Tools to advance aviation
safety and professionalism
Code of Conduct (Code of Conduct)
offers recommendations to advance
Code of Conduct presents a vision of excellence for aviators. Its principles
complement and underscore legal requirements.
The Code of Conduct is a model, not a standard. Users
should customize or otherwise revise the document—including title,
organization—to fit their
needs. See “Additional Resources” (below) for materials to help facilitate such
Code of Conduct will be most effective if users have a firm grasp of the
fundamentals of flight as well as a commitment to the pursuit of professionalism.
Code of Conduct has seven sections, each presenting Principles and Sample
General Responsibilities of
Passengers and People on the
Training and Proficiency
and Promotion of Aviation
The Sample Recommended Practices:
Recommended Practices are suggestions
for applying the principles of the Code of Conduct and tailoring them to
individuals and organizations. Sample Recommended Practices may be
reordered, modified or eliminated to satisfy the unique capabilities and
requirements of each pilot, mission, aircraft, organization, and flight
environment. They are not presented in any order of importance.
Instrument flight rule (IFR)-specific Sample Recommended Practices generally
on selected provisions of the Code of Conduct is published at <www.secureav.com>. The Commentary
discussion, interpretive guidance, and suggested ways to adopt the Code of
commentary on any provision does not imply greater importance of that
provision. Additional provisions will be added as the Commentary evolves.
Benefits of the Code of Conduct:
Code of Conduct benefits pilots and the aviation community by:
highlighting practices to support
safety and professionalism among aviators,
promoting improved pilot training,
airmanship, conduct, personal responsibility, and pilot contributions to the
aviation community and society at large,
encouraging the development and
adoption of good judgment and ethical behavior,
advancing self-regulation through
the aviation community as an alternative to government regulation,
supporting improved communications
between pilots, regulators, and others in the aviation industry, and
promoting aviation and making
flying a more rewarding and enjoyable experience.
Note: References to the United States Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) are used as examples. In all jurisdictions, applicable
laws and regulations must be followed.
Aviators Model Code of ConducT
Responsibilities of Aviators
safety the highest priority,
seek excellence in airmanship,
develop and exercise good judgment and sound
principles of aeronautical decision-making,
recognize and manage risks effectively, and use sound
principles of risk management,
maintain situational awareness, and adhere to prudent
operating practices and personal operating parameters (e.g., minimums),
aspire to professionalism,
act with responsibility and courtesy, and
adhere to applicable laws and regulations.
General Responsibilities serve as a preamble to the Code of Conduct’s other
Approach flying with seriousness and diligence,
recognizing that your life and the lives of your passengers and others
depend on you.
Never subject others to risks you would not
prudently take, and plan your flights accordingly.
Recognize that your conduct reflects upon the
entire aviation community.
Understand and comply with the privileges and
limitations of your certificates, licenses, and ratings, and ensure any
endorsements are correct and current.
Advance situational awareness based on sound
principles of airmanship, scenario-based instruction, and risk management.
Develop, use, periodically review, and refine
personal checklists and personal
minimums for all phases of flight. Review these materials regularly with
an experienced instructor or other trusted mentor.
Recognize, accept, and plan for the costs of
implementing proper safety practices.
Be aware of personal susceptibility to (and seek
to avoid or manage) distraction, fatigue, stress, and hazardous attitudes.
Make personal wellness and an honest evaluation
of your mental and physical fitness a precondition of each flight—for
example, by using the I’M SAFE (Illness, Medication, Stress,
Alcohol, Fatigue, Emotion) checklist.
Develop conservative personal operating
parameters reflecting experience, proficiency, and currency in challenging
conditions, including poor weather and night operations.
Establish conservative personal parameters for
the use of supplemental oxygen and an awareness of your personal
susceptibility to hypoxia. Consider use of a pulse oximeter. Use
supplemental oxygen on flights when required by rule or any time it may be
Adhere to applicable rules and operating
practices of your airport, flying club, school, FBO, flight center, or
aircraft rental provider.
Comply with or exceed applicable requirements for
Airworthiness Directives (ADs). Understand the benefits of complying with
recommended inspections and Service Bulletins (SBs).
Within the scope of your education, training, and
authority apply a Safety Management Systems (SMS) approach to safety
considering equipment, facilities, environment, mission, organization, and
Implement Crew Resource Management (CRM), and
Single Pilot Resource Management (SRM) techniques, or similar practices to
enhance a safety culture.
Recognize the increased risks associated with
flying at low altitude, in inclement weather, at night, in congested
areas, over water, and over rugged, mountainous or forested terrain.
See and be seen. Practice techniques for seeing
and avoiding other aircraft. Scan for traffic continuously. Do not
practice maneuvers in congested airspace. Enhance your visibility through
appropriate use of aircraft lights.
Listen and be heard. Monitor appropriate
frequencies to remain aware of other aircraft, and accurately inform other
pilots of your position and intentions.
Monitor and report. Identify safety and
compliance issues, and communicate them appropriately.
Maintain a sterile cockpit for taxi, takeoff,
landing, and other critical phases of flight.
Minimize turns and maneuvers below 500 feet AGL
except as required during takeoff and landing.
Never allow simulated emergencies to become
File a flight plan or communicate your intended
flight itinerary to ground personnel prior to departure, even when flying
Refuse to fly an aircraft that is not airworthy,
whether because of mechanical discrepancies, failure to meet inspection
requirements, or any other reason.
Operate rental aircraft as if you owned them, and
communicate all discrepancies effectively and promptly. Return aircraft in
an equal or better state of cleanliness than received.
Identify and adapt to changing flight conditions
based on sound principles of airmanship and risk management. Be prepared to alter your flight plan
accordingly or abort your flight.
Plan every flight carefully. Calculate weight and
balance, consider the effect of wind on fuel reserves and range, and
consider diversion alternatives. Remain aware of deteriorating
weather and other circumstances that may make continued flight unsafe.
Passengers and People on the Surface
passenger safety first and then reasonable passenger comfort,
risk and avoid unnecessary risk to passengers, to people and property on the
surface, and to people in other aircraft,
passengers on planned flight procedures and inform them of any significant or
unusual risk associated with the flight,
to prevent unsafe conduct by passengers, and
operations that may alarm, disturb, or endanger passengers or people on the
Pilots are responsible for the safety and comfort of
their passengers. Passengers place their lives in pilots’ hands, and pilots
should exercise sufficient care on their behalf. Such care includes, but is
not limited to, disclosing unusual risks, and exercising prudent risk
management. Pilot responsibility extends to people on the ground, and in other
Sample Recommended Practices:
your passengers as safe as possible, as though they were your closest
professionally towards your passengers.
safety margins by planning and flying conservatively.
that passengers wear seat belts and shoulder harnesses, and consider
providing hearing protection, such as intercom-equipped headsets.
disclose risks to each passenger, address their concerns or anxieties
regarding flight operations, and accept a prospective passenger’s decision
to refrain from participating.
a thorough passenger safety briefing for each flight (see Additional Resources below).
the flight experience, and concerns of each passenger. Incorporate this
knowledge into the safety briefing and flight operation.
Maintain insurance policies for adquate coverage of aircraft, crew and passengers, and understand and comply with all policy terms and limitations.
passengers to avoid touching or obstructing critical flight controls.
Brief and maintain a sterile cockpit during takeoffs, landings, and other
passengers to serve as safety resources—for example, by having them
identify nearby aircraft, organize charts, and keep track of landmarks.
unfamiliar passengers for potential safety and security problems.
that passenger safety begins on the ramp before ever entering the
aircraft. Watch passengers closely and keep them clear of hazards (e.g.,
fuel trucks, propellers, slippery surfaces).
with passengers on board only when authorized and appropriate, and when
the operation can be safely conducted
Training and Proficiency
participate in regular recurrent training to maintain
and improve proficiency beyond legal requirements,
participate in flight safety education programs,
remain vigilant and avoid complacency,
train to recognize and deal effectively with
prepare for and review each lesson carefully, and
maintain an accurate log to satisfy training and
Training and proficiency underlie aviation safety.
Recurrent training is a primary component of proficiency and should include both
air and ground training. Each contributes significantly to flight safety and
neither can substitute for the other. To be most effective, training must often
exceed legal requirements.
Sample Recommended Practices:
a rigorous, lifelong course of aviation study.
a training plan that will yield new ratings, certificates, and
and follow a training regimen that incorporates the assessment of your
progress, ensures your flight instructor or mentor communicates such
assessment to you, and provides opportunity for your input.
constructive criticism from your fellow aviators and provide the same when
appropriate use of the aircraft flight manual to determine your aircraft’s
limitations, calculate performance, plan flights, properly secure cargo,
determine fuel requirements, and calculate weight and balance.
decision-making and risk-management skills. Integrate stick-and-rudder and
and appreciate your roles and responsibilities as pilot in command,
including declaring an emergency when appropriate.
for flight over challenging environments such as water or remote, desert,
or mountainous terrain.
for survival, and carry adequate survival equipment, apparel, and drinking
the unique risks and need for vigilance in taxi and runway operations.
a practical understanding of the mechanics and systems of each aircraft
and use appropriate procedures in the event of system malfunctions (e.g.,
electrical failure, lost communications, instrument problems).
and maintain proficiency in the operation of avionics and automation.
current aviation regulations and understand their implications and intent.
aviation training programs offered by industry and government.
in the FAA Pilot Proficiency Program (“WINGS”).
current with diverse and relevant aviation publications.
a systematic approach to obtaining timely weather briefings and evaluating
adequate training before flying an unfamiliar aircraft, or with unfamiliar
systems, even if you have flown that type in the past.
type clubs or support organizations for the aircraft you fly to learn more
about their capabilities, limitations, and safe operation.
a periodic review of recent accidents and incidents, focusing on probable
demonstrate mastery of applicable practical test standards (PTS), and
train to exceed PTS minimums.
practicing training maneuvers in busy airspace or over congested areas,
and employ a safe altitude in the practice area.
currency that exceeds minimum regulatory requirements.
maintaining a log to track errors and lessons learned on each flight.
at <www.faasafety.gov> to receive announcements of safety meetings
and literature, and to review appropriate safety courses.
often enough to maintain proficiency in day, night, VFR, and IFR
conditions, consistent with your ratings.
the equivalent of a Flight Review annually, and, if instrument rated,
complete an instrument proficiency check (IPC) every six months.
instrument rated, practice partial panel skills at least every three
to maintain the security of all persons and property associated with their
vigilant and immediately report suspicious, reckless, or illegal activities,
familiar with the latest security regulations, and
special-use airspace except when approved or necessary in an emergency.
Enhanced security awareness is essential to the safety
and viability of the aviation community. Threats to security demand effective
responses. This section addresses the pilot’s essential role in promoting
national security and preventing criminal acts.
Check NOTAMS, including Temporary
Flight Restrictions (TFRs) thoroughly during preflight preparation, and obtain
updates during long flights, with an emphasis on airspace restrictions.
Periodically review military
intercept procedures. Monitor 121.5 MHz when practicable.
Always use a transponder with
altitude encoding if equipped and operable unless otherwise authorized or
directed by ATC.
Report suspicious behavior and
other security concerns to the appropriate authorities.
Secure your aircraft if it will be
unattended. Use additional or enhanced locks or other anti-theft mechanisms to
secure all aircraft, as appropriate.
Query passengers regarding
hazardous materials, weapons, and ammunition in their luggage or on their
Confirm that ramp access gates are
closed securely behind you to prevent “tailgating” by unauthorized persons.
Challenge and report
irregularities, including unauthorized or suspicious persons.
Become familiar with the means to
report and deter suspicious activities, such as the General Aviation Secure
(866-GA-SECURE / 866-427-3287).
Complete required security
Do not deviate from an active
flight plan (IFR or VFR) or clearance without notifying the appropriate air
To help avoid special use
airspace, use ATC radar advisories, or consider flying IFR (if rated and
equipped), whenever practicable.
V. Environmental Issues
and seek to mitigate the environmental impact of aircraft operations,
the discharge of fuel, oil, and other chemicals into the environment during
refueling, preflight preparations, servicing, and flight operations,
and protect environmentally sensitive areas,
with applicable noise-abatement procedures and mitigate aircraft noise near
noise-sensitive areas, and
and adhere to prudent hazardous
materials handling procedures.
Environmental issues can hamper operations, increase
regulatory burdens, and close airports. Reducing pollution caused by aviation
will reduce health problems, environmental impact, and unfavorable public
Adopt environmentally sound and
legally compliant procedures for fuel sampling, defueling, and disposing of
Learn and adopt environmentally
responsible methods for all aspects of aircraft care, especially degreasing,
de-icing, and handling run-off.
Adhere to applicable noise
abatement procedures, provided safety is maintained.
If practicable, fly well above or
avoid noise-sensitive areas.
Consider the impact of aircraft on
wildlife, and conform to recommended practices (such as National Park Service
minimum altitudes) when flying near wilderness and other environmentally
Be aware of the noise signature of
your aircraft, and follow procedures to reduce noise such as reducing engine
power and/or propeller RPM, as soon as practicable after takeoff.
Install noise-reducing equipment
such as quieter props and exhaust systems, if practicable.
Patronize service providers (such
as FBOs, repair services, and aircraft cleaners) that adhere to environmentally
VI. Use of
familiar with and properly use appropriate technologies,
applicable airport advisory frequencies and report position accurately when
approaching airports without an operating control tower and other higher-risk
areas, if radio-equipped,
transponders or other position-indicating technologies during flight
operations, if available or otherwise directed by ATC, and use ATC radar
advisories for VFR enroute operations,
redundant transceivers and navigational equipment and use them in appropriate
flight simulators and training devices as available and appropriate.
Innovative, compact, and inexpensive technologies have
greatly expanded the capabilities of aircraft. This section encourages the use
and promotion of such safety-enhancing technologies.
practicable, invest in new technologies that advance flight safety. Learn and understand the features, limitations,
and proper use of such technologies.
practicable, use an electronic means to confirm identification of your
landing runway and provide vertical guidance (e.g., monitor a precision
approach) even under VFR.
keeping back-up and redundant communication/navigation devices accessible in
flight, including extra batteries or a back-up power supply.
and maintain avionics and flight instruments to keep them operational,
current, and approved for the intended flight.
use of a personal locator beacon.
inoperative navigation aids and areas of poor radio/signal coverage to the
basic flying and navigating skills to enhance safety in the event of failure or absence of advanced
instrument displays or automation.
flying in or near moderate or higher weather radar returns, especially when thunderstorms are present or
forecast. Seek frequent ATC or AFSS weather updates.
the use of flight tracking or flight data monitoring technologies.
flight simulators, training devices, or web-based tools as appropriate.
installing enhanced occupant restraints.
with an autopilot or a qualified second pilot if practicable when flying
in IMC and/or at night.
manage autoflight systems. Understand that programming avionics may cause
distractions and that distractions may lead to errors, particularly during
taxi and other critical phases of flight.
with attitude-indicator (AI) system redundancy if practicable, and
maintain partial-panel proficiency in IMC. Learn recovery techniques from instrument failure in IMC.
Advancement and Promotion of Aviation
advance and promote aviation safety and adherence to
the Code of Conduct,
volunteer in and contribute to organizations that
promote aviation, and use their skills to contribute to society at large—and
encourage other pilots to do so as well,
demonstrate appreciation for aviation professionals
and service providers,
advance an aviation culture that values openness,
humility, positive attitudes, and the pursuit of personal improvement,
promote ethical behavior within the aviation community,
mentor new and future pilots.
Vigilance and responsive action are essential to
ensure aviation vitality and to enhance the aviation community.
Strive to adopt the Code of Conduct.
Recognize a moral responsibility to promote
safety among your fellow pilots.
Serve as an aviation ambassador to the
public by providing accurate information and refuting misinformation
concerning aviation activities, and by encouraging potential student
Volunteer in support of aviation.
Make charitable use of your aviation resources (e.g.,
by transporting persons seeking medical care or donating flight time to
youth and environmental programs).
Consider volunteering for Civil Air Patrol or
Coast Guard Auxiliary as a way to give back to the community.
Express appreciation to controllers and service
personnel for their valuable assistance.
Participate in aviation-related fundraising
Adhere to the highest ethical principles in all
aviation dealings, including business practices.
to resolve disputes quickly and informally.
Flight Service Station
Above Ground Level
Crew Resource Management
Instrument Flight Rules
Instrument Landing System
Instrument Proficiency Check
Mean Sea Level
Practical Test Standards
Safety Management System
Single Pilot Resource Management
Temporary Flight Restriction
Visual Flight Rules
[insert your organization’s Code of Conduct] is a customized version of
the Aviators Model Code of Conduct
created by Michael S. Baum. ©2003-2012 Michael S. Baum. All Rights Reserved.
and the aviation community may use the Code of Conduct as a resource for code
of conduct development, although it is recommended that this be supported by
independent research on the suitability of its principles for specific or local
applications and situations. It is not intended to provide legal advice and
must not be relied upon as such.
Edits, Errata, Comments
Aviators Model Code of Conduct is
a living document, intended to be updated periodically to reflect changes in
aviation practices and the aviation environment. Please send your suggestions, edits,
errata, questions and comments to: <PEB@secureav.com>.
Aviators Model Code of Conduct
has had the benefit of extensive editorial comment and suggestions by a diverse
body of the aviation community, and beyond. See “Acknowledgments” at <http://www.secureav.com/ack.pdf>. The Permanent Editorial Board of the Code of
Conduct is presented at <http://secureav.com/PEB.pdf>.
QR Code points to <www.secureav.com>, the Code of Conduct website: