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Single Engine Commercial Pilot Course, $ 1700.00. 6 - 8 days: 4 hours Cessna 150 dual, 10 hours Piper Arrow dual, Piper Arrow for flight test, 5 hours ground school and briefings. Examiner’s fee additional.


Pre-requisites: Private pilot airplane single engine land, 236 hours flying experience including a minimum of 10 hours instrument dual (or instrument rating), and solo requirements as per FAR 61.129(a)(4), completion of knowledge exam.


The above course includes the day and night VFR dual cross country training flights as per FAR 61.129 (a)(3)(iii) & (iv), which will be conducted in a Cessna 150, and the 10 hours of complex training as per FAR 61.129 (a)(3)(ii), which will be conducted in the Piper Arrow. It usually takes about 10 hours in the Arrow to prepare a student for all of the tasks and maneuvers required during the flight test.  For this reason the dual cross country flights are flown separately from the maneuvers training, using a Cessna 150 to help minimize training cost. 


Commercial Pilot Solo Flight Experience Requirements: Frequently our commercial pilot students do not meet all of the commercial pilot solo flight requirements as per FAR 61.129 (a)(4) when they arrive at Prairie Air Service. This can increase the cost of the training by as much as $ 450.00. The items found missing usually are the “long” solo cross country flight or the solo night time take-offs and landings at an airport with an operating control tower. The FAA requires these flights to be solo flights, which means that you can not count any training flights or flights carrying passengers toward these requirements. The long solo cross country requires three (3) (or more) landings, one of them at a point more than 250 nautical miles from the original point of departure. A commercial student may think that he or she meets this requirement, but a further review of his or her logbook by our instructors or the pilot examiner unfortunately reveals that the final destination was less than 250 nm from the original departure point. Usually this happens when the pilot plans a 250 nm route that follows VORs or favorable terrain such as valleys or highways, and is not direct. If you plan to fly the “long” solo cross country before coming to Prairie Air Service we recommend that you use a GPS, Loran or Duats flight planning software to confirm that your final destination is indeed more than 250 nm direct (straight line or great circle) distance from your original point of departure. If you plan the flight without electronic aids, using only a sectional chart, you may want to choose a destination which measures at least 260 nm on the chart to allow for some margin of error. We have also had some students who accidentally used the “wrong” side of the plotter (the one in statute miles) which caused them to plan and fly a cross country which was too short. You may also want to fly part of the long cross country at night to help with the 5 hour night VFR solo requirement of FAR 61.129 (a)(4)(ii).


Incidentally, all of the commercial pilot training requirements as per FAR 61.129(a) (20 hours of dual instruction and 10 hours of solo practice) have to be met after completion of the applicant's private pilot flight test.  Some of them can be met during check out in different airplane types and during instrument training. Incidentally, nothing in the regulations states that the specified training has to be conducted after the private pilot training; that is an FAA interpretation that was published during the summer of 1999.


Possible Cost Savings: If you already have at least 7 hours of previous instruction in a complex airplane, we can substitute a Cessna 150 for about 7 hours of commercial instruction. We will use the Arrow only for the take off and landing tasks of the commercial pilot, airplane single engine land flight test. The other tasks of the flight test will be conducted in a Cessna 150. This will reduce the cost of the course by about $250.00. If you already meet the 4 hours of day and night VFR cross country training, it will reduce the cost of your training by about $ 310.00.




The commercial pilot flight test preparation will cover the flight training requirements specified in FAR 61.129(a)(3)(ii)(iii)(iv)&(v). If a student is not instrument rated, it will also cover the instrument training specified in FAR 61.129(i). Since FAR 61.129(a) requires 5 hours of instrument training in a single engine airplane, a student with only multi engine instrument training will require this training.

The solo flight requirements of FAR61.129(a)(4) have to be met before the pilot can take the commercial pilot flight test. Commercial pilot applicants need to be aware of the fact that the FAA requires those 10 hours to be solo flight time after completion of the private pilot training. The flights have to be solo, there can be no passengers, other pilots or instructor on board.

In order to save expenses, the dual cross  country flights required by FAR 61.129(a)(3)(iii)&(iv) will be conducted in a Cessna 150. If the student is heavier than about 190 lbs, payload limitations of the Cessna 150 will require use of a Cessna 172.

The 10 hours of complex training required by FAR 61.129(a)(3)(ii) will be conducted in a Piper PA28R-180 “Arrow”. It will cover the tasks prescribed in the single engine commercial pilot practical test standard. In the latest revision of the commercial pilot PTS in August 2002 the FAA added several additional tasks. It may therefore take a student longer than 10 hours of maneuvers and procedures training to be ready for the flight test.

In addition to the flight training the commercial pilot flight test prep will also include 5 hours of ground instruction and briefings to prepare the student for the oral portion of the practical test. A large amount of self study on the student’s part is also required. A variety of training video materials are provided free of charge.

Currently the following tasks are required on the commercial pilot practical test:

  1. Preflight Preparation: Certificates and documents, airworthiness requirements, weather information, cross country flight planning, national airspace system, performance and limitations (of airplane used for flight test), operations and systems, aeromedical factors.

  2. Preflight Procedures: Preflight inspection, cockpit management, engine starting, taxiing, before takeoff check.

  3. Airport Operations: Radio communications and ATC Light Signals, traffic patterns, airport runway and taxiway signs, markings and lighting.

  4. Takeoffs, Landings and Go-arounds: Normal and crosswind takeoff and climb, normal and crosswind approach and landing, soft field takeoff and climb, soft field approach and landing, short field takeoff and maximum performance climb, short field approach and landing, power off 180º accuracy approach and landing, go-around/rejected landing.

  5. Performance Maneuvers: Steep turns, steep spiral, chandelles, lazy eights.

  6. Ground Reference Maneuver: Eights on pylons.

  7. Navigation: Pilotage and dead reckoning, navigation systems and radar services, diversion, lost procedures.

  8. Slow Flight and Stalls: Maneuvering during slow flight, power-off stalls, power-on stalls, spin awareness.

  9. Emergency Operations: Emergency approach and landing (simulated), systems and equipment malfunctions, emergency equipment and survival gear.

  10. High Altitude Operations: Supplemental oxygen, pressurization.

  11. Postflight Procedures: After landing, parking and securing.

An edited version of FAR 61.129, which emphasizes the specific training and experience requirements for the commercial pilot certificate, with an airplane single engine land rating follows:



(a) For an airplane single-engine rating. Except as provided in paragraph (i) of this section, a person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category and single-engine class rating must log at least 250 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least:

(1) 100 hours in powered aircraft, of which 50 hours must be in airplanes.

(2) 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight time, which includes at least -

           (i)         50 hours in airplanes; and

           (ii)        50 hours in cross-country flight of which at least 10 hours must be in airplanes.

(3) 20 hours of training on the areas of operation listed in §61.127(b)(1) of this part that includes at least -

(i)         10 hours of instrument training of which at least 5 hours must be in a single-engine airplane;

(ii)        10 hours of training in an airplane that has a retractable landing gear, flaps, and a controllable pitch propeller, or is turbine-powered;

(iii)       One cross-country flight of at least 2 hours in a single-engine airplane in day VFR conditions, consisting of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 nautical miles from the original point of departure;

(iv)       One cross-country flight of at least 2 hours in a single-engine airplane in night VFR conditions, consisting of a total straight-line distance of more than 100 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and

(v)        3 hours in a single-engine airplane in preparation for the practical test within the 60-day period preceding the date of the test.

(4) 10 hours of solo flight in a single-engine airplane on the areas of operation listed in       §61.127(b)(1) of this part, which includes at least -

(i)         One cross-country flight of not less than 300 nautical miles total distance, with landings at a minimum of three points, one of which is a straight-line distance of at least 250 nautical miles from the original departure point; and

(ii)        5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 take- offs and 10 landings (with each landing involving a flight in the traffic pattern) at an airport with an operating control tower.

 (i)        Permitted credit for use of a flight simulator or flight training device.

(1) An applicant may:

(i)         Credit a maximum of 50 hours toward the total aeronautical experience requirements for an airplane or powered-lift rating, provided the aeronautical experience was obtained from an authorized instructor in a flight simulator or flight training device that represents that class of airplane or powered-lift category and type, if applicable, appropriate to the rating sought.

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