Darren Smith, Flight Instructor
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Commercial Pilot Certificate

General Information & Commonly Asked Questions
Commercial Pilot Navigation:  General Information  |  Rating Requirements  |  Commercial Pilot PTS Quick Ref Card  Part135 Mins  |  Multi Engine Info  |  Timebuilding  |  Helicopter Commercial

A certficated Commercial Pilot is paid for services as a pilot, provided you meet the qualifications which apply to the type of operations you are doing.  Some of this flying is  controlled by Part 91, but most commercial flying is controlled by Part 119, 121, 125, 129, and 135.  
Jumbo Jet

Do I need a new medical certificate?
   To exercise your commercial pilot privileges, you must get a new medical (at least 2nd class) every year.  If your 2nd class medical expires (and becomes a 3rd class), you cannot exercise the privileges of a commercial pilot.

What can I do with a commercial certificate?    The following are things commercial pilots can do under part 91 - 
1. Local scenic flights within 25sm of departure airport. 
2. Ferry Flights 
3. Crop Dusting 
4. Banner Towing 
5. Aerial Photography 
6. Fire fighting
7. Go on to earn your flight instructor certificate.
Can I fly people around for money?  You can certainly be paid for being a pilot with a Commercial Pilot Certificate.  You may work for an Air Carrier certificated under Parts 119, 135 or 121.  You may not be the Air Carrier conducting the business without getting an Air Carrier Certificate.  When you offer a package (airplane, price, pilot), you are no longer operating under Part 91 and would need an Air Carrier Certificate. An example would be "Can you fly me to Atlanta?"   If you provide the aircraft, you need to have an Air Taxi Commercial Operator certificate under Part 135.  There are different rules regarding maintenance, airworthiness requirements, crew member qualifications, and expanded VFR and IFR equipment lists that make Part 135 very different from Part 91. 

So the answer is NO, you cannot fly people around for money.  A Commercial Pilot Certificate simply allows a pilot to be PIC engaged in a commercial operation (airline) that has an Air Carrier Certificate.  A pilot certificate does not entitle the holder to become a commercial air-taxi operator.

If your customer approaches you, with his own airplane (either he rented it himself, or he owns it).  In this case you may fly for hire, because you are not offering your services as a package or "holding out" as a commercial operator -- air taxi or charter.Jumbo Jets waiting for take-off

What is training like?
   Some people may say that the commercial is just a glorified private pilot, because so many of the maneuvers are the same.  The commercial PTS does include such things as power on / off stalls, slow flight, and steep turns.  The new things you will learn for the commercial are primarily chandelles, lazy eight's, emergency descents and eight's on pylons.  You might ask, why do I need to do these maneuvers?  You want to become the master of airplane, and be smooth and skillful in what you do.  The examiner will also  expect that you have a solid understanding of the systems of the aircraft you bring to the checkride.  One examiner I know has a habit of looking through a pilot's logbook and asking about the systems of any aircraft the student has flown in the last year.  Students seeking a rating are required to prove US Citizenship and Flight Instructors must examine and keep a copy of a US Birth Certificate, US Passport, or Naturalization papers.   Citizens of other countries are required to register with the Transportation Security Administration prior to beginning training.  See Information for Foreign Students

Don't Forget the Instrument Rating. 
In FAR §61.133 — Commercial pilot privileges and limitations:
(b) Limitations. (1) A person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category or powered-lift category rating and does not hold an instrument rating in the same category and class will be issued a commercial pilot certificate that contains the limitation, “The carriage of passengers for hire in (airplanes) (powered-lifts) on cross-country flights in excess of 50 nautical miles or at night is prohibited.” The limitation may be removed when the person satisfactorily accomplishes the requirements listed in §61.65 of this part for an instrument rating in the same category and class of aircraft listed on the person's commercial pilot certificate.

Should I get a multi-engine rating before or after the commercial?

A lot of people go all the way through commercial (and some CFIs too) without doing any multi-engine training.  Many people, after getting their single engine commercial, will go do a 4 day multi-engine IFR add-on.  This way, you are multi-commercial IFR rated, which is the bare bones stuff the airlines want you to have.  A multi-commercial add-on takes about 10-15 hours to become proficient.  The only problem with this path is that the airlines will never hire you with less than 100 hours of multi-engine time.  If you are headed to an airline career, consider a plan to do your instrument & commercial ratings in a multi-engine aircraft at a slightly higher price. 

Student Resources:

    Commercial Pilot Airplane Rating Worksheet (download)
    Commercial Pilot Airplane PTS Quick Reference Card
    All about the NASA form
    Airman Certificate/Rating Application, Form 8710 (download)
    FAA Aviation Safety Program - additional aviation education opportunities
    Aircraft Datasheet (download) - Know thy aircraft
    Information for Foreign Students

"I learned the discipline of flying in order to have the freedom of flight....Discipline prevents crashes." 
--Captain John Cook, British Airways, Concorde Pilot

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