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Cross Country Pilot Training Requirements

Cross Country Pilot Training RequirementsPer title 14 of the code of federal regulations (14 CFR), aka the FAA Regulations (FAR) (FARs), part 61, section 1.b.3[4] (3) Cross-country time means-
Except as provided in paragraphs (b)(3)(ii) through (b)(3)(vi) of this section, time acquired during a flight—
Conducted by a person who holds a pilot certificate;
Conducted in an aircraft;
That includes a landing at a point other than the point of departure; and
That involves the use of dead reckoning, pilotage, electronic navigation aids, radio aids, or other navigation systems to navigate to the landing point.

For the purpose of meeting the aeronautical experience requirements (except for a rotorcraft category rating), for a private pilot certificate (except for a powered parachute category rating), a commercial pilot certificate, or an instrument rating, or for the purpose of exercising recreational pilot privileges (except in a rotorcraft) under Sec. 61.101(c), time acquired during a flight–
Conducted in an appropriate aircraft;
That includes a point of landing that was at least a straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and
That involves the use of dead reckoning, pilotage, electronic navigation aids, radio aids, or other navigation systems to navigate to the landing point.
Involves, as applicable, the use of dead reckoning; pilotage; electronic navigation aids; radio aids; or other navigation systems to navigate to the landing point.

A cross-country flight is any flight that involves a landing at another airport and involves navigation. This may be relevant to you when you are looking to qualify under Part 135 pilot requirements, since there this basic definition of cross-country is used. However, there is a difference in this basic definition and the requirements for cross-country flight to count as the appropriate aeronautical experience for a certificate or rating.

In essence:

  • To meet the requirements for a Private or Commercial certificate or for an Instrument rating or to “exercise the privileges of a Recreational” certificate the flight must include a LANDING at a point MORE than 50NM from the point of original departure.
  • For an ATP certificate the requirement is for a FLIGHT (not a landing) more than 50NM straight line distance from the point of departure.
  • Otherwise any landing at any other airport counts as cross-country time. This is generally important for people looking to meet the 14 CFR Part 135 PIC requirements.
Student Pilots

While you’re a student pilot you will only log EITHER dual received OR PIC time. You can’t log both on the same flight. You’ll log PIC time when you are the SOLE occupant of the aircraft, and since you can’t carry passengers if you’re not the sole occupant at least one of the other occupants will be your instructor. When you log dual received time then your instructor will, at a minimum, need to sign your logbook. Most instructors will add information on the lesson(s) taught during the flight.

Your instructor should conduct pre and post flight briefings and technically that’s ground instruction and could be logged as such but most people don’t bother. However, if your instructor provides ground instruction that’s not part of a pre or post flight my advice is to log it and have the instructor sign it.

When May I Log Cross-Country Time?

This is one of those FAA definitions that change depending on what you’re using the time for. Cross-countries fall into four groups. The first three groups are all contained in 61.1(b)(3).
Group 1: General Definition: A cross country flight is one in which you land at another airport that you didn’t accidentally bump into. There are no distance requirements.

Group 2: In order to “Count” for Most Certificates or Ratings: Same as the general definition, except at least one of the places where you land has to be more than 50 NM from where you started the flight. This applies to the private and commercial certificates, and the instrument rating.

Group 3: In order to “Count” for ATP: Same as for Most Certificates or Ratings, except you don’t have to land anywhere

Group 4: Apart from there are the “special cross countries” that are part of the experience requirement for certain certificates and ratings. One example is the private pilot certificate requirement for 150 total distance solo cross country with at least one 50 NM leg (61.109(a)(5)).

So, they’re all cross country. And they all can be logged from the time that you are a student pilot. The problem is keeping track of them so you can total the ones that “count” in any given situation. Most new pilots tend to log only Group 2 since those are the ones that they will have to total up in the near future. Some set up two columns right away (Group 1 counts for 135 experience purposes). The lack of a landing in Group 3 is a well-deserved tip of the hat to military pilots who will often fly some distance without landing.

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Distributed by Viestly

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