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Aviation Learning Center Document AC 91-75 - Attitude Indicator
Author: Federal Aviation Administration Date: June 2003
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3. Background
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a. Section 91.205(a) requires "instruments and equipment...or FAA-approved equivalents...." A Safer Skies initiative recommendation authored by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and industry highlighted vacuum system failures as a significant cause or contributor to fatal accidents in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Additionally, the FAA and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) have conducted research to further analyze the potential hazards of partial panel operations in IMC. The FAA’s Civil Aeromedical Institute conducted simulations studying pilot responses to vacuum system failures. These studies included pilots with varying experience levels in both high-performance and low-performance aircraft. AOPA’s Air Safety Foundation conducted parallel flight studies in a Piper Archer and a Beech Bonanza.

b. Those studies showed that a vacuum system or gyro failure is insidious because the gyro fails slowly, making the failure difficult to recognize. Data indicates that pilots may not have the proficiency to safely recover and land the airplane, even though instrument-rated pilots receive partial panel training. This is particularly true in high-performance airplanes.

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