formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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April 22, 2008 Licensing and Regulations

The Liberty Gazette
April 22, 2008

The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely

Linda: Often we’re asked about the various levels of pilot licenses. At the lower end is private pilot, then commercial pilot, and the highest level is ATP, or Airline Transport Pilot. Each level requires progressively more experience and flying to tighter tolerances. Every jet requires a separate type rating as well. A Boeing 737 type rating does not qualify a pilot to fly a Learjet. I’m proud of Mike because he not only holds an ATP, but he recently passed a check ride adding a sixth type rating to his license.

Mike: I’m proud of Linda, too. She recently passed her instrument rating check ride, a prerequisite for an unrestricted commercial pilot certificate. With a couple of exceptions a commercial pilot certificate is the minimum required for a person to be paid to fly. Within the Federal Aviation Regulations, or FARs, are rules governing both commercial and non-commercial operations.

FAR Part 91 covers flight operations. All pilots must know and abide by these rules whether they do it for compensation or not. I recommend to fellow pilots if they have trouble sleeping to read the FARs instead of counting sheep; it has a greater effect. Even though some rules can be difficult to understand, or are open to interpretation, in order to exercise the privileges of our certificates, pilots are bound to follow them.

Airlines operate under Part 121, a stringent set of rules in addition to those required under Part 91. The captain of an airliner must hold an ATP and the pilot can only be current in one jet type at a time. The co-pilot of the airliner is only required to hold a commercial pilot certificate, but most major airlines will not hire a pilot with anything less than an ATP. In days of old there was a third crewmember in the cockpit, and all pilots held a flight engineer certificate.

Charter operations are under Part 135. This covers anything from small single engine airplanes to medium sized corporate jets. The rules are similar to those that apply to airlines and are very structured. The charter operator is issued a commercial operator certificate and monitored by the FAA. Depending on the type of operation, the pilots may be required to hold an ATP, but many only need a commercial certificate. Also, the pilot must take a check ride every six months or year to remain qualified in specific aircraft.

Corporate operations are conducted under Part 91 but if the company aircraft is a jet, the FAA requires recurrent training in that aircraft at least once a year to continue flying it.

Linda: I’ve learned a lot from Mike as I work toward higher levels of pilot licenses. One thing is no person is an expert in everything in aviation. A pilot is always learning, even at the highest levels.

Mike and Linda can be reached at

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