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Pilot Certificates & Ratings

Introduction:

  • There are 3 overall types of certificates:
    • Pilot Certificates:
      • Student pilot
      • Sport pilot
      • Recreational pilot
      • Private pilot
      • Commercial pilot
      • Airline transport pilot
    • Flight instructor certificates
    • Ground instructor certificates

The Student Pilot:

  • The first step in becoming a pilot is to select a type of aircraft. FAA rules for obtaining a pilot’s certificate differ depending on the type of aircraft flown. Individuals can choose among airplanes, gyroplanes, weight-shift, helicopters, powered parachutes, gliders, balloons, or airships. A pilot does not need a certificate to fly ultralight vehicles
  • Basic Requirements:

    • A student pilot is one who is being trained by an instructor pilot for his or her first full certificate, and is permitted to fly alone (solo) under specific, limited circumstances. Before a student pilot may be endorsed to fly solo, that student must have a Student Pilot Certificate. There are multiple ways that an aspiring pilot can obtain their Student Pilot Certificate. The application may be processed by an FAA inspector or technician, an FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner, a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI), or an Airman Certification Representative (ACR). If the application is completed electronically, the authorized person will submit the application to the FAA’s Airman Certification Branch (AFS-760) in Oklahoma City, OK, via the Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA). If the application is completed on paper, it must be sent to the local Flight Standards District Office (FSDO), who will forward it to AFS-760. Once the application is processed, the applicant will receive the Student Pilot Certificate by mail at the address provided on the application
    • The aforementioned process will become effective on April 1, 2016. The new certificate will be printed on a plastic card, which will replace the paper certificate that was issued in the past. The plastic card certificate will not have an expiration date. Paper certificates issued prior to the new process will still expire according to the date on the certificate; however, under the new process, paper certificates cannot be renewed. Once the paper certificate expires, the Student Pilot must submit a new application under the new process. Another significant change in the new process is that flight instructors will now make endorsements for solo privileges in the Student Pilot’s logbook, instead of endorsing the Student Pilot Certificate
  • To be eligible for a Student Pilot Certificate, the applicant must:
    • Be at least 16 years of age (14 years of age to pilot a glider or balloon)
    • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language
  • Medical Certification Requirements:
    • The second step in becoming a pilot is to obtain a medical certificate (if the choice of aircraft is an airplane, helicopter, gyroplane, or an airship). (The FAA suggests the individual get a medical certificate before beginning flight training to avoid the expense of flight training that cannot be continued due to a medical condition.) Balloon or glider pilots do not need a medical certificate, but do need to write a statement certifying that no medical defect exists that would prevent them from piloting a balloon or glider. The new sport pilot category does not require a medical examination; a driver’s license can be used as proof of medical competence. Applicants who fail to meet certain requirements or who have physical disabilities which might limit, but not prevent, their acting as pilots, should contact the nearest FAA office. Anyone requesting an FAA Medical Clearance, Medical Certificate, or Student Pilot Medical Certificate can electronically complete an application through the FAA’s MedXPress system available at https://medxpress.faa.gov/
    • A medical certificate is obtained by passing a physical examination administered by a doctor who is an FAA-authorized AME. There are approximately 6,000 FAA-authorized AMEs in the nation. To find an AME near you, go to the FAA’s AME locator at www.faa.gov/pilots/ amelocator/. Medical certificates are designated as first class, second class, or third class. Generally, first class is designed for the airline transport pilot; second class for the commercial pilot; and third class for the student, recreational, and private pilot. A Student Pilot Certificate can be processed by an FAA inspector or technician, an FAA Designated pilot examiner (DPE), an Airman Certification Representative (ACR), or a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). This certificate allows an individual who is being trained by a flight instructor to fly alone (solo) under specific, limited circumstances and must be carried with the student pilot while exercising solo flight privileges. The Student Pilot Certificate is only required when exercising solo flight privileges. The new plastic student certificate does not have an expiration date. For airmen who were issued a paper certificate, that certificate will remain valid until its expiration date. A paper certificate cannot be renewed. When the paper certificate expires, a new application must be completed via the IACRA system, and a new plastic certificate will be issued
  • Student Pilot Solo Requirements:
    • Once a student has accrued sufficient training and experience, a CFI can endorse the student’s logbook to authorize limited solo flight in a specific type (make and model) of aircraft. A student pilot may not carry passengers, fly in furtherance of a business, or operate an aircraft outside of the various endorsements provided by the flight instructor. There is no minimum aeronautical knowledge or experience requirement for the issuance of a Student Pilot Certificate, however, the applicant must be at least 16 years of age (14 years of age for a pilot for glider or balloon), and they must be able to read, speak, write and understand the English language. There are, however, minimum aeronautical knowledge and experience requirements for student pilots to solo

Becoming a Pilot:

  • The course of instruction a student pilot follows depends on the type of certificate sought. It should include the ground and flight training necessary to acquire the knowledge and skills required to safely and efficiently function as a certificated pilot in the selected category and class of aircraft. The specific knowledge and skill areas for each category and class of aircraft are outlined in 14 CFR part 61. Eligibility, aeronautical knowledge, proficiency, and aeronautical requirements can be found in 14 CFR part 61
    • Recreational Pilot, see subpart D
    • Private Pilot, see subpart E
    • Sport Pilot, see subpart J
  • The knowledge-based portion of training is obtained through FAA handbooks such as this one, textbooks, and other sources of training and testing materials which are available in print form from the Superintendent of Documents, GPO, and online at the Regulatory Support Division: www.faa.gov/ about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/afs/afs600
  • The CFI may also use commercial publications as a source of study materials, especially for aircraft categories where government materials are limited. A student pilot should follow the flight instructor’s advice on what and when to study. Planning a definite study program and following it as closely as possible will help in scoring well on the knowledge test. Haphazard or disorganized study habits usually result in an unsatisfactory score
  • In addition to learning aeronautical knowledge, such as the principles of flight, a student pilot is also required to gain skill in flight maneuvers. The selected category and class of aircraft determines the type of flight skills and number of flight hours to be obtained. There are four steps involved in learning a flight maneuver:
    • The CFI introduces and demonstrates flight maneuver to the student
    • The CFI talks the student pilot through the maneuver
    • The student pilot practices the maneuver under CFI supervision
    • The CFI authorizes the student pilot to practice the maneuver solo
  • Once the student pilot has shown proficiency in the required knowledge areas, flight maneuvers, and accrued the required amount of flight hours, the CFI endorses the student pilot logbook, which allows the student pilot to take the written and practical tests for pilot certification

Knowledge and Skill Tests:

  • Knowledge Tests:
    • The knowledge test is the computer portion of the tests taken to obtain pilot certification. The test contains questions of the objective, multiple-choice type. This testing method conserves the applicant's time, eliminates any element of individual judgment in determining grades, and saves time in scoring
    • FAA Airman Knowledge Test Guides for every type of pilot certificate address most questions you may have regarding the knowledge test process. The guides are available on-line (free of charge) at http://www.faa.gov/training_testing/ testing/test_guides/
    • When To Take the Knowledge Test:
      • The knowledge test is more meaningful to the applicant and more likely to result in a satisfactory grade if it is taken after beginning the flight portion of the training. Therefore, the FAA recommends the knowledge test be taken after the student pilot has completed a solo cross-country flight. The operational knowledge gained by this experience can be used to the student’s advantage in the knowledge test. The student pilot’s CFI is the best person to determine when the applicant is ready to take the knowledge test
  • Practical Test:
    • The FAA has developed PTS for FAA pilot certificates and associated ratings. [Figure 1-25] In 2015, the FAA began transitioning to the ACS approach. The ACS is essentially an “enhanced” version of the PTS. It adds taskspecific knowledge and risk management elements to each PTS Area of Operation and Task. The result is a holistic, integrated presentation of specific knowledge, skills, and risk management elements and performance metrics for each Area of Operation and Task The ACS evaluation program will eventually replace the PTS program for evaluating and certifying pilots
    • The practical tests are administered by FAA ASIs and DPEs. Title 14 CFR part 61 specifies the areas of operation in which knowledge and skill must be demonstrated by the applicant. Since the FAA requires all practical tests be conducted in accordance with the appropriate PTS and the policies set forth in the Introduction section of the PTS book. The pilot applicant should become familiar with this book during training
    • The PTS book is a testing document and not intended to be a training syllabus. An appropriately-rated flight instructor is responsible for training the pilot applicant to acceptable standards in all subject matter areas, procedures, and maneuvers. Descriptions of tasks and information on how to perform maneuvers and procedures are contained in reference and teaching documents such as this handbook. A list of reference documents is contained in the Introduction section of each PTS book. Copies may obtained by:
      • Downloading from the FAA website at www.faa.gov
      • Purchasing print copies from the GPO, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, or via their official online bookstore at www.access.gpo.gov
    • The flight proficiency maneuvers listed in 14 CFR part 61 are the standard skill requirements for certification. They are outlined in the PTS as “areas of operation.” These are phases of the practical test arranged in a logical sequence within the standard. They begin with preflight preparation and end with postflight procedures. Each area of operation contains “tasks,” which are comprised of knowledge areas, flight procedures, and/or flight maneuvers appropriate to the area of operation. The candidate is required to demonstrate knowledge and proficiency in all tasks for the original issuance of all pilot certificates
    • When To Take the Practical Test:
      • 14 CFR part 61 establishes the ground school and flight experience requirements for the type of certification and aircraft selected. However, the CFI best determines when an applicant is qualified for the practical test. A practice practical test is an important step in the flight training process
      • The applicant will be asked to present the following documentation:
        • FAA Form 8710-1 (8710.11 for sport pilot applicants), Application for an Airman Certificate and/or Rating, with the flight instructor’s recommendation
        • An Airman Knowledge Test Report with a satisfactory grade
        • A medical certificate (not required for glider or balloon), a Student Pilot Certificate, and a pilot logbook endorsed by a flight instructor for solo, solo cross-country (airplane and rotorcraft), and for the make and model aircraft to be used for the practical test (driver’s license or medical certificate for sport pilot applicants)
        • The pilot log book records
        • A graduation certificate from an FAA-approved school (if applicable)
      • The applicant must provide an airworthy aircraft with equipment relevant to the areas of operation required for the practical test. He or she will also be asked to produce and explain the:
        • Aircraft’s registration certificate
        • Aircraft’s airworthiness certificate
        • Aircraft’s operating limitations or FAA-approved aircraft flight manual (if required)
        • Aircraft equipment list
        • Required weight and balance data
        • Maintenance records
        • Applicable airworthiness directives (ADs)
      • For a detailed explanation of the required pilot maneuvers and performance standards, refer to the PTS pertaining to the type of certification and aircraft selected. These standards may be downloaded free of charge from the FAA at www.faa.gov. They may also be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents or GPO bookstores. Most airport fixed-base operators and flight schools carry a variety of government publications and charts, as well as commercially published materials
    • Who Administers the FAA Practical Tests?
      • Due to the varied responsibilities of the FSDOs, practical tests are usually given by DPEs. An applicant should schedule the practical test by appointment to avoid conflicts and wasted time. A list of examiner names can be obtained from the local FSDO. Since a DPE serves without pay from the government for conducting practical tests and processing the necessary reports, the examiner is allowed to charge a reasonable fee. There is no charge for the practical test when conducted by an FAA inspector
  • Role of the Certificated Flight Instructor:

    • To become a CFI, a pilot must meet the provisions of 14 CFR part 61. The FAA places full responsibility for student flight training on the shoulders of the CFI, who is the cornerstone of aviation safety. It is the job of the flight instructor to train the student pilot in all the knowledge areas and teach the skills necessary for the student pilot to operate safely and competently as a certificated pilot in the NAS. The training includes airmanship skills, pilot judgment and decision-making, and good operating practices
    • A pilot training program depends on the quality of the ground and flight instruction the student pilot receives. The flight instructor must possess a thorough understanding of the learning process, knowledge of the fundamentals of teaching, and the ability to communicate effectively with the student pilot. Use of a structured training program and formal course syllabus is crucial for effective and comprehensive flight training. It should be clear to the student in advance of every lesson what the course of training will involve and the criteria for successful completion. This should include the flight instructor briefing and debriefing the student before and after every lesson. Additionally, scenario-based training has become the preferred method of flight instruction today. This involves presenting the student with realistic flight scenarios and recommended actions for mitigating risk
    • Insistence on correct techniques and procedures from the beginning of training by the flight instructor ensures that the student pilot develops proper flying habits. Any deficiencies in the maneuvers or techniques must immediately be emphasized and corrected. A flight instructor serves as a role model for the student pilot who observes the flying habits of his or her flight instructor during flight instruction, as well as when the instructor conducts other pilot operations. Thus, the flight instructor becomes a model of flying proficiency for the student who, consciously or unconsciously, attempts to imitate the instructor. For this reason, a flight instructor should observe recognized safety practices, as well as regulations during all flight operations
    • The student pilot who enrolls in a pilot training program commits considerable time, effort, and expense to achieve a pilot certificate. Students often judge the effectiveness of the flight instructor and the success of the pilot training program based on their ability to pass the requisite FAA practical test. A competent flight instructor stresses to the student that practical tests are a sampling of pilot ability compressed into a short period of time. The goal of a flight instructor is to train the “total” pilot
  • Role of the Designated Pilot Examiner:

    • The Designated Pilot Examiner (DPE) plays an important role in the FAA’s mission of promoting aviation safety by administering FAA practical tests for pilot and Flight Instructor Certificates and associated ratings. Although administering these tests is a responsibility of the ASI, the FAA’s highest priority is making air travel safer by inspecting aircraft that fly in the United States. To satisfy the need for pilot testing and certification services, the FAA delegates certain responsibilities to private individuals who are not FAA employees
    • Appointed in accordance with 14 CFR part 183, section 183.23, a DPE is an individual who meets the qualification requirements of the Pilot Examiner’s Handbook, FAA Order 8710.3, and who:
      • Is technically qualified
      • Holds all pertinent category, class, and type ratings for each aircraft related to their designation
      • Meets requirements of 14 CFR part 61, sections 61.56, 61.57, and 61.58, as appropriate
      • Is current and qualified to act as PIC of each aircraft for which he or she is authorized
      • Maintains at least a Third-Class Medical Certificate, if required
      • Maintains a current Flight Instructor Certificate, if required
    • Designated to perform specific pilot certification tasks on behalf of the FAA, a DPE may charge a reasonable fee. Generally, a DPE’s authority is limited to accepting applications and conducting practical tests leading to the issuance of specific pilot certificates and/or ratings. The majority of FAA practical tests at the private and commercial pilot levels are administered by DPEs
    • DPE candidates must have good industry reputations for professionalism, integrity, a demonstrated willingness to serve the public, and must adhere to FAA policies and procedures in certification matters. The FAA expects the DPE to administer practical tests with the same degree of professionalism, using the same methods, procedures, and standards as an FAA ASI

Pilot Certification:

  • The type of intended flying influences what type of pilot's certificate is required. Eligibility, training, experience, and testing requirements differ depending on the type of certificates sought
  • Each type of pilot's certificate has privileges and limitations that are inherent within the certificate itself
  • However, other privileges and limitations may be applicable based on the aircraft type, operation being conducted, and the type of certificate
  • For example, a certain certificate may have privileges and limitations under 14 CFR part 61 and part 91
    • Privileges: define where and when the pilot may fly, with whom they may fly, the purpose of the flight, and the type of aircraft they are allowed to fly
    • Limitations: the FAA may impose limitations on a pilot certificate if, during training or the practical test, the pilot does not demonstrate all skills necessary to exercise all privileges of a privilege level, category, class, or type rating
  • Endorsements, a form of authorization, are written to establish that the certificate holder has received training in specific skill areas. Endorsements are written and signed by an authorized individual, usually a certificated flight instructor (CFI), and are based on aircraft classification. [Figure 1-21]
  • Sport Pilot:

    • To become a sport pilot, the student pilot is required to have flown, at a minimum, the following hours depending upon the aircraft:
      • Airplane: 20 hours
      • Powered Parachute: 12 hours
      • Weight-Shift Control (Trikes): 20 hours
      • Glider: 10 hours
      • Rotorcraft (gyroplane only): 20 hours
      • Lighter-Than-Air: 20 hours (airship) or 7 hours (balloon)
    • To earn a Sport Pilot Certificate, one must:
      • Be at least 16 years old to become a student sport pilot (14 years old for gliders or balloons)
      • Be at least 17 years old to test for a sport pilot certificate (16 years old for gliders or balloons)
      • Be able to read, write, and understand the English language
      • Hold a current and valid driver’s license as evidence of medical eligibility
    • When operating as a sport pilot, some of the following privileges and limitations may apply:
      • Privileges:
        • Operate as pilot in command (PIC) of a light-sport aircraft unless otherwise stipulated (see below)
        • Carry a passenger and share expenses (fuel, oil, airport expenses, and aircraft rental only)
          • You must pay at least half the operating expenses of the flight
        • Fly during the daytime using VFR, a minimum of 3 statute miles visibility and visual contact with the ground are required
      • Limitations:
        • Prohibited from carrying more than one passenger
        • Prohibited from flying in Class A airspace
        • Prohibited from flying in Class B, C, or D airspace until you receive training and a logbook endorsement from an instructor(FAR 61.325)
        • No flights outside the United States without prior permission from the foreign aviation authority
        • May not tow any object
        • No flights while carrying a passenger or property for compensation or hire
        • Prohibited from flying in furtherance of a business
        • At night
        • To demonstrate the aircraft in flight to a prospective buyer if you are an aircraft salesperson
        • In a passenger-carrying airlift sponsored by a charitable organization
        • At an altitude of more than 10,000 feet MSL or 2,000 feet AGL, whichever is higher
        • When the flight or surface visibility is less than 3 statute miles
        • Without visual reference to the surface
        • If the aircraft:
          • Has a VH greater than 87 knots CAS, unless you have met the requirements of §61.327(b)
          • Has a VH less than or equal to 87 knots CAS, unless you have met the requirements of §61.327(a) or have logged flight time as pilot in command of an airplane with a VH less than or equal to 87 knots CAS before April 2, 2010
        • Contrary to any operating limitation placed on the airworthiness certificate of the aircraft being flown
        • Contrary to any limit on your pilot certificate or airman medical certificate, or any other limit or endorsement from an authorized instructor
        • Contrary to any restriction or limitation on your U.S. driver's license or any restriction or limitation imposed by judicial or administrative order when using your driver's license to satisfy a requirement of this part
        • As a pilot flight crewmember on any aircraft for which more than one pilot is required by the type certificate of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted
    • The sport pilot certificate does not list aircraft category and class ratings. After successfully passing the practical test for a sport pilot certificate, regardless of the light-sport aircraft privileges you seek, the FAA will issue you a sport pilot certificate without any category and class ratings. The Instructor will provide you with the appropriate logbook endorsement for the category and class of aircraft in which you are authorized to act as pilot in command
  • Recreational Pilot:

    • To become a recreational pilot, one must:
      • Be at least 17 years old
      • Be able to read, write, speak, and understand the English language
      • Pass the required knowledge test
      • Meet the aeronautical experience requirements in either a single-engine airplane, a helicopter, or a gyroplane
      • Obtain a logbook endorsement from an instructor
      • Pass the required practical test
      • Obtain a third-class medical certificate issued under 14 CFR part 67
    • As a recreational pilot, cross-country flight is limited to a 50 NM range from the departure airport but is permitted with additional training per 14 CFR part 61, section 61.101(c). Additionally, recreational pilots are restricted from flying at night and flying in airspace where communications with ATC are required
    • The minimum aeronautical experience requirements for a recreational pilot license involve:
      • 30 hours of flight time including at least:
        • 15 hours of dual instruction
        • 2 hours of en route training
        • 3 hours in preparation for the practical test
        • 3 hours of solo flight
    • When operating as a recreational pilot, some of the following privileges and limitations may apply:
      • Privileges:
        • Carry no more than one passenger;
        • Not pay less than the pro rata share of the operating expenses of a flight with a passenger, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenses, or aircraft rental fees
        • A person who holds a recreational pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft on a flight within 50 nautical miles from the departure airport, provided that person has received training in accordance with FAR 61.101(b)
        • A person who holds a recreational pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft on a flight that exceeds 50 nautical miles from the departure airport, provided that person has met the requirements of FAR 61.101(c)
        • A person who holds a recreational pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft in Class B, C, and D airspace, at an airport located in Class B, C, or D airspace, and to, from, through, or at an airport having an operational control tower, provided that person has met the requirements of FAR 61.101(d)
      • Limitations:
        • A recreational pilot may not act as PIC of an aircraft that is certificated for more than four occupants or has more than one powerplant
        • That is certificated:
          • For more than four occupants;
          • With more than one powerplant;
          • With a powerplant of more than 180 horsepower, except aircraft certificated in the rotorcraft category; or
          • With retractable landing gear;
        • That is classified as a multiengine airplane, powered-lift, glider, airship, balloon, powered parachute, or weight-shift-control aircraft;
        • That is carrying a passenger or property for compensation or hire;
        • For compensation or hire;
        • In furtherance of a business;
        • Between sunset and sunrise;
        • In Class A, B, C, and D airspace, at an airport located in Class B, C, or D airspace, or to, from, through, or at an airport having an operational control tower;
        • At an altitude of more than 10,000 feet MSL or 2,000 feet AGL, whichever is higher;
        • When the flight or surface visibility is less than 3 statute miles;
        • Without visual reference to the surface;
        • On a flight outside the United States, unless authorized by the country in which the flight is conducted;
        • To demonstrate that aircraft in flight as an aircraft salesperson to a prospective buyer;
        • That is used in a passenger-carrying airlift and sponsored by a charitable organization; and
        • That is towing any object
      • A recreational pilot may not act as a pilot flight crewmember on any aircraft for which more than one pilot is required by the type certificate of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted, except when:
        • Receiving flight training from a person authorized to provide flight training on board an airship; and
        • No person other than a required flight crewmember is carried on the aircraft
      • A person who holds a recreational pilot certificate, has logged fewer than 400 flight hours, and has not logged pilot-in-command time in an aircraft within the 180 days preceding the flight shall not act as pilot in command of an aircraft until the pilot receives flight training and a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor, and the instructor certifies that the person is proficient to act as pilot in command of the aircraft. This requirement can be met in combination with the requirements of §§61.56 and 61.57 of this part, at the discretion of the authorized instructor
      • A recreational pilot certificate issued under this subpart carries the notation, “Holder does not meet ICAO requirements"
      • For the purpose of obtaining additional certificates or ratings while under the supervision of an authorized instructor, a recreational pilot may fly as the sole occupant of an aircraft:
        • For which the pilot does not hold an appropriate category or class rating;
        • Within airspace that requires communication with air traffic control; or
        • Between sunset and sunrise, provided the flight or surface visibility is at least 5 statute miles
      • In order to fly solo, the recreational pilot must meet the appropriate aeronautical knowledge and flight training requirements of §61.87 for that aircraft. When operating an aircraft under the conditions specified in paragraph (i) of this section, the recreational pilot shall carry the logbook that has been endorsed for each flight by an authorized instructor who:
        • Has given the recreational pilot training in the make and model of aircraft in which the solo flight is to be made;
        • Has found that the recreational pilot has met the applicable requirements of §61.87; and
        • Has found that the recreational pilot is competent to make solo flights in accordance with the logbook endorsement
  • Private Pilot:

    • A private pilot is one who flies for pleasure or personal business without accepting compensation for flying except in some very limited, specific circumstances. The Private Pilot Certificate is the certificate held by the majority of active pilots. It allows command of any aircraft (subject to appropriate ratings) for any noncommercial purpose and gives almost unlimited authority to fly under VFR. Passengers may be carried and flight in furtherance of a business is permitted; however, a private pilot may not be compensated in any way for services as a pilot, although passengers can pay a pro rata share of flight expenses, such as fuel or rental costs. If training under 14 CFR part 61, experience requirements include at least 40 hours of piloting time, including 20 hours of flight with an instructor and 10 hours of solo flight. [Figure 1-22]
    • Private Pilot Privileges and Limitations:

      • (a) Except as provided in paragraphs (b) through (h) of this section, no person who holds a private pilot certificate may act as pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire; nor may that person, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft
      • (b) A private pilot may, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command of an aircraft in connection with any business or employment if:
        • (1) The flight is only incidental to that business or employment; and
        • (2) The aircraft does not carry passengers or property for compensation or hire
      • (c) A private pilot may not pay less than the pro rata share of the operating expenses of a flight with passengers, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees
      • (d) A private pilot may act as pilot in command of a charitable, nonprofit, or community event flight described in §91.146, if the sponsor and pilot comply with the requirements of §91.146
      • (e) A private pilot may be reimbursed for aircraft operating expenses that are directly related to search and location operations, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees, and the operation is sanctioned and under the direction and control of:
        • (1) A local, State, or Federal agency; or
        • (2) An organization that conducts search and location operations
      • (f) A private pilot who is an aircraft salesman and who has at least 200 hours of logged flight time may demonstrate an aircraft in flight to a prospective buyer
      • (g) A private pilot who meets the requirements of §61.69 may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft towing a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle
      • (h) A private pilot may act as pilot in command for the purpose of conducting a production flight test in a light-sport aircraft intended for certification in the light-sport category under §21.190 of this chapter, provided that:
        • (1) The aircraft is a powered parachute or a weight-shift-control aircraft;
        • (2) The person has at least 100 hours of pilot-in-command time in the category and class of aircraft flown; and
        • (3) The person is familiar with the processes and procedures applicable to the conduct of production flight testing, to include operations conducted under a special flight permit and any associated operating limitations
  • Commercial Pilot:

    • A commercial pilot may be compensated for flying. Training for the certificate focuses on a better understanding of aircraft systems and a higher standard of airmanship. The Commercial Pilot Certificate itself does not allow a pilot to fly in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), and commercial pilots without an instrument rating are restricted to daytime flight within 50 NM when flying for hire
    • A commercial airplane pilot must be able to operate a complex airplane, as a specific number of hours of complex (or turbine-powered) aircraft time are among the prerequisites, and at least a portion of the practical examination is performed in a complex aircraft. A complex aircraft must have retractable landing gear, movable flaps, and a controllable-pitch propeller. See 14 CFR part 61, section 61.31(e) for additional information. [Figure 1-23]
  • Airline Transport Pilot:

    • The airline transport pilot (ATP) is tested to the highest level of piloting ability. The ATP certificate is a prerequisite for serving as a PIC and second in command (SIC) of scheduled airline operations. It is also a prerequisite for serving as a PIC in select charter and fractional operations. The minimum pilot experience is 1,500 hours of flight time. In addition, the pilot must be at least 23 years of age, be able to read, write, speak, and understand the English language, and be “of good moral standing.” A pilot may obtain an ATP certificate with restricted privileges enabling him/her to serve as an SIC in scheduled airline operations. The minimum pilot experience is reduced based upon specific academic and flight training experience. The minimum age to be eligible is 21 years. [Figure 1-24]

Ground Instructor Ratings:

  • Basic
  • Advanced
  • Instrument

References: