The Types of Pilot Licenses
Becoming a pilot is all about being passionate about flying. There are many certificates and licenses issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). These licenses permit you to fly different aircraft types and provide you specific aviation job opportunities based on classifications, ratings, and regulations. It is advised that you research these licenses when learning about the various aviation courses to match your goals.
Pre-Requisites for a Pilot License
There are different requirements with every license type, but the most general eligibilities are:
- Have a complete proficiency in English,
- Complete pilot training, including ground and flight training,
- Pass aviation tests
Types of Pilot Licenses
- Student pilot: This is a learner’s license issued as the first step while registering in the aviation academy. This only certifies you as the commanding pilot during solo training sessions. You should be at least 16 years of age to issue a student pilot license.
- Sport pilot: This license allows you to fly just for leisure. You can obtain it with a minimum of 20 hours of training, at the age of 17 years minimum, and with a valid US driver’s license, but it also has limitations. You are not eligible for other rankings with a sport pilot license. Moreover, you can only fly during daytime with clear visibility conditions and only upto a height of 10,000 feet MSL (or 2000 AGL), with only one passenger. You fly a light-sport aircraft (LSA) with a maximum takeoff weight of 1320 pounds.
- Recreational pilot: This certificate is issued for leisure-time flying in an airman’s local area only. You can have one passenger and only fly an aircraft with 180 horsepower or less. This license is not issued as much today, but FAA will give one to you if you are 17 years old, hold a sport pilot or student pilot certificate, and log in 30 hours of flight time minimum.
- Private pilot: It is the most common and popular certificate. Any person who wants to fly as a career option needs to have this license. You can fly any aircraft for non-commercial purposes in any VFR condition and carry multiple passengers. The eligibilities are you should log a minimum of 35 or 40 hours of flight depending on your flight school, be at least 17 years old, hold a sport, student, or recreational pilot license, and have a third-class medical certificate.
- Commercial pilot: This is an entry-level permit for aviation jobs. You should be 18 years old, have a private pilot license, a second-class medical certificate, and log at least 190-250 flight hours.
- Airline transport pilot: This is the highest level license issued. There are many requirements to get this license, including a minimum of 23 years of age, a commercial pilot training license with ratings, a first-class medical certificate, and 1500 hours log for the unrestricted ATP certificate.
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