I'll try and put this as delicately as I can... the AIM... ain't s***. If it's not in the FARs, it doesn't exist.
That's a bit of a misrepresentation.
The FARs are of course legally binding and so are the 'law'.
The AIM is for 'guidance' on HOW to operate in the airspace system. It's introduction includes the following text:
This manual contains the fundamentals required in order to fly in the United States NAS. It also contains items of interest to pilots concerning health and medical facts, factors affecting flight safety, a pilot/controller glossary of terms used in the ATC System, and information on safety, accident, and hazard reporting.
So...if you operate in this airspace system in a way that is contrary to the guidance given in the AIM, what do you think an FAA inspector is going to want to know?
"Mr. Rooney, are you aware of our publication titled the Aeronautical Information Manual? We notice that in your report you indicated that you operated your FAR part 103 flight in a way that is contrary to the guidance given in that publication and hardly find that to be a demonstration of sound judgment, good decision making or solid airmanship. As such, we're sending you a letter of investigation and look forward to hearing more about your flight and how it wound up penetrating airspace you weren't authorized to conduct part 103 operations within. We're looking forward to working with you on this!"
The AIM is not regulatory in nature...but that hardly means that it 'doesn't exist'.
It's how the FAA wants you to conduct your business and it's how the other users of the airspace are expecting you to operate within the system. It would be wise to familiarize yourself with the portions relevant to your operation and adhere to them as closely as practical.
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