Toeing the Line: The Barton Letter

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Following is the complete text including typographical errors of the March 29, 2000, letter from James D. Barton, manager of the Richmond (Va.) FSDO, to Shenandoah Flight Services. As referenced in the AVweb article "Toeing the Line: An FSDO Changes the Definition of 'Dual Controls'."

U.S. Department
of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration

5707 Huntsman Road, Suite 100
Richmond Int'l Airport, VA 23250-2415

March 29, 2000


Mr. Thomas Osinkosky
Shanandoah Flight Services
Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport
51 Aviation Circle, Suite 112
Weyers Cave, VA 24486

Dear Mr. Osinkosky:

Last year, personnel from this office had a discussion about the use of aircraft which did not have brakes available to both pilots for flight training. The Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) quoted was 91.109, which states in part that an aircraft must have fully functioning dual controls for flight instruction. Operations Unit Supervisor Tom Jones advised you and your staff that the PA-23 series aircraft that Shenandoah Flight Services utilizes might not meet the requirements of that FAR. On June 30, 1999, Mr. Jones requested a clarification from the FAA Eastern Regional Counsel for an interpretation of that particular regulation. On March 17, 2000, the Regional Counsel issued an interpretation of FAR 91.109 regarding this issue.

I have enclosed a copy of the legal interpretation regarding the use of aircraft that do not have brakes available to both flight instructor and pilot being instructed. You will note that if an aircraft does not have fully functioning dual controls, including brakes, the aircraft shall not be used for flight instruction. However, if an aircraft has a handbrake available for use by each pilot, such as is provided on certain single engine Piper aircraft, the aircraft may be used for flight instruction and for practical tests.

As of the date of receipt of this letter, any flight instruction provided by your flight training organization in aircraft that do not have fully functioning dual controls, with brakes available to both pilot stations, will not be creditable toward a pilot rating. Any flight instruction conducted in such aircraft and logged by the flight instructor providing the instruction may be subject to enforcement action. This information is being disseminated to all flight schools in the district.

If you have any questions about this matter, please call me at (804) 222-7494, extension 200 or Tom Jones at extension 202. Our office hours are from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M., Monday through Friday. We will be glad to discuss this matter, or any other matter concerning flight instruction, with you.


/s/ James D. Barton

James D. Barton