The pilot in command (PIC) of an aircraft is the person aboard the aircraft who is ultimately responsible for its operation and safety during flight. This would be the captain in a typical two- or three-pilot aircrew, or “pilot” if there is only one certificated and qualified pilot at the controls of an aircraft. The PIC must be legally certificated (or otherwise authorized) to operate the aircraft for the specific flight and flight conditions, but need not be actually manipulating the controls at any given moment. The PIC is the person legally in charge of the aircraft and its flight safety and operation, and would normally be the primary person liable for an infraction of any flight rule.
In an airplane, the pilot- in-command takes the left-hand position except in the case of instructional flight, during which the right-wing instructor is then the captain.
The captain takes all the responsibilities of the aircraft, in case of concern, the boss remains the captain. The aeronautical writing to designate a captain is CBD.
In the cockpit, apart from the captain, there may be the first officer, the second officer, the navigator and the on-board mechanic. The captain is sitting on the left side.
Rights and Obligations
The commander of the aircraft is responsible for making all decisions at any stage of the flight.
The commander of an aircraft has the right:
make final decisions on takeoff, flight and landing of the aircraft, as well as on the termination of the flight and return to the airfield or on a forced landing in the event of a clear threat to the safety of the flight of an aircraft in order to save lives, prevent damage to the environment;
in order to ensure the safety of the flight of an aircraft, to give orders to any person on board the aircraft and to demand their execution;
make decisions on the discharge of fuel in flight, the discharge of luggage, cargo and mail, if necessary to ensure the safety of the flight of the aircraft and its landing;
take other measures to ensure the safe completion of the flight of the aircraft.
If the duration of the flight is long, several commanders may be on board the aircraft, however, the same commander must take off and land. The second FAC replaces the main one only on the middle part of the flight.
Regardless of the availability of information sources, the recommendations of the Air Traffic Management Service Manager and other crew members, the FAC is solely responsible for any decision. PIC takes such important decisions as interruption of take-off, missed approach, landing in adverse weather conditions, etc.
Differences between functions and names
The strict legal definition of PIC may vary slightly from country to country. The International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations agency, definition is: “The pilot responsible for the operation and safety of the aircraft during flight time.” Flight time for airplanes is defined by the U.S. FAA as “Pilot time that commences when an aircraft moves under its own power for the purpose of flight and ends when the aircraft comes to rest after landing.” This would normally include taxiing, which involves the ground operation to and from the runway, as long as the taxiing is carried out with the intention of flying the aircraft.
In English-speaking countries, the aircraft commander by analogy with maritime affairs called Captain (Eng. Captain), and a second pilot (on the Russian terminology) is the first assistant (Eng. First officer).
In the state aviation of the Russian Federation, the commander of an aircraft is called the commander of a crew (aircraft) – for aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of less than 43 tons, the commander of a ship (KK) for aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of more than 43 tons. The second pilot is an assistant to the commander of the crew – SCE (ship – PKK).
The U.S. CFR Title 14, Part 1, Section 1.1 defines “pilot in command” as:
…the person who:
Has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight;
Has been designated as pilot in command before or during the flight; and
Holds the appropriate category, class, and type rating, if appropriate, for the conduct of the flight.
U.S. FAA and ICAO pilot in command regulations
Serving as pilot in command
Under U.S. FAA FAR 91.3, “Responsibility and authority of the pilot in command”, the FAA declares:
The pilot in command of an aircraft is directly responsible for, and is the final authority as to, the operation of that aircraft.
In an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action, the pilot in command may deviate from any rule of this part to the extent required to meet that emergency.
Each pilot in command who deviates from a rule under paragraph (b) of this section shall, upon the request of the Administrator, send a written report of that deviation to the Administrator.
U.S. FAA FAR 121.533(e) gives broad and complete final authority to airline captains: “Each pilot in command has full control and authority in the operation of the aircraft, without limitation, over other crewmembers and their duties during flight time, whether or not he holds valid certificates authorizing him to perform the duties of those crewmembers.”
ICAO and other countries equivalent rules are similar. In Annex 2, “Rules of the Air”, under par. “2.3.1 Responsibility of pilot-in-command”, ICAO declares:
The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall, whether manipulating the controls or not, be responsible for the operation of the aircraft in accordance with the rules of the air, except that the pilot-in-command may depart from these rules in circumstances that render such departure absolutely necessary in the interests of safety.
In Annex 2, par. “2.4 Authority of pilot-in-command of an aircraft”, ICAO adds:
The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall have final authority as to the disposition of the aircraft while in command.
Both FAR 91.3(b) and ICAO Annex 2, par. 2.3.1, specifically empower the PIC to override any other regulation in an emergency, and to take the safest course of action at his/her sole discretion. This provision mirrors the authority given to the captains of ships at sea, with similar justifications. It essentially gives the PIC the final authority in any situation involving the safety of a flight, irrespective of any other law or regulation.
Logging pilot in command time
Under U.S. FAA FAR 14 CFR 61.51, logging flight time as a PIC is different and distinct from acting as the legal PIC for a flight. In general, the PIC of a given flight may always log his or her flying time as such, while other crew members may or may not be authorized to log their time on that flight as PIC time, depending on the specific circumstances and the controlling jurisdiction.
In Brazil, ICA 100-12 – Air rules and air traffic services defines “pilot in command” as:
The pilot designated by the operator, being responsible for the operation and safety of the flight.
Regulations of the Ministry of Defense
According to Brazilian regulations, ICA 100-12 says:
(a) The pilot-in-command of an aircraft shall have decision-making authority in all matters relating to it while in command.
(b) The pilot in command, whether operating the controls or not, shall be responsible for the operation to be carried out in accordance with the Air Rules, which may deviate only when absolutely necessary to meet safety requirements.
The equivalent rules of ICAO and other countries are similar. In Annex 2, “Rules of the Air”, in its paragraph “2.3.1 Responsibility of pilot-in-command”, ICAO states:
The pilot-in-command of the aircraft in accordance with the rules of the air shall, by manipulating the controls or not, be responsible for the operation of the aircraft, but the pilot-in-command may deviate from these rules in circumstances which are absolutely necessary for the safety of the flight.
Annex 2, paragraph “2.4 Pilot-in-command of the aircraft”, adds:
The pilot in command of an aircraft has final authority over the aircraft while in command.
Both FAR 91.3 (b) and ICAO Annex 2, paragraph 2.3.1, authorize the pilot in command to replace any other regulation in case of emergency, and take the safest course of action in its sole discretion. This provision is reflected in the authority given to captains of ships at sea, with similar justifications. This gives the pilot in command the ultimate authority in any situation involving the safety of a flight, regardless of any other legislation or regulation.
Source from Wikipedia