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Pilot Certification Requirements

Pilot Certification RequirementsTo operate an aircraft in the United States, you must be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which since 9/11 is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). There are several levels of pilot’s license; the most basic is the Private Pilot license. This license permits the holder to pilot an aircraft anywhere in the United States, and to carry passengers. A Private Pilot may not be paid to fly an aircraft (to ferry an aircraft from one location to another, for example), nor carry passengers or cargo for hire or compensation. However, you may share certain expenses with your passengers (with some restrictions).

The necessary steps to earn this license are:

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Read, speak, and understand English sufficiently to understand the aviation rules and communicate with Air Traffic Control.
  • Pass a basic medical examination.
  • Receive the required amount of instruction from a Certificated Flight Instructor (CFI).
  • Pass a written examination (100 multiple-choice questions).
  • Pass a “checkride” (aircraft equivalent of a driving test) given by an FAA-approved examiner.

Information outlined below lists hours requirements needed for certification of Recreational Pilot, Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot and ATP.

Recreational Pilot Certification

I. For Single Engine Airplane, Helicopter, or Gyroplane Ratings:
Total Time: 30 hours which consists of at least-
A. Dual: 15 hours of flight training with an instructor on the Recreational Pilot areas of operation, that includes:
1. 2 hours of en route flight training to another airport in the class of aircraft; and
2. 3 hours of flight training in the class of aircraft within the preceding 60 days prior to the practical test
B. Solo: 3 hours of solo flying in the class of aircraft on the Recreational Pilot areas of operation.

Private Pilot Certification

NOTE 1: Where § 61.109 requires “. . . 3 hours of flight training by reference to instruments in a single engine airplane” [i.e., II.A.3.] or “. . . in a multiengine airplane” [i.e., III. A.3.] or “. . . in a poweredlift” [i.e., VI. A.3.] it has to be in the aircraft in flight. It cannot be in a FS, FTD, or an PCATC. The “. . . flight training by reference to instruments . . .” must have been in the aircraft in flight.

II. For a Single Engine Airplane Rating:
Total Time: 40 hours which consists of at least-
A. Dual: 20 hours of flight training with an instructor on the Private Pilot areas of operation that includes:
1. 3 hours of cross-country flight training in a single engine airplane;
2. 3 hours of night flight training in a single engine airplane, that includes at least-
a. 1 cross-country flight of over 100 nm. total distance; and
b. 10 takeoffs and 10 landings with each involving a flight in the traffic pattern.
3. 3 hours of flight training by reference to instruments in a single engine airplane; and (See Note 1)
4. 3 hours of flight training in a single engine airplane within the preceding 60 days prior to the practical test.
B. Solo: 10 hours of solo flying in a single engine airplane on the Private Pilot areas of operation, that includes:
1. 5 hours of solo cross-country flying;
2. 1 solo cross-country flight of at least 150 nm. total distance with 3 points and one segment of at least 50 nm. between takeoff and landings; and
3. 3 takeoffs and landings at a controlled airport.

III. For a Multiengine Airplane Rating:
Total Time: 40 hours which consists of at least-
A. Dual: 20 hours of flight training with an instructor on the Private Pilot areas of operation that includes:
1. 3 hours of cross-country flight training in a multiengine airplane;
2. 3 hours of night flight training in a multiengine airplane, that includes at least-
a. 1 cross-country flight of over 100 nm. total distance; and
b. 10 takeoffs and 10 landings with each involving a flight in the traffic pattern.
3. 3 hours of flight training by reference to instruments in a multiengine airplane; and (See Note 1)
4. 3 hours of flight training in a multiengine airplane within the preceding 60 days prior to the practical test.
B. Solo: 10 hours of solo flying in an airplane on the Private Pilot areas of operation, that includes:
1. 5 hours of solo cross-country flying;
2. 1 solo cross-country flight of at least 150 nm. total distance with 3 points and one segment of at least 50 nm. between takeoff and landing; and
3. 3 takeoffs and landings at a controlled airport.

Commercial Pilot Certification

NOTE 2: Except for Commercial Pilot applicants who complete a Part 141 approved Commercial Pilot Certification course of training, the “10 hours of solo flying . . . on the Commercial Pilot areas of operation” for the single engine airplane, multiengine airplane, helicopter, gyroplane, and powered lift ratings would need to reflect at least 20 hours of solo time in the “Solo” box of the aircraft category on the “Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application” (FAA Form 8710-1) to account for the Private Pilot solo aeronautical experience.

NOTE 3: Per § 61.129(b)(4), it permits a Commercial Pilot applicant for the multiengine airplane rating to be either solo flight time or performing the duties of PIC with an instructor onboard. In the case of a Commercial Pilot applicant for the multiengine airplane rating who performed “. . . . 10 hours of flight time performing the duties of pilot in command in a multiengine airplane with an authorized instructor . . .” [i.e., § 61.129(b)(4)], the aeronautical experience shown in the “Solo” box for the “Airplane” category on the “Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application” (FAA Form 8710-1) may only reflect 10 hours of solo flight time, and the “Pilot in Command” box would be required to show at least 100 hours [i.e., § 61.129(b)(2)].
NOTE 4: Applicants for a commercial pilot certificate with the airplane single engine, airplane multiengine, helicopter, gyroplane, or powered-lift ratings and who already holds an instrument rating that is appropriate to the category and class rating sought are not required to accomplish an additional “. . . 10 hours of instrument training . . .” as stated in § 61.129(a)(3)(i); § 61.129(b)(3)(i); § 61.129(c)(3)(i); § 61.129(d)(3)(i); and § 61.129(e)(3)(i). However, the required commercial pilot training hour requirements [i.e., “. . . on the areas of operation listed in § 61.127 . . .”] of 20 hours in § 61.129(a)(3), (b)(3), (c)(3), (d)(3), and (e)(3) cannot be reduced to 10 hours.

NOTE 5: If an applicant already holds a commercial pilot certificate and an instrument rating, and is seeking an additional aircraft class rating within the same category of aircraft rating held by the applicant then that applicant [per § 61.63(c)(4)] “. . . Need not meet the specified training time requirements prescribed by this part that apply to the pilot certificate for the aircraft class rating sought unless the person holds a lighter-than-air category rating with a balloon class rating and is seeking an airship class rating; and . . .”]. Otherwise, that applicant need not accomplish an additional “. . . 10 hours of instrument training . . .”. However, the instructor will be expected to provide the applicant with enough instrument training in order for the applicant to demonstrate satisfactory proficiency and competency on Area of Operation VII Navigation.

NOTE 6: If an applicant is undergoing a combined Part 141 Commercial Pilot Certification and Instrument Rating approved course then that applicant need not accomplish an additional “. . . 10 hours of instrument training . . .”. Because in this situation, the applicant is getting instrument training and there would be no way, or need, to differentiate the instrument training required in the Instrument Rating course with the instrument training required in the Commercial Pilot Certification course.

NOTE 7: The 10 hours performing the duties as PIC with an instructor on board should be listed in the “Pilot in Command” column of the “Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application” (FAA Form 8710-1).

X. For a Single Engine Airplane Rating:

Total Time: 250 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least:
A. 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in airplanes.
B. 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight time, that includes at least–
1. 50 hours in airplanes; and
2. 50 hours in cross-country flying of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes.
C. Dual: 20 hours of flight training on the Commercial Pilot areas of operation that includes at least–
1. 10 hours of instrument training of which at least 5 hours must be in a single engine airplane; (See Note 4)
2. 10 hours of training in a complex airplane or a turbine powered airplane;
3. 1 cross-country of 2 hours in a single engine airplane in day VFR conditions of a total straight line distance of more than 100 nm. from the departure point;
4. 1 cross-country of 2 hours in a single engine airplane in night VFR conditions of a total straight line distance of more than 100 nm. from the departure point;
5. 3 hours of flight training in a single engine airplane within the preceding 60 days prior to the practical test.

D. Solo: 10 hours of solo flight in a single engine airplane on the Commercial Pilot areas of operation, that
includes— (see Note 2)
1. One cross-country flight of not less than 300 nm. with landings with a min of 3 points, one of which is a straight line distance of more than 250 nm.; and
2. 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings at a controlled airport.

XI. For a Multiengine Airplane Rating:

Total Time: 250 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least:
A. 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in airplanes.
B. 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight time, that includes at least–
1. 50 hours in airplanes; and
2. 50 hours in cross-country flying of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes.
C. Dual: 20 hours of flight training on the Commercial Pilot areas of operation that includes at least–
1. 10 hours of instrument training of which at least 5 hours must be in a multiengine airplane; (See Note 4)
2. 10 hours of training in a complex multiengine airplane or turbine powered multiengine airplane;
3. 1 cross-country of 2 hours in a multiengine airplane in day VFR conditions of a total straight line distance of more than 100 nm. from the departure point;
4. 1 cross-country of 2 hours in a multiengine airplane in night VFR conditions of a total straight line distance of more than 100 nm. from the departure point;
5. 3 hours of flight training in a multiengine airplane within the preceding 60 days prior to the practical test.
D. Solo or Performing PIC: 10 hours of solo flying or performing the duties as PIC with an instructor in a multiengine airplane on the Commercial Pilot areas of operation, that includes at least–(see Notes 3 and 7)
1. One cross-country flight of not less than 300 nm. with landings with a min of 3 points, one of which is a straight line distance of more than 250 nm.; and
2. 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings at a controlled airport.

Instrument Rating

NOTE 9: Per § 61.65(a)(1), must “Hold at least a current private pilot certificate with an airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift rating appropriate to the instrument rating sought;”
XVIII. For all instrument ratings.
Total Time: Must have logged the following:
A. At least 50 hours of cross-country flying as a PIC, of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes for an Instrument Airplane rating; and
B. Total of 40 hours of actual or simulated instrument time on the Instrument areas of operation, that includes at least–
1. Dual: 15 hours of instrument training with an instructor in the aircraft category, that includes at
least: (See Note 9)
a. 3 hours of the instrument training were within the preceding 60 days prior to the practical test; and
b. 1 IFR cross-country flight of more than 250 nm. (more than 100 nm. for helicopters) in the instrument-aircraft rating sought.
or, if for an
C. Additional instrument rating, 15 hours of instrument training with an instructor for the rating sought, that includes at least:
1. 1 IFR cross-country flight of more than 250 nm. (more than 100 nm. for helicopters) in the instrument-aircraft rating sought; and
2. 3 hours of the instrument training were within the preceding 60 days prior to the practical test.

Airline Transport Pilot Certification

NOTE 10: Pen and ink modifications can be made to the “Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application” FAA Form 87101 to show the SIC time performing the duties of PIC used in conjunction with the PIC time to meet the PIC aeronautical experience requirements. As for example, a simple pen entry of a slash or a dash (e.g., PIC / SIC. in the “Pilot in Command” box of Section III of FAA Form 87101 can be used to show PIC time vs. SIC time.
XIX. For an Airplane Ratings:
Total Time – 1,500 hours that includes at least–
A. 500 hours of cross-country flying;
B. 100 hours of night time;
C. 75 hours of instrument time; and
D. 250 hours in an airplane as a PIC, or as SIC performing the duties of PIC, or any combination thereof, that includes at least — (See Note 10)
1. 100 hours of cross-country flying; and
2. 25 hours of night time.

Source

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