91 CFR 113(g) Right-of-Way Landing.
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Answered By AOPA

I'm an experienced CFI and I have discussed this question with many other CFIs and we are split on the correct answer. I wanted to know if there is an FAA official legal interpretation. The question is if an airplane on final has right-of-way over an airplane on base. Side (1) references the first line of (g) “Aircraft, while on final approach to land or while landing, have the right-of-way over other aircraft in flight…”. Side (2) references the second line of (g) which says “..the aircraft at the lower altitude has the right-of-way”.  The bottom line difference is if you read the second line as lesser then the first line.  That is, is the second line read as “if neither aircraft is on final then…” or is it just as important as the first or in fact more relevant because it is explicitly is about “when two or more aircraft are approaching an airport for the purpose of landing..”  I honestly believe either interpretation could be valid and the rule is vague.  There is AC 90-66, but I personally don't feel like any of the lines in that AC are clear enough to settle the debate.  So is there an official interpretation on this? What does AOPA legal say? Help us teach our students correctly! Thanks!

4 Replies
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AOPA Staff Answer

I could not find any Letters of Interpretation for this regulation, that cover this situation. My reading of the regulation is that the lower aircraft portion of the rule specifically states that it isn't to be used to take advantage of aircraft on final. This makes me believe that the aircraft on final ultimately has the right of way regardless, since the regulation states they have right-of-way over other aircraft in flight or operating on the surface. 

That being said, I agree with Steven, if there's any confusion try to work it out on the radio. If isn't going to happen, just yield to the other aircraft. AOPA's Pilot Protection Services team “legal team” doesn't answer questions on here. I do see that you have legal services. You can give them a call at 1-800-872-2672 and make selection #4 when prompted to speak to them, or shoot them an email at lsp@aopa.org. 

Sorry I can't offer anything other than just another CFI's opinion, but your question is a very valid one. If nothing else it's a good premise to create scenarios you can present to students to help build their ADM. Illustrating that there are regulations that are ambiguous and safety of flight is the primary concern. Even in situations where the regulations are clear they may have to give way to someone who's “understanding” is different. 

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Don't forget to include the left/right rule!

As for me, if we couldn't work things out on the radio, I'd yield to the other aircraft.

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Looks like Ron Levy posted a separate response to your question here; 

 

Looks like a well presented answer and is worth checking out for sure.

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1407 Posts

Hoss At AOPA: 
 

I could not find any Letters of Interpretation for this regulation, that cover this situation.

See Administrator v. Fekete.  In addition, interpretations advanced in the course of an enforcement action are controlling, even if they weren't advanced prior to the action.  See Garvey v. NTSB.

 My reading of the regulation is that the lower aircraft portion of the rule specifically states that it isn't to be used to take advantage of aircraft on final. This makes me believe that the aircraft on final ultimately has the right of way regardless, since the regulation states they have right-of-way over other aircraft in flight or operating on the surface. 

Exactly.