As a pilot, you’ll be governed by the regulations set by the FAA. The more responsibility you take on as a pilot, the more stringent the FAA requirements become. For instance, pilots who want to fly as commercial pilots for hire must pass stricter requirements than pilots who fly only for personal pleasure or business. Some of the basic FAA regulations for the different levels of piloting are shown below.

Student pilot regulations

You must be 16 years old and pass a Class III medical exam given by an FAA- designated physician to obtain a student pilot certificate. The medical certificate doubles as a student pilot’s certificate. You may fly only with an instructor or, with your instructor’s written approval, solo (by yourself).

Private pilot regulations

To obtain a private pilot certificate, you must be 17 years old and have a minimum of 35 or 40 flight hours, depending on the type of school you attend. You must also pass the FAA private pilot’s written examination (a 60-question, multiple-choice test) and a checkride with an FAA examiner.

As a private pilot, can fly solo or with passengers. Special weather requirements pertaining to visibility and cloud conditions must be met, and you must continue to pass your Class III medical exam every two years. You may not be paid for your pilot services.

Instrument rating regulations

An instrument rating allows you to fly when visibility is poor and clouds are low in the sky. To obtain this rating, you must have a total of 125 hours of pilot experience and 40 hours of instrument instruction. Then you must pass a written examination and an FAA checkride.

Commercial pilot regulations

Commercial pilots can “fly for hire.” To exercise the full rights of a commercial pilot, you must have an instrument rating, be at least 18 years old, hold a Class II medical certificate, and have a minimum of 250 hours of flying time. You must also pass a 60-question written FAA examination and a FAA checkride.

Multi-engine rating regulations

To earn a multi-engine rating, you must take instructions from an appropriately certificated instructor. There is no hourly requirement or a written examination, but there is an FAA checkride, after which you’ll be licensed to fly airplanes with two or more engines. You may hold either a private or commercial certificate.

Certificated Flight Instructor regulations

To become a certificated flight instructor, you must be 18 years old and hold a commercial or airline transport certificate with an instrument rating. Then you must pass a written examination and a FAA checkride. As a certificated flight instructor, you may instruct private or commercial students. You may also obtain additional instructor ratings to teach instrument instructor or multi-engine instructor.

Airline Transport Pilot certificate regulations

You must have a commercial certificate, have passed a Class I medical exam within the last six months, have 1,500 flight hours, and pass a FAA written examination and checkride. This certificate allows you to perform pilot-in-command duties for commercial airlines and other transport operations.

Copyright 1996 General Aviation Manufacturers Association
General Aviation Manufacturers Association