Pilot's Tip of the Week
Weight & Balance Regulations
Featuring Bob Nardiello
"What type of weight and balance data is the Fed looking for?" - Joe C.
"You need to have the current weight and balance data on board the aircraft. This includes basic empty weight and moment, as well as the approved envelope for the aircraft.
FAR 91.9 prohibits operation of the aircraft without complying with the operating limitations. It doesn't require that you do a weight and balance for each flight.
However, FAR 91.103 (preflight action) says that you must have reliable information regarding performance. Therefore, if you have a heavily loaded aircraft and are ramp checked, you might be required to demonstrate that the aircraft is within weight and balance and capable of safe operation off of available runway considering existing conditions.
Not only is it dangerous to operate over weight or out of balance, a ramp check is a really bad time to run the numbers. Remember that most light aircraft can't operate with all seats occupied and full fuel.
If operating close to the weight and balance limits of an aircraft, a wise pilot will not only run the numbers to ensure compliance with aircraft operating limitations, but will also keep his or her computation in the event of a ramp check.
Remember that aircraft performance can only be determined after gross weight is computed. Professional flight crews do these computations routinely. You should strive for professionalism as well when you are planning your flights."