If you're interested in flying for hire -- or if you want to be a flight instructor -- then you'll need to earn your commercial pilot certificate. It basically requires you to perform the same maneuvers as for your private pilot certificate, but with tighter tolerances. You'll also be required to perform some new maneuvers (such as the chandelle, lazy-8, and pylon-8). Additionally, you must perform at least part of your practical test in a complex aircraft (defined as one with retractable landing gear, flaps, and a constant-speed propeller).
You can earn your commercial single-engine certificate in our Cessna 172RG Cutlass, and you can earn your commercial multi-engine certificate in our Beech Duchess. We also offer discounted training packages for either the Commercial Single-Engine or Multi-Engine certificate.
We've also provided a helpful FAQ (below.)
Why get the commercial pilot's certificate?
If you want to fly for hire, or if you want to be a certified flight instructor, you must first earn your commercial pilot's certificate. Even if you're not interested in either of those two things, you'll become a noticeably smoother and more precise pilot by completing the training process.
Is it safe?
By the time you get to this stage, you'll have a couple hundred hours of flight time, and should be a safe and proficient pilot. Commercial training, in itself, improves your ability to deal with emergencies, and significantly deepens your knowledge of your aircraft's systems. Both of those things will make you a safer pilot.
How difficult is it?
The commercial certificate is probably the easiest certificate to earn. It's also fun, because you get to perform quasi-aerobatic maneuvers such as the chandelle and lazy-eight.
How long will it take?
If you don't already have an instructor's endorsement to operate complex aircraft (one with flaps, retractable landing gear, and a constant-speed prop), you can expect to spend about 5 to 7 hours earning that endorsement. Once you have the endorsement, commercial training usually involves about 10--15 hours of dual and 5 hours of solo practice.
How much flight experience do I need?
In order to take the commercial checkride, you must have at least a private pilot's license. You'll need to have logged at least 250 hours of total flight time as a pilot, and you'll need your instrument rating. (You can earn the commercial certificate without your IFR rating, but you won't be able to use it for most commercial flying until you have your IFR rating.)
How much will it cost?
We offer discounted training packages for the commercial single-engine and multi-engine certificate. Click here for more information.
Can I get a student loan to finance my flight training?
Sure! We offer discounted student loans through Sallie Mae Financial, one of the largest lenders in the United States. You can finance part or all of your training costs, and choose from various repayment options. To learn more, click here.
Do I have to attend ground school?
No formal ground school is required. You will, however, be required to thoroughly review textbooks and other prep materials that your instructor will assign you.
What does the exam for the commercial pilot's certificate involve?
As with most ratings and certificates, you'll need to take a computerized test. (We provide certified testing services through CATS, a nationwide testing provider.) Your oral exam will last about 90 minutes, and will cover topics listed on the FAA Practical Test Standards (PTS.) Your flight test will take about 2 hours, and will cover the maneuvers and procedures listed in the PTS.
What can I do with a commercial pilot's certificate?
There are plenty of jobs in aviation. You can tow gliders, fly Traffic Watch, drop parachutists, fly pipeline patrol, and just about anything else you can think of. If you want to be a certified flight instructor, you'll need to earn your commercial certificate before your instructor rating.
But don't be misled by the numerous ads for large flight schools that promise "airline-quality" training in an "airline environment," which seem to guarantee airline jobs for all graduates. These graduates typically spend $60,000, and emerge from their training with only a few hundred hours of flight time. No airline will hire a pilot until he/she has accumulated at least 1,200 hours of flight time. (Most pilots build these flight hours by earning their instructor ratings and teaching others how to fly.) In other words, a commercial pilot certificate doesn't automatically get you a job offer from an airline. You'll most likely build time by instructing, flying Traffic Watch, towing gliders, dropping parachutists, and so forth. But that can be lots of fun!