How to Become a Commercial Pilot

To become a pilot, whether a private pilot or a commercial pilot, you must complete several levels of certification and testing before you can fly. If you want to pilot an aircraft, even just for fun, you must be willing to put in many hours of hard work.

Pilot Certification
Before you embark on the path to becoming a pilot, you will need to figure out what you want to fly. There are several different types of pilot certification:

Recreational Pilot. This level of certification is required for people interested in flying small airplanes for recreation only. The license is the most restrictive of all the pilot licenses.

Private Pilot. This level of certification will allow a pilot to fly a plane, either for recreation or for personal business. This classification of pilot is the most common and allows pilots to fly charity flights or personal business flights. Anyone with this classification cannot be compensated for flying. Most private pilots learn through private flying lessons or courses at a commercial flight school.

Commercial Pilot. A commercial pilot certification allows the pilot to use an aircraft for business and qualifies him to receive compensation for services. Unless this type of pilot has an instrument rating certification, he must fly only in daytime, when conditions are visible.

Airline Transport Pilot. This class is designated for pilots of commercial airlines, with some of the largest airplanes under their command. This is the top level of piloting, and these pilots must have more than 1,000 hours of flying, with 500 of those on cross-country flights.

How to Become A Pilot
No matter what level of certification, pilots must undergo rigorous training that includes a medical exam, tests, logged flight hours and extensive observations by professionals from aviation schools. The training must be given by a certified flight instructor, and the student must accumulate a certain number of flying hours on the type of aircraft he is certifying for. The pilot must also pass an exam that consists of multiple-choice knowledge, an oral examination and a practical flight test. While the materials on the tests vary with the differing certification levels, the tests are considered rigorous.

Maintaining Certification
Every pilot must have a flight review every two years and a medical examination anywhere from two to six years, depending on the certification level. Increased training is needed to advance from one certification level to the next, such as from a private pilot to a commercial pilot certification.

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