Required VFR Day and Night Instruments for Aircraft

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!

Enjoy this post? Stay in touch!



  • dtdauburn

    What Constitutes “anticollision lights”? Is it Strobes or the beacon or both?

    Thanks,
    Dustin

  • Anonymous

    Red and Green Nav Lights

    Good Question

    Jason

  • brad

    awesome site thnx for the refresher!

  • Skyslicer

    Please read 91.205b(11) again. Day VFR anti-collision lights are required on airplanes (not aircraft) certificated after Mar 11, 1996. Aircraft including at least gliders, balloons, experimental, E-LSA, and Part 103 flown in day VFR have not anti-collision lighting requirements.

  • Skyslicer

    Please read 91.205b(11) again. Day VFR anti-collision lights are required on airplanes (not aircraft) certificated after Mar 11, 1996. Aircraft including at least gliders, balloons, experimental, E-LSA, and Part 103 flown in day VFR have not anti-collision lighting requirements.

  • Skyslicer

    Please read 91.205b(11) again. Day VFR anti-collision lights are required on airplanes (not aircraft) certificated after Mar 11, 1996. Aircraft including at least gliders, balloons, experimental, E-LSA, and Part 103 flown in day VFR have not anti-collision lighting requirements.

  • Love the acronym!  What’s the one that you use for IFR?

  • Actually Jason, the Nav lights are the “Position Lights”, as well as the white light on the rear of the Vertical Stabilizer – The position lights consist of an
    Aviation Red on the left side, an Aviation Green on the right and an
    Aviation White taillight (REF. FAR 23.1389). Other than that, good stuff man!

  • Hey Jason, Ive been trying to contact you with no luck. I am in the tampa area and almost ready for my checkride. Let me know How I can schedule with you and go up … [email protected]

  • Hey Jason, Ive been trying to contact you with no luck. I am in the tampa area and almost ready for my checkride. Let me know How I can schedule with you and go up … [email protected]

  • don

    do you need a vor in the airplane?

  • ScottJ

    Great post! Thank you. Personally, I remember things better by categories rather than by acronyms. In my mind, this equipment divides into those related to the propulsion system (fuel quantity, engine temp, engine speed, etc.), aircraft position and direction (altimeter, airspeed, compass), and safety (ELT, seatbelts, gear indicator, lights). It’s easier for me to remember 3 groups of 3-5 things each than a rote list of 13 items. It also helps connect my brain to the “why” behind the “what”.

    Does this approach work for anyone else? I’m curious to hear your thoughts as an instructor about learning and memorization styles.

  • Terence Verma

    Any NEMONICS for IFR instrument reqmnts?

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