Navy Rules Concerning Converging with Formations
In addition to the five right-of-way rules above, Navy pilots have another rule to follow.
When a single naval aircraft is converging with a formation of aircraft at about the same
altitude (except head-on or nearly so) the formation flight has the right-of-way. In other
cases, the formation is considered a single aircraft and the CFR Part 91 right-of-way
rules above apply.
Many Navy missions require aircraft to fly in formation. As a Navy controller you should
be familiar with some of the general guidelines concerning these type flights.
Formation flying is authorized only for units and types of aircraft that a valid requirement
exists. Local commanders issue specific instructions and standard operating procedures
that must be adhered to by each pilot who is engaged in formation flying.
Formation Flight Leader Responsibilities
The formation leader must file one flight plan for the entire flight and sign the flight plan
form as pilot in command. Additional formation flight leader responsibilities can be found
in NATOPS General Flight and Operating Instructions, OPNAVINST 3710.7.
Formation Takeoffs and Flight
Section takeoffs for fixed-wing aircraft of similar performance are authorized only for
units and types of aircraft whose military missions require formation flying, including
specified in the local directive for section takeoffs.
In instrument conditions, two-plane formation flight is authorized provided the weather
(ceiling and visibility) is at or above the published circling minimums for the runway in
use. When a circling approach is not authorized, ceiling and visibility must be at least
1,000 feet and 3 statute miles respectively.
Aircraft Speed and Lighting
To reduce the midair collision hazard associated with high aircraft speeds at low
altitudes, the FAA imposes speed limits. The FAA also imposes aircraft position lighting
and aircraft anti-collision lighting requirements. Compliance with aircraft speed and
lighting is critically important when aircraft operate in close proximity.