Commercial Pilot License

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Commercial[edit]

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, and commercial pilots without an instrument rating are restricted to daytime flight within 50 nautical miles when flying for hire.

The FAA often uses the definition of flight which requires a Commercial Pilot Certificate to be any flight for "compensation or 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.

The requirements are:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Hold a private pilot certificate
  • Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language
  • Accumulate and log a specified amount of training and experience; the following are part of the airplane single-engine land class rating requirements:
    • If training under Part 61, at least 250 hours of piloting time including 20 hours of training with an instructor and 10 hours of solo flight, and other requirements including 50 hours of pilot in command cross-country time, i.e. more than 50 nautical miles (93 km) from the departure airport and both solo and instructor-accompanied night flights
    • If training under Part 141, at least 120 hours of training time including 55 hours with an instructor and 10 hours of solo flight, and other requirements including several cross-country, solo, and night flights
  • Pass an aeronautical knowledge test
  • Pass an oral test and flight test administered by an FAA inspector, FAA-designated examiner, or authorized check instructor (Part 141 only)

By itself, this certificate does not permit the pilot to set up an operation that carries members of the public for hire; such operations are governed by other regulations. Otherwise, a commercial pilot can be paid for certain types of operation, such as banner towing, agricultural applications, and photography, and can be paid for instructing if he holds a flight instructor certificate. To fly for hire, the pilot must hold a second class medical certificate, which is valid for one year.

Often, the commercial certificate will reduce the pilot’s insurance premiums, as it is evidence of training to a higher safety standard.

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