Becoming a commercial pilot is one of the most sought-after careers and the United States has some of the highest standards in the world for flight training and aviation safety. To become a commercial pilot, you will need to complete a series of steps that include obtaining an airplane private pilot’s license, passing medical and aircraft requirements, and completing ground school and flight hours.
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It’s no secret that becoming a commercial airline pilot is a highly competitive process. In the United States, there are thousands of people vying for a relatively small number of positions. So, how to become a commercial pilot in the USA? While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, there are a few key steps that everyone interested in becoming a commercial pilot should take. Read on to learn more.
- Necessary Requirements to Become a Commercial Pilot in the United States
- Commercial Pilot Training
- Get Your Private Pilot License
- Get Your Instrument Rating
- Get Your Commercial Pilot License
- Get Your Multi-Engine Rating (MER)
- Apply for an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate
- What does a Commercial Pilot do?
Necessary Requirements to Become a Commercial Pilot in the United States
To become a commercial pilot in the United States, certain requirements must be met. Foremost, you must be at least 18 years of age. You must also have a high school diploma or equivalent, and you must be able to speak and understand English fluently. You must hold a current US passport and have no criminal record.
Next, you must meet the minimum flight time requirements set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). For daytime operations, you must have a minimum of 250 hours of flight time. For nighttime operations, you must have a minimum of 400 hours of flight time.
You must also have 100 hours of cross-country flight time, as well as 25 hours of instrument flight time. Lastly, you must have 20 hours of actual or simulated solo flight time.
In addition to meeting the flight time requirements set forth by the FAA, you must also pass both a written exam and a practical exam to become a licensed commercial pilot. The written exam is comprised of 60 questions and covers topics such as airspace rules and regulations, meteorology, navigation, aeronautical decision-making, and more.
You must score at least 70% on this exam to pass. The practical exam is an oral and flight test given by an FAA-authorized examiner. This test is designed to assess your ability to safely operate an aircraft under various conditions.
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Commercial Pilot Training
Once you have met all of the requirements, it’s time to begin your training. While it is possible to receive training from a certified flight instructor, most commercial pilots receive their training from an accredited aviation school. There are many reputable aviation schools located throughout the United States that offer professional training programs for aspiring pilots.
During your training, you will learn everything from aircraft systems and emergency procedures to takeoffs and landings. You will also gain experience flying in various weather conditions and practicing different types of flights (e.g., Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) vs Visual Flight Rules (VFR)).
Once you have completed your training program and passed both the written and practical exams, you will be officially licensed as a commercial pilot in the United States!
Get Your Private Pilot License
The next step in becoming a commercial pilot is to get your private pilot license (PPL). This will require you to pass a written exam, as well as a flying skills test administered by a certified flight instructor. Once you have your PPL, you’ll be able to fly solo and carry passengers (although you’ll still need to adhere to some restrictions).
Get Your Instrument Rating
After you have got your PPL, you will need to get your Instrument Rating (IR). This rating allows you to fly in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), meaning that you will fly in conditions where visibility is poor and/or there is bad weather. To get your IR, you will need to complete an FAA-approved instrument training program, which will include both ground school and flight training. Once you have completed the training program, you will need to take and pass the FAA Instrument Rating knowledge test.
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Get Your Commercial Pilot License
Once you have your PPL and IR, you’ll be able to apply for your Commercial Pilot License (CPL). To do this, you’ll need to pass yet another written exam, as well as an oral exam and flight test administered by an FAA-certified flight examiner. Once you have your CPL, you’ll be able to fly for hire or reward.
Get Your Multi-Engine Rating (MER)
After you have got your CPL, you may choose to get your Multi-Engine Rating (MER). This rating allows you to fly an aircraft with over one engine. To get your MER, you will need to complete an FAA-approved multi-engine training program, which includes both ground school and flight training. Once you have completed the training program, you will need to take and pass the FAA Multi-Engine knowledge test.
Apply for an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate
The final step in becoming a commercial pilot is to apply for an airline transport pilot certificate (ATP). To do this, you’ll need to have at least 1,500 hours of flight time, as well as pass an ATP written exam and an ATP flight test. Once you have your ATP, you’ll be eligible to apply for most airline pilot jobs.
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What does a Commercial Pilot do?
Here are the details on what a commercial pilot does. Read on to learn more.
The day-to-day duties of a commercial pilot depend on the type of flying they do. For example, some pilots may fly charter flights, while others may transport cargo. However, there are some common tasks that all commercial pilots perform regularly, including:
Pre-flight check: Before each flight, pilots must inspect their aircraft to ensure that it is safe and ready to fly. This involves checking things like the engine, landing gear, and control surfaces.
Gathering weather information: Pilots need to be aware of the current and forecasted weather conditions along their route of flight. They use this information to determine if the conditions are safe for flying and to plan their route accordingly.
Filing a flight plan: A flight plan is a document that outlines the details of a pilot’s intended flight, including the departure point, destination, route, and estimated time of arrival. Pilots must file a flight plan with air traffic control before each flight.
Communicating with air traffic control: Pilots must maintain communication with air traffic control throughout their entire flight. They use radio transmissions to report their position, altitude, and speed as well as request clearance for takeoffs and landings.
Navigating the aircraft: Pilots use various navigation aids—such as GPS systems, radar maps, and visual landmarks—to plot their course and stay on track.
Monitoring instruments: Pilots constantly monitor the aircraft’s instruments during flight to ensure that everything is working properly. These instruments include things like the altimeter (which measures altitude), airspeed indicator (which measures speed), and compass (which shows direction).
Operating aircraft systems: In addition to flying the aircraft, pilots are also responsible for operating its various systems—such as the lights, wipers, and cabin pressurization system—as needed.
Landing the aircraft: Once the pilot has determined that it is safe to land, they will guide the aircraft down to the runway using both visual cues and instrument readings.
Taxiing aircraft: After landing, pilots must taxi the aircraft—that is, move it slowly along the ground under its power—to its designated parking spot.
Securing aircraft: Once in its parking spot, pilots must turn off all systems and secure the aircraft so that it cannot move or take off again without permission. They may also need to refuel the aircraft if it is not going to be used again soon.
Post-flight check: Before leaving an aircraft for an extended period—such as overnight—pilots must perform a thorough inspection of both the exterior and interior of the plane to ensure that it is ready for its next flight.”
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Becoming a commercial pilot requires dedication, hard work and commitment. There are many rules and regulations to follow, and you will need to gain the necessary experience and knowledge before you can become certified. With the right training, however, anyone who meets the requirements can earn their wings as a professional commercial pilot in the United States. Good luck!