Certification Requirements, Recent Flight Experience, and Record Keeping

To be issued a private pilot certificate, you must: (FAR 61.103)

  • Be at least 17 years old 
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language 
  • Pass the required knowledge test
  • Have at least 40 hours of flight time, this flight time includes: (FAR 61.109)
    • At least 20 hours of dual flight instruction, with 
      • 3 hours of cross country 
      • 3 hours of night flight instruction with one cross-country flight of over 100 nautical miles total distance
      • 10 takeoffs and 10 landings to a full stop 
      • 3 hours of instrument flight training 
      • 3 hours of flight training in preparation for the practical test(within 2 calendar months from the month of the test)
      • 10 hours of solo flight with: 
        • 5 hours of solo cross-country time with one solo cross-country of 150 nautical miles total distance, full-stop landings at three points, and one segment of the flight with a straight-line distance of more than 50 NM between the takeoff and landing locations 
        • Three takeoffs and three landings to a full stop at an airport with a control tower

Currency and recent flight experience (FAR 61.57)

  • You cannot exercise the privileges of an airman certificate, rating, endorsement, or authorization unless you meet the appropriate airman and medical requirements.
  • To act as PIC(Pilot in Command) of an aircraft carrying passengers, you must have made three takeoffs and three landings within the past 90 days as PIC in an aircraft of the same category, class, and type.
  • When in a tailwheel airplane, these landings must be to a full stop.
  • Category (with respect to the certification of aircraft) - Normal, utility, acrobatic.
  • Class (with respect to the certification of aircraft) - Airplane, rotorcraft, glider, balloon.
  • Category (With respect to the certification of airmen) - airplane, rotorcraft, glider, or lighter than air 
  • Class (with respect to the certification of airmen) - single-engine land/sea, multi-engine land/sea
  • Type - specific make and basic model of aircraft, including modifications that do not change its handling or characteristics of flight. Only required if flying an aircraft you need to be type rated in to act as PIC or SIC.

Night Experience (FAR 61.57)

  • The official definition of night is “the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight,” but for considerations of currency, night officially begins at 1 hr. after sunset and ends 1 hr. before sunrise 
  • To act as PIC of an aircraft carrying passengers at night, you have to have made three full-stop takeoffs and landings at night within the preceding 90 days in the same aircraft category, class, and type.

Flight Reviews (FAR 61.56)

  • You may not act as PIC unless you have completed a flight review within the preceding 24 months.
    • To act as PIC you have to have completed a flight review or completed a
      proficiency check or a practical test for a new rating within the preceding 24
      calendar months.
    • You also can complete the basic phase of the FAA Pilot Proficiency Program 

Change of address (FAR 61.60)

  • In order to exercise the privileges of your certificate, you must notify the FAA Airmen Certification Branch of a change of permanent mailing address within 30 days. 

Logbook Records (FAR 61.51)

  • All training used to meet the requirements for a certificate, rating, or flight review must be shown by a reliable record.
  • All flight time used to meet the recent flight experience requirements must also be logged, such as logging the three takeoffs and landings in order to carry passengers.

Each logbook entry should have:

  • The General Information, which includes: 
    • The date 
    • Total flight time or lesson time 
    • The location of where the aircraft departed and arrived 
    • The type and identification of the aircraft, flight sim, or flight training device 5. The name of the safety pilot, if required by CFR 91.109
  • The logbook should also have the Type of pilot experience or training, which includes:
    • Pilot in Command time
    • Solo time
    • Second in Command time
    • Flight and ground training time from an instructor 
    • Training received in a flight simulator with an instructor 
  • The logbook should then have the Conditions of flight, such as:
    • Day or Night 
    • Actual Instrument 
    • Simulate conditions of flight if in a simulator or flight training device

Solo Time 

  • Solo time means that a pilot is the sole occupant of the airplane
  • This time is logged as pilot in command time 

PIC (Pilot in Command)

  • A student pilot can log PIC time only when 
    • He/she is the sole occupant of the airplane 
    • Has a current solo flight endorsement from their instructor 
    • Is undergoing training for a pilot certificate or rating
  • A sport, recreational, private, commercial, or ATP pilot can log PIC time when 
    • They are the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft the pilot is rated in 
    • Is the sole occupant of the airplane
    • Other than for a sport or recreational pilot, is acting as PIC in an aircraft that requires more than one pilot to operate

Training Time 

  • Training time is logged when you receive training from an instructor in an airplane, flight simulator, or flight training device 
    • Your logbook must be endorsed by your instructor and have a description of the training given, the length of the lesson, and the instructor’s signature, certificate number, and certificate expiration date

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