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Here's an interesting note for those of you with a 701,750, or 801. My good friend just got a violation in his RV4 from a "Friendly" FAA examiner at our local airport. The violation was for exceeding 30 degrees of pitch on takeoff, which requires all occupants of the aircraft to be wearing a parachute by the FARs if you are carrying a passenger. Even though the RV4 was not equipped with an attitude indicator, the examiner's judgement is going to be enough evidence to support a 30-day suspension of my friend's license. So be careful of steep takeoff attitudes in your Zeniths if you are carrying a passenger, unless you both are wearing parachutes.
My impression is the FAR's are pertaining to the airport traffic area. ie. 5 miles radius centered on the field. Those specs are NO aerobatic flight, without a waiver........ Aerobatic flight is considered anything in excess of + or Minus 30 degrees nose up or down and 60 degree bank. It does not matter if your alone or have a passenger........ And yes...... Sometimes I exceed the 30 degree number...... But the tower here understands the fine details of what a STOL plane really is. As for your buddy... Unless there is a video or a still pic they can use to determine climb angle I would contest the " estimation" from the FAA examiner. IMHO.
My friend has the AOPA legal assistance plan, and their attorney says that the law that applies to the FAA is called "Regulatory Law" and the burden of proof rests with the pilot. The AOPA attorney says to expect a 30 day suspension, and he can possibly get it reduced to 15 days. The bad part is my buddy is an airline pilot and he will lose a month's pay as a result of this. Evidently the FAA examiner's word is all the proof that is required to result in a suspension. It seems like a rigged deal to me, the judge who hears the case is an FAA judge.
I looked at the FARs and aerobatic flight is "an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft's attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight". FAR 91.303 The only mention of 30 degrees of pitch is in FAR 91.307 " unless each occupant of the aircraft is wearing an approved parachute, no pilot of a civil aircraft carrying any person (other than a crewmember) may execute any intentional maneuver that exceeds...(2)A nose-up or nose-down attitude of 30 degrees relative to the horizon." Doesn't matter what airspace you are in or what altitude.
In my friend's case, AOPA is going to pay for 10 hours at $200 per hour (and it is going to take more than 10 hours according to the attorney) , so $2,000 for a $33 annual premium. It still sounds like a good deal to me.
I'm just amazed at how the FAA can get away with this kind of stuff!
Here's a follow-up to this story. My friend just settled with the FAA, and got a formal "WARNING" letter put in his file for 2 years. The AOPA-paid attorney wanted to fight the charge, but the risk was, worst case, losing his pilot's licence for one year, and subsequently his job as an airline pilot, so he elected for the warning. So watch those pitch attitudes on takeoff if you are carrying a passenger!
I guess we tend to want to show off our aircraft and its abilities. An innocent mistake by your friend broughtout the worse in an examiner. Sad really. But taking off from a paved runway should rarely require a bank angle in excess of 30 degrees. I guess we're going to have to practice our STOLs in an actual situation. I was not there but it's hard to support the Examiner from the info presented at this time.
My two cents.