Monday, December 10, 2007

FAA History Lesson -- December 10

From the FAA Historical Chronology, 1926-1996...

”Dec 10, 1964: The Airman's Information Manual (AIM) replaced three basic FAA flight information publications: the Airman's Guide (see Apr 1946), the Directory of Airports and Seaplane Bases, and the Flight Information Manual. The AIM was divided into five sections that were revised either monthly, quarterly, or semiannually. In 1978, Parts 2 and 3 were discontinued as parts of the AIM and were published as the Airport/Facility Directory. Parts 3A and 4 were also separated from the AIM and published under the title Notices to Airmen. The Part 1 data, concerning basic flight information and air traffic control procedures, continued to be issued as the AIM. On Jul 20, 1995, the AIM’s title was changed to Aeronautical Information Manual. “

Anyone who has ever read my columns on AVweb knows that the AIM is my favorite FAA publication. Some might consider that odd, in that I’m not a pilot. But if you were paying attention you’ll remember I told you the FAA has an incredibly hard time trying to follow its own rules.

The quickest way for me to determine if there actually was a rule (about any particular problem) was usually the AIM. That will probably need a little explanation.

The general theory is that all FAA publications and rules must agree with each other. The controller’s handbook -- FAA 7110.65 -- must agree with the AIM. The AIM must agree with the Federal Air Regulations (FARs). The FARs must agree with the 7110.65, Air Traffic Bulletins, 7110.10 (FSS), 7210.3 (Facility Operations), ad nauseum.

Most of these are highly technical publications -- except the AIM. The AIM is written for as general an audience as you will find in aviation. Therefore, it is generally much easier to search through and find what you are looking for in the AIM. If you do find it in the AIM, you can be assured that it will be in another FAA publication and the all important one -- the FARs.

For instance: I’ve been doing some research on wake turbulence lately. I was a Center controller (as opposed to a Tower or Approach controller) so I’m not real familiar with the separation requirements. It’s much easier to go to the AIM and search than it is to search through a whole book (the 7110.65) about ATC. It’s usually easier to read also. But the main point is that they should agree.

7-3-9. Air Traffic Wake Turbulence Separations
(a) Heavy jet behind heavy jet-4 miles.

FAA 7110.65
Section 5. Radar Separation
5-5-4. MINIMA, e,
1. Heavy behind heavy- 4 miles.

You’d be surprised how useful it can be -- knowing the rules better than the people in charge of enforcing the rules.

Don Brown
December 10, 2007

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