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What is a Commercial Pilot Certificate?

A Commercial Pilot Certificate is identical to your Private Pilot Certificate except it allows you to fly an airplane and carry passengers and/or property for compensation or hire under certain conditions. The FAA requires the applicant to hold a private pilot’s license and most students obtain an instrument rating so that their commercial privileges are not limited. The FAA also requires 250 hours of accumulated flight time, including specific hours of experience in several areas such as night flying, cross country, etc. The flight hours earned to obtain the private and instrument rating are included in the required 250 hours. The FAA sends this certificate to you after satisfactory completion of your training program, the written knowledge test, and a practical test.  All fight instructors are required to have a commercial license.

With a commercial license, pilots can do the following:

• Aerial Photography
• Skydiving Drops
• Operate corporate airplanes for individuals or companies
• Pipeline Patrol
• Ferry Flights
• Flight Instruction

What are the eligibility requirements to obtain a Commercial Pilot Certificate?

  1. Be at least 18 years of age.
  2. Be able to read, write, and converse fluently in English.
  3. Hold a current FAA medical certificate.
  4. Receive and log ground training from an authorized instructor or complete a home-study course. Subjects include:
    1. FARs
    2. NTSB Part 830
    3. Aerodynamics
    4. Aviation weather
    5. Operation of aircraft
    6. Weight and balance
    7. Performance charts
    8. Effects of exceeding limitations
    9. VFR charts
    10. Navigation facilities
    11. Aeronautical Decision Making (ADM)
    12. Aircraft systems
    13. Maneuvers, procedures, and emergency operations in the airplane
    14. Night and high-altitude operations
    15. National airspace system
  5. Pass the FAA commercial pilot knowledge test with a score of 70% or better.
  6. Accumulate flight experience (FAR 61.129). You must log at least 250 hr. of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least:
    1. 100 hr. in powered aircraft, of which 50 hr. must be in airplanes
    2. 100 hr. as pilot in command flight time, which includes at least:
      1. 50 hr. in airplanes
      2. 50 hr. in cross-country flight of which at least 10 hr. must be in airplanes
    3. 20 hr. of training in the areas of operation listed in item 8. below, including at least:
      1. 10 hr. of instrument training of which at least 5 hr. must be in a single-engine airplane
      2. 10 hr. of training in an airplane that has a retractable landing gear, flaps, and controllable pitch propeller, or is turbine-powered
      3. One cross-country flight of at least 2 hr. in a single-engine airplane in day-VFR conditions, consisting of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 NM from the original point of departure
      4. One cross-country flight of at least 2 hr. in a single-engine airplane in night-VFR conditions, consisting of a straight-line distance of more than 100 NM from the original point of departure
      5. 3 hr. in a single-engine airplane in preparation for the practical test within the 60 days preceding the test
    4. 10 hr. of solo flight in a single-engine airplane training in the areas of operation required for a single-engine rating, which includes at least:
      1. One cross-country flight of not less than 300 NM total distance, with landings at a minimum of three points, one of which is a straight-line distance of at least 250 NM from the original departure point
        1. In Hawaii, the longest segment need have only a straight-line distance of at least 150 NM.
      2. 5 hr. 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.
  7. Hold an instrument rating or your commercial certificate will be endorsed with a prohibition against carrying passengers for hire on flights beyond 50 NM or at night.
  8. Demonstrate flight proficiency (FAR 61.127). You must receive and log training, and obtain a logbook sign-off (endorsement) from your CFI on the following areas of operation:
    1. Preflight preparation
    2. Preflight procedures
    3. Airport and seaplane base operations
    4. Takeoffs, landings, and go-arounds
    5. Performance maneuvers
    6. Ground reference maneuvers
    7. Navigation
    8. Slow flight and stalls
    9. Emergency operations
    10. High-altitude operations
    11. Postflight procedures
  9. Successfully complete a practical test, which will be conducted as specified in the FAA’s Practical Test Standards (PTS).