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Currency

Introduction:

  • Pilots must maintain currency depending on the operation they will be performing
  • This begins with carrying the necessary documentation
  • Next, you need to ensure you meet the requirements to fly, with a flight review
  • In order to legally carry passengers, pilots must meet another set of currency requirements
    • These requirements differ depending on if the flight is to be conducted during the day and/or night
  • If your operation is to be conducted under IFR, then you must further meet instrument experience requirements
  • Recency experience requirements can differ in some circumstances lending to some exceptions

Required Pilot Documentation:

  • At its core, FAR 61.3 requires all pilot flight crew members of civil aircraft of the United States to have three items with them (and readily accessible) in the aircraft:
    • The certificate/authorization with which they are exercising the privileges thereof;
    • A photo identification; and,
    • A current medical, if required
  • Acceptable photo identification may be found under Appendix 2 of Advisory Circular 61-65
  • Aircraft of foreign registry have slightly different requirements, found in FAR 61.3
  • Compliance with these rules occur through several methods such as ramp checks
    • You are therefore required to show these documents if requested by:
      • The FAA;
      • An authorized representative of the National Transportation Safety Board;
      • Any Federal, State, or local law enforcement officer; or
      • An authorized representative of the Transportation Security Administration
  • Certificates and Authorizations:

    • Pilot Certificates/Authorizations:

      • Certificates may include:
        • A pilot certificate;
        • A special purpose pilot authorization;
        • A temporary certificate;
        • A document conveying temporary authority to exercise certificate privileges;or
        • When operating an aircraft within a foreign country, a pilot license issued by that country may be used
    • Instructing Certificates:

      • Flight Instructor Certificates:
        • Holders of Flight Instructor certificates are required to carry them when:
          • Providing training required to qualify a person for solo flight and solo cross-country flight;
          • Endorse an applicant for a:
            • Pilot certificate or rating issued under this part;
            • Flight instructor certificate or rating issued under this part; or
            • Ground instructor certificate or rating issued under this part;
          • Endorse a pilot logbook to show training given; or
          • Endorse a logbook for solo operating privileges
      • Ground Instructor Certificates:
        • Each person who holds a ground instructor certificate issued under this part must have that certificate or a temporary document issued under §61.29(e) in that person's physical possession or immediately accessible when exercising the privileges of that certificate
        • Except as provided in paragraph (i)(3) of this section, no person other than the holder of a ground instructor certificate, issued under this part or part 143, with the appropriate rating on that certificate may:
          • Give ground training required to qualify a person for solo flight and solo cross-country flight;
          • Endorse an applicant for a knowledge test required for a pilot, flight instructor, or ground instructor certificate or rating issued under this part; or
          • Endorse a pilot logbook to show ground training given
      • Although not many, some exceptions do exist and can be found in FAR 61.3
    • Instrument Rating:

      • No person may act as pilot in command of a civil aircraft under IFR or in weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR flight unless that person holds:
        • The appropriate aircraft category, class, type (if required), and instrument rating on that person's pilot certificate for any airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift being flown;
        • An airline transport pilot certificate with the appropriate aircraft category, class, and type rating (if required) for the aircraft being flown;
        • For a glider, a pilot certificate with a glider category rating and an airplane instrument rating; or
        • For an airship, a commercial pilot certificate with a lighter-than-air category rating and airship class rating
    • Authorizations:

      • Information for authorizations as a Category II or III pilot, or Category A aircraft can be found in FAR 61.3
  • Photo Identification:

    • The photo identification must be a:
      • Driver's license issued by a State, the District of Columbia, or territory or possession of the United States;
      • Government identification card issued by the Federal government, a State, the District of Columbia, or a territory or possession of the United States;
      • U.S. Armed Forces' identification card;
      • Official passport;
      • Credential that authorizes unescorted access to a security identification display area at an airport regulated under 49 CFR part 1542; or
      • Other form of identification that the FAA finds acceptable
  • Medical certificate:

    • A person may serve as a required pilot flight crewmember of an aircraft only if that person holds the appropriate medical certificate issued under part 67
    • Exceptions do exist and can be found within FAR 61.3

Flight Review:

  • Whether you are an active pilot or trying to get back into flying, every 24 calendar months a pilot must conduct a flight review before acting as pilot-in-command
  • The review must be accomplished in an aircraft for which that pilot is rated by an authorized instructor and that instructor must certify that the person has satisfactorily completed the review through a logbook endorsement
  • With some exceptions, the flight review consists of at least 1 hour of ground training, and 1 hour flight training which must cover:
    • A review of the current general operating and flight rules of part 91 of this chapter; and
    • A review of those maneuvers and procedures that, at the discretion of the person giving the review, are necessary for the pilot to demonstrate the safe exercise of the privileges of the pilot certificate
  • Glider pilots may substitute a minimum of three instructional flights in a glider, each of which includes a flight to traffic pattern altitude, in lieu of the 1 hour of flight training required
  • Flight reviews are not required when within the previous 24 months, the pilot has:
    • Completed a pilot proficiency check or practical test conducted by an examiner, an approved pilot check airman, or a U.S. Armed Force, for a pilot certificate, rating, or operating privilege
    • Completed a practical test conducted by an examiner for the issuance of a flight instructor certificate, an additional rating on a flight instructor certificate, renewal of a flight instructor certificate, or reinstatement of a flight instructor certificate
    • Satisfactorily accomplished one or more phases of an FAA-sponsored pilot proficiency award program need not accomplish the flight review required by this section
    • A person who holds a flight instructor certificate and who has satisfactorily completed a renewal of a flight instructor certificate under the provisions in 61.197 need not accomplish the one hour of ground training
    • A student pilot need not accomplish the flight review required by this section provided the student pilot is undergoing training for a certificate and has a current solo flight endorsement as required under 61.87
  • It is recommended that the flight be conducted in a way that also satisfies the recency of flight experience requirements of FAR 61.57, listed below
  • A flight simulator or flight training device may be used to meet the flight review requirements under the following conditions:
    • The flight simulator or flight training device must be used in accordance with an approved course conducted by a training center certificated under part 142
    • Unless the flight review is undertaken in a flight simulator that is approved for landings, the applicant must meet the takeoff and landing requirements of 61.57(a) or 61.57(b)
    • The flight simulator or flight training device used must represent an aircraft or set of aircraft for which the pilot is rated
  • There are several reference guides such as the Biennial flight review (Flight bag series) which can help you best prepare for your flight review

Day Currency Requirements:

  • By exception, no person may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers or of an aircraft which requires (certificated for more) than one pilot flight crewmember unless that person has made at least three takeoffs and three landings within the preceding 90 days, and:
    • The person acted as the sole manipulator of the flight controls; and
    • The required takeoffs and landings were performed in an aircraft of the same category, class, and type (if a type rating is required)
      • If the aircraft to be flown is an airplane with a tailwheel, the takeoffs and landings must have been made to a full stop
  • In order to meet these currency requirements, a person may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft under day VFR or day IFR, provided no persons or property are carried on board the aircraft, other than those necessary for the conduct of the flight
  • The takeoffs and landings may be accomplished in a flight simulator or flight training device that is:
    • Approved by the FAA for landings; and
    • Used in accordance with an approved course conducted by a training center certificated under part 142 of the Federal Aviation Regulations
  • Note that night currency counts toward day currency however, as described below, day currency cannot count for night currency

Night Currency Requirements:

  • By exception, no person may act as pilot in command of an aircraft carrying passengers during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, unless within the preceding 90 days that person has made at least three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise, and:
    • That person acted as sole manipulator of the flight controls; and
    • The required takeoffs and landings were performed in an aircraft of the same category, class, and type (if a type rating is required)
  • The takeoffs and landings may be accomplished in a flight simulator that is:
    • Approved by the FAA for takeoffs and landings, if the visual system is adjusted to represent the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise; and
    • Used in accordance with an approved course conducted by a training center certificated under part 142 of the Federal Aviation Regulations

Instrument Experience:

  • By exception, a person may act as pilot in command under IFR or weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR only if:
    • Use of an airplane, powered-lift, helicopter, or airship for maintaining instrument experience. Within the 6 calendar months preceding the month of the flight, that person performed and logged at least the following tasks and iterations in an airplane, powered-lift, helicopter, or airship, as appropriate, for the instrument rating privileges to be maintained in actual weather conditions, or under simulated conditions using a view-limiting device that involves having performed the following:
    • Use of a flight simulator or flight training device for maintaining instrument experience. Within the 6 calendar months preceding the month of the flight, that person performed and logged at least the following tasks and iterations in a flight simulator or flight training device, provided the flight simulator or flight training device represents the category of aircraft for the instrument rating privileges to be maintained and involves having performed the following:
      • Six instrument approaches
      • Holding procedures and tasks
      • Intercepting and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems
        • If you haven't done anything for 6 months, you cannot fly IFR
    • Use of an aviation training device for maintaining instrument experience. Within the 2 calendar months preceding the month of the flight, that person performed and logged at least the following tasks, iterations, and time in an aviation training device and has performed the following:
      • Three hours of instrument experience
      • Holding procedures and tasks
      • Six instrument approaches
      • Two unusual attitude recoveries while in a descending, Vne airspeed condition and two unusual attitude recoveries while in an ascending, stall speed condition
      • Interception and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems
    • Combination of completing instrument experience in an aircraft and a flight simulator, flight training device, and aviation training device. A person who elects to complete the instrument experience with a combination of an aircraft, flight simulator or flight training device, and aviation training device must have performed and logged the following within the 6 calendar months preceding the month of the flight:
      • Instrument experience in an airplane, powered-lift, helicopter, or airship, as appropriate, for the instrument rating privileges to be maintained, performed in actual weather conditions, or under simulated weather conditions while using a view-limiting device, on the following instrument currency tasks:
        • Instrument approaches
        • Holding procedures and tasks
        • Interception and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems
      • Instrument experience in a flight simulator or flight training device that represents the category of aircraft for the instrument rating privileges to be maintained and involves performing at least the following tasks:
        • Instrument approaches
        • Holding procedures and tasks
        • Interception and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems
      • Instrument experience in an aviation training device that represents the category of aircraft for the instrument rating privileges to be maintained and involves performing at least the following tasks:
        • Six instrument approaches
        • Holding procedures and tasks
        • Interception and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems
    • Combination of completing instrument experience in a flight simulator or flight training device, and an aviation training device. A person who elects to complete the instrument experience with a combination of a flight simulator, flight training device, and aviation training device must have performed the following within the 6 calendar months preceding the month of the flight:
      • Instrument recency experience in a flight simulator or flight training device that represents the category of aircraft for the instrument rating privileges to be maintained and involves having performed the following tasks:
        • Six instrument approaches
        • Holding procedures and tasks
        • Interception and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems
      • Three hours of instrument experience in an aviation training device that represents the category of aircraft for the instrument rating privileges to be maintained and involves performing at least the following tasks:
        • Six instrument approaches
        • Holding procedures and tasks
        • Interception and tracking courses through the use of navigational electronic systems
        • Two unusual attitude recoveries while in a descending, Vne airspeed condition and two unusual attitude recoveries while in an ascending, stall speed condition
    • Maintaining instrument recent experience in a glider
      • Within the 6 calendar months preceding the month of the flight, that person must have performed and logged at least the following instrument currency tasks, iterations, and flight time, and the instrument currency must have been performed in actual weather conditions or under simulated weather conditions:
        • One hour of instrument flight time in a glider or in a single engine airplane using a view-limiting device while performing interception and tracking courses through the use of navigation electronic systems
        • Two hours of instrument flight time in a glider or a single engine airplane with the use of a view-limiting device while performing straight glides, turns to specific headings, steep turns, flight at various airspeeds, navigation, and slow flight and stalls
      • Before a pilot is allowed to carry a passenger in a glider under IFR or in weather conditions less than the minimums prescribed for VFR, that pilot must:
        • Have logged and performed 2 hours of instrument flight time in a glider within the 6 calendar months preceding the month of the flight
        • Use a view-limiting-device while practicing performance maneuvers, performance airspeeds, navigation, slow flight, and stalls
  • Instrument Proficiency Check:

    • Instrument Proficiency Checks, or IPCs, are required for pilots operating under Instrument Flight Rules
    • By exception, a person who has failed to meet the instrument experience requirements for more than six calendar months may reestablish instrument currency only by completing an IPC
    • The instrument proficiency check must consist of the areas of operation and instrument tasks required in the instrument rating Practical Test Standards/Airman Certification Standards and must be:
      • In an aircraft that is appropriate to the aircraft category;
      • For other than a glider, in a flight simulator or flight training device that is representative of the aircraft category; or
      • For a glider, in a single-engine airplane or a glider
    • The instrument proficiency check must be given by:
      • An examiner;
      • A person authorized by the U.S. Armed Forces to conduct instrument flight tests, provided the person being tested is a member of the U.S. Armed Forces;
      • A company check pilot who is authorized to conduct instrument flight tests under part 121, 125, or 135 of this chapter or subpart K of part 91 of this chapter, and provided that both the check pilot and the pilot being tested are employees of that operator or fractional ownership program manager, as applicable;
      • An authorized instructor; or
      • A person approved by the Administrator to conduct instrument practical tests

Exceptions:

  • Day and night currency requirements do not apply to a pilot in command who is employed by a part 119 certificate holder authorized to conduct operations under part 125 when the pilot is engaged in a flight operation for that certificate holder if the pilot in command is in compliance with 125.281 and 125.285 of this chapter
  • This section does not apply to a pilot in command who is employed by a part 119 certificate holder authorized to conduct operations under part 121 when the pilot is engaged in a flight operation under parts 91 and 121 for that certificate holder if the pilot in command is in compliance with §§121.435 or 121.436, as applicable, and §121.439 of this chapter
  • This section does not apply to a pilot in command who is employed by a part 119 certificate holder authorized to conduct operations under part 135 when the pilot is engaged in a flight operation under parts 91 and 135 for that certificate holder if the pilot in command is in compliance with §§135.243 and 135.247 of this chapter
  • Paragraph (b) of this section does not apply to a pilot in command of a turbine-powered airplane that is type certificated for more than one pilot crewmember, provided that pilot has complied with the requirements of paragraph (e)(4)(i) or (ii) of this section:
    • The pilot in command must hold at least a commercial pilot certificate with the appropriate category, class, and type rating for each airplane that is type certificated for more than one pilot crewmember that the pilot seeks to operate under this alternative, and:
      • That pilot must have logged at least 1,500 hours of aeronautical experience as a pilot;
      • In each airplane that is type certificated for more than one pilot crewmember that the pilot seeks to operate under this alternative, that pilot must have accomplished and logged the daytime takeoff and landing recent flight experience of paragraph (a) of this section, as the sole manipulator of the flight controls;
      • Within the preceding 90 days prior to the operation of that airplane that is type certificated for more than one pilot crewmember, the pilot must have accomplished and logged at least 15 hours of flight time in the type of airplane that the pilot seeks to operate under this alternative; and
      • That pilot has accomplished and logged at least 3 takeoffs and 3 landings to a full stop, as the sole manipulator of the flight controls, in a turbine-powered airplane that requires more than one pilot crewmember. The pilot must have performed the takeoffs and landings during the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise within the preceding 6 months prior to the month of the flight
    • The pilot in command must hold at least a commercial pilot certificate with the appropriate category, class, and type rating for each airplane that is type certificated for more than one pilot crewmember that the pilot seeks to operate under this alternative, and:
      • That pilot must have logged at least 1,500 hours of aeronautical experience as a pilot;
      • In each airplane that is type certificated for more than one pilot crewmember that the pilot seeks to operate under this alternative, that pilot must have accomplished and logged the daytime takeoff and landing recent flight experience of paragraph (a) of this section, as the sole manipulator of the flight controls;
      • Within the preceding 90 days prior to the operation of that airplane that is type certificated for more than one pilot crewmember, the pilot must have accomplished and logged at least 15 hours of flight time in the type of airplane that the pilot seeks to operate under this alternative; and
      • Within the preceding 12 months prior to the month of the flight, the pilot must have completed a training program that is approved under part 142 of this chapter. The approved training program must have required and the pilot must have performed, at least 6 takeoffs and 6 landings to a full stop as the sole manipulator of the controls in a flight simulator that is representative of a turbine-powered airplane that requires more than one pilot crewmember. The flight simulator's visual system must have been adjusted to represent the period beginning 1 hour after sunset and ending 1 hour before sunrise

Currency vs. Proficiency:

  • Proficiency and currency should go hand and hand however, one does not necessarily mean the other
  • Currency:

    • Currency is meeting the requirements set forth by the Federal Aviation Regulations, as described above
    • Currency is the minimum standard that must be met in order to legally perform an operation
  • Proficiency:

    • Proficiency is the ability for a pilot to not only meet currency requirements, but to meet them safely
    • A pilot who has been out of the cockpit for awhile may be able to meet currency requirements far before they are able to shake off the rust

Conclusion:

  • In addition to being current, legality must be considered
    • Always ensure you carry the appropriate documents demonstrating compliance with FARs
    • Remember also, age limitations for the carriage of persons is limited to 60 or 65 years, depending on the operation
  • Remember that in order to demonstrate compliance with the Federal Aviation Regulations you must log all flights relating to currency
  • Currency keeps you legal, but proficiency keeps you safe

References: