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TRANSITIONING TO AIRPLANES

By Adam Kowalski

Introduction: My name is Adam Kowalski, I have been in the National Guard for 6 years (so far) and have a lifelong dream of flying “things”. I received my Private Pilot license in 2010 and immediately began working on my Instrument Rating, money ran out and I joined the National Guard as an Officer Candidate (I’ve made some bad decisions in my life). After completing OCS and pinning on that shiny gold bar, I went to Mother Rucker and became a UH-60 A/L Aviator, currently I am a Platoon Leader in an Assault Company. After returning from flight school I continued my fixed wing licenses and quickly obtained my Commercial Pilot Airplane Single Engine Land License and finished my Instrument Rating under the same Category and Class. I immediately began my CFI training and was hired as a flight instructor in December of 2016. Once I had the required hours to interview with the airlines, I did and was hired under the RTP program by Envoy Airlines. However, patience is/was never my strongest attribute and instead of waiting to begin the RTP program, opted to get my CFII and Commercial Multi Engine Land license. I completed my Technical Interview in July and am currently sitting in a hotel room writing this the night before I start the ATP-CTP. During my short tenure as a flight instructor, I was honored to help develop a Part 141 program for the flight school that I worked for as well as assisting in the process and acting as the military liaison for obtaining their VA approval. Aside from my experience in this process, I instructed students under both Part 61 and 141. I have seen the struggle of students like you trying to figure out how to get the required licenses and I hope that this long-winded discussion helps shed some light. I will attach my contact info to the end of this synopsis in the event you have any further questions.

Disclosure: The following is not the only way to get your licenses, however it is the way that I have seen that has been the most successful at getting you to where you want to be. I will begin by discussing how to get our Commercial Airplane Single Engine Land so that you are able to time build and save money versus spending more money on time building with a multi engine alone. After that I will discuss your instrument rating, again this will again be for airplane single engine land. Following that, we’ll look at adding on Multi Engine Land to your Commercial License. You will see the requirements get less as you go. I will begin with how to do your training under Part 61, followed by Part 141 as well as the differences between the two, it will be up to you to choose which path suits you better.

Definitions: Category: This is the broad description of the type of aircraft you will fly. (i.e. airplane, helicopter) Class: type of aircraft within category. (i.e. single engine land, multi engine land, single engine sea, multi engine sea) Endorsement: A legal statement from your instructor in your logbook. Designated Pilot Examiner: “DPE”, an individual who can administer check rides in lieu of an FAA representative. Most check rides are done through DPEs. Pilot in Command: “PIC”, FAR 1.1 (1) Has final authority and responsibility for the operation and safety of the flight; (2) Has been designated as pilot in command before or during the flight; and (3) Holds the appropriate category, class, and type rating, if appropriate, for the conduct of the flight. Dual Received: The time that you spend with a flight instructor. You may log PIC and Dual Received when you appropriately rated in that Category and Class of aircraft. Solo: Time spent in the aircraft alone. All solo time is PIC, not at PIC time is solo.

How to get your licenses under Part 61. Pros: You can complete the required training on your own time and terms. Since there is no requirement to adhere to an FAA approved syllabus you can focus on improving your areas of deficiency rather than checking the block under a strict program. In my experience as a student and instructor, this offers the quickest way of achieving your licenses. Because the requirements for obtaining a license under Part 61 are in black and white in the FARs, it is the most easily identifiable by flight schools which are inherently risk adverse and take comfort being able to see the regulations in print rather than the interpretation of the regulations/syllabus by their FAA representative which is a topic that will be addressed under the description for Part 141. Cons: The biggest drawback that makes veterans skeptical of these programs is that they are not eligible for GI Bill repayment. This means that you must pay for 100% of the costs out of pocket.

Disclaimer: There are grants and loans based on future earnings through groups such as AOPA that you can take advantage of to help fund your training. Many schools offer financing options. Getting your Commercial License: Some aspiring airline pilots have been told to get their Private Pilot License Airplane Single Engine Land (ASEL) before all else. Though this is an option, it does nothing to help you get any closer to your required 250 hours of PIC in an airplane. Instead of wasting time and money on a private pilot license, I would recommend completing the training for your commercial license instead. Many flight schools will push for you to obtain your Private first then immediately go for instrument rating then commercial licenses. This isn’t necessarily because they’re trying to extort more money from you. This is the path that the typical 0-hour pilot goes through. Their reasoning is that you need an Airplane license to add your instrument rating to. Furthermore, by getting your Commercial License, you have a major restriction that doesn’t allow you to fly for hire farther than 50 NM from your home airport [61.133(b)]. This wouldn’t be an issue if you were looking to be an air tour pilot, but you will still need your Instrument Rating Airplane to fly for the airlines. The idea of going straight for your Commercial Pilot Multi Engine Land (MEL) is appealing since this is the key license that will put you in the FO seat at your chosen airline. However, in terms of saving money, it is cheaper and typically easier to go for the ASEL variant first. This is especially true if you don’t have previous fixed wing experience. Requirements for Commercial ASEL: First, it’s important to understand that you don’t need to meet the full qualifications of the FARs since you are only adding on to your existing Commercial License.

To prove our point, refer to FAR 61.63. 61.63 Additional aircraft ratings (other than for ratings at the airline transport pilot certification level). (a) General. For an additional aircraft rating on a pilot certificate, other than for an airline transport pilot certificate, a person must meet the requirements of this section appropriate to the additional aircraft rating sought. (b) Additional aircraft category rating. A person who applies to add a category rating to a pilot certificate: (1) Must complete the training and have the applicable aeronautical experience. In order to qualify for this initial license you must meet the requirements set in the FARs for Commercial Pilots. This requirement will change drastically when you go for your Multi Engine add on. (2) Must have a logbook or training record endorsement from an authorized instructor attesting that the person was found competent in the appropriate aeronautical knowledge areas and proficient in the appropriate areas of operation. I will discuss the required endorsements at the end of this portion. (3) Must pass the practical test. This is your check ride, consisting of an oral and practical exam. The requirements of this test will be addressed after the training requirements. (4) Need not take an additional knowledge test, provided the applicant holds an airplane, rotorcraft, powered-lift, weight-shift-control aircraft, powered parachute, or airship rating at that pilot certificate level. At no time in your training should you be required to take an FAA written exam since you have an existing Commercial License and Instrument Rating.
Now that we have established that you aren’t required to meet the full requirements, let’s look at the experience you will need.
61.129 Aeronautical Experience (a) For an airplane single-engine rating. Except as provided in paragraph (i) of this section, a person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category and single-engine class rating must log at least 250 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least: (1) 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in airplanes. You already have 100 hours, therefore you’re only required 50 more hours in an airplane, however you must meet the other requirements. (2) 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight time, which includes at least – (i) 50 hours in airplanes; and (ii) 50 hours in cross-country flight of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes. (3) 20 hours of training on the areas of operation listed in § 61.127(b)(1) of this part that includes at least – (i) Ten hours of instrument training using a view-limiting device including attitude instrument flying, partial panel skills, recovery from unusual flight attitudes, and intercepting and tracking navigational systems. Five hours of the 10 hours required on instrument training must be in a single engine airplane; (ii) 10 hours of training in an airplane that has a retractable landing gear, flaps, and a controllable pitch propeller, or is turbine-powered, or for an applicant seeking a single-engine seaplane rating, 10 hours of training in a seaplane that has flaps and a controllable pitch propeller; (iii) One 2-hour cross country flight in a single engine airplane in daytime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 nautical miles from the original point of departure; (iv) One 2-hour cross country flight in a single engine airplane in nighttime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and (v) Three hours in a single-engine airplane with an authorized instructor in preparation for the practical test within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the test. (4) Ten hours of solo flight time in a single engine airplane or 10 hours of flight time performing the duties of pilot in command in a single engine airplane with an authorized instructor on board (either of which may be credited towards the flight time requirement under paragraph (a)(2) of this section), on the areas of operation listed under § 61.127(b)(1) that include – (i) One cross-country flight of not less than 300 nautical miles total distance, with landings at a minimum of three points, one of which is a straight-line distance of at least 250 nautical miles from the original departure point. However, if this requirement is being met in Hawaii, the longest segment need only have a straight-line distance of at least 150 nautical miles; and (ii) 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower.
How to meet these requirements: 50 Hours PIC: Unless you have your Private, Recreational, or Sport Pilot License in an airplane, time with a CFI will not count towards PIC time. However, since you are already a Commercial Pilot, you will need the proper endorsement in your logbook. As previously discussed, many CFIs will believe that you need a solo endorsement. While this isn’t a bad endorsement to receive, the more appropriate endorsement would fall under 61.31(d)(2) “To act as PIC of an aircraft in solo operations when the pilot does not hold an appropriate category/class rating” “I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received the training as required by § 61.31(d)(2) to serve as a PIC in a (Airplane Single Engine Land). I have determined that he/she is prepared to serve as PIC in that (make and model) aircraft. Limitations: (optional). /s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-19” To determine more precisely what training is required to receive this endorsement refer to 61.31(d)(2) in the FARs. Be cautious, your CFI may place limitations on this endorsement that are mandatory for you to rely on. Common limitations include: no passengers, wx minimum requirements, an expiration date and restricted from night flight. With this endorsement, you can rent an airplane and begin to build PIC time. 10 Hours of Cross Country: these flights must be over 50 NM straight line distance from departure airport to destination for them to count towards obtaining a license or rating as defined by the FARs. 20 Hours of training with a CFI: This time consists of a few subsections that must be met as well. These areas include 5 hours of instrument training (the other 5 hour prescribed in the FAR are covered by your military training). 10 of the 20 hours of required training must be in a “Complex” airplane which is defined as an airplane with a Constant Speed Propellor, Retractable Landing Gear, and Flaps. If any 1 of the 3 requirements are not met, that aircraft does not qualify as a Complex airplane. Also included in this 20 hour section includes a 2 hour Day and Night Cross Country flight with a straight line distance between departure and arrival airports of 100NM or more, these Cross Country flights must be completed with a CFI onboard. The final 3 hour requirement that 3 of the hours of training must be done with the CFI recommending you or the check ride be done with 2 months prior to the check ride. One Cross Country flight of at least 300NM with a landing at 3 airports with the straight-line distance of one leg being 250NM or more. If you have a Private Pilot License, you can meet this requirement with a CFI onboard, otherwise it must be completed solo for it to count. 5 hours of night VFR flight with 10 takeoffs and landings at an airport with an operating control tower. If your instructor didn’t restrict you from night flight, you can accomplish this time on your own. It is also important to realize that the FAA counts night time different than the military. FAR 1.1 defines night as “the time between the end of evening civil twilight and the beginning of morning civil twilight, as published in the Air Almanac, converted to local time”. Check Ride Requirements: Once you have met the requirements, your CFI will recommend you to take your Check Ride with either the FAA or a Designated Examiner. This is very similar to a military check ride, it will consist of an oral exam and a practical test. Since you already hold a Commercial Pilot License, you will not be required to take the full check ride. To determine what the check ride will consist of, read the Commercial Pilot Airman Certification Standards (ACS) https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/acs/media/commercial_airplane_acs.pdf Pg A-12 has a table that lists the subjects you must be tested on in your check ride. Your CFI can further help decipher the requirements for your check ride.
Common Issues: As a CFI, one of the biggest issues I see for students especially those who hold the same license under a different class/category is that they receive the wrong endorsements. The endorsements essentially act as the formal legalese that a CFI uses to prove that you are eligible to receive the license you are applying for. Below is the list of endorsements you must have walking into your check ride. To act as PIC of an aircraft in solo operations when the pilot does not hold an appropriate category/class rating: 61.31(d)(2). “I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received the training as required by § 61.31(d)(2) to serve as a PIC in a (specific category and class of aircraft). I have determined that he/she is prepared to serve as PIC in that (make and model) aircraft. Limitations: (optional). /s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-19” To act as PIC in a complex airplane: 61.31(e). “I certify that (First name, MI, Last name), (grade of pilot certificate), (certificate number), has received the required training of § 61.31(e) in a (make and model of complex airplane). I have determined that he/she is proficient in the operation and systems of a complex airplane. /s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-19” Flight proficiency/practical test: 61.123(e), 61.127, and 61.129. “I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received the required training of §§ 61.127 and 61.129. I have determined he/she is prepared for the (name of) practical test. /s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-19” Prerequisites for practical test: 61.39(a)(6)(i) and (ii). You’ll notice that this endorsement is required for each check ride, this endorsement verifies that you have received 3 hours with an instructor in the preceding 2 calendar months. “I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received and logged training time within 2 calendar-months preceding the month of application in preparation for the practical test and he/she is prepared for the required practical test for the issuance of (applicable) certificate. /s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-19”

After your Commercial ASEL Check Ride: With your Commercial ASEL in hand, you can rent an airplane and continue to build time, or you can immediately begin training for your Instrument Rating or Commercial MEL. For sake of saving money, I highly recommend going for your instrument rating first in an ASEL since it again falls under adding an additional category of aircraft rather than class.

Requirements for Instrument Add On: It is important to note that the 5 hours of instrument training as well as Cross Country PIC time you received for your Commercial ASEL License WILL count towards your Instrument Rating. FAR 61.65 Aeronautical Experience Requirements: (d)Aeronautical experience for the instrument-airplane rating. A person who applies for an instrument-airplane rating must have logged: (1) Except as provided in paragraph (g) of this section, 50 hours of cross-country flight time as pilot in command, of which 10 hours must have been in an airplane; and (2) Forty hours of actual or simulated instrument time in the areas of operation listed in paragraph (c) of this section, of which 15 hours must have been received from an authorized instructor who holds an instrument-airplane rating, and the instrument time includes: (i) Three hours of instrument flight training from an authorized instructor in an airplane that is appropriate to the instrument-airplane rating within 2 calendar months before the date of the practical test; and (ii) Instrument flight training on cross country flight procedures, including one cross country flight in an airplane with an authorized instructor, that is performed under instrument flight rules, when a flight plan has been filed with an air traffic control facility, and that involves – (A) A flight of 250 nautical miles along airways or by directed routing from an air traffic control facility; (B) An instrument approach at each airport; and (C) Three different kinds of approaches with the use of navigation systems.
How to Meet These Requirements: 10 Hours of Cross Country PIC: This requirement was met with your Commercial License training. 40 Hours of Actual or Simulated Instrument: Most of this training can be accomplished with a CFI, however at least 15 of these hours must be with a CFII (which is what the FAA means by “authorized instructor who holds an instrument-airplane rating”). 3 hours of the 15 with a CFII must be within 2 Calendar Months of your check ride. 250 NM along airways or by directed routing from an ATC facility: You must complete this cross country on an IFR flight plan to 3 airports where you must execute 3 different types of approaches (i.e.: RNAV at airport 1, ILS at airport 2, and VOR at airport 3).
Check Ride Requirements: As previously discussed for your Commercial ASEL, you do not need to go through an entire Instrument check ride. You can find the requirements in the Instrument ACS at the following link: https://www.faa.gov/training_testing/testing/acs/media/instrument_rating_acs_8A.pdf The conversion table to determine which tasks are required for you are found on page A-6.
Endorsements: Prerequisites for practical test: 61.39(a)(6)(i) and (ii). “I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received and logged training time within 2 calendar-months preceding the month of application in preparation for the practical test and he/she is prepared for the required practical test for the issuance of (applicable) certificate. /s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-19” Flight proficiency/practical test: 61.65(a)(6). “I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received the required training of § 61.65(c) and 61.65(d). I have determined he/she is prepared for the Instrument (airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift) practical test. /s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-19” Prerequisites for instrument practical tests. “I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received and logged the required flight time/training of § 61.39(a) in preparation for the practical test within 2 calendar-months preceding the date of the test and has satisfactory knowledge of the subject areas in which he/she was shown to be deficient by the FAA airman knowledge test report. I have determined he/she is prepared for the Instrument (airplane, helicopter, or powered-lift) practical test. /s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-19” The highlighted portion of this endorsement must be omitted as it is the CFII acknowledging that you have been retrained on the areas of deficiency on your written test. Since you did not take the written test, this would be a false statement therefore needs to be omitted when this endorsement is written/signed.
After the Instrument Check Ride Now that you have your Instrument Airplane rating and Commercial ASEL, you are only a few hours away from your MEL add on. On average, it takes students between 5-10 hours to accomplish this add on as opposed to the full requirements.
61.129 Aeronautical Experience Requirements (b) For an airplane multiengine rating. Except as provided in paragraph (i) of this section, a person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category and multiengine class rating must log at least 250 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least: (1) 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in airplanes. (2) 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight time, which includes at least – (i) 50 hours in airplanes; and (ii) 50 hours in cross-country flight of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes. (3) 20 hours of training on the areas of operation listed in § 61.127(b)(2) of this part that includes at least – (i) Ten hours of instrument training using a view-limiting device including attitude instrument flying, partial panel skills, recovery from unusual flight attitudes, and intercepting and tracking navigational systems. Five hours of the 10 hours required on instrument training must be in a multiengine airplane; (ii) 10 hours of training in a multiengine airplane that has a retractable landing gear, flaps, and controllable pitch propellers, or is turbine-powered, or for an applicant seeking a multiengine seaplane rating, 10 hours of training in a multiengine seaplane that has flaps and a controllable pitch propeller; (iii) One 2-hour cross country flight in a multiengine airplane in daytime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 nautical miles from the original point of departure; (iv) One 2-hour cross country flight in a multiengine airplane in nighttime conditions that consists of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and (v) Three hours in a multiengine airplane with an authorized instructor in preparation for the practical test within the preceding 2 calendar months from the month of the test. (4) 10 hours of solo flight time in a multiengine airplane or 10 hours of flight time performing the duties of pilot in command in a multiengine airplane with an authorized instructor (either of which may be credited towards the flight time requirement in paragraph (b)(2) of this section), on the areas of operation listed in§ 61.127(b)(2) of this part that includes at least – (i) One cross-country flight of not less than 300 nautical miles total distance with landings at a minimum of three points, one of which is a straight-line distance of at least 250 nautical miles from the original departure point. However, if this requirement is being met in Hawaii, the longest segment need only have a straight-line distance of at least 150 nautical miles; and (ii) 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings (with each landing involving a flight with a traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower.
What does this mean for you: As you can see, there is nothing stopping you from initially going for this license. However, unless you’re looking to go into a program where you can use a Multi to time build, you will need your ASEL rating in order to get to the 250 hours of PIC that is required for the R-ATP. As previously discussed, the endorsement for Category/Class change will typically come with an expiration time so you can’t rely solely on that. However, if you do get your Multi first, the following training requirements will apply but in regards to using an Airplane SEL. One thing I would caution you on is that you need an Airplane (Single or Multi engine) license to add an instrument rating to. Depending on the order in which you obtain your licenses, you have a few choices. You can get your Commercial Single and Multi Engine Licenses first then your instrument rating for one or both. There is no preferred way of doing it, so it is completely up to you. However, due to the Instrument time R-ATP requirements, I would recommend obtaining Instrument privileges for your ASEL license as this is much cheaper in terms of time building.
 
Add On Requirements: At this point you’re already a Commercial Airplane pilot (either Multi or Single Engine), so you do not need to redo the training. In the eyes of the FAA, your only requirement is to demonstrate proficiency in the new class that you are seeking. We see this as true when we reference the regulations, more specifically: 61.63. If this looks familiar, it’s because we explored it when looking at initially completing a Commercial ASEL. However; whereas we referenced section b that time, we now fall under section c which states: (c) Additional aircraft class rating. A person who applies for an additional class rating on a pilot certificate: (1) Must have a logbook or training record endorsement from an authorized instructor attesting that the person was found competent in the appropriate aeronautical knowledge areas and proficient in the appropriate areas of operation. (2) Must pass the practical test. (3) Need not meet the specified training time requirements prescribed by this part that apply to the pilot certificate for the aircraft class rating sought; unless, the person only holds a lighter-than-air category rating with a balloon class rating and is seeking an airship class rating, then that person must receive the specified training time requirements and possess the appropriate aeronautical experience. (4) Need not take an additional knowledge test, provided the applicant holds an airplane, rotorcraft, powered-lift, weight-shift-control aircraft, powered parachute, or airship rating at that pilot certificate level.
What Does This Mean: In the description of this section, since we already hold a Commercial Airplane License, adding on another Class is much less strenuous. “Competent in appropriate aeronautical knowledge areas” and “proficient in the appropriate areas of operation” are the key terms for this task. The first means that you have demonstrated to your flight instructor that you know the topics listed in 61.125 (b), look at these as ground knowledge that you covered with your IP during table talk in flight school. The second area that you are responsible for is the flight knowledge in 61.127 (b), this would be comparable to the tasks that your IP taught you on the flight line and in the air. “Must pass the practical test” is saying that you must take and pass a check ride with an FAA examiner or DPE, again, since you already hold a Commercial License, it is an abbreviated check ride. You can find the list of applicable tasks in the back of the ACS appropriate for the rating which you are applying for. “Need not meet the specified training time” is the key component when adding on a “Class”. This is the sentence that legally allows you to not meet the aeronautical experience as seen in 61.129. All you need to do is demonstrate that you can safely and successfully demonstrate knowledge of the ground/oral topics and the maneuvers required of you in flight aka “competent” and “proficient”. “Need not take an additional knowledge test” is once again restating that a written test is not required.
Endorsements for the Add On: Since your initial Commercial License fell 61.129 and you met all of the aeronautical experience, the required endorsements were straight forward out of AC 61-65F (https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Advisory_Circular/AC_61-65F.pdf). However, now that you’re dealing with an additional class, the verbiage changes slightly, but these small changes if not applied can prevent you from taking your check ride.
Prerequisites for practical test: 61, § 61.39(a)(6)(i) and (ii). I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received and logged training time within 2 calendar-months preceding the month of application in preparation for the practical test and he/she is prepared for the required practical test for the issuance of (applicable) certificate. /s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-19
Flight proficiency/practical test: §§ 61.123(e), 61.127, and 61.129. I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received the required training of §§ 61.127 and 61.129. I have determined he/she is prepared for the (name of) practical test. /s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-19
61.129 must be omitted from this endorsement since you were not required to meet the aeronautical experience as indicated by the regulation. You will notice that in 61.63 (c), it required you to also meet the ground requirements of 61.125 (b) which is not reflected in this endorsement. There is no separate endorsement for that requirement, however it must be reflected somewhere in your ground log that you are “competent” in these areas. An example of such an endorsement would look like this: I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received the required instruction of 61.125 (b) and I have determined that he/she is competent in these aeronautical knowledge areas.” /s/ [date] Flight Instructor Name 12345 CFI/MEI Exp. 12/31/2017
Since you are not a rated MEL pilot and are required to operate as PIC for the check ride (due to liability), you must receive a Change of Class endorsement (in this case) to do so. This is the same endorsement you received to time build for your initial Commercial Airplane license except that instead of a change of Category Helicopter to Airplane, you are going from Single Engine Land to Multi Engine Land. To act as PIC of an aircraft in solo operations when the pilot does not hold an appropriate category/class rating: 61.31(d)(2). I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received the training as required by § 61.31(d)(2) to serve as a PIC in a (specific category and class of aircraft). I have determined that he/she is prepared to serve as PIC in that (make and model) aircraft. Limitations: (optional). /s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-19
141 Route: I chose to include the Part 141 section at the end of this “article” because it is much more complex than if you decide to go the Part 61 route. However, I unfortunately cannot provide much in terms of a yellow brick road to follow since each individual school has a different syllabus. But rather hopefully I can shed some light as to how that process is done.

What makes a 141 school 141?
A Part 141 school is different, because they can offer Part 61 training (if they choose) as well as an FAA approved program that follows a strict syllabus that must be adhered to 100%. This means that if you need 20 hours of training under Part 61, but the 141 syllabus that the school is approved under requires 30 hours, then you must meet that syllabus requirement. These programs also will incorporate a ground school, whether its computer based or in person is up to the school, that must be completed prior to your check ride. This is a timed event and you must meet a specified number of ground hours logged.
GI Bill: Just because a school has a Part 141 program, it must be VA approved to accept the GI Bill. A key consideration for people considering these schools is that just because you can use your GI Bill, that does NOT eliminate the entire cost. In fact, you must pay as you go (just like a Part 61 program), the difference is that once the VA begins to send checks to the flight school, you are reimbursed up to the amount you are eligible for. The mantra that I have told every one of my students seeking a career in the airlines is that aviation isn’t a career, it’s an investment where you pay a lot of money up front to have the best corner office with a view that this world can offer.
 
Appendixes: There is a reason I put this section in bold. Many people will do their homework and say, “but appendix (insert alphabet here) says that I don’t need to do all of the training”. If you are among that group of deep researchers, I applaud you. Unfortunately, Part 141 in the FARs isn’t for the student, it’s for the schools. It provides guidance as to how to form their program to become certified under Part 141. Therefore, unless that school has an approved Part 141 program that mitigates the time required down to fit your requirement as a military aviator transitioning, you will have to complete the program in its entirety. That means that unless you fall under a 100% repayment from the GI Bill, you might actually be paying the same out of pocket whether you go Part 141 or 61. That’ll be up to you to determine through the flight school you’re learning at. The most important part is talking to the schools you are researching and determine what exactly your requirements are. The training is all the same, it’s the path to get there that changes. If you have questions, you are part of a family of military aviators that will have the answer.
 
Conclusion: After you’ve completed these licenses/ratings, you hold the tickets to the airlines whether you go through a time building program such as RTP or you build the required hours on your own. I hope that this information helps you as you begin an exciting new career as an airline pilot. There are many other endorsements, licenses, experiences that I encourage everyone to explore as you continue building your passion for flight. Until then “Safe Flying!”
Adam Kowalski CFI/CFII Adamjkowalski99@gmail.com
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