Certificates, Ratings, and Endorsements
Flight Instructor Endorsements
The authority and responsibility for flight instructors to endorse initial student certificates, logbooks for solo and solo cross-country, additional aircraft ratings, and flight privileges are outlined in Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 61. In addition, Advisory Circular (AC) 61-65, Certification: Pilots and Flight Instructors and Ground Instructors, provides guidance for pilots, flight instructors, ground instructors, and examiners on the certification standards, knowledge test procedures, and other requirements of 14 CFR part 61. By utilizing AC 61-65, the flight instructor does not omit any required endorsement for the rating sought, which ensures standardization. It is important for the flight instructor to understand and use AC 61-65 in the certification process.
Additionally, flight instructors are required to make an endorsement in the student or applicant’s logbook or training record whenever the flight instructor provides flight or ground training. At a minimum this endorsement should include what actions or instruction were completed and if any regulatory requirements were met. Citing the appropriate portion of 14 CFR part 61 is also recommended.
Flight instructors also have the responsibility to make logbook endorsements for pilots who are already certificated such as sport, recreational, private, commercial, and instrument rated pilots, as well as flight instructors. Typical endorsements include but are not limited to flight reviews, instrument proficiency checks, the additional training required for high performance, high altitude, and tail wheel aircraft, and types of glider launches.
Additional rating applicants (e.g., multiengine add-on, seaplane add-on, glider add-on, helicopter add-on) are rated pilots and not considered student pilots in accordance with (IAW) 14 CFR part 61. Flight instructors must endorse the applicant’s logbook prior to solo flight and prior to being evaluated for that rating with an endorsement from AC 61-65 stating that the applicant is competent to act as the pilot in command (PIC) of an aircraft in which he or she does not hold a category or class rating.
The flight instructor may add additional requirements or restrictions to the endorsement, such as an expiration date. Practical test endorsements are addressed in AC 61-65. These endorsements are regulatory and the pilot applicant must comply with them.
Flight instructors are responsible for properly documenting a student or applicant’s completion of prerequisites for a practical test. Examples of all common endorsements can be found in AC 61-65, Appendix C. (Further details about the requirements for each respective endorsement can be found in 14 CFR part 61.) These examples contain the essential elements of each endorsement with the goal of providing guidance and encouraging standardization among instructors. The flight instructor may need to customize the endorsement due to an applicant’s special circumstances or changes in regulatory requirements, but it is recommended all endorsements be worded as closely as possible to those in AC 61-65. At a minimum, the flight instructor needs to cite the appropriate 14 CFR part 61 section that has been completed. [Figure C-1]
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors and designated pilot examiners (DPEs) rely on flight instructor recommendations for student or pilot applicant testing. These recommendations are accepted as evidence of qualification for certification and proof that a review of the subject areas found to be deficient on the appropriate knowledge test has been given by the flight instructor. Recommendations also provide assurance the applicant has had a thorough briefing on the Practical Test Standards (PTS) and the associated knowledge areas, maneuvers, and procedures. If the flight instructor has trained and prepared the applicant competently, the applicant should have no difficulty in passing the written and practical tests.
Many consider the advent of the sport pilot certification to be one of the most significant changes to the airman certification structure to have occurred in over 50 years. Because of the growing cost to acquire the private pilot certification, more and more aviation enthusiasts are considering the sport pilot as an alternative. Many aircraft already meet the light sport aircraft criteria, and many manufacturers are now producing modern light sport aircraft. It is likely that flight instructors will be asked to provide information, and possibly, training for this new certificate. Flight instructors should review 14 CFR part 61, subparts J and K, for the requirements for, and privileges and limitations of, the sport pilot certifications as well as the new endorsement requirements.
Of particular interest has been the medical requirement. Subparts J and K also describe the process for sport pilots and flight instructors with a sport pilot rating to add additional category/class privileges. Since light sport aircraft must meet certain criteria, a well-informed flight instructor would be expected to be acquainted with the basic requirements.
FAA Forms 8710-1, 8610-2, and 8710-11
Forms 8710-1, 8610-2, and 8710-11 are the print versions of the Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application. Again, the instructor ensures the applicant is prepared for the test and has met all the regulatory requirements, including knowledge, proficiency, required endorsements, and experience requirements before the application process. The applicant then either completes the 8710 or 8610 paper form by hand or completes a digital computer-based form found on the FAA website. This form is in PDF. Remind the student that while the form can be completed online, the data cannot be saved and the applicant must print a copy before closing the window or the data will be lost. Instructions for completing the form are available on the website. After printing the requisite form, the applicant physically signs it and then the instructor verifies the information and signs the form, which the DPE mails to the nearest FSDO. Downloadable versions of the FAA Forms 8710-1 and 8610-2 are available at www.faa.gov/library/forms/.
Figures C-2 and C-3 are examples of a private pilot applicant who received training under 14 CFR part 61. This is only an example, since the form is periodically revised to reflect changes in the applicable rules and regulations. If the current form is a later edition than the one shown here, the instructions must be read very carefully to ensure all areas of the form are filled out correctly. The example shown is annotated with additional guidance to clarify or reinforce certain areas that are frequently found incomplete by the FAA during the certification process.
14 CFR part 61 requires the flight instructor to maintain a record that includes information on the type of endorsement, the name of the person receiving the endorsement, and the date of the endorsement. This information must be kept in a logbook or a separate document. For a knowledge or practical test endorsement, the record must include the kind of test, the date, and the results. Records of endorsements must be maintained for at least 3 years.
When preparing an applicant for the private certification or higher grade rating (e.g., commercial or instrument), a test is required to ensure the student has adequate aeronautical knowledge in those subject areas listed in 14 CFR part 61. The flight instructor may provide the student with an endorsement to certify he or she has the required knowledge to pass the knoweldge test. Some additional ratings do not require a knowledge test. For information concerning additional aircraft certifications that do not require knowledge tests, refer to AC 61-65. Flight instructors must take a short question test for additional category.
As a general rule the following may be used to determine if a knowledge test for Private, Commercial, or Instrument rating is required, but the flight instructor should review 14 CFR part 61.
If the applicant fails a knowledge test, the flight or ground instructor must sign the written test after he or she has given additional training for a retake of the test.
Additional Training and Endorsements
Flight instructors often provide required training and endorsements for certificated pilots. AC 61-98, Currency and Additional Qualification Requirements for Certificated Pilots, contains information to assist the instructor in providing training/endorsements for flight reviews, instrument proficiency checks, and transitions to other makes and models of aircraft.
Included in the AC are general guidance in each of these areas, references to other related documents, and sample training plans that are pertinent to this type of training.
The purpose of the flight review (required by 14 CFR section 61.56) is to provide for a regular evaluation of pilot skills and aeronautical knowledge. According to the regulation, it is also intended to offer pilots the opportunity to design a personal currency and proficiency program in consultation with a CFI. In effect, the flight review is the aeronautical equivalent of a regular medical checkup and ongoing health improvement program.
The conduct of flight reviews for certificated pilots is a responsibility of the flight instructor, and is also an excellent opportunity for the instructor to expand his or her professional services. The flight review is intended to be an industry-managed, FAA-monitored currency program. The flight review is not a test or a check ride, but an instructional service designed to assess a pilot’s knowledge and skills. As stated in 14 CFR part 61, no person may act as PIC of an aircraft unless a flight review has been accomplished within the preceding 24 calendar months.
Effective pilot refresher training must be based on specific objectives and standards. The objectives should include a thorough checkout appropriate to the pilot certificate and aircraft ratings held, and the standards should be at least those required for the issuance of that pilot certificate. Before beginning any training, the pilot and the instructor should agree fully on these objectives and standards, and, as training progresses, the pilot should be kept appraised of progress toward achieving those goals.
A flight review is an excellent opportunity for a certificated flight instructor (CFI) to review pilot decision-making skills. To get the information needed to evaluate ADM skills, including risk management, give the pilot multiple opportunities to make decisions and ask questions about those decisions. For example, ask the pilot to explain why the alternate airport selected for the diversion exercise is a safe and appropriate choice. What are the possible hazards, and what can the pilot do to mitigate them? Be alert to the pilot’s information and automation management skills as well. For example, does the pilot perform regular “common sense crosschecks?” For more ideas on generating scenarios that teach risk management, visit www.faa.gov/library/manuals/pilot_risk/.
AC 61-98, Currency and Additional Qualification Requirements for Certificated Pilots, chapter 1, provides guidance for conducting the flight review. Appendix B is a sample flight review plan and checklist. Appendix C is a sample list of flight review knowledge, maneuvers, and procedures, and it contains recommended procedures and standards for general pilot refresher courses. At the conclusion of a successful flight review, the logbook of the pilot should be endorsed, as recommended by AC 61-65. [Figure C-4] In addition to the required maneuvers conducted during the flight review, flight instructors should also review and discuss those special emphasis items listed in the flight instructor PTS.
Instrument Proficiency Checks
Instrument rated pilots who have not met instrument currency requirements in the preceding 6 months or for 6 months thereafter are required by 14 CFR part 61 to pass an instrument proficiency check ride in order to regain their instrument flying privileges.
AC 61-98 contains guidance for the conduct of an instrument proficiency check, including a sample plan of action and checklist. The primary reference for specific maneuvers and any associated tolerances for an instrument proficiency check ride is the Instrument Rating PTS, which includes a matrix table of required operations and tasks. A pilot taking an instrument proficiency check is expected to meet the criteria of the specific tasks selected in the Instrument Rating PTS.
Aircraft and instrument ratings appropriate to the aircraft being flown must be listed on the flight instructor’s instructor certificate. Part or all of the check may be conducted in a flight training device or flight simulator that meets 14 CFR section 141.41 requirements. The FAA FSDO having jurisdiction over the area where the device is used must specifically approve each flight training device or flight simulator. If planning to use a flight training device or flight simulator to conduct all or part of an instrument proficiency check, instructors should contact the local FSDO to verify the approval status of the device.
Certificated pilots depend on flight instructors for aircraft checkouts and transition training including high performance airplanes, tail wheel airplanes, motor gliders, and aircraft capable of flight at high altitudes. The flight instructor who checks out and certifies the competency of a pilot in an aircraft for which a type rating is not required by regulations is accepting a major responsibility for the safety of future passengers. Many newer light airplanes are comparable in performance and complexity to transport airplanes. For these, the flight instructor’s checkout should be at least as thorough as an official type rating practical test. Other considerations include:
For the conduct of an aircraft checkout, it is essential the flight instructor is fully qualified in the aircraft used and thoroughly familiar with its operating procedures, AFM, and operating limitations. An instructor who does not meet the recent flight experience prescribed by regulations for the aircraft concerned should not attempt to check out another pilot.
The flight instructor should utilize a plan of action and a written training syllabus based on the appropriate PTS, and record in the pilot’s logbook the exact extent of any checkout conducted. This record serves a twofold purpose: it benefits the pilot concerned and it protects the flight instructor if questions arise later. In the event the instructor finds a pilot’s performance to be insufficient to allow sign-off, the pilot should be thoroughly debriefed on all problem areas and further instruction scheduled. In some cases, a referral to another instructor may be appropriate.
Professional flight instructors maintain knowledge and skill as instructors and as pilots. The flight instructor is at the leading edge of the aviation industry’s efforts to improve aviation safety through additional training. The FAA encourages instructor pilot proficiency in two ways:
Application for Airman Certification and/or Rating
In order to improve the application process, the FAA is moving from a paper-based method of application to an Internet method. Although the application forms for pilots and mechanics are available for download at www.faa.gov/library/forms/, the FAA encourages aviation instructors to become familiar with the Internet method described below.
Integrated Airman Certification and/or Rating Application (IACRA) In the fall of 2003, the FAA released the Integrated Airman Certification and/or Rating Application, an Internet-based database program providing a fully electronic method of applying for an airman certificate or rating located at http://acra.faa.gov/iacra/. It electronically captures and validates airman information required to complete the airman application. IACRA can be accessed from any location with Internet connectivity. [Figure C-5]
IACRA interfaces with multiple FAA national databases to validate data and verify specific fields. IACRA automatically ensures applicants meet regulatory and policy requirements through business rules and data validation. It implements use of digital signatures throughout the certification process. IACRA automatically forwards the 8710 application and test results to the Airman Registry.
IACRA replaces the Airmen Certification and/or Rating Application CD, (ACRA), a stand-alone computer-based PC program that was the FAA’s first effort to automate the application process. With new “paths” of application added weekly, the IACRA program team continues to develop IACRA’s capability. Currently, the program can process virtually all pilot applications from sport pilot through airline transport pilot (ATP) type ratings, certificated flight instructors, mechanics, and most repairmen.
If the applicant chooses to complete the Airman Certificate and/or Rating Application utilizing IACRA, the instructor should ensure the applicant is prepared for the test and has met all the regulatory requirements, including knowledge, proficiency, required endorsements, and experience requirements. Suggest the applicant visit the IACRA site, review the frequently asked questions, and read the document “Getting Started Desktop Instructions” before completing an application. Stress the importance of the applicant having all pertinent information readily available before logging in. If the applicant has all necessary information available, the process should not take over ten minutes.
Remind the applicant the instructor can supervise the application process. Or the instructor can log onto IACRA any time after the applicant has completed the initial process and call up the application based on the FAA Tracking Number (FTN) assigned to the applicant. When using IACRA, the applicant must complete the applicant’s section, and the instructor certifies the applicant’s information.
An online public-accessible training center for IACRA, hosted by the FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) at http://faasafety.gov/ is under development. When operational, there will be a link on the IACRA website to the training center. A number of different training aids to include a fully interactive practice IACRA program will be available. This program will enable the instructor to fill out practice applications, review them and sign them off, giving the instructor a better feel for the entire process.
Student Pilot Endorsements
Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) section (§) 61.189 requires instructors to sign the logbook of each person they have given ground or flight training. Advisory Circular (AC) 61-65 contains suggested endorsements, and this appendix reprints several of the more commonly used endorsements. All of these examples contain the essential elements, but it is not necessary for endorsements to be worded exactly as those in the AC. For example, changes to regulatory requirements may affect the wording or the instructor may customize the endorsement for any special circumstances of the student.
Pre-solo aeronautical knowledge: 14 CFR § 61.87(b)
Pre-solo flight training at night: 14 CFR § 61.87(c) and (m)
Solo flight (each additional 90-day period): 14 CFR § 61.87(n)
Initial solo cross-country flight: 14 CFR § 61.93(c)(1)
Solo cross-country flight: 14 CFR § 61.93(c)(2)
Solo flight in Class B airspace: 14 CFR § 61.95(a)
Solo flight to, from, or at an airport located in Class B airspace: 14 CFR §§ 61.95(b) and 91.131(b)(1)
Private Pilot Endorsements
Flight proficiency/practical test: 14 CFR §§ 61.103(f), 61.107(b), and 61.109
Flight Instructor Endorsements
Completion of an instrument proficiency check: 14 CFR § 61.57(d)
Retesting after failure of a knowledge or oral and practical test (mechanic): 14 CFR § 65.19
Last name: ________________________ First name: ___________________________
Completion of a phase of an FAA-sponsored pilot proficiency award program (WINGS): 14 CFR § 61.56(e)
Certificates, Ratings, and Endorsements
There are many possible combinations of certificates and ratings for aircraft category and class. For example, you might have a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. If you train and test in a multi-engine airplane to the private pilot certificate level rather than the commercial level, you will still have a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating, but it will note that you have a multi-engine land rating with private pilot privileges.
An endorsement attests to the completion of ground and/or flight training required for specific operating privileges, or for airman certification testing. Except for certain endorsements made in pen and ink on a student pilot certificate, the endorsements required by 14 CFR part 61 fall into several broad categories.
Because a student pilot certificate has no aircraft category and class ratings, operating privileges and limitations for solo flight are conveyed exclusively through instructor endorsements. Endorsements in this category are usually limited not just to aircraft category and class, but also to a specific make and model. Student pilot endorsements can also specify weather limitations.
Like a student pilot certificate, a sport pilot certificate is issued without aircraft category and class ratings. Logbook endorsements specify the category, class, make, and model of aircraft that the sport pilot is authorized to fly as pilot in command.
Testing for Certificate or Rating
To take a knowledge test or practical test for most pilot certificates and ratings, the applicant must have endorsements attesting to aeronautical knowledge and flight proficiency (including aeronautical experience and practical test preparation requires in 14 CFR 61.31(a)(6)). The flight instructor applicant endorsements for completing the fundamentals of instruction and spin training fall into this category as well.
To maintain the operating privileges conferred by a pilot certificate or instrument rating, the pilot must have an endorsement for satisfactory completion of required recurrent training (e.g., flight review or instrument proficiency check).
The requirement for a type rating is limited to large (greater than 12,500 lbs MGTOW) and turbojet-power aircraft. However, certain small and piston-powered aircraft have characteristics that require additional training for safe operation. For example, 14 CFR 61.69 specifies training and experience required for towing a glider. Specific additional aircraft training requirements are outlined in 14 CFR 61.31, and instructor endorsements that attest to the satisfactory completion of this training are the mechanism used to confer the necessary operating privilege. Endorsements related to aircraft characteristics include those for complex, high performance, high altitude, tailwheel, and glider ground operations. In addition, 14 CFR 61.31(h) provides for “additional aircraft type-specific training” in cases where the FAA has determined that such training is required.
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