Plain language FARs?

hawg2hawk

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 1, 2002
Posts
156
Total Time
-
Anyone heard anything on the FAA's progress rewriting the FAR's so we can understand them without a law degree? The FAA issued a statement last year saying it was starting the revisions, but since then, nothing.
Failing that, any good recommendations on the best "translated FAR" book out there? Guess I got spoiled by reasonably straightforward regs in the military.
I'd rather poke a sharp stick in my eye than try to decode that crap and hope I'm right.
 

Draginass

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 29, 2001
Posts
1,852
Total Time
5000+
Plain language FARs???? Are you crazy??? That would mean the same interpretation by multiple FAA inspectors, less work for aviation lawyers, pilots that might understand the intent and letter of regulations, cats and dogs living together, . . . . the end of civilization as we know it.

I'll believe it when I see it!
 

dondk

Don't you wish
Joined
Nov 25, 2001
Posts
887
Total Time
enuf
You can find the preamble to some reg's at AFS6000 I believe. The guy who actually wrote the reg's does have a question andd answer section with full explanations to the actual meaning. Now it does not cover 121, all 61, part of 135 and most of 91 if memory serves correctly.

I do not know if that helps, but there is some "limited" understanding out there, until you get the FSDO's involved then it all changes depending on the FSDO!
 

ShawnC

Skirts Will Rise
Joined
Jan 17, 2002
Posts
1,481
Total Time
-5Z
I saw a plain language FAR book at my local pilot shop, I'll try to get the name for you. It also includes the explanations of why they enacted that particular rule too.
 

Caveman

Grandpa
Joined
Nov 25, 2001
Posts
1,580
Total Time
11000+
'...straightforward military regulations..."

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Whooooeeee! That was a good one.

Some of my favorite straightforward military regulations:

Try to make sense out of either the JFTR (Joint Forces travel Regulations) or the DoDPM (Department of Defense Pay Manual). Beyond convoluted.....

Have you read the MCM lately (Manual for Courts-Martial).

How about the word 'promulgated'.

Take a look at either of the services personnel assignment policies.

The U.S. military or any branch of the U.S. government is the last place to look for anything even slightly resembling straightforward language.
 

Jetjr

Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2002
Posts
9
Total Time
4200
Jepp-Sanderson published a book more than ten years ago called "Part 135 Explained", (I think). I'm sure that it was sold by Jepp-Sand.

It was in a very clear, three part format:
1) The regulation was quoted,
2) One of two Lawyers with an "Aviation Background" tried to explain the reg in simple terms.
3) To help see how the reg worked, a sample "bust" was reported and explained.

Even though it was part 135, I feel that it is very helpful.

Jim
 

Timebuilder

Entrepreneur
Joined
Nov 25, 2001
Posts
4,625
Total Time
1634
This question came up a few months ago, and I made a post expressing my displeasure with the "gray" nature of the regs.

One our most respected posters followed up with the idea that the regs are written that way "on purpose" to allow the government to make interpretations "as necessary", or something to that effect.

This idea of lifting the veil of confusion, as Draginass pointed out, is completly foreign to any government entity. Clarity would inevitably mean loss of jobs in both the public and private sectors. The greatest power is the power to instill fear, and the inability to understand what is really required is the basis of this fear. If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat? It's another brick in The Wall....

Think about this: how absurd is it to have inspectors in the field be empowered to make a decision, be wrong, and have those who are regulated be unable to obtain redress should they be so trusting as to believe that the inspector is giving the correct opinion? This is an agency, like the IRS, who wants its cake and be able to eat it too.

I don't see any reform happening in my lifetime, and I plan on being here for a while.

I think that ALL of the FAA folks that I know personally would agree with this perspective.
 

hawg2hawk

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 1, 2002
Posts
156
Total Time
-
Caveman said:
The U.S. military or any branch of the U.S. government is the last place to look for anything even slightly resembling straightforward language.
Just ran across this, and as much as I hate to resurrect it, I just has to!

JFTRs, MCMs, and any type of personnel or pay regulation (ptooey!) is beneath the scope of this discussion. I think we can all agree that they are irrevocably f***ed and designed to do us harm. This discussion deals only with the sacred tomes which guide our heavenward flight. Or something. The U.S. Government writes some f'ed up products, I agree. Just curious though, who do you think writes the FARs?

So which is clearer?

§ 135.113 Passenger occupancy of pilot
seat.
No certificate holder may operate an
aircraft type certificated after October
15, 1971, that has a passenger seating
configuration, excluding any pilot seat,
of more than eight seats if any person
other than the pilot in command, a second
in command, a company check airman,
or an authorized representative of
the Administrator, the National Transportation
Safety Board, or the United
States Postal Service occupies a pilot
seat.

or:

AFI11-2E-8V3

4.4.5. Unqualified Personnel . Unqualified personnel who are not in training will not occupy any pilot crew duty position during any phase of flight, unless waived by OG/CC.

I had to read the first statement 5 or 6 times before I thought I got it. The second one, I pretty much got the first time around. Not a direct comparison, but good enough to make my point.

I think the FAR's are designed for enforcement, not usability. But hey, if you like 'em...

So what's the latest? The FAA was working on this at some point.
 

igneousy2

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Posts
1,262
Total Time
100+
hawg2hawk said:
So which is clearer?

§ 135.113 Passenger occupancy of pilot
seat.
No certificate holder may operate an
aircraft type certificated after October
15, 1971, that has a passenger seating
configuration, excluding any pilot seat,
of more than eight seats if any person
other than the pilot in command, a second
in command, a company check airman,
or an authorized representative of
the Administrator, the National Transportation
Safety Board, or the United
States Postal Service occupies a pilot
seat.

or:

AFI11-2E-8V3

4.4.5. Unqualified Personnel . Unqualified personnel who are not in training will not occupy any pilot crew duty position during any phase of flight, unless waived by OG/CC.

I had to read the first statement 5 or 6 times before I thought I got it. The second one, I pretty much got the first time around. Not a direct comparison, but good enough to make my point.

I think the FAR's are designed for enforcement, not usability. But hey, if you like 'em...

So what's the latest? The FAA was working on this at some point.
Sorry, I disagree...your military reg is vague and is not as specific as the reg is.

In the civilian world you don't have an all powerful "OG/CC" that we can run to to make decisions. The regulation has to be very specific and allow possible variances so operations can continue without having to wait for the FSDO to open on Monday.

I bet the "OG/CC" has another manual to go to that dictates to him/her when they are permited to allow variances from this regulation.

It doesn't seem to be an apples to apples comparison to me.

I've found the regs to be pretty clear most of the time, the "gray" areas are usually created by pilots who are trying to test the limits of the regulations. Just do some research on this board to find out "if a flight is a charter or not". In reality it's a pretty simple matter to know if it is or it isn't. The only time it seems gray is if you're trying to make the shoe fit when it doesn't.

Later
 
Last edited:

hawg2hawk

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 1, 2002
Posts
156
Total Time
-
I'll agree I didn't use the best example.

So, you're happy with the FAR's as written?
 

PropsForward

Will Fly 4 Food
Joined
Oct 31, 2004
Posts
374
Total Time
~2200
keep'em as they are. I like stereo instructions!
 

hawg2hawk

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 1, 2002
Posts
156
Total Time
-
Guess that's a good argument for primacy. First learned is best learned. I hate the (&^%*&^%*% things personally.
 

igneousy2

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 3, 2004
Posts
1,262
Total Time
100+
hawg2hawk said:
I'll agree I didn't use the best example.

So, you're happy with the FAR's as written?
nah, I'm not happy with the Regs, There are too many, Although, I think a good number are written because of stupid things that operators, pilots, and/or mechanics do to try and circumvent the spirit of the rules. Do you really need to be told that you shouldn't try to fly formation with a plane who's pilot hasn't given you permission to fly formation with him? Apparently someone has tried this at some point in the past to warrant a rule.
 

Batfish

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 20, 2003
Posts
83
Total Time
3400
Best straight forward reg book out there

hawg2hawk said:
Failing that, any good recommendations on the best "translated FAR" book out there? Guess I got spoiled by reasonably straightforward regs in the military.
I'd rather poke a sharp stick in my eye than try to decode that crap and hope I'm right.
In my opinion by Faaaaaar the best book out there for decoding regs is Everything Explained for the Professional Pilot by Richie Lengel. I think there is an ad for it on this site, usually on the left sidebar, or you can read a bunch of pages from it at the website www.aviation-press.com. He does a fantastic job of decoding the govt/lawyer jargon and spit it out in a readable form. He is even sarcastic and funny which makes reading the stuff much more bearable. That book and some aircraft specific stuff was ALL I used to study for and get my current job. I have become a big fan of the book. The price has been well worth it since it has replaced all of the crappy books I bought while I was in training. Can't say enough good things about it. -Batfish
 

avbug

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 14, 2001
Posts
7,602
Total Time
n/a
Everything explained is a good publication, though it does contain errors. I posted that here some time ago, and the author invited me to send him information regarding those errors, said he'd welcome them. I tried, and at first received abusive replies and then he refused to communicate. Despite his lack of cooperation, I just convinced a charter office to order a bunch of the books for their chief pilot, director of operations, dispatchers, maintenance department, and others. I showed it to them, demonstrated the speed with which a topic could be found due to the detailed index, and they loved it. Purchased one, and then keep ordering more.

The regulations are among the shortest in the entire Code of Federal Regulations compendium. These are among the easiest to understand, and are quite plain.

Have you ever looked at the tax code?

Yes, Timebuilder, the regulations were written with the intent of being flexible, and adaptable, and are a living document. This is the intent. And yes, the Administrator has the authority of an act of congress to interpret and administer the regulation, as well as dictate it. This is delivered through legal counsel, clearly and effectively. There is very little of what could be called "grey area."

I find the regulations for the most part to be quite clear and distinct.

What I also find is that most folks don't take the time to crack a book and read them. Many seem to feel that they should be able to absorb them by osmosis.

Jeppesen publishes three books rearding detailed explainations and applications of the regulations, dealing with certificate operations, general operations, and maintenance. Each book is about thirty bucks, and you really should get them and read them. These detail specific applications of the regulation in enforcement action, and identify numerous cases to show exactly how the regulation works and how it's applied. You may find it to be an eye opener.
 

A Squared

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
3,006
Total Time
11000
A few thoughts on the idea of "plain language" regulations:

1) Regulations *are* plain language. They are written in English. some of the words may not be very commonly used in general usage but they are all English. I don't recall ever seeing latin words used in the regulations. Any word you find in a regulation, you will find in a dictionary. Occasionaly a word in a more liberal dictionary (yes there are liberal and conservative dictionaries) will have several definitions of a word which are diverse enough to cloud the meaning of a regulation containing that word. In such a case, you should take a look at a legal dictionary for the meaning of the word when used in a legal sense. Now, you may say, "well if you need a special dictionary, it is not "plain language"". Well yes and no. In law, words have specific meanings, whereas in general use those words may have many meanings. But, this is no different than any other field of specific knowledge. Take aerodynamics. What does the word "chord" mean? In common usage Chord, has many meanings, in aerodynamics it has only one specific meaning. In order to understand aerodynamics, you have to know what is meant by the word "chord" in hte context of aerodynamics. In engineering "stress" and "strain" have very specific meanings and they are not interchangeable, wheras in common usage those two words are used in many different ways and often are used synonymously. To understand an engineering report, you have to know what the engineering definition of "stress" and "strain" are. Law is no different, you have to know specifically what is meant by "notwithstanding"

2) Like Avbug said, many of the misunderstandings of the regulations come because pilots just don't read them. You gotta read them. It doesn't do any good for the book to sit on your shelf, or under your pillow at night, or wherever; you have to open the book and read the words. I see this time and time again on these forums. People ask questions that are better answered by opening the book and reading what it says. Inevitabley, you get 6 different answers, all of them incorrect, because the guys answering the question don't read the book either. People would rather have someone else tell them what something means instead of reading it themselves.

3) Many of the regulations which are beleived to be "grey areas" or "unclear" are not "grey" in the least, they are very black and white, but people don't like what they mean, so they prefer to believe that there is a "grey area" A classic example is logging SIC in a single pilot airplane. The regulation is pretty d amn clear; the SIC has to be required by the regulations. But, people don't like that , so they say .... "wellll, "regulation" really means "insurance requirements" no, it doesn't, it means "regulations"; or " regulations really means company policy". No it doesn't, "regulations" means regulations. However clear this may be, it is clouded by people attempting to "interpret" it to mean something it clearly doesn't mean to further their own agenda.

4) "Regulations are written in a way that is hard to understand." Perhaps, perhaps not. I'll agree, often the syntax is clunkey and hard to follow. The sentences do not flow like conversational sentences. The thing is, it is very difficult to impart specific, detailed meaning in a conversational manner. You can't have regulations that read like a novel, and have them impart the same specific, detailed, meaning. In order to read a regulation for understanding, you have to read it carefully, think about the meaning of each phrase, and add the meaning of each phrase together to get the meaning of the sentence. The regulations has to say "exactly" what it means. Take for example the previously mentioned regulation on passengers in a pilot seat:

§ 135.113 Passenger occupancy of pilot seat. No certificate holder may operate an aircraft type certificated after October 15, 1971, that has a passenger seating configuration, excluding any pilot seat, of more than eight seats if any person other than the pilot in command, a second in command, a company check airman, or an authorized representative of the Administrator, the National Transportation Safety Board, or the United States Postal Service occupies a pilot seat.

Yeah, it would be really nice if it just said something simple like: "No passenger shall sit in a pilot seat." Nice, but the thing is, there's a world of difference in what those two sentences mean. First problem is; what is a passenger? Is a postal inspector a passenger? maybe is a fed on surveillance a passenger? Maybe. Pretty soon you see that it is easier who specify who *may* occupy a pilot seat, rather than who *may not* sooo.... we say "only a pilot or a fed may sit in a pilot seat in flight" OK does that mean that a passenger with a private pilot certificate can sit in a pilot seat? well no, so we have to specify the pilot in command or second in command .... uh-oh, what about a check airman giving a line check? He's not a PIC or SIC ... so we have to add that to the list.

So we start out with "No passenger" and very quickly we end up with: "any person other than the pilot in command, a second in command, a company check airman, or an authorized representative of the Administrator, the National Transportation Safety Board, or the United States Postal Service"

Ok, how about this item: "aircraft type certificated after October 15, 1971, that has a passenger seating configuration, excluding any pilot seat, of more than eight seats"

now, for whatever reason, it has been decided that this restriction applies to a) aircraft type certificated after Oct 15, 1971,
and
b) aircraft with more than 8 seats, not counting pilot seats.

I don't know why this is so, but remember, we are discussing the "form" of the regulations, not the "content" That in mind, I would invite anyone to take a stab at writing something in "plain language" which is simpler and less awkward, which still clearly communicates both a) and b).

Lastly, there's accountability; who does the regulation apply to? who do you charge with hte violation? If the regualtion says "no passenger shall..." the regulation applies to the passenger's actions. There's a violation, the FAA begins an enforcement against the certificate holder for violation 135.113, the certificate holder says; Hey this reg applies to passengers, we're not passengers, bring your enforcement avgainst the passenger, he's the one who violated the regulation" .. and the certificate holder is right. SO the regulation is written "No certificate holder may operate an aircraft ...." which makes it clear that it is applicable to the certificate holder's actions. Again, it doesn't read like a novel, but there's a real reason that it's phrased that way.

Yes the regulations are tougher to read than Louis Lamour, but that's going to be inherent. Louis Lamour isn't trying to write specific detailed instruction which do not leave loopholes. Regulations require reading for comprehension, you can't just skim them and pick up the "drift" like you can with cowboy novels.

I'll expand my previous challenge to include all of the aviation regulations. Take any regulation from CFR 14, and re-write it so that your version imparts the exact same meaning as the original, yet is easier to read and understand. Post the original and your version. Seriously; try it. I think the experience would be revealing. Sure there are a few which could be perhaps a little more readable, but I think that by and large you will find that the regulations have to be written the way they are in order to mean what they must.
 

Tinstaafl

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2003
Posts
188
Total Time
6900
I partly agree with you, however there are usually several ways in which the same meaning can be imparted while making the reading easier. To strictly follow your logic we could have the rules written using sentence structure appropriate to the 18th or 19th centuries. But we don't. Language useage & understanding changes over time and 'good' law is that which is comprehensible by those to whom it applies, as well as enforceable etc.

Something that enhances readability & ease of comprehension is to group similar categories of information, use point form notation and follow a standard sequence of data presentation such as definitions given at the beginning (immediately prior to a rule if unique to that rule, or pre-defined at the head of a section or cluster of rules), inclusions first, exclusions second, then the restriction or approval then exceptions & alternative conditions as a result of those exceptions.

-----
Definitions:

Passenger seats:
* Includes all seats that are not in the cockpit
* Includes cockpit seats that are not pilot seats,
* Excludes pilot seats.


Rule 123:

Inclusions: This rule applies to:

* All aircraft with a MTOW greater than 12 500lb, or
* Aircraft with a MTOW less than 12 500lb that
.........* have 8 or more passengers seats, and
................* are used in Part 135 operations, or
................* are used in Part 121 operations, or
................* are painted purple with lime green stripes

Exclusions:

* Aircraft with a MTOW greater than 12,500,
......* painted white with pink polka dots


Restrictions:

* Must not be operated during daytime, and
* Must not have any external light that illuminate the aircraft's paint scheme

Exceptions:

* May be operated during daytime provided
..........* Visibility is less than 500m, and
..........* The aircraft is operated at, or above, FL600 excluding
......................* Climb after take off
......................* Descent for the purposes of
................................* making an instrument approach,or
................................* landing

--------------------


An interesting example of the use of readability principles is the use in Australia of 'plain english' language in home & vehicle insurance policies. They are no less legally enforceable than the old legalese construction and you will be hard pressed to find an insurer who hasn't switched.
 

A Squared

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2001
Posts
3,006
Total Time
11000
An interesting example of the use of readability principles is the use in Australia of 'plain english' language in home & vehicle insurance policies. They are no less legally enforceable than the old legalese construction and you will be hard pressed to find an insurer who hasn't switched.
THis can only be a good thing, however, Insurance policies are loaded with terms such as subrogation, indemnify, "jointly and severally liable" until they become an inpenetrable forest of words that most people have never heard of.

That is not true with the aviation regulations. The vast majority of them are already written in plain, everyday words. Sure, you have to know what is meant by "instrument approach procedure" or "Air Traffic Control" but what pilot does not? Words like "notwithstanding" are actually very few and far between. Perhaps, as you say some clarity could be added by distilling regulations to lists of "bullet points", perhaps not. To some degree the regulations already incorperate this format where appropriate. The rules on VFR visibility and cloud learences even include a table of a different requirements. It would be a nightmare trying to write those requirements out.
 

Tinstaafl

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 15, 2003
Posts
188
Total Time
6900
Whilst there may be some language within the plain english versions of contracts that is reminiscent of 'old style' legalese, that doesn't negate the point. Plain english contracts are orders of magnitude easier to comprehend than legalese. Even words that may not be entirely familiar are more readily understood thanks to the familiar grammar & context.

A small example: Compare a contract that uses multiple instances of 'the party of the first part' & 'the party of the second part' verses one that first defines the terms & then uses 'Us' or 'We' & 'You' as replacements.
 
Last edited:
Top