating the controls has at least a private pilot certificate with appropriate category and class ratings.

14 CFR part 61, section 61.45(a)(c) provides that an aircraft, other than a lighter-than-air aircraft, used for a practical test must have engine power controls and flight controls that are easily reached and operable in a conventional manner by both pilots, unless the examiner determines that the practical test can be conducted safely in the aircraft without the controls being easily reached.

In view of the above, it follows that since neither sections 61.45(a) or (c), nor 91.109 lists brakes as a "required control," both flight instruction and flight tests may be conducted in an airplane without brakes when the instructor/examiner determines that instruction/practical test can be conducted safely in that aircraft.

We hope this adequately responds to your question and wish you success in you aviation endeavors.


/s/ Lauren D. Basham

Lauren D. Basham
Acting Manager,
    Certification Branch