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Required VFR Day and Night Instruments for Aircraft

by Jason Schappert

If you were to tab/highlight/underline any regulation in the entire FAR/AIM it would have to be 91.205.

It is the one regulation I see come up most frequently on checkrides, flight reviews, etc…

How the heck am I going to remember all of that?

I can’t think of another profession that has grown so fond of acronyms, so why stop here.

To help remember 91.205(b) (VFR Day Instrument Requirements) we’ll use A TOMATO FLAMES. Once filled out it looks something like this

A – airspeed indicator
T – tachometer (for each engine)
O – oil pressure gauge (for each engine using a pressure system)
M – manifold pressure gauge (for each altitude engine)
A – altimeter
T – temperature gauge (for each liquid cooled engine)
O – oil temperature gauge (for each air cooled engine)
F – fuel gauge
L – landing gear position indicator
A – anti collision lights (for aircraft certified after March 11th 1996)
M – magnetic compass
E – ELT
S – safety belts

Kind of a mouth full. A common question I usually get from my students is “but we don’t have a manifold pressure gauge or a landing gear position indicator, how can we still fly and not break the regs?”

Answer: If our aircraft is not equipped for such ie: fixed gear or normally aspirated engine, those (the manifold gauge and gear indicator) would not be required.

VFR Night Requirements

Requirements for VFR Night flight can be found in 91.205(c)

They include the above mentioned A TOMATO FLAMES plus FLAPS

F – fuses (one complete spare set)
L – landing light (only if you are flying for hire)
A – anti collision lights*
P – position lights
S – source of electricity (alternator, generator)

This part can get a bit confusing. First off just like above you only need it if your aircraft is equipped for it. For example if your airplane has circuit breakers there’s no need to have fuses.

Notice that anti collision lights have come up twice: once for day and once for night. It’s the dates that come into play here. For day if your aircraft was registered after March 11th 1996 they would be required all the time. Yet for night they are required for all aircraft registered after August 11th 1971. So my little 1975 150M would be required to have anti collision lights for night flight, but not for day.

91.205 is a wealth of information not just for VFR but also IFR. You can find all IFR instrument requirements in subpart (D). I also have a neat acronym to help remember those. If you’re interested shoot me an
email
or drop a comment below.

Happy Flying!


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