the commercial license

Basic Requirements

Here are just a few of the basic requirements for the Commercial License. Weíll discuss whatís entailed in each of these requirements later in this section.

  • You must be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English Language

  • You must be able to obtain a 2nd class medical certificate

  • You must be 18 years of age

  • You must hold at least a private pilot license

  • You must have received and logged the appropriate ground and flight training for the Commercial License

  • You must have 250 hours total flight time 

  • You must have 100 hours flight time as pilot in command

  • You must have 50 hours of cross country flight time as pilot in command

  • You must pass the FAA Commercial Pilot written exam

  • You must pass the Commercial Pilot Oral and Practical Exam



Training for the commercial license is not all that different than from your private license. Then difference is in the tolerances that you are going to be held to. In addition you will learn some new manoeuvres along the way and be required to demonstrate them to proficiency on the check ride. The main goal before beginning your training for the commercial license is to build your time towards the 250 total time requirement. Included in that time is 100 hours as pilot in command, and 50 hours of cross-country.  Since most folks have about 60hrs after they complete their private license you have some time to build. Even if you choose to obtain an instrument rating to help knock out some of that time you still have a ways to go to reach 250 hours total time.  One idea is to do a lot of cross-country flying. You can go see places youíve always wanted to see, and best of all youíre the pilot. Doesnít get any cooler than that!


When it comes time for actual training in preparation for the check ride its time to learn some new manoeuvres. The new manoeuvres required for the commercial check ride are chandelles, lazy 8ís, and 8ís on pylonís. Youíll learn more about these in your training but these are the manoeuvres that are required in addition to basic stalls, steep turns and etc. that you demonstrated for your private license.


As far as flight training goes for the commercial license there isnít a whole lot that you havenít seen in your previous training in terms of manoeuvres and such. However you are required to complete your check ride in a complex aircraft. Well that sounds complex, so whatís so complicated about it? What the FAA considers as ďcomplexĒ is an aircraft with retractable gear (goes up and down just like an airliner), adjustable flaps (just about every modern training aircraft has them), and a controllable pitch propeller (that means you can change the angle of the blades to control the amount of thrust produced). Complex aircraft are as their name suggests more complicated. However by the time you have the required 250 hours, the learning curve isnít that steep, and after a few lessons most people learn to handle the extra knobs and switches of the these ďcomplexĒ systems with ease.


One of the most important parts of you commercial training likes any other license or rating is the required aeronautical knowledge. Once you are a commercial pilot there is a whole new world of flying and regulations you have to know. Specifically the limitations of your commercial license and what you can and cannot do while getting paid to fly and what requires addition training or authorization.


After your instructor is confident you know your stuff and can nail those chandelles then itís a jingle on the phone to your local FAA office to sign you up for the check ride.




The FAA Written


The written test for the Commercial License like all other licenses and ratings is an 80 question computerized test. The questions cover a variety of subjects including, commercial operations, complex aircraft systems, performance calculations and aerodynamics.   


The FAA Oral Exam 

The oral exam will consist of various questions related to commercial operations and limitations, weather, cross country planning, and much more. The examiner will most likely have you plan a cross-country and then discuss your flight planning and give you some scenarios to evaluate your thought process as well as level of knowledge. Once the examiner is satisfied then it's on to the flight portion.


The FAA Practical Exam 

The practical exam or flight portion of the check ride will be a demonstration of your ability to fly to the standards of a commercial pilot. The standards are tighter but by the time you reach the required flight time the demands being placed upon you are not excessive. During the flight you will have to demonstrate all the typical flight manoeuvres (stalls, steep turns, slow flight), in addition to chandelles, lazy 8's, and 8's on pylonís as required for the commercial license. As far as emergency procedures go, you can expect a simulated engine failure, in addition to emergency operations of some of the aircrafts systems such as the landing gear. You will also need to demonstrate your proficiency in specialty landings such as short field landings, soft field landings and no flap landings. Once the examiner is satisfied you are issued some fresh ink on a new slip of paper that is your commercial pilot license. You can now get paid to fly instead of having to pay for it all your self.



The cost of obtaining your commercial license can be steep. Figure your hourly aircraft rental cost and multiply by 250.  Throw in some instructor costs to obtain your private license and instrument rating plus any instruction in preparation for commercial license and it adds up quickly. By the time itís all said and done it can be 15 to 20 thousand dollars and up for your training. Most people choose to take out a loan for their flight training or itís lumped together with the rest of their schooling if its being conducted through a university flight-training program. Doing it on your own through a small FBO or flight school has advantages such as going at your own pace. Larger university flight programs can get you done quickly and efficiently but they can be more expensive. Each has its pros and cons. Do some research because its a lot of money to spend in one place but once youíve decided whatís right for you, your on your way to becoming a professional pilot. Hopefully this website provides you with some useful insights and aides you in choosing the right path to your aviation career.