Flight Training

Private Pilot Requirements

What does it take to become a private pilot?

Following are the minimum requirements for obtaining an Airplane Single Engine Rating

Total Time: 40 hours flying minimum which consists of at least:

Dual: 20 hours minimum of flight training with an instructor on the Private Pilot areas of operation including:

  • 3 hours of cross country flight training in a single engine airplane;

  • 3 hours of night flight training in a single engine airplane, that includes at least:
    a) 1 cross country flight of over 100 nm total distance; and
    b) 10 T/O’s and 10 landings to a full stop with each involving a flight in the traffic pattern at an airport.

  • 3 hours of flight training by reference to instruments in a single engine airplane; and

  • 3 hours of flight training in a single engine airplane within the 60 days prior to the practical test.

Solo: 10 hours minimum of solo flying in a single engine airplane on the Private Pilot areas of operation including:

  • 5 hours of solo cross country flying;

  • 1 solo cross country flight of at least 150nm total distance with full stop landings at 3 points and one segment of at least 50nm between T/O and landings; and

  • 3 T/O’s and landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower.

Instrument Rating Requirements

A person who applies for an instrument rating must:

  • Hold at least a current private pilot certificate or be concurrently applying for a private pilot certificate with an airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift rating appropriate to the instrument rating sought.

  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.

You must have logged the following:

  • At least 50 hours of cross-country flight time as pilot in command. At least 10 of these hours must be in airplanes for an instrument-airplane rating.

  • A total of 40 hours of actual or simulated instrument time on the areas of operation listed in 61.65(c).

  • At least 15 hours of instrument flight training from an authorized instructor in the aircraft category for the instrument rating sought.

For instrument-airplane rating, instrument training on cross-country flight procedures that includes at least one cross-country flight in an airplane that is performed under instrument flight rules. This flight must consist of:

  • A distance of at least 250 nm along airways or ATC-directed routing.

  • An instrument approach at each airport.

  • Three different kinds of approaches with the use of navigation systems (Example: ILS, VOR, GPS, etc).

  • At least 3 hours of instrument training that is appropriate to the instrument rating sought from an authorized instructor in preparation for the checkride within two calendar months before the examination date.

Commercial Pilot Rating

To obtain a commercial certificate in an airplane under FAR Part 61 rules a pilot must have:

  • 250 hours of flight time, 100 hours of which must be in powered aircraft, and 50 must be in airplanes.

  • 100 hours of pilot-in-command time, 50 of which must be in airplanes.

  • 50 hours of cross-country time, 10 of which must be in an airplane.

  • 20 hours of training, including 10 of instrument, 10 of complex or TAA, and a smattering of cross-country and practical test preparation.

  • 10 hours of solo training, including a smattering of cross-country and night.

Additional class ratings, such as adding a multiengine rating to single-engine commercial pilot certificate or adding a single-engine rating to a multiengine commercial pilot certificate, will take additional training in that class. FAR 61.129 has all the specifics. 

For pilots who train in an approved FAR Part 141 program, the commercial certificate can be earned with less experience, at a minimum of 190 hours.