Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport • 11001 Baker Street • Amarillo, Texas 79111 • Office (806)335-9763 • Fax (806)335-9221

Pilot Certificates

There are several levels of pilot certificates in the United States. For each, the student pilot must acquire a minimum amount of flight training, demonstrate proficiency, and successfully pass both a written and a practical skills exam.

Private Pilot Certificate
This is the first license a student pilot achieves. It requires a minum of 40 hours of flight training and allows a pilot to fly anywhere in the United States, day or night, while carrying passengers and cargo. A private pilot may not fly in clouds, nor may a private pilot fly for compensation or hire.

Instument Rating
An instrument rating is not a certificate in itself but rather an added privilege to a pilots certificate. It requires a pilot to have an additional 40 hours of training with special emphasis on flying by instruments only. Pilots with instument ratings may fly in the clouds and when their visibility is restricted to less than basic visual minimums. An instrument rating is NOT for flying through thunderstorms, known icing, or any hazardous weather conditions.

Commercial Pilot Certificate
A commercial pilot certificate allows a pilot to fly for compensation or hire. It requires a minimum of 250 hours of flight training. Commercial pilots are required to hone their skills to a finer degree so that they may maintain control of an aircraft while carrying paying passengers or cargo. Commercial pilots are not required to have an instrument rating however, if they do not obtain one then they are restricted to daytime operations only, and they must remain within 50NM of their home airport while operating for compensation or hire.

Certificated Flight Instructor
A flight instructor is considered one of the most difficult certificates to earn. A flight instructor must have both a commercial certificate and an added instrumnet rating. Additionally, a flight instructor must be able to proficiently operate an aircraft from the passenger side seat while teaching other pilots. Flight instructors are considered the gaurdians of aviation. Their job is to teach other pilots how to fly while emphasizing the inmportance of safety.

Airline Transport Pilot
An airline transport pilot may legally act as the pilot-in-command of an aircraft operating as an airline or cargo transport company. In order to achieve this rating most pilots earn their CFI certificate and build time teaching others.

    Minimum required hours
Certificate Privileges and limitations Flight time Instruction Min totalhours
Student solo
  1. May operate an aircraft without an instructor on board
  2. May not carry passengers
  3. May not fly without visual reference to the ground
  4. Must obey limitations put forth by instructor
  1. No minimum hours specified
  2. Must recieve training in aircraft systems and operations, airspace and airport operations, four fundamental flight maneuvers, ground reference maneuvers, slowflight, stalls, emergency procedures, and landings
  3. May not fly without visual reference to the ground
  4. Must obey limitations put forth by instructor
  1. May operate an aircraft without supervision
  2. May carry persons or property
  3. May not fly for compensation or hire
  4. May not fly in clouds
40 hours 20 hours 40 hours
Instrument (optional)
  1. May fly in clouds
  2. NOT for flying in or near thunderstorms
40 hours 15 hours 90 hours
  1. May fly for compensation or hire
  2. May NOT act as an air  or cargo carrier
  3. Restricted to daytime operations only unless an instrument rating is also held.
140 hours 20 hours 250 hours
  1. May teach other pilots
  2. May endorse other pilots logbooks
  1. Must have both an instrument and a commercial rating