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Private Pilot Certificate Requirements

Private Pilot Certificate Requirements

Pilot Certificate - front Pilot Certificate - back

A private pilot certificate will allow you to fly an airplane and carry passengers and baggage, although not for pay or compensation. However, your operating expenses (such as gas, or aircraft rental costs) may be split evenly with your passengers. The FAA will issue you a Private Pilot certificate, which is a piece of plastic similar to a state issued driver’s license, upon completion of your a pilot knowledge test, and a private pilot practical test.

To be eligible for the Private Pilot certificate you must:

  1. Be at least 17 years of age.
  2. Be able to read, write, and converse fluently in English (certificates with operating limitations may be available for medically related deficiencies).
  3. Obtain at least a third-class FAA medical certificate
    • To obtain an FAA medical certificate, you undergo a simple medical examination administered by an FAA designated doctor, called Aviation Medical Examiner (AME).
    • For private pilot certificates a third-class medical certificate issued expires at the end of the last day of the month either:
      • 5 years after the date of examination shown on the certificate, if you have not reached your 40th birthday on or before the date of examination or
      • 2 years after the date of examination shown on the certificate, if you have reached your 40th birthday on or before the date of examination.
  4. Receive and log ground training from an authorized instructor or complete a home-study course covering
    1. Applicable Federal Aviation Regulations ... that relate to private pilot privileges, limitations, and flight operations.
    2. Accident reporting requirements of the National Transportation Safety Board.
    3. Use of the applicable portions of the Aeronautical Information Manual and FAA ACs (advisory circulars).
    4. Use of aeronautical charts for VFR navigation using pilotage, dead reckoning, and navigation systems.
    5. Radio communication procedures.
    6. Recognition of critical weather situations from the ground and in flight, windshear avoidance, and the procurement and use of aeronautical weather reports and forecasts.
    7. Safe and efficient operation of aircraft, including collision avoidance, and recognition and avoidance of wake turbulence.
    8. Effects of density altitude on takeoff and climb performance.
    9. Weight and balance computations.
    10. Principles of aerodynamics, powerplants, and aircraft systems.
    11. Stall awareness, spin entry, spins, and spin recovery techniques for the airplane...category ratings.
    12. Aeronautical decision making and judgment.
    13. Preflight action that includes, 1. How to obtain information on runway lengths at airports of intended use, data on takeoff and landing distances, weather reports and forecasts, and fuel requirements. And, 2. How to plan for alternatives if the flight cannot be completed or delays are encountered.
  5. Pass a private pilot knowledge test with a score of 70% or better.
  6. Receive a total of 40 hr. of flight instruction and solo flight time, including
    1. 20 hr. of flight training from an authorized flight instructor, including at least
      1. 3 hr. of cross-country, i.e., to other airports
      2. 3 hr. at night, including
        1. One cross-country flight of over 100 NM total distance
        2. 10 takeoffs and 10 landings to a full stop at an airport
      3. 3 hr. of instrument flight training in an airplane
      4. 3 hr. in airplanes in preparation for the private pilot practical test within 60 days prior to that test
        NOTE:  A maximum of 2.5 hr. of instruction may be accomplished in an FAA-approved flight simulator or flight training device representing an airplane.
    2. 10 hr. of solo flight time in an airplane, including at least
      1. 5 hr. of cross-country flights
      2. One solo cross-country flight of at least 150 NM total distance, with full-stop landings at a minimum of three points and with one segment of the flight consisting of a straight-line distance of at least 50 NM between the takeoff and landing locations
      3. Three solo takeoffs and landings to a full stop at an airport with an operating control tower
  7. Obtain a logbook edorsment from you flight instructor attesting that you have received instruction, and are proficient in the following areas of operations:
    1. Preflight preparation
    2. Preflight procedures
    3. Airport and seaplane base operations
    4. Takeoffs, landings, and go-arounds
    5. Performance maneuvers
    6. Ground reference maneuvers
    7. Navigation
    8. Slow flight and stalls
    9. Basic instrument maneuvers
    10. Emergency operations
    11. Night operations
    12. Postflight procedures
    13. Multiengine operations (for only multiengine airplanes)
  8. Successfully complete a practical test which will be given as a final exam by an FAA inspector or designated pilot examiner. The practical test is made up of both an oral test session and a flight test session. The practical test will be conducted as specified in the FAA’s Private Pilot Practical Test Standards
    Note: FAA inspectors are FAA employees and do not charge for their services. But, FAA-designated pilot examiners are proficient, experienced flight instructors and pilots who are authorized by the FAA to conduct practical tests - they do charge a fee.