Pilot in command

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PILOT IN COMMAND- The pilot responsible for the operation and safety of an aircraft during flight time.

(Refer to 14 CFR Part 91.)

Further

The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.

The Pilot in Command (PIC) is a function of a member of an aircraft crew that is referenced numerous times in the Federal Aviation Regulations.

  • FAR §91.3 defines the responsibility and authority of the pilot in command of an aircraft.
  • Several FARs give the PIC the responsibility of policing the activities of others onboard the aircraft: §91.21, §91.525.
  • FARs §91.107, §91.183, §91.519 make additional demands of the PIC.
  • FAR §61.57 specifies currency requirements to serve as pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers.
  • FAR §61.113 specifies Private pilot privileges and limitations: Pilot in command
  • AIM sections 5-5-1b and 6-1-1 reiterate the PIC's responsibility and authority.

Logging PIC Time

The FAA's General Counsel's Office's has clarified the distinction between serving as PIC and logging PIC time:

There is a difference between serving as PIC and logging PIC time. PIC, as defined in FAR 1.1, means the pilot responsible for the operation and safety of an aircraft during flight time. FAR 61.51 deals with logging PIC flight time, and it provides that a private or commercial pilot may log as PIC time only that flight time during which he is the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft for which he is rated, or when he is the sole occupant of the aircraft, or when he acts as PIC of an aircraft on which more than one pilot is required under the type certification of the aircraft, or the regulations under which the flight is conducted. It is important to note that FAR 61.51 only regulates the recording of PIC time used to meet the requirements toward a higher certificate, higher rating, or for recent flight experience.
Therefore, while it is not possible for two pilots to act as PIC simultaneously, it is possible for two pilots to log PIC flight time simultaneously. PIC flight time may be logged by both the PIC responsible for the operation and safety of the aircraft during flight time in accordance with FAR 1.1, and by the pilot who acts as the sole manipulator of the controls of the aircraft for which the pilot is rated under FAR 61.51.