Monday, October 5, 2009

Pilot Certifications

The type of intended flying will influence what type of pilot’s certificate is required. Eligibility, training, experience, and testing requirements differ depending on the type of certificates sought. [Figure 1-22]

Sport Pilot
To become a sport pilot, the student pilot is required to have 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 to become a student sport pilot (14 for glider).
• Be at least 17 to test for a sport pilot certificate (16 for gliders).
• Be able to read, write, and understand English.
• Hold a current and valid driver’s license as evidence of medical eligibility.

Recreational Pilot
To become a recreational pilot, one must:
• Be at least 17 years old (16 to be a private glider pilot or be rated for free flight in a balloon.)
• Be able to read, write, speak and understand the English language
• Pass the required knowledge test
• Meet the aeronautical experience requirements
• A logbook endorsement from an instructor
• Pass the required practical test
• Third-class medical certificate issued under part 14 CFR part 67, except for gliders and balloons—medical eligibility not required

As a recreational pilot, cross-country flight is limited to a 50 NM range from departure airport but is permitted with additional training per 14 CFR sections 61.101(c). Additional limitations include flight during the day and no flying in airspace where communications with air traffic control are required.

The aeronautical experience requirements for a recreational pilot license
• 30 hours of flight time including at least:
• 15 hours of dual instruction
• 2 hours of enrooted training
• 3 hours in preparation for the practical test
• 3 hours of solo flight

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 1-23]

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 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 nautical miles (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 parts 61; section 61.31(c) for additional information. [Figure 1-24]

Airline Transport Pilot
The airline transport pilot (ATP) is tested to the highest level of piloting ability. The ATP Certificate is a prerequisite for acting as a pilot in command (PIC) of scheduled airline 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.” [Figure 1-25]

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