Commercial Pilot

A commercial pilot certificate allows a pilot to fly for compensation or hire. Commercial pilots have opportunities for employment in many fields such as:

  • Airlines
  • Charter
  • Cargo
  • Corporate / business aviation
  • Law enforcement
  • State & federal government
  • Air ambulance
  • Ferry flights
  • Pipeline / powerline patrol
  • Aerial survey / mapping
  • Aerial photography
  • Sightseeing rides
  • Parachute jumping
  • Banner towing
  • Cropdusting

Many types of commercial flying, such as transporting the public from place to place, require the entire operation (not just the pilot) to receive special FAA certification. Commercial pilots need to be familiar with FAA regulations in parts 91, 119, 121, and 135 to determine which operations require FAA certification and which are exempt.

Pilots usually earn an instrument rating before a commercial pilot certificate, but an instrument rating is not required. Commercial pilots who are not instrument-rated may only fly commercial operations during the day and within a 50-nautical mile radius.

Commercial pilot training emphasizes precision control of an aircraft, advanced cross-country flight planning, and advanced aircraft systems.

Commercial Pilot Ground Training

You may accomplish the ground training requirements for the commercial pilot certificate through one-on-one ground instruction, a home study course, a ground school class, or a combination of the above.

Commercial Pilot Flight Training

Commercial pilot training generally has five components: a review of instrument flying skills, an introduction to complex aircraft, learning commercial flight maneuvers, cross-country flying, and test preparation. Training may be divided between time in an airplane and a flight simulator.

The commercial pilot certificate requires a minimum of 250 hours of flight time. A pilot who has recently graduated from private and instrument training may need to build flight experience to meet this minimum.

Commercial pilot training requirements are outlined in Part 61 of the FAA regulations.

Eligibility for a Commercial Pilot Certificate:

To be eligible for a commercial pilot certificate (airplane), a person must:

  1. Be at least 18 years of age
  2. Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. If the applicant is unable to meet one of these requirements due to medical reasons, then the FAA may place limitations on the person’s certificate
  3. Receive a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who conducted the required ground training or reviewed the person’s home study course, and who certified the person is prepared for the knowledge test
  4. Pass the required knowledge test
  5. Receive the required training and a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who conducted the training and who certified the person is prepared for the practical test
  6. Meet the aeronautical experience requirements
  7. Pass the required practical test
  8. Hold at least a private pilot certificate

Required Aeronautical Knowledge:

You must receive and log ground training from an authorized instructor or accomplish a home-study course on the following aeronautical knowledge areas:

  1. Applicable Federal Aviation Regulations that relate to commercial pilot privileges, limitations, and flight operations
  2. Accident reporting requirements of the National Transportation Safety Board
  3. Basic aerodynamics and the principles of flight
  4. Meteorology to include recognition of critical weather situations, windshear recognition and avoidance, and the use of aeronautical weather reports and forecasts
  5. Safe and efficient operation of aircraft
  6. Weight and balance computations
  7. Use of performance charts
  8. Significance and effects of exceeding aircraft performance limitations
  9. Use of aeronautical charts and a magnetic compass for pilotage and dead reckoning
  10. Use of air navigation facilities
  11. Aeronautical decision making and judgment
  12. Principles and functions of aircraft systems
  13. Maneuvers, procedures, and emergency operations appropriate to the aircraft
  14. Night and high-altitude operations
  15. Procedures for operating within the National Airspace System

Required Flight Proficiency:

You must receive and log training from an authorized instructor in an airplane, or in a flight simulator or flight training device, that includes the following areas of operation:

  1. Preflight preparation
  2. Preflight procedures
  3. Airport 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
  12. Multiengine operations (if seeking a multiengine rating)

Required Aeronautical Experience (airplane single-engine land):

*NOTE: The following requirements are for Part 61 training.

You 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-

a. 50 hours in airplanes

b. 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-

a. 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

b. 10 hours of training in an airplane that has a retractable landing gear, flaps, and a controllable pitch propeller, or is turbine-powered

c. 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

d. 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

e. 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, on the areas of operation listed under §61.127(b)(1) that include-

a. 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

b. 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

Completion time varies based on how often you train, how quickly you learn, how well you study at home, etc. We recommend you schedule at least one session per week, with two or three being more ideal for making steady progress and completing the program in fewer hours.

Overall Cost of Commercial Pilot Training

Each customer is unique, so overall cost of earning a commercial pilot certificate will vary. Training cost is directly tied to completion time because instruction and aircraft rental are billed by the hour. We do not offer fixed-price “guaranteed” training programs.

Including flight training, ground training, aircraft rental, books, supplies, and tests, you should budget $5,000 to $7,000 to earn a commercial pilot certificate. Cost will be greater if you need to build flight hours toward the required experience.  Financing is available to qualified customers through companies.

How to Get Started in Commercial Pilot Training

You can start earning your commercial pilot certificate with us as soon as it’s convenient for you. Please contact us if you’d like to make an appointment to meet an instructor and take a tour. We can help you obtain training materials and set up a schedule. Getting started is easy – all you have to do is give us a call.

Comments are closed.