John writes asking about the W in the A.R.R.O.W. acronym:
With regards to the acronym “ARROW” for required documents: Where in the FARs is the specific requirement for the “W”? I realize the requirement would be indirectly there because of the requirement for the AFM. But the acronym would be rather lengthy if we listed all the required components of the AFM.
If you’re reading this post, and haven’t started flying yet, here is something you should know about aviation: we have a acronym and mnemonic for EVERYTHING. Especially when it comes to remembering lengthy regulations. In this case, ARROW is the acronym used to help remember the required basic documents and paperwork that must be on board every airplane to be legal. To review:
A – Airworthiness Certificate
R – Registration
R – Radio Station License (not required in the U.S.)
O – Pilot Operating Handbook (specifically the Operating Limitations)
W – Weight and Balance
John’s question is simply, “Can you show me in the regs where it says we need the W?” Sure John, I’d be happy to help. I do want to point out though that acronymns and mnemonics are not officially recognized. They are not endorsed by the FAA. We use them in the training community simply as a memory aid and device. Maybe sometime, a long time ago, some instructor decided that “ARO” wasn’t as easy to remember as “ARROW”.
There are actually a couple of places where we can find this requirement though. The most common one most instructors point to is…
1) FAR 91.103 – Preflight Action.
This regulation details the information that pilots are supposed to become familiar with before each and every flight. Of course, we have another mnemonic (RAWFAT) to help us remember the these requirements:
(I have place an asterisk by the ones that are only required for flights not in the immediate vicinity of the airport)
R- Runway lengths (every flight)
A – Alternates *
W – Weather *
F- Fuel requirements *
A – ATC delays *
T- Takeoff/landing distance data (every flight)
Let’s look at the last one – T. If you are required to know your takeoff / landing distance data for each and every flight, it is somewhat implied that you are going to have to know your weight and balance as your performance will vary, obviously, with changes in the aircraft’s gross weight. In fact, 91.103(b)(2) states that if for some reason you are flying an older airplane, for which there is not the standard takeoff and landing data tables than:
(2) For civil aircraft other than those specified in paragraph (b)(1) of this section, other reliable information appropriate to the aircraft, relating to aircraft performance under expected values of airport elevation and runway slope, aircraft gross weight, and wind and temperature.
2) FAR 91.9 – Civil aircraft flight manual, marking, and placard requirements.
This regulation states pretty clearly that yes, we need an approved airplane flight manual but also:
..no person may operate a civil aircraft without complying with the operating limitations specified in the approved Airplane or Rotorcraft Flight Manual…
In every limitation section of a Airplane Flight Manual (or POH) you will find a section detailing not only the max. and min. weight limits but also the center of gravity limits. So again, this implies that if you are required to operate within these limitations than you will have to complete a weight-and-balance calculation prior to every flight.
3) FAR 43.5 – Approval for return to service after maintenance, preventive maintenance, rebuilding, or alteration.
This regulation states that if any major repair work has been done on your airplane and that repair work results in a change or alteration of the limitations of the airplane. That information must be entered in the airplane flight manual (AFM). That is why you see all those updated weight and balance forms in the aircraft’s AFM. It’s required.
I hope this has helped answer your question about why the “W” is in “ARROW”.