Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), page 401

Index   400 -- Page 401 -- 402

Section 5. Pilot/Controller Roles and Responsibilities

5-5-1. General

a. The roles and responsibilities of the pilot and
controller for effective participation in the ATC
system are contained in several documents. Pilot
responsibilities are in the CFRs and the air traffic
controllers' are in the FAA Order JO 7110.65,
Air Traffic Control, and supplemental FAA direc-
tives. Additional and supplemental information for
pilots can be found in the current Aeronautical
Information Manual (AIM), Notices to Airmen,
Advisory Circulars and aeronautical charts. Since
there are many other excellent publications produced
by nongovernment organizations, as well as other
government organizations, with various updating
cycles, questions concerning the latest or most
current material can be resolved by cross-checking
with the above mentioned documents.

b. The pilot-in-command of an aircraft is directly
responsible for, and is the final authority as to the safe
operation of that aircraft. In an emergency requiring
immediate action, the pilot-in-command may
deviate from any rule in the General Subpart A and
Flight Rules Subpart B in accordance with 14 CFR
Section 91.3.

c. The air traffic controller is responsible to give
first priority to the separation of aircraft and to the
issuance of radar safety alerts, second priority to other
services that are required, but do not involve
separation of aircraft and third priority to additional
services to the extent possible.
d. In order to maintain a safe and efficient air
traffic system, it is necessary that each party fulfill
their responsibilities to the fullest.

e. The responsibilities of the pilot and the
controller intentionally overlap in many areas
providing a degree of redundancy. Should one or the
other fail in any manner, this overlapping responsi-
bility is expected to compensate, in many cases, for
failures that may affect safety.

f. The following, while not intended to be all
inclusive, is a brief listing of pilot and controller
responsibilities for some commonly used procedures
or phases of flight. More detailed explanations are
contained in other portions of this publication, the
appropriate CFRs, ACs and similar publications. The
information provided is an overview of the principles
involved and is not meant as an interpretation of the
rules nor is it intended to extend or diminish

5-5-2. Air Traffic Clearance
a. Pilot.

1. Acknowledges receipt and understanding of
an ATC clearance.
2. Reads back any hold short of runway
instructions issued by ATC.

3. Requests clarification or amendment, as
appropriate, any time a clearance is not fully
understood or considered unacceptable from a safety

4. Promptly complies with an air traffic
clearance upon receipt except as necessary to cope
with an emergency. Advises ATC as soon as possible
and obtains an amended clearance, if deviation is
A clearance to land means that appropriate separation on
the landing runway will be ensured. A landing clearance
does not relieve the pilot from compliance with any
previously issued altitude crossing restriction.
b. Controller.
1. Issues appropriate clearances for the opera-
tion to be conducted, or being conducted, in
accordance with established criteria.

2. Assigns altitudes in IFR clearances that are at
or above the minimum IFR altitudes in controlled
3. Ensures acknowledgement by the pilot for
issued information, clearances, or instructions.

4. Ensures that readbacks by the pilot of
altitude, heading, or other items are correct. If
incorrect, distorted, or incomplete, makes corrections
as appropriate.

Pilot/Controller Roles and Responsibilities 5-5-1

Page 401 of the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM.pdf)
AIM: Official Guide to Basic Flight Information and ATC Procedures

Index   400 -- Page 401 -- 402