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Pilots > Become a Private Pilot > Private Pilot Privileges and Requirements

Private Pilot Privileges and Requirements

What can a private pilot do?

While some private pilots only fly a few aircraft in relatively local areas, becoming a private pilot opens the door for many opportunities to fly a wide variety of aircraft to thousands of airports around the world. A private pilot may actually fly any aircraft for which they are appropriately rated. If you intend to fly with more than one passenger, for business purposes, or to eventually pursue a career as a commercial pilot, then the Private Pilot Certificate is where you begin.

FAA regulations discuss private pilot privileges and limitations in 14 CFR 61.113. Here is a summary:

You can fly an airplane weighing 12,500 pounds or less in the day or at night while carrying passengers with baggage.

Flying more passengers or larger aircraft is possible, but may require additional training and/or medical certification.

The certificate also allows you to fly internationally subject to United States and foreign destination rules.
You may equally share the operating expenses of a flight with passengers.

These expenses may only involve fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or airplane rental fees.

You cannot be paid to fly passengers or property.

As a private pilot, you may not act as a pilot in command of an aircraft that is carrying passengers or property for compensation or hire, nor may you be paid to act as a pilot in command.

However, you may be paid or hired to act as pilot in command of an aircraft in connection with any business or employment if the flight is only incidental to that business and the aircraft does not carry passengers or property for compensation or hire.

You can provide airplanes rides to raise money for a charity.

You may act as a pilot in command of a charitable, nonprofit, or community event flight in accordance to the rules listed in 14 CFR 91.146.

You can participate in search and rescue operations.

You may be reimbursed for aircraft operating expenses that are directly related to search and location operations, provided the expenses involve only fuel, oil, airport expenditures, or rental fees, and the operation is sanctioned and under the direction and control of a local, State, or Federal agency, or an organization that conducts search and location operations.

You can demonstrate an aircraft for sale.

If you are an aircraft salesperson and have at least 200 hrs. of logged flight time, you may demonstrate an airplane in flight to a prospective buyer.

You can tow gliders.

If you meet the requirements of 14 CFR 61.69, you may act as a pilot in command of an aircraft towing a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle.

You can be a test pilot.

You may act as pilot in command for a production flight test in a light-sport aircraft for its certification provided the aircraft is a powered parachute or weight-shift-control aircraft, you have at least 100 hrs. of pilot-in-command time the the category and class of aircraft to be flown, and you are familiar with the processes and procedures applicable to the conduct of production flight testing including operations under a special flight permit and any associated operating limitation.

Private Pilot Certificate Requirements

  1. Be at least 17 years of age.
  2. Be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language.
  3. Hold at least a current third-class FAA medical certificate.
  4. Provide citizenship verification for US nationals, or receive approval for the TSA’s Flight Training Security Program for foreign nationals.
  5. Receive a logbook endorsement for the completion of ground training or an online home study course in preparation for the knowledge test.
  6. Pass the private pilot FAA knowledge test at a PSI testing center Opens in new window with a score of 70% or higher. The private pilot knowledge test is 2 hours long and consists of 60 multiple-choice questions generated from the FAA’s private pilot test bank.
  7. Receive the required flight training and endorsement from a flight instructor who conducted the training verifying the applicant is prepared for the practical test. A minimum of 40 hours Opens in new window of aeronautical experience must be accomplished in a single-engine airplane.
  8. Successfully pass a practical (flight) test with an FAA inspector or designated pilot examiner in the areas of operation listed in the Private Pilot Airmen Certification Standards Opens in new window.
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