No Right Turns Unless Authorized or Required

220px-Turn_coordinator_-_coordinated.svgIn a recent legal opinion, the FAA clarified its position on FAR 91.126 regarding turns on approach to an airport in uncontrolled airspace.  In response to an inquiry regarding whether the regulations authorized turns to the right in the vicinity of uncontrolled airports, the FAA concluded that a pilot approaching to land at an uncontrolled airport may make right turns if approved light signals or ground markings indicate that right turns are required, or if such deviation is “authorized or required”.  However, such authorized or required deviations are rarely appropriate under the regulations.  The FAA stated that the phrase “authorized or required” itself does not give pilots the discretion to deviate from FAR 91.126.  Such deviation must be “authorized or required” by the approach guidelines of a specific airport or by another FAA regulation.  For example, § 91.3(b) authorizes the pilot in command (PIC) of an aircraft to deviate from any rule of part 91 to the extent necessary to resolve “an in-flight emergency requiring immediate action.”  Such a decision to deviate is within the PIC’s judgment, however, this determination must be made in good faith based on safety concerns and not convenience.