Real Answers from Real Pilots

Commercial Ratings Training

Hi All,

I’m a little confused on the requirements of receiving commercial ratings. Upon completing my instrument (appx. 35-50 hrs), Im expecting to be right at the 250 hr. mark where pilots are eligible to take the tests pertaining to the commercial rating. I’m coming into the rest of my training with a private and roughly 150-200 hrs. What are the flying time requirements of the commercial rating for both SE and ME? Written and practical? I’ve heard some commercial pilots say its best to obtain the commercial multi engine before going for the commercial single engine but I’m not sure why? Could you briefly explain the requirements of the two commercial ratings? Also, do the airlines absolutely require the 50 hours of multi to be considered a competitive candidate?

Thanks so much,

Nick

Nick,

I’m not really sure I understand your question? Your CPL Single allows you to fly SE aircraft commercially (ie, get paid), your Multi allows you to do it in a twin. Both have the same written exam. As for requirements FAR Part 61.129 lays them out very clearly (http://rgl.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgFar.nsf/FARSBySectLookup/61.129).
Not sure why people are telling you to get one over the other first? Depends what you’re trying to accomplish? If you plan on flight instructing at a school that only has SE aircraft I’d get that first. If you’ve found some other gig that will have you flying a twin do that first.

As for the Multi requirement it’s really not so much the airline it’s the regs. To fly for ANY airline you now need to be able to obtain you’re ATP. An ME ATP requires 50hrs of ME time. Now the reg also says you can have up to 25 of sim time as part of that 50. Problem is if a Regional hires you they then have to make sure you get that 25hrs of sim time during your newhire training. Chances are you will (probably more) BUT it’s one less thing they need to make sure you get. That’s why most say 25hrs ME required but 50 are preferred.

Adam

Thanks so much for your reply Adam. I think I’m just a little short on the 50 hrs cross country, but Im assuming I can meet that requirement through my planned instrument training. At that point, I believe I will have met all the flying time requirements for the SE commercial, at which point it is just a written and a check ride, correct?

My overall goal is to fly ME jet aircraft in the airlines, but I will likely be instructing in SE aircraft to build time. So maybe I should just hold off on all ME add on’s until Im at somewhere around 1400 hrs and preparing for my first interviews. It seems like an ME add on wouldn’t be too costly or time consuming at that point in my flying career.

This also brings another question to mind…at what point (flying time wise) would want want to seriously consider preparing for regional interviews? At what point would an individual (flying time wise) want to reach out to the regional airlines?

Thanks Again,

Nick

Nick,

It isn’t “just a written and a check ride”, the check ride is very difficult and involves some rather new and different flight maneuverers. Since it sounds like you are partnered up with a flight school, I am surprised that they are not providing you a little more guidance on this.

I would get the ME ratings sooner rather than later. You never know what opportunities might come up and you will need them anyways.

You should be preparing for airline interviews the day you begin to build your flight time as an instructor. Some airlines offer Cadet programs where you can interview around 500 hours, but obviously most people will interview right around the 1,500 hour mark.

Chris

Nick,

Yes it is just a written and a checkride but make sure you get a copy of the current Commercial ACS (Airmen Certification Standards). It contains all the required maneuvers and as Chris said some are quite challenging (you should def get some training by a good CFI who’s familiar.

Since you’re short on funds now I’d wait on the ME, it’s not an urgency. Much of aviation relies heavily on connections and networking. If the flight school you’ll be teaching at has a twin there’s a good chance they’ll help you get it on the cheap. If not just being at the airport everyday you might meet a friendly pilot with a Baron who would like a co/safety pilot and next thing you know you’re getting some twin experience (if they’re a CFI all the better).

As for the Regionals Nick the world has turned upside down. When I started it was a job just getting an interview but now the Regionals are desperate for bodies. The fact is unless you’ve got checkride busts or or some other issues (criminal record, DUI, etc) you WILL get an interview and unless you show up barefoot smoking weed you’ll also get hired so you can relax a little. Once you’re instructing regularly, get settled in, break 500hrs and have some reasonable idea of how long it’ll take you to build the 1500hrs (flying X per month) I’d start reaching out to the Regionals you’re interested in. They can tell you EXACTLY what they need from you and how the interview will go long before you’re there. Trust me they want you to do as well as you do.

Adam

Perfect, thank you both very much. The level at which pilots are willing to provide guidance to aspiring pilots continues to astound me. It’s certainly not like this in many other industries. By saying “just a written and a check ride,” I was by no means discounting the challenge ahead. While I passed all of the facets of earning my private on the first go, I definitely thought it was challenging and I know the remaining training I have will be even more demanding.

I’m not currently committed to any flight school, and am still exploring options which is why I’m very grateful to have you all as a resource. Regardless of my choice in which school to attend, I plan to leave my desk job and pursue aviation full time this coming fall. Unfortunately, I don’t have 53K in the bank at the moment and I can’t overlook the fact that it is possible to obtain the rest of my education at another flight school for roughly half the cost of ATP. I’m still not ruling it out, but it certainly is a massive factor in my decision. I plan to visit the ATP Oakland location in the coming weeks!

Nick

Nick,

I would be extremely surprised if you could find a flight school that can help you get all of your ratings at half the cost of ATP. Make sure they are quoting you realistic numbers on the amount of hours needed for each license, not just the FAA bare minimums. That is a favorite trick of many flight schools and while you could get your licenses in the bare minimum hours, almost nobody does. Your situation is a little different though in that you already have a significant amount of flight time.

Chris