The Flight Operations Branch:

  1. Provides technical guidance to the other divisions, the regions, and the other elements of the agency on all operational and technical facets of instrument flight operations with emphasis on low visibility flight operations and associated programs, and provides technical assistance to other FAA elements, other Government agencies, and the industry.
  2. Appraises the extent to which instrument flight operational concepts, policies, standards, criteria, and procedures continue to be fully responsive to rapidly changing and expanding technology and programs such as Next Generation (NextGen), Required Navigation Performance Area Navigation (RNP-RNAV), and Automatic Dependent Surveillance, Broadcast (ADS-B).
  3. Develops instrument flight operational concepts, policies, standards, criteria, requirements, specifications, and limitations for new and existing aircraft (all categories) and new and existing airborne, ground-based and space-based systems used in instrument flight operations, and develops and issues FAA Form 8260-10, Special Instrument Approach Procedure, as required, through the Procedures Review Board.
  4. Is responsible for developing and maintaining the AFS-400 portion of the AFS Handbook(s). This handbook material will provide policies and procedures for CNS technology implementation and associated subjects.
  5. Develops special flight technical concepts, policies, standards, procedures, interpretive material, and programs related to instrument flight operations, and conducts in-flight tests and evaluations of new concepts and procedures.
  6. Develops concepts and criteria for design, evaluation, and approval of Category I, Category II, and Category III approach and landing operations (including operating minimums, required airborne or ground-based or space based equipment, and airports/runways), and serves as the technical policy authority for these operations. Provide requirements for appropriate operations specifications, management specifications, or letters of authorization to AFS-50, AFS-200, AFS-300, or AFS-800 for final coordination and approval.
  7. Develops concepts and criteria for evaluation and approval of lower than standard takeoff minimums, and serves as the technical approval or disapproval authority for these standards.
  8. Develops concepts and criteria for evaluation and approval of Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (SMGCS) operations, and serves as the final technical approval or disapproval authority for these operations.
  9. In coordination with original equipment manufacturers, AIR, and AEGs, identify and enunciate explicit operating procedures for pilots using new-technology products. Provides guidance to develop
  10. OpSpecs/MSpecs/LOA requirements related to instrument flight operations, operating minimums, equipment, and training.
  11. Provides technical representation to ICAO on matters related to instrument flight operations, and maintains liaison with foreign civil aviation operational and technical authorities to encourage the acceptance of U.S. instrument flight operations standards and to foster standards with a level of safety consonant with those of the United States.
  12. Provides the focal point for development of R&D programs related to instrument flight operations.
  13. Reviews and validates regional recommendations for new or modified approach and landing navigation aids and lighting systems.
  14. Assigns projects (other than rulemaking) with recommended priorities, and provides technical and operational policy, guidance, and direction to the Technical Operations Aviation System Standards (AJW-3) organization for the technical adequacy of special instrument flight operational activities performed by that office.
  15. Determines the need for FAA requirements pertaining to navigation systems, navigation facilities, lighting systems, weather reporting devices, and other systems pertaining to the navigation and operation of aircraft in instrument flight operations; recommends R&D requirements for new or revised navigation systems and visual systems for use in instrument flight operations.
  16. Analyzes and evaluates the technical adequacy of field execution of instrument flight operations programs; guides and assists other headquarters divisions, Regional Flight Standards Divisions (RFSD), and other elements of the agency in the conduct of these programs; advises concerning the application of agency technical concepts, policies, standards, and procedures to current safety issues; reviews accident, incident, and enforcement investigations, and recommends appropriate corrective actions.
  17. Serves as the principal organizational entity within AFS-400 for the development of new operating concepts in the NAS, including guidance for the use of appropriate new technologies and procedures to improve safety and efficiency.
  18. Represents AFS in international meetings to further U.S. interests and develop ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) relating to flight technology issues. Maintains liaison with foreign civil aviation operational and technical authorities to encourage acceptance of U.S. CNS standards and matters related to complex and controversial special technical operations, and to foster standards with a level of safety consonant with those of the United States.
  19. Serves as the AFS focal point for human factors issues relating to implementation of new flight technologies.
  20. Serves as the focal point for AVS aviation weather programs and is responsible for developing and implementing national policies, criteria, standards, and guidance related to the operational aspects of the agency’s aviation weather program.
  21. Analyzes and evaluates field execution of special training programs related to flight technology; guides and assists the other divisions and the regions in the conduct of approved programs; advises concerning the application of agency technical concepts, policies, standards, and procedures to current safety issues; reviews accident, incident, and enforcement investigations involving assigned programs, and recommends appropriate corrective actions.
  22. Maintains a project status, control and information system for NAS plans, R&D projects, and NTSB technical recommendations, as well as operational projects and programs undertaken by the division.
  23. Provides technical advice and guidance to the Regional AWOPMs. Establishes the AWO job tasks to ensure standardization of technical field work functions.