June 11, 1980

Mr. Ross Nye
Flight Safety International
Greater Wilmington Airport
Wilmington, Delaware 19850

Dear Mr. Nye:

This letter is in response to your letter of March 25, 1980, requesting a legal opinion concerning whether, for purposes of FAR section 91.71, steep turns (45 degrees - 60 degrees angle of bank), approaches to stalls, stalls, unusual attitude for the purpose of demonstrating recovery procedures with angles of pitch not to exceed 30 degrees and angles of bank not to exceed 60 degrees, and emergency descents with angles of pitch not to exceed 30 degrees constitute acrobatic flight when performed during the course of initial pilot training or pilot proficiency training.

Intentionally executing a maneuver in an aircraft that exceeds 60 degrees of bank relative to the horizon or 30 degrees nose-up or nose-down relative to the horizon is not the standard by which acrobatic flight is defined for purposes of FAR Section 91.71, as recognized by the Preamble to Amendment 91-65 to Title 15 of the Code of Federal Regulations (FAR Part 91). FAR Section 91.71 defines "acrobatic flight" as follows:

"For the purposes of this section, acrobatic flight means an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft's attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight."

This opinion is limited to the maneuvers described in the first paragraph of this letter, when those maneuvers are smoothly executed, and, therefore, do not involve an abrupt change in an aircraft's attitude.

The above-referenced maneuvers do not fall into any category involving "an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight" because the attitudes and accelerations involved are incident to and necessary for normal training flights and training flights are in fact normal flights. The maneuvers at issue do not constitute acrobatic flight for the purpose of FAR Section 91.71.

Due to the fact that the above-referenced maneuvers do not constitute acrobatic flight, they may be performed on a Federal Airway when operating on an IFR clearance if the proper ATC clearance is received by the aircraft performing those maneuvers. As a good operating practice, ATC should be advised of the type of training maneuvers to be performed under those circumstances.


Edward P. Faberman
Acting Assistant Chief Counsel
Regulations & Enforcement Division