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Who is the PIC of the airplane during


Dissatisfied Customer
Our FOM is obviously not as expansive as yours. I don't have the luxury of taking liberties with authority I do not have.
Have you ever been in a position of authority prior to this? Working as a business manager, or serving as a military officer? Your authority is there until such time as you abdicate it, or are specifically told you have no authority. I suggest you talk with your chief pilot to understand exactly what authority your company grants you and its limits. It's apparent that not all companies handle it the same way.

If you believe "that's not my responsibility" will be an acceptable explanation to your boss when you're standing in front of the Big Desk then by all means, proceed with that mindset.


Well-Known Member
Reminds of the time a pax was unhappy about the crew working another flight before unloading the bags. He said I needed to grow a pair and I use my captain authority to demand they come over and unload our plane first. I said no. They will laugh at me.

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Well-Known Member
Who is in charge of an airliner during push back?

Where does the question come from you might ask? Many people are surprised to learn that during boarding, if there is an incident, the Captain has no real authority to deal with the situation, it is left up to the flight attendants and ultimately the gate agents to deal with the situation as they "own" the airplane.

I've always told myself that I have no authority until the door closes. But now I'm not so sure.

According to regulations, it seems I am only the PIC once the aircraft begins to move under its own power. From Wikipedia, "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."[1] 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."[2] 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."

So in my view, there is a period of time where the aircraft is under the authority of the ramp crew. Further, after push back if you have a problem requiring you to taxi back to the gate (you haven't taxi'd out yet), nobody seems in charge of the airplane since the airplane never taxi'd with the intention of flight.

I hada very not so friendly convo in DEN back in 2007 about who was in charge of the aircraft on pushback after a ramper decided to voice his opinion on when and how things were going to be done.


Highly Visible Member
You can't just start on that little nugget and then walk away. You've given us enough to awaken our curiosities but not enough to bed it back!

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IIRC, the two drunk AWA pilots caught in MIA during pushback tried to use that very defense (eg, aircraft moving on its own power versus tug pushback). Ultimately it didn't work.


Well-Known Member
The dots being connected weren't "accident" and "operator," but this:

An accident can occur during boarding.
If there is an accident, it necessitates an immediate report to the NTSB.
That report shall contain the name of the PIC.
What if both pilots are away getting coffee or lunch while the airplane is boarding with a full compliment of passengers on board. Anyone can fill out a report with anyone's name on it.


Well-Known Member
I see being PIC on a flight as having the ability (not necessarily exercising it) to make the ultimate decision on anything affecting the operation of the flight from the time that the release is accepted until he / she walks off the aircraft at the destination. Throughout this timeframe, the PIC should be fully prepared to make any decision that they deem appropriate. It may not be popular, and they may have to answer to someone; however, that's the way it is. If you allow others to wrestle away your authority, it will come back and bite you someday - guaranteed! I will never allow anything to happen on my airplane (regardless of what phase of operation) that I vehemently disagree with. One has to be careful not to become a power-hungry ass who makes poor decisions based on ego or emotional riffraff as that only leads to turmoil and anarchy. I think PIC is more of a mindset than what any FAR or dictionary can define. If someone has issues with your authority to be the Pilot In Command, they should have the number to crew scheduling handy. That's just my opinion folks...
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