Aeronautical Experience Requirements

Private Pilot

Casey Trammell in front of Cherokee N2189T, 2014 in Vernon, TX

 FAR 61.109.  Aeronautical experience.
(a) For an airplane single-engine rating. Except as provided in paragraph (k) of this section, a person who applies for a private pilot certificate with an airplane category and single-engine class rating must log at least 40 hours of flight time that includes at least 20 hours of flight training from an authorized instructor and 10 hours of solo flight training in the areas of operation listed in Sec. 61.107(b)(1) of this part, and the training must include at least--

(1) 3 hours of cross-country flight training in a single-engine airplane;

(2) Except as provided in Sec. 61.110 of this part, 3 hours of night flight training in a single-engine airplane that includes--

(i) One cross-country flight of over 100 nautical miles total distance; and

(ii) 10 takeoffs and 10 landings to a full stop (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport.

(3) 3 hours of flight training in a single-engine airplane on the control and maneuvering of an airplane solely by reference to instruments, including straight and level flight, constant airspeed climbs and descents, turns to a heading, recovery from unusual flight attitudes, radio communications, and the use of navigation systems/facilities and radar services appropriate to instrument flight;

(4) 3 hours of flight training with an authorized instructor in a single-engine airplane in preparation for the practical test, which must have been performed within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the test; and

(5) 10 hours of solo flight time in a single-engine airplane, consisting of at least--

(i) 5 hours of solo cross-country time;

(ii) One solo cross country flight of 150 nautical miles total distance, with full-stop landings at three points, and one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles between the takeoff and landing locations; and

(iii) Three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower.

Instrument Rating

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FAR 61.65. Aeronautical experience.

(d) Aeronautical experience for the instrument-airplane rating. A person who applies for an instrument-airplane rating must have logged:
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (g) of this section, 50 hours of cross-country flight time as pilot in command, of which 10 hours must have been in an airplane; and

(2) Forty hours of actual or simulated instrument time in the areas of operation listed in paragraph (c) of this section, of which 15 hours must have been received from an authorized instructor who holds an instrument-airplane rating, and the instrument time includes:

(i) Three hours of instrument flight training from an authorized instructor in an airplane that is appropriate to the instrument-airplane rating within 2 calendar months before the date of the practical test; and (ii) Instrument flight training on cross country flight procedures, including one cross country flight in an airplane with an authorized instructor, that is performed under instrument flight rules, when a flight plan has been filed with an air traffic control facility, and that involves-- (A) A flight of 250 nautical miles along airways or by directed routing from an air traffic control facility; (B) An instrument approach at each airport; and (C) Three different kinds of approaches with the use of navigation systems.

Multi-Engine Rating

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  • Train to proficiency. 
  • Normally around 10 hours training in the aircraft and 15 hours with the instructor. 
  • For a private pilot to obtain a multi-engine add-on rating under CFR Part 61, you'll need to be trained on the aircraft's performance and limitations, aircraft systems, performance maneuvers, single-engine operations, spin awareness, emergency operations, and instrument approaches (single engine) if applicable. There are no additional flying hour requirements on top of the private pilot or commercial pilot certificate, except you must have at least three hours in a multi-engine aircraft prior to taking the check ride.


FAR 61.63. Additional aircraft ratings (other than for ratings at the airline transport pilot certification level).

(a)General. For an additional aircraft rating on a pilot certificate, other than for an airline transport pilot certificate, a person must meet the requirements of this section appropriate to the additional aircraft rating sought.

(b)Additional aircraft category rating. A person who applies to add a category rating to a pilot certificate:

(1) Must complete the training and have the applicable aeronautical experience.

(2) Must have a logbook or training record endorsement from an authorized instructor attesting that the person was found competent in the appropriate aeronautical knowledge areas and proficient in the appropriate areas of operation.

(3) Must pass the practical test.

(4) Need not take an additional knowledge test, provided the applicant holds an airplane, rotorcraft, powered-lift, weight-shift-control aircraft,powered parachute, or airship rating at that pilot certificate level.

Commercial Pilot Single Engine

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FAR 61.129 Aeronautical experience.

(a)For an airplane single-engine rating. Except as provided in paragraph (i) of this section, a person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category and single-engine class rating must log at least 250 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least:

(1) 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in airplanes.

(2) 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight time, which includes at least -

(i) 50 hours in airplanes; and

(ii) 50 hours in cross-country flight of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes.

(3) 20 hours of training on the areas of operation listed in § 61.127(b)(1) of this part that includes at least -

(i) Ten hours of instrument training using a view-limiting device including attitude instrument flying, partial panel skills, recovery from unusual flight attitudes, and intercepting and tracking navigational systems. Five hours of the 10 hours required on instrument training must be in a single engine airplane;

(ii) 10 hours of training in a complex airplane, a turbine-powered airplane, or a technically advanced airplane (TAA) that meets the requirements of paragraph (j) of this section, or any combination thereof. The airplane must be appropriate to land or sea for the rating sought;

(iii) One 2-hour cross country flight in a single engine airplane in daytime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 nautical miles from the original point of departure;

(iv) One 2-hour cross country flight in a single engine airplane in nighttime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and

(v) Three hours in a single-engine airplane with an authorized instructor in preparation for the practical test within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the test.

(4) Ten hours of solo flight time in a single engine airplane or 10 hours of flight time performing the duties of pilot in command in a single engine airplane with an authorized instructor on board (either of which may be credited towards the flight time requirement under paragraph (a)(2) of this section), on the areas of operation listed under § 61.127(b)(1) that include -

(i) One cross-country flight of not less than 300 nautical miles total distance, with landings at a minimum of three points, one of which is a straight-line distance of at least 250 nautical miles from the original departure point. However, if this requirement is being met in Hawaii, the longest segment need only have a straight-line distance of at least 150 nautical miles; and

(ii) 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower.

Commercial Pilot Multi-Engine

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FAR 61.129 Aeronautical experience.

(b)For an airplane multiengine rating. Except as provided in paragraph (i) of this section, a person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category and multiengine class rating must log at least 250 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least:

(1) 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in airplanes.

(2) 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight time, which includes at least -

(i) 50 hours in airplanes; and

(ii) 50 hours in cross-country flight of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes.

(3) 20 hours of training on the areas of operation listed in § 61.127(b)(2) of this part that includes at least -

(i) Ten hours of instrument training using a view-limiting device including attitude instrument flying, partial panel skills, recovery from unusual flight attitudes, and intercepting and tracking navigational systems. Five hours of the 10 hours required on instrument training must be in a multiengine airplane;

(ii) 10 hours of training in a multiengine complex or turbine-powered airplane; or for an applicant seeking a multiengine seaplane rating, 10 hours of training in a multiengine seaplane that has flaps and a controllable pitch propeller, including seaplanes equipped with an engine control system consisting of a digital computer and associated accessories for controlling the engine and propeller, such as a full authority digital engine control;

(iii) One 2-hour cross country flight in a multiengine airplane in daytime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 nautical miles from the original point of departure;

(iv) One 2-hour cross country flight in a multiengine airplane in nighttime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and

(v) Three hours in a multiengine airplane with an authorized instructor in preparation for the practical test within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the test.

(4) 10 hours of solo flight time in a multiengine airplane or 10 hours of flight time performing the duties of pilot in command in a multiengineairplane with an authorized instructor (either of which may be credited towards the flight time requirement in paragraph (b)(2) of this section), on the areas of operation listed in § 61.127(b)(2) of this part that includes at least -

(i) One cross-country flight of not less than 300 nautical miles total distance with landings at a minimum of three points, one of which is a straight-line distance of at least 250 nautical miles from the original departure point. However, if this requirement is being met in Hawaii, the longest segment need only have a straight-line distance of at least 150 nautical miles; and

(ii) 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings (with each landing involving a flight with a traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower.

Certified Flight Instructor

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Flight instructor applicants must be at least 18 years old, be able to read, speak, write and understand English, and hold either a commercial pilot certificate or an airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate.


You'll need at least a 3rd class medical to act as pilot-in-command of an aircraft while instructing, but in fact, a flight instructor is not required to have a current medical certificate if they aren't acting as pilot in command or performing duties of a required crew member. Most instructors are eager to log PIC flight hours, though, and opt to maintain a valid medical certificate. It will also prevent you from having to turn away beginning students who cannot yet act as pilot in command. Regardless, you'll act as pilot in command during your check ride for the certified flight instructor certificate, so there's no reason to put it off if you don't already have one.


For the CFI certificate, there are two initial exams that you must take: The FOI (Fundamentals of Instruction) Exam and the FAA Certified Flight Instructor Knowledge Exam. The FOI covers topics related to teaching, such as the learning process, effective teaching elements, training techniques, etc.  The knowledge exam covers everything that you have learned up until this point, including all recreational, private and commercial topics, as well as instrument, multi-engine and high-performance topics. Almost any topic you can think of could be included.


It's best to prepare by using the same plans that you intend to use as an active instructor. Spend the time and energy on this part now, and you'll be forever grateful to yourself. Print off drawing, charts, diagrams and anything that will aid in your discussion of a topic. Buy the cool gadgets, such as the miniature airplane or holding computer if you think it will help you explain a topic.  Don't forget to make sure your lesson plans include everything in the FAA Airman Certification Standards (ACS) for each lesson. (For example, if the ACS references decision making, make sure you include a plan to evaluate the student's decision making during each flight or each lesson.)


Your CFI training will most likely be with a more experienced instructor. If you haven't flown in a while, the beginning part of your training might be a review. You'll practice all of the maneuvers up to ACS standards and make sure you're up to date with local area operations and FARs. Most of your CFI training, however, will be from the right seat. You'll practice instructing a pretend student, demonstrating maneuvers, watching the "student" perform the same maneuvers and then evaluating and coaching the student. On the ground, you'll teach your instructor as you would a student on the different topics, and you'll brief and debrief the student before and after each flight. You will, essentially, role-play until you're comfortable teaching anything and everything in multiple scenarios. Don't forget to use your lesson plans.


Once you've mastered the new role as a flight instructor, your instructor will sign you off for the check ride. Since you've taken check rides before, you know what to expect — for the most part.


There is a lot of material to cover, and some examiners like to cover each detail on the ground to ensure you're prepared. Others will cover a few items and, if satisfied, will move on to the flight. But don't skimp on anything. Be prepared as much as possible.


Remember, the examiner is testing to see what kind of instructor you'll be, so act professionally at all times and dress appropriately. Pretend the examiner is a student and over-explain everything. Don't skimp on the safety briefing, and don't let the examiner/student get away with doing anything illegal. Watch them closely.