Every aircraft must be meet the list of minimum equipment and instruments for VFR flight under FAR 91.205.

The list of VFR required equipment varies depending on whether you are flying during the daytime or at night.

Thankfully, through the use of two easy to remember acronyms, it shouldn’t take you long to remember what equipment and instruments are required under visual flight rules.

VFR Required Equipment Acronyms

You’ll definitely want to remember the following two acronyms because they come up very frequently on flight reviews, and you will be asked about them on checkrides.

Day VFR Required Equipment

Engine instruments, flight instruments, and safety equipment are all required for day VFR flight.

  • Required Engine Instruments: Tachometer, Oil Pressure Gauge, Oil Temperature Gauge, Manifold Pressure Gauge, Temperature Gauge
  • Required Flight Instruments: Airspeed Indicator, Altimeter, Magnetic Compass
  • Required Safety Equipment: Anti-Collision Lights, Fuel Gauges, Landing Gear Position Indicator, Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT), Seat belts
Oil Pressure and Oil Temperature Gauge
Oil Pressure and Oil Temperature Gauge

The easiest way to remember what VFR equipment is required to fly during the day is through the acronym: A TOMATO FLAMES

A – Altimeter
T – Tachometer (for each engine)
O – Oil Temperature Gauge (if using a pressure system)
M – Manifold Pressure Gauge (for each altitude engine)
A – Airspeed Indicator
T – Temperature Gauge (for liquid-cooled engines)
O – Oil Pressure Gauge
F – Fuel Gauges (for each fuel tank)
L – Landing Gear Position Indicator (for aircraft with retractable gear)
A – Anti Collision Lights (if aircraft was manufactured after March 11, 1996)
M – Magnetic Compass
E – Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT)
S – Seat Belts

Night VFR Required Equipment

Safety and electric equipment are both required for night VFR flight.

  • Required Safety Equipment: Anti Collision Lights, Landing Lights, Position Lights
  • Required Electrical Equipment: Fuses, Source of Power

Remembering the required equipment for nighttime flying is the easier of the two. Not only due to its shorter length, but the acronym makes up an aviation-related word that all planes have: FLAPS

F – Fuses (1x complete set unless the plane has circuit breakers)
L – Landing Lights (if flying for hire)
A – Anti Collision Lights (for aircraft registered after August 11, 1971)
P – Position Lights (aka nav lights)
S – Source of Power (i.e. alternator/generator for all electrical and radio equipment)

Landing Lights on a Cessna 172
Landing Lights on a Cessna 172

VOR isn’t Required for VFR

While VOR can be used as the primary source of navigation while flying under VFR, there is nothing that states it is required. However, it is good to have as a backup if the GPS fails.

If you use a VOR, it must have been inspected and passed as operative within the preceding 30 days of the flight.

You Don’t Need a Working Radio for VFR

There is no requirement to have a working radio if flying under visual flight rules unless you are flying in controlled airspace. This is so you can communicate with Air Traffic Control (ATC).

Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.

Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.

Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.