Aviation Certifications and Ratings
The information below is only a summary of the certificates, privileges and limitations, and is intended for educational purposes only. For detailed information, consult the Federal Aviation Regulations.
- Student Pilot: A student pilot is limited to solo or dual instructional flights only. You must be at least 16 years of age to get a student pilot certificate. A student pilot certificate is normally issued by an Aviation Medical Examiner when you get your FAA medical certificate. Must hold at least a Third Class Medical certificate.
- Sport Pilot: A sport pilot may fly an aircraft that has a seating capacity of no more than two persons, weighs no more than 1,320 pounds, has a maximum airspeed of 120 Knots, powered by a single reciprocating engine. More restrictions apply. May not need a medical certificate. See FARs for more information.
- Recreational Pilot: May not operate an aircraft with more than a single 180 hp engine, fixed-gear aircraft. The aircraft may not be certified for more than four passengers, but a recreational pilot may not carry more than one passenger. May not fly for compensation or hire. Must be at least 17 years of age. Must hold at least a Third Class Medical certificate.
- Private Pilot: A private pilot may carry passengers or cargo as long as no charge is made. A private pilot may fly either day or night, and a private pilot may fly in conjunction with employment if flying is only incidental to the employment. You must be at least 17 years of age to get your private pilot certificate. Must hold at least a Third Class Medical certificate.
- Commercial Pilot: A commercial pilot may fly for compensation or hire; however, additional requirements of FAR Part 135 must be met in order to fly as an air taxi pilot. Must be at least 18 years of age. Must hold at least a Second Class Medical certificate.
- Airline Transport Pilot (ATP): May fly as a pilot-in-command on an airline flight or on a multiengine scheduled commuter flight. Must be at least 23 years of age. Must hold a First Class Medical certificate.
- Flight Instructor: A flight instructor must be at least 18 years of age, hold either a commercial or ATP certificate with an instrument rating. There are three certified flight instructor (CFI) ratings: CFI (airplane or helicopter), CFII (certified flight instrument instructor - airplane or helicopter), and MEI (Multiengine Instructor). Must hold at least a Third Class Medical certificate.
Duration of pilot certificates:
- A student pilot certificate expires at the end of the 24th calendar month after it was issued.
- All other pilot certificates, except flight instructor, have no expiration date, but must be kept active by having a current medical certificate and a current (biennial) flight review.
- CFI certificates expire at the end of the 24th calendar month.