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5 Answers

Weight & Balance Data

Asked by: 3763 views FAA Regulations

We all know the ARROW acronym for required aircraft documents.  The W stands for weight and balance.  But what is the reference--regulation or otherwise--that requires a document related to weight and balanc to be onboard the plane?

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5 Answers

  1. Brent on Oct 25, 2012

    The way my DPE explained it to me, the acronym should really be ARO, as the operating limitations (AFM) would generally include the weight and balance information such as max gross, CG limits.

    Also, no second R, since we don’t need a radio license to operate domestically.

    I found this page that goes into the regulations behind each part of ARROW, though I can’t vouch for its correctness:


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  2. Steve Butler on Oct 25, 2012

    Any time equipment is added or removed from an aircraft, the basic empty weight and arm will change. It is my interpretation that this as well as the information in the AFM constitutes the “W” in ARROW.

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  3. Kris Kortokrax on Oct 25, 2012

    There was quite a discussion on this website a while ago.

    See the question “Revisiting the W in ARROW”. The link is found on the Home page of this website.

    Probably no reason to rehash the discussion.

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  4. Sam Dawson on Oct 26, 2012

    Here is the link Kris is referring to:


    I would add that this link refers to 91.9 that states:

    “91.9 Civil aircraft flight manual, marking, and placard requirements.
    (a) Except as provided in paragraph (d) of this section, no person may operate a civil aircraft without complying with the operating limitations specified in the approved Airplane or Rotorcraft Flight Manual, markings, and placards, or as otherwise prescribed by the certificating authority of the country of registry.”

    Many pilots read this to mean that an airplane must have an Aircraft Flight Manual. One problem- Aircraft Flight Manuals did not come into existence as a requirement until 1979 I believe though chapter 8 of the Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge refers to 1975. There is no such thing as an AFM for a 1941 J-3 Cub. I’ve flown some older airplanes built in the 1930s that did not have a manual at all. That is where the part of this that reads “markings, and placards, or as otherwise prescribed…” comes into play.

    So back to weight and balance. FAR 23 “Airworthiness Standards: Normal, Utility, Aerobatic, and Commuter Category Airplanes” is the regulation that covers certification of the GA airplanes you will probably be flying aside from LSA. Within FAR 23 is FAR 23.1589 which states:

    “23.1589 Loading information.
    The following loading information must be furnished:

    (a) The weight and location of each item of equipment that can be easily removed, relocated, or replaced and that is installed when the airplane was weighed under the requirement of § 23.25.

    (b) Appropriate loading instructions for each possible loading condition between the maximum and minimum weights established under § 23.25, to facilitate the center of gravity remaining within the limits established under § 23.23.”

    What’s that you say? No copy of FAR 23 in your FAR/AIM?? That is another reason you should probably not rely on a paper version- along with the fact that it is out of date the moment you purchase it.
    So the airplane must come from the factory with a W&B furnished in the AFM. Once delivered it is the owner’s responsibility to keep the W&B up to date. From FAA 8083-1A, Aircraft Weight and Balance Handbook:
    “After the aircraft leaves the factory and is delivered to its owner, the need or requirement for placing the aircraft on scales and reweighing it varies depending on the type of aircraft and how it is used. For a small general aviation airplane being used privately, such as a Cessna 172, there is no FAA requirement that it be periodically reweighed. There is, however, an FAA requirement that the airplane always have a current and accurate weight and balance report. If the weight and balance report for an aircraft is lost, the aircraft must
    be weighed and a new report must be created. If the airplane has new equipment installed, such as a radio or a global positioning system, a new weight and balance report must be created.”

    Now the tricky part of this is that really old airplane. Like I said, you won’t find much for many old airplanes. That is where 91.103 comes to play. Basically, if something happens and you as a pilot did not ensure compliance with 91.103 you are in trouble.

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  5. Kris Kortokrax on Oct 29, 2012

    No, this is the link I was referring to.


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