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Airplane Flight Manuals (AFM) (Part One)

in Flight Manuals and Documents

Flight manuals and operating handbooks are concise reference books that provide specific information about a particular aircraft or subject. They contain basic facts, information, and/or instructions for the pilot about the operation of an aircraft, flying techniques, etc., and are intended to be kept at hand for ready reference.

The aircraft owner/information manual is a document developed by the manufacturer and contains general information about the make and model of aircraft. The manual is not pproved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and is not specific to an individual aircraft. The manual provides general information about the operation of an aircraft, is not kept current, and cannot be substituted for the AFM/POH.

An AFM is a document developed by the manufacturer and approved by the FAA. This book contains the information and instructions required to operate an aircraft safely. A pilot must comply with this information which is specific to a particular make and model aircraft, usually by serial number. An AFM contains the operating procedures and limitations of that aircraft. Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 91 requires that pilots comply with the operating limitations specified in the approved flight manuals, markings, and placards.

Originally, flight manuals followed whatever format and content the manufacturer felt was appropriate, but this changed with the acceptance of Specification No. 1 prepared by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). Specification No. 1 established a standardized format for all general aviation airplane and helicopter flight manuals.

The POH is a document developed by the aircraft manufacturer and contains FAA approved AFM information. If “POH” is used in the main title, a statement must be included on the title page indicating that sections of the document are FAA approved as the AFM.

The POH for most light aircraft built after 1975 is also designated as the FAA-approved flight manual. The typical AFM/POH contains the following nine sections: General; Limitations; Emergency Procedures; Normal Procedures; Performance; Weight and Balance/Equipment List; Systems Description; Handling, Service, and Maintenance; and Supplements. Manufacturers also have the option of including additional sections, such as one on Safety and Operational Tips or an alphabetical index at the end of the POH.


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