I have mentioned how to get your commercial pilot license briefly in a previous article I wrote on how to become a pilot. Unfortunately I will not go into a lot of detail on this article but I will answer a few common questions that I see frequently. As for all the details on how to become a commercial pilot, well I will do that in the near future and post a link here.
One of the statements people make all the time when they call up to get information on becoming a pilot is “I don’t want to get a private pilot license I want to go straight for my commercial,” – well sorry it doesn’t work like that . Or ” Do I have to get my private pilot before my commercial pilot license,” – yes you do.
So here is how it works, just like in high school – you can’t be a senior before you are a freshmen. It’s like that with flight school as well – you have to go to first grade first (your Private Pilot License) then you go to college (your Commercial Pilot License). Well – kind of like that analogy but the rules say that you have to have a private pilot license (PPL) before you can apply for your Commercial Pilot License (CPL).
Here is the basic chronological order that you have to go through in your pilot career – that’s if you want to make it a career.
Now – there are a lot of other addons to these, but this is the main structure of how you become a commercial pilot. By addons I mean things like flying airplane that land on water, or airplanes with tailwheels, or how you can fly a big jet with just your private license ( not for hire though). I will write another article on all these additions later.
Before I begin explaining my preferred teaching Syllabus for the private pilot license let me first say that there are many ways to get to the end goal of getting your license. What I mean by that is, this syllabus which I use and developed with a fellow instructor is not written in stone, it is a general guideline for the private pilot course.
You have to understand that flight lessons are a 1 on 1 thing and everyone learns differently and your instructor might be doing something completely different with you than another student. But even though flight lessons are tailored for the individual there still has to be some structure. For example, a baby first crawls than walks, or you wouldn’t build a house starting at the roof – that doesn’t make sense. The same is in aviation, you learn the basics and than you build on that so that you can perform complex tasks.
So now here is a my commonsens guidline (syllabus) to the private pilot license. This guide line follows a structure that builds your knowledge from the basic to the advanced and this is what I use with my students. Here it is:
Stage 1: Basic Flight Maneuvers
Lesson # 1 – Dual 1.0 hour
Lesson # 2 – Dual 1.5 hour
Lesson # 3 – Dual 1.5 hr
Do you have your medical?
Stage CheckInstructor ground school and/or Quiz.
Stage 2: Advanced Air work
Lesson # 4 – Dual 1.5 hour
Lesson # 5 – Dual 1.4 hour
Lesson # 6 – Dual 1.6 hr
Stage CheckInstructor ground school and/or Quiz.
Stage 3: Pre-Solo
Lesson # 7 – Dual 1.0 hour
Lesson # 8 – Dual 1.5 hour
Lesson # 9 – Dual 2.0
Stage CheckStage check- by other instructor
Lesson # 10 Review lesson #8 and lesson#9 – Dual 1.0 hour
Complete pre-solo written quiz.
Solo 0.5 hour FIRST SOLO!
Stage 4: Solo & Consolidation
Lesson # 11 – Dual 0.5 hour Solo 1.0 hour
Lesson # 12 – Dual 1.0 hour Solo 1.0 hour
Lesson # 13 – Dual 0.5 hou rSolo 1.0 hour
Lesson # 14 – Dual 0.5 hour Solo 1.0 hour
Stage CheckStage check- by other instructor
Stage 5: Night Flying
Lesson # 15 – Dual 1.5 hour
Lesson # 16 – Dual 1.5 hour
Stage CheckStage check- by other instructor
Stage 6: Cross Country Flying
Lesson # 17 – Dual 1.8 hour
Lesson # 18 – Dual 2.2 hour
Lesson # 19 – Solo 1.5
Lesson # 20 – Solo 1.5
Lesson # 21 – Solo 2.0 hour
Lesson # 22 – Dual 2.0 hour
Lesson # 23 – Solo 4.0 hour
Stage 7: FAA Test Prep
Lesson # 24 – Dual 1.8 hour
Lesson # 25 – Dual 2.2 hour
Lesson # 26 – Solo 2.5
Lesson # 27 – Solo 2.5
Lesson # 28 – Dual 2.0 hour
TEST – Dual 1.5 hour
The ultimate question – How much do flying lessons cost? Ok – this one can be a little complicated so take a deep breath sit back and relax.
Before I break it down, understand that there are alot of variables that matter when figuring out what it costs to become a pilot. So here are the factors that affect the cost of your pilot license.
Cost of Private Pilot License
Remember the FAA minimum is 40 hours of flying to get your private pilot license – but in reality, the national average is about 70 hours before someone is proficient enough to pass the test. Some people do it in 43 hours, some people do it in 93 hours, and some people never finish.
Now – this is what I charge for flying based on part 61 minimums:
So now you can advertise the Private Pilot for under $ 5000 and then have in small print it will probably take you longer than 40 hours to get your license.
Ok – the scenario I gave you up there is what some flight schools do to market themselves – watch out for things like this. Here is the reality – you will probably not fly the small two seat Cessna 152, you will probably pick the bigger, sexier, more powerful four seat Cessna 172.
So Now - this is what I really quoted people based on Reality – about 70 hours:
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have seen some students pay about $5,000 to $6,000 and get their private pilot license, but I have also seen students pay about $12,000 to $15,000 and never finish (still working). So, really expect it to cost you anywhere from 8 to 12 thousand.
I will write another post braking down the costs of getting to your commercial pilot license in another post. Generally, you commercial pilot license can cost about $30,000 to $35,000.
I hope I added my numbers correctly up there … you get the picture.
Ok … so you are still here and want to Become a Pilot. If you are reading this article first, thats ok but this is a follow up on my first article on how to become a pilot (first article here) .
Now, if you have selected a school and started calling them they might have told you something like “We are a Part 141 School” or “We are a part 61 school” in their sales pitch. What does this mean you ask, well I will tell you in a little bit, but first let me explain how it all works.
Ok – first you have to understand who issues you a pilot license, and that is the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). The FAA is a federal government agency who is tasked with the job of overseeing all the aviation legal stuff in the United States. The FAA is for aviation what the IRS is for taxes, the FAA is kind of like the aviation police. Setting the rules (laws), requirements, administering your flight test and ultimately mailing you your pilot license is one of the main things the FAA does. So – the FAA is the government agency that makes it legal for you to fly an airplane, whether it’s a small 4 seat propeller airplane or the 747 Jumbo Jet.
Now – the FAA needs teachers to teach new people wanting to become pilots, and these teachers (CFI – Certified Flight Instructors – aka PILOTS) are pilots who have attained additionl training and licencess issued by the FAA. For a pilot to be able to give instruction to someone wanting to become a pilot they must be a commercial pilot and have a CFI license as well. Understand that being a commercial pilot does not mean that they have a job flying for an airline and that they can fly “BIG PLANES”. Getting your commercial license means that you now have the skill and have gotten a license saying that you can now be paid for your piloting skills.
So to give you a little understanding of what licenses you can get I will explain these in a different article post in great detail, but here it is in a super simple way. First you have to get a Private Pilot License. Second, you have to get an Instrument Rating. Third, to get a Commercial License you have to have Private Pilot License and your Instrument Rating, than you can apply for your Commercial Pilot License which makes it legal for you to fly for hire and get paid for being a pilot.
———- Part 61 ———-
OK – so here is what Part 61 and Part 141 are, to explain this I will use an example as you the student and me the instructor.
Lets say you called me and I am a Part 61 school (instructor) and you are looking to get you private pilot license, and you start training with me your instructor. Then we start flying around in the schools Cessna and we do flight maneuvers that the FAA says you have to do so that you can pass your flight test. Now, these flight maneuvers (exercises, requirements) are listed in this book called the FAR/AIM (14 CFR – FARs – the Federal Aviation Regulations Book). This book is the book of laws that govern aviation, and if you open it to Part61 (Chapter 61) you will see all the requirements you have to do to become a Private Pilot, Commercial Pilot, etc. So this is what I do, I open the book to chapter 61 and look up what I have to teach you.
Simply if someone wants a pilot license their instructor will have to teach them the things listed in part 61. A part61 School is a business that has the airplanes and instructors working for it and it does the things listed in part61 of the FAR’s so that you meet the requirements to get your Pilot License.
———- Part 141 ———-
Now – Part 141 means that the business (school) is licensed by the FAA and not just the instructors. The instructors conducting instruction for that school now have to lookup things in part 141 of that law book.
So, a part 141 school is a business just like a part 61 school who has presented the FAA a business plan of how they will have their instructors teach, and now they can call themselves a part 141 School
———- Differences ———-
Will you have a different pilot license. — NO, it’s the same licence at the end of the day.
Will I be a better pilot with one or the other. — NO, your individual instructor is what matters.
Part 141, because they are licensed has better chance of getting you a loan for your training.
But, because they are licensed my training should be better. — NO, the instructor is what matters.
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter if you pay a Part61 School or a Part 141 School to do the training for your license, the will get you the same license in the end. The airline or the job you are going for doesn’t care, they just care about how much experience you have (hours of flying) and if you meet their company needs.
The thing that matters the most on your journey to become a pilot in the quality of training and what makes you a better pilot is your individual instructor, and that is because most of your flight training is one on one instruction.
It’s easy to become a pilot, especially in the United States. Now, some people might already know how to become a pilot, or think its common sense as far as what is needed to get your pilot license, or how you get a flying job. But trust me when I say, there are a lot of aviation enthusiasts who don’t even know what the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is or that a person just like you can get a pilot license.
I have been a Commercial Pilot, CFI (Certified Flight Instructor) for many years and have operated a prominent and successful flight school in Chicago Illinois. Now, I am going to give you all the details on how to become a pilot, but first … take a deep breath, sit back and relax.
Imagine- looking up at the sky and seeing a small plane flying over, ever wonder who is flying that or who are those planes carrying. Well – chances are it’s a privately owned airplane which is either rented or owned by a private pilot.
The reality is that, becoming a pilot and getting your pilot license is just like getting you drivers license. If you think that the people flying the big jet airliners have to go to the military first or have to go thought some big government program in order to become a pilot, let me tell you – THAT IS NOT TRUE. In many other countries that is the exact case but NOT in the United States. Actually, the United States has the best infrastructure and legal system setup to promote General and Commercial Aviation, that is why a lot of student pilots come from other countries to get their pilot license in USA.
Now – ill be honest with you, it takes a little more work and dedication to get your pilot license than it is to get your drivers license, but it can be done. So here is what you need to do.
First, you need to find a flight school. Yes, there are schools out there in the business of providing all the things you need to to get you pilot license. These schools provide the books, teacher (CFI – aka the pilot), and of course the PLANE/Aircraft. Really- you couldn’t learn how to become a pilot if you didn’t have a plane. Now also realize that there are many small airports all over the country that generally have flight schools located on the field. You can go to a online flight school directory like FaaFlightSchool.COM to find flight schools or AOPA directory.
It is as simple as finding a school and start taking lessons at your own pace so that you meet all the legal requirements that are required by the FAA to get your pilot license.
In the next posts I will tell you all the information you need to become a pilot and give you my advice on what it should cost you, and how to get the best training. Unfortunately there is such a a thing as bad flight training.
This might be useful to flight schools. Faa Flight Schools .COM is offering a Free online flight school schedule system. It’s a free alternative for a service that some other providers charge monthly fees for. As far as I know this is the only free service of its type ( a FREE flight schedule that is ) .
Check it out, you must register in order to use the scheduling system.
Instrument rating refers to the qualifications that a pilot must have in order to fly under IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). It requires further training and instruction apart from what is required for a Private Pilot certificate or Commercial Pilot certificate, in conjunction with rules and procedures specific to instrument flying, additional instruction in meteorology and more demanding training in flight by reference to instruments only. Testing consists of a written exam and a practical test (known more commonly as the check ride). The check ride is divided into an oral component to certify that the applicant understands the theory of instrument flying and an actual flight to ensure the pilot possesses the practical skills required for safe IFR flight.
For most private pilots, the most significant value of flying under IFR is the ability to fly in instrument meteorological conditions (such as inside clouds). More so, all flights operating in Class A airspace, defined as all airspace above 18,000 feet, must be conducted under IFR. In the United States, an instrument rating is required when operating under Special visual flight rules (SVFR) at night.
Requirements For an American Instrument Rating under part 61 of the Federal Aviation Regulation
Holding your Private Pilot License (PPL) or Private Pilot Certificate as in the U.S, allows you to act as the pilot of an aircraft for private purposes and not for compensation. As with other licenses, the requirements, guidelines and allowed privileges are set by the ICAO. Implementation varies broadly from country to country, but the ICAO states that it is gained by successfully completing a course of flight training of at least 40 duration(45 in the UK), passing a number of theory exams, and notably demonstrating flying skills to an examiner during a flight test or checkride. The average minimum age to obtain a Private Pilot Certificate is 17.
Different types of PPL are issued for the major categories of aircraft: powered airplanes/aeroplanes; gliders; helicopters; gyro planes; balloons; airships.
PPL is issued either according to the FAA (American licenses) or JAR (European licenses) regulations. Each organization has different requirements, and one a PPL license issued according by another regulator is only valid after application.
A license will contain a number of sub-qualifications or ratings. These specify in more detail the actual privileges of the license, including the types of aircraft that can be flown, whether flight under Instrument Flight Rules and at night is allowed, and whether instructing and examining of trainee pilots can be done.
In addition, a number of endorsements are available for specific skills (additional requirements apply):