Of all the acronyms in aviation, this must be the silliest… ATOMATOFLAMES? Surely you can’t be serious!? I am serious and don’t call me Shirley.
It is difficult to remember all the regulations, rules, and procedures. But, it is not that difficult to remember a few acronyms that jog your memory
ATOMATOFLAMES is one of the longest and most misunderstood acronyms commonly taught to student pilots. It is a list of instruments and equipment for flight according to FAR 91.205.
What is 91.205?
91.205 is the regulation for powered civil aircraft with standard category U.S. airworthiness certificates. Specifying the required equipment for aircraft operation.
FAR 91.205 (b) is for visual-flight rules (day) and 91.205(c) is for visual-flight rules (night). 91.205(d) is for Instrument flight rules, which requires everything in 91.205(b)and(c).
Isn’t FAA legal writing excellent?
Like most FAA regulations it is important to know and understand these rules. However, it is more important to be familiar with and be able to apply the regulations to your operations. Just knowing an acronym is great trivia, but as you will see, it has many gaps and will not guarantee you are operating safely.
What is ATOMATOFLAMES?
ATOMATOFLAMES is the acronym for VFR required equipment during day flight according to 91.205(b). It is often also referred to as ‘Tomato Flames.’
A – airspeed indicator
T – tachometer (for each engine)
O – oil pressure gauge (for each engine using a pressure system)
M – manifold pressure gauge (for each altitude engine)
A – altimeter
T – temperature gauge (for each liquid-cooled engine)
O – oil temperature gauge (for each engine)
F – fuel gauge
L – landing gear position indicator
A – anti-collision lights
M – magnetic compass
E – ELT
S – safety belts
This list is quite thorough, but also leaves many questions? Most students will notice that it doesn’t include many aircraft parts. Do we need seats? What about wings? This list covers most of the practical instruments inside the cockpit. It is not intended to be the master list of every feature required in airplane manufacturing and design.
Do I need to know this for my checkride?
Absolutely you do. Now, if you don’t have it memorized verbatim, that is okay, but you certainly need to know where to look (in the FARAIM 14CFR91.205) and be able to understand that text. If you’re not sure how to interpret the text in the FARAIM and apply it during your oral exam with the FAA, check out this video here.
What happens when any of the required equipment is missing or broken?
Well, that’s a great question, and one you are likely to hear on your private pilot, instrument pilot, and commercial pilot checkrides. Just about every checkride you take you will be expected to explain in detail how to deal with inoperative equipment, especially if it required equipment. For a thorough explanation of what you need to know for your checkride, use our checkride prep courses for Private, IFR, Commercial Pilot, and CFIs.
You can access all of our checkride prep courses here.
Why Do I need to know ATOMATOFLAMES?
This regulation mostly only applies to general aviation smaller aircraft. Turbine-powered aircraft and large turboprops will have more required equipment and features. This list will work nicely in a Cessna 182, but if you hop in an Airbus A350, you will find lots more equipment and perhaps even some equipment missing.
As a general aviation pilot, you should remember that 91.205 is a great place to look if you are going to fly a new airplane. Each section of required equipment may also have exceptions based on aircraft age and operation.
It is important for pilots to know how to find, interpret, and use the regulations to ensure their operations are safe and legal.
Just memorizing an acronym likely won’t be helpful but knowing why 91.205 exists and how to use it is important.
Can you think of any other acronyms you could make from ATOMATOFLAMES? Let us know below!