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Code of Conduct - Recommended Practices


The Civil Air Patrol Aviators and Aircrew Codes of Conduct are customized versions of the AIRCREW MODEL CODE OF CONDUCT created by Michael S. Baum. ©2003-2012 Michael S. Baum. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use are available at


The sample recommended practices provided below are suggestions for applying the principles of CAP's Codes of Conduct.  Because these practices support both Aviator and Aircrew Codes of Conduct, every item may not be applicable to both roles.  The practices are not presented in any order of importance.  Practices related to instrument flight rules are generally presented last.

General Responsibilities of Aviators and Aircrew

Recommended Practices
  • Never subject others to risks you would not prudently take, and plan your flights accordingly.
  • Approach flying with seriousness and diligence, recognizing that your life and the lives of your passengers and others depend on you.
  • 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 minimums for all phases of flight. Review these materials regularly with an experienced instructor or other trusted mentor.
  • Recognize, accept, and plan for the time required to implement 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. Use supplemental oxygen on flights when required by rule or any time it may be beneficial. Properly use a pulse oximeter when required.
  • Adhere to CAP regulations and operating practices.
  • Understand and apply Crew Resource Management (CRM) and Single Pilot Resource Management (SRM), as applicable, to enhance CAP's 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 actual emergencies.
  • File a flight plan or communicate your intended flight itinerary to ground personnel prior to departure, even when flying locally.
  • Refuse to fly an aircraft that is not airworthy, whether because of mechanical discrepancies, failure to meet inspection requirements, or any other reason.
  • Operate CAP 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.

Crew, Passengers and People on the Surface

Recommended Practices
  • Keep your crew and passengers as safe as possible, as though they were your closest loved ones.
  • Act professionally towards your crew and passengers.
  • Improve safety margins by planning and flying conservatively.
  • Require that passengers wear seat belts and shoulder harnesses, and consider providing hearing protection, such as intercom-equipped headsets.
  • Tactfully disclose risks to each passenger, address their concerns or anxieties regarding flight operations, and accept a prospective passenger’s decision to refrain from participating.
  • Conduct a thorough passenger safety briefing for each flight.
  • Ascertain the flight experience and concerns of each passenger. Incorporate this knowledge into the safety briefing and flight operation.
  • Instruct passengers to avoid touching or obstructing critical flight controls. Brief and maintain a sterile cockpit during takeoffs, landings, and other workload-intensive times.
  • Encourage passengers to serve as safety resources—for example, by having them identify nearby aircraft, organize charts, and keep track of landmarks.
  • Assess unfamiliar passengers for potential safety and security problems.
  • Remember 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).

Training and Proficiency

Recommended Practices
  • Pursue a rigorous, lifelong course of aviation study.
  • Consider a training plan that will yield new ratings, certificates, and endorsements.
  • Develop 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.
  • Invite constructive criticism from your fellow aviators and provide the same when asked.
  • Learn 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.
  • Develop decision-making and risk-management skills. Integrate stick-and-rudder and scenario-based training.
  • Understand and appreciate your roles and responsibilities as pilot in command, including declaring an emergency when appropriate.
  • Train for flight over challenging environments such as water or remote, desert, or mountainous terrain.
  • Train for survival, and carry adequate survival equipment, apparel, and drinking water.
  • Understand the unique risks and need for vigilance in taxi and runway operations.
  • Develop a practical understanding of the mechanics and systems of each aircraft you fly.
  • Understand and use appropriate procedures in the event of system malfunctions (e.g., electrical failure, lost communications, instrument problems).
  • Achieve and maintain proficiency in the operation of avionics and automation.
  • Know current aviation regulations and understand their implications and intent.
  • Attend aviation training programs offered by industry and government.
  • Participate in the FAA Pilot Proficiency Program (“WINGS”).
  • Stay current with diverse and relevant aviation publications.
  • Develop a system­atic approach to obtaining timely weather briefings and evaluating flight conditions.
  • Obtain adequate training before flying an unfamiliar aircraft, or with unfamiliar systems, even if you have flown that type in the past.
  • Conduct a periodic review of recent accidents and incidents, focusing on probable causes.
  • Periodically demonstrate mastery of applicable Airman Certification Standards (ACS) or Practical Test Standards (PTS), and train to exceed these "minimums."
  • Avoid practicing training maneuvers in busy airspace or over congested areas, and employ a safe altitude in the practice area.
  • Maintain currency that exceeds minimum regulatory requirements.
  • Consider maintaining a log to track errors and lessons learned on each flight.
  • Register at <> to receive announcements of safety meetings and literature, and to review appropriate safety courses.
  • Fly often enough to maintain proficiency in day, night, VFR, and IFR conditions, consistent with your ratings.
  • Complete the equivalent of a Flight Review annually, and, if instrument rated, complete an instrument proficiency check (IPC) every six months.
  • If instrument rated, practice partial panel skills at least every three months.


Recommended Practices
  • 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 person.
  • 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 Hotline (866-GA-SECURE / 866-427-3287).
  • Complete required security training.
  • Do not deviate from an active flight plan (IFR or VFR) or clearance without notifying the appropriate air traffic facility.
  • To help avoid special use airspace, use ATC radar advisories, or consider flying IFR (if rated and equipped), whenever practicable.

Environmental Issues

Recommended Practices
  • Adopt environmentally sound and legally compliant procedures for fuel sampling, defueling, and disposing of fuel samples.
  • 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 sensitive areas.
  • 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.
  • Patronize service providers (such as FBOs, repair services, and aircraft cleaners) that adhere to environmentally friendly practices.

Use of Technology

Recommended Practices
  • Learn and understand the features, limitations, and proper use of technologies that advance flight safety.
  • If 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.
  • Consider keeping back-up and redundant communication/navigation devices accessible in flight, including extra batteries or a back-up power supply.
  • Inspect avionics and flight instruments to ensure they are operational, current, and approved for the intended flight.
  • Consider use of a personal locator beacon.
  • Report inoperative navigation aids and areas of poor radio/signal coverage to the appropriate authority.
  • Maintain basic flying and navigating skills to enhance safety in the event of failure or absence of advanced instrument displays or automation.
  • Avoid flying in or near moderate or higher weather radar returns, especially when thunderstorms are present or forecast. Seek frequent ATC or AFSS weather updates.
  • Consider the use of flight tracking or flight data monitoring technologies.
  • Use flight simulators, training devices, or web-based tools as appropriate.
  • Operate with an autopilot or a qualified second pilot if practicable when flying in IMC and/or at night.
  • Properly manage auto-flight systems. Understand that programming avionics may cause distractions and lead to errors, particularly during taxi and other critical phases of flight.
  • Maintain partial-panel proficiency in IMC. Learn recovery techniques from instrument failure in IMC.

Advancement and Promotion of Aviation

Recommended Practices
  • 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 pilots.
  • Recognize that your actions reflect upon all of CAP and the entire aviation community.
  • Express appreciation to controllers and service personnel for their valuable assistance.
  • Seek to resolve disputes quickly and informally.
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