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3 Answers

Minimum altitude 91.515 vs 91.119

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FAA Regulations

Reading my FAR/AIM tonight, and I got to 91.515.  It states that "Notwithstanding $91.119...no person may operate an airplane under VFR at less than (1) One thousand feet above the surface[comma], or 1,000 feet from any mountain, hill......"

I am very familiar with part $91.119 which states that in sparsely populated areas or over open water you can go all the way down to the surface if you like, as long as you are not with 500 ft of a structure, person, boat etc.

The key word in 91.515 is "notwithstanding". I looked it up in the dictionary, just to make sure I had a correct understanding of the word.  The dictionary defines it as "in spite of".  That being the case 91.515 could read "In spite of 91.119.... no person may operate an airplane under VFR at less than 1000 ft. above the surface[comma], ...." .   

Definition of notwithstanding here

This definition, combined with the location of a comma after the word "surface" in 91.515, would seem to indicate that 1000ft AGL is the absolute minimum except during takeoff and landing.  Everyone seem to quote 91.119 when talking about minimum altitudes and 91.515 is rarely mentioned. 

I would like to know if these sections conflict with each other.  If they do not, please explain which one takes precedence, and why.  I am sure I am missing something in the verbiage here.

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3 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    Kris Kortokrax on Oct 30, 2014


    You need to read 91.501. It states that Subpart F only pertains to large airplanes (over 12,500) turbojet-powered multiengine civil airplanes of U.S. registry and fractional (91K).

    91.515 does not apply to your small training aircraft.

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  2. Sans on Oct 30, 2014

    91.501 is applicable ONLY to: Large AND turbine-powered multiengine airplanes and fractional program aircraft. If you are flying under 91.501, then your VFR min altitude is 91.515 NOT 91.119

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  3. Jordan Cobb on Oct 30, 2014

    Thanks to both of you. I missed that section. Makes sense now.

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