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Military Competency

Military Competency

Allow myself to introduce…myself…again? My name is Chris. This is my standard disclaimer; if you’ve read any of my previous articles, skip to paragraph 2. I’m not a TPN staff writer, just a longtime fan; I am a retired military pilot, a major airline pilot, a chief pilot at a Part 141 flight school, and an FAA designated pilot examiner. I have a few hobbies too: I run an aircraft MX shop, I am a General Contractor, and am starting a MX school for military aircraft maintainers. Who knew that 24 years of 12-14-hour days would become addictive? I am the product of a public high school in a third-world country in a foreign language, so my grammar and spelling are terrible. The opinions that follow are mine alone. In the capacity of free-lance writer, I do not represent anyone other than myself.  I’ll try to be PC, but if I hurt your feelings, I’m sorry you have a weak constitution. Lastly: rules change frequently; So, any article that I write has a limited shelf-life. Always consult with professional service providers or the FAA before spending any money! If TPN accepts any more of my articles after this one…this is just another of several articles (still TBD how many) that apply to all (US-citizen) pilots. If you are a foreign exchange pilot currently in the US, there are other rules for you. I don’t plan to write about those rules, so send me an email if you have questions. I’ll focus on things we (US military pilots) probably should have been taught at pilot training: it is never too late to learn. I am living proof that anyone can learn to spell FAR/AIM (in English)!

In this installment, I am going to address a few more weak points for military-only pilots when it comes to FAA ratings: Military Competency Ratings, and Endorsements and Limitations (both very briefly). Next time, we’ll cover Additional Aircraft Ratings (other than for ratings at the Airline Transport Pilot certification level), If you don’t know what “§§61” means, see my last article, How to Spell FAR/AIM. In fact, if there are any “unexplained terms” in this paper (like: DPE-MCE), go back and read my previous articles. This article will make your head hurt. It is meant as a building block for the next article…

Before we go any further let’s separate “Certificate” from “Rating.” As it pertains to a US Airman, a certificate is the piece of plastic that says what ratings you hold (pilot, remote pilot, and certified flight instructor are examples of 3 different certificates) …the rating describes the category/class/type (if required) of airplane you are qualified to fly and/or teach in. If you’d like a full explanation of FAA certificates, please see my previous paper, Civilian Ratings Explained. Remember that an airplane is “certificated” also, but that’s another story.

We also need to talk about Category, Class, Type, and Limitations. If you are prone to headaches, skip this part! “Aircraft Category,” “Aircraft Class,” and “Aircraft Type” are all used by the FAA in two (or more) different ways.

Aircraft Category concerns either: 1) the certification, ratings, privileges, and limitations of Airmen (what you can fly: airplane, rotorcraft, glider, lighter than air, etc). 2) The certification of Aircraft (a grouping of aircraft based on intended use or operating limitations). Some examples include: transport, normal, utility, military, aerobatic, limited, experimental, restricted, and provisional. OBTW, instrument category for circling is another use of the word not addressed here!

Aircraft Class concerns either: 1) When used in the certification, ratings, privileges and limitations of Airmen, it means a classification of aircraft within a category having similar operating characteristics (single-engine land, multi-engine sea, are examples of Class).  2) When used concerning the certification of aircraft, it means abroad grouping of aircraft having similar operating characteristics of propulsion, flight, or landing.

Aircraft Type concerns (you guessed it!): 1) When used in the certification, ratings, privileges and limitations of Airmen, it means specific make and model of aircraft. For example, Boeing 737-900, Airbus A-320-200, etc. 2) When used concerning the certification of aircraft, it means those aircraft that are of similar design…like an Airbus A-319 and A-320.

Thankfully, limitations are mostly straight-forward. It simply says what you can’t do (Circling in IMC not authorized, SIC only, English Proficient (wait, what?).

Confused yet? My brain hurts too! An easy way to think about your certificate is that is says what ratings you hold, listed by category, class, type, and limitation! If I said, “I have an ATP type rating in an Airbus A-320,” what I really mean is that my pilot certificate shows that I am rated as an Airline Transport Pilot in the Airplane(category), Multi-Engine Land (Class), (with airplane instrument privileges since ATP implies instrument), and I hold an A-319/320/321 type rating…my limitations are: I am (mostly) English proficient, but can’t circle in IMC. But wait…there’s more. I also have Commercial Pilot, ASEL privileges. I also have a Certified Flight Instructor Certificate for ASEL, AMEL, and Instrument Airplane, and I have a Remote Pilot certificate (yes, my pilot certificate, IP certificate, and RPA certificate are 3 separate cards). You can also have endorsements in your logbook! Examples of logbook endorsements are: Tailwheel, High Performance, Complex, High Altitude, and the CFI Spin endorsement. Sorry, but that’s all you get for Endorsements and Limitations!

Military Competency Pilot Certificates

This part of the article is meant to help walk you through figuring out what ratings you should be issued based on your experience. (If you would like a complete explanation of how the FAA certificate system works, see our previous article Civilian Ratings Explained). The FAA issues military pilots a Commercial Pilot Certificate based on military aircraft in which you have passed a checkride (to include pilot training). If you have also passed an Instrument checkride, you can get an Instrument rating in the same Category. You can also get a type rating if there is a civilian equivalent-type for that airplane. You will have a Commercial Pilot Certificate that will look like this:

The front simply shows that you are a Commercial Pilot; The specifics of your rating(s) are on the back. Under RATINGS, it would say COMMERCIAL PILOT, and under that, all your ratings are spelled out a little more in-depth (Category, Class, Type, Limitations i.e. Commercial, Airplane, Multi-engine land and Single-engine land, Instrument Airplane, BE-300, MU-400, Limitations: English proficient).

Once you figure out what certificates and ratings you can hold via mil comp, you can figure out what else you want/need to meet personal goals, airline hiring requirements, professional goals, etc.… We’ll go through “how to” earn additional certificates/ratings that you can’t get based on the military aircraft you’ve flown later in this series. Before you seek out an FAA ASI or DPE-MCE for your military competency, you should know what you are eligible for, have taken the appropriate tests. Some examiners or inspectors will ask you to fill out IACRA before your appointment. During ATP checkrides, I routinely see military pilots that have “half” of their military competency ratings. By “half,” I mean they got either an ASEL or AMEL Commercial pilot certificate with instrument privileges when they should have both! Or, they have a type rating in the MU-300, but not a BE-400(both are for the T-1). Examples of this are endless! Don’t misread what I am writing: If you aren’t eligible, you can’t have it. But if you are eligible and don’t get it: IT IS YOUR FAULT! Certainly, the FAA ASI or DPE-MCE should have done their part to help, but teaching you the FARs is not part of issuing a “MIL Comp” certificate.  Expect to get issued only what you are eligible for, but not more than you ask for. It sucks…I know! Here’s a novel concept…admit to the DPE-MCE or FAA ASI that you don’t know what you are eligible for and ask them for help. Most ASIs and DPEs want to help. If you schedule an appointment for a “multi-engine commercial certificate with instrument privileges based on military competency” it sounds very specific (like you’ve done your homework and know what you are eligible for). The certificating officer might not ask you if you are eligible for anything else. I am currently helping an “old” friend that is an AF pilot, but flew the T-34 with the Navy during primary pilot training. When he did his Mil Comp, the examiner said, “AF, huh?” And then assumed my friend had flown the Tweet. My bro didn’t know what he was eligible for, and the FAA didn’t ask. No one is really to blame. But now this pilot wants to earn a CFI add-on in ASEL and is not eligible because he needs a Commercial ASEL first! That costs @$5,000 in today’s dollars. If you are in this situation, contact me via email and we’ll fix it. Here’s how to figure out what you should be able to get via military competency:

*As of August 2018, the FAA decided to do away with the centerline thrust restriction category (so if you fly an aircraft with no VMC, you will receive a multiengine rating with no restrictions). If you received your certificate before the rule change, your ratings will show the centerline thrust restriction. You can have it removed by visiting a FDO (or FAA examiner qualified to do mil comp paperwork) and be issued a new certificate. You can also have it removed during your ATP check ride by performing a VMC maneuver. **These are the most common. For a complete list, look up your aircraft in the “Equivalent Military Designation” column of 8900.1 Figure 5-88.

NOTE: If you received your Private Pilot Certificate before pilot training and you ONLY flew multiengine aircraft in the military, then under COMMERCIAL PILOT and your ratings from the military, you will see PRIVATE PRIVILEGES AIRPLANE SINGLE ENGINE LAND; but if you flew a military single-engine plane, you will get a COMMERCIAL AIRPLANE SINGLE ENGINE LAND, which supersedes the private, so PRIVATE PRIVILEGES will no longer show on your certificate. If you had other civilian ratings before joining the military and have questions, feel free to contact us to discuss.

Zoomies: Don’t forget to add Glider too!

If you flew helicopters and/or powered-lift, you will also have one or more of the below, again based on your Form 8 / NATOPS check and aircraft flown during and post- pilot training. Please note that powered-lift pilots also qualify for airplane ratings (reference FSIMS 8900.1 Vol 5, Ch 2, Sec 15, 5-619 G).

Your FAA certificate does not automatically update if you change airframes in the military, so the only ratings on your certificate are the ones which you had flown prior to your FSDO visit. If you have additional ratings you would like to add, simply visit the FSDO (no additional testing required if you already hold a mil-comp Commercial Pilot Certificate). Make sure to set up an appointment (most do not accept walk-ins; at some locations, mil comp is only done on certain days of the week). When scheduling the appointment, try to get the contact info of the inspector who will be doing your paperwork so you can confirm what documents he / she wants to see. To save yourself a trip to the FSDO, ask around your unit to see if anyone knows a mil comp rep (we have 3 here in Goldsboro, NC!) or ask your FSDO if there are any examiners who handle mil comp paperwork.

As always, if you have questions about this, feel free to contact me.


Allow myself to introduce…myself…My name is Chris, and I’m an alco…oops, wrong intro! I’m not a TPN staff writer, just a longtime fan; I am a retired military pilot, a major airline pilot, a chief pilot at a Part 141 flight school, and an FAA designated pilot examiner. I have a few hobbies too: I run an aircraft MX shop, I am a General Contractor, and am starting a MX school for military aircraft maintainers. Who knew that 24 years of 12-14-hour days would become addictive? I am the product of a public high school in a third-world country in a foreign language, so my grammar and spelling are terrible. The opinions that follow are mine alone. In the capacity of free-lance writer, I do not represent anyone other than myself. I’ll try to be PC, but if I hurt your feelings, I’m sorry you have a weak constitution. Lastly: rules change frequently, so any article that I write has a limited shelf-life. Always consult with professional service providers or the FAA before spending any money! If TPN accepts any more of my articles after this one…this is the first of several (still TBD how many) articles that apply to all (US-citizen) pilots. If you are a foreign exchange pilot currently in the US, there are other rules for you. I don’t plan to write about those rules, so send me an email if you have questions. I’ll focus on things we (US military pilots) probably should have been taught at pilot training: it is never too late to learn. I am living proof that anyone can learn to spell FAR/AIM (in English)!

I’d like to start with a brief description of the FAA, FARs, and other FAA governing documents. Then, I’ll talk about FARs that cover training (with a focus on military competency and ATP ratings), and wrap it up with a summary of what I am trying to convey.

Let me be nerdy for a minute…The US government is governed by Coded Federal Regulations (CFR) that are broken down by title, chapter, sub-chapter, and parts. The FAA falls under Title 14 of the CFRs (Aeronautics and Space), Chapter 1 (Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Transportation), sub-chapters A-N, parts 1-199. When referencing an FAA rule (for example training) typically folks just say, “part 61,” or write “§§61.” What that really means is, 14CFR Chapter 1, subchapter D (Airmen), part 61. For example, PART 61 -CERTIFICATION: PILOTS, FLIGHT INSTRUCTORS, AND GROUND INSTRUCTORS (§§ 61.1 – 61.429.  Cornell Law has a great website to help interpret what the legal language actually means. Internally, the FAA uses the Flight Standards Information System (FSIMS) to tell its employees how to do their job. FSIM 8900.1 covers most of the topics I will discuss. FSIMS.FAA.gov has more information than you’ll ever care to read. But, if you wanted to know the process to get a military competency commercial and instrument certificate, you could search FAA FSIMS Military competency. Eventually in your search, you would find the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS) for Military Competency (FAA-S-ACS-12). My point with bringing up all of these FAA rules is only to show you that it is complicated, and multiple layers deep! Assuming that (as a military pilot) you understand the FAA’s rules are crazy. Yet, as a military competency examiner, I routinely hear, “common sense would dictate that…”. Wrong! The good news is that FAA Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASIs), and (most) Designated Pilot Examiners that are Military Competency Examiners (DPE-MCE) are available for telephone consultations and questions…for free! You can search the FAA website for an FAA Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) ASI at https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/field_offices/fsdo/, or a DPE-MCE near you  https://www.faa.gov/other_visit/aviation_industry/designees_delegations/individual_designees/dpe/. Please remember that most DPEs have other jobs, so don’t wait until the last second to ask questions. Also, ASIs are FAA employees and have around 180 additional duties. There is an ASI in the “office” Mon-Fri, but they are very busy and will probably refer you to a DPE-MCE. DPE-MCEs charge a small fee to process your paperwork.

Lastly on this topic, one of the FAA’s functions is to certificate pilots. They are the experts on FAR/AIM…they are here to help! They are not the bad guys we were taught about during pilot training.

So, you’ve reached a point in your career where you’ve decided to get all of the FAA ratings you can based on military competency…what now? Sheppard Air (http://www.sheppardair.com/mcs.htm) has a good guide to follow. The most often misunderstood concepts deal with ratings themselves and what they mean. That leads to the most common question I hear: what do I actually qualify for under mil-comp? The simple answer is: it depends on what you have flown in the military (to include pilot training). If you never flew a single-engine airplane, you
cannot have a single-engine rating at any level. If you were never a multi-engine instructor, you cannot hold an MEI. If you have been a multi engine IP,  you can have an MEI, and not be able to teach in a single-engine airplane. So, I’d like to take a minute to peel back the layers on FAA ratings because they are misunderstood by most military-only pilots.

Each pilot certificate comes with inherent limitations and privileges, but may contain additional limitations and privileges. For example, you could earn a sport pilot certificate that says, Limitations: not authorized to carry passenger; not authorized to fly an airplane with rudders; not authorized to fly into towered airports, etc…You can also have additional endorsement for a pilot certificate in your logbook. For example: High Performance, Complex,Tail-wheel, and Pressurized Airplane operations are all endorsements that go in your logbook. Once you have a pilot rating in a class and category, you can add other classes and categories relatively easily. For example, if you have a mil-comp MEI with instrument airplane, you can add-on an airplane single-engine land IP certificate (referred to as aCFI) reasonably easily as long as you have a commercial ASEL. For those of you old folks that flew the Tweet, and never flew a single engine airplane in the military, the path isn’t so easy! More to follow in another article (I’ll call:The Add-on Ratings). The following certificates are issued under Part 61 through the FAA’s Integrated Airmen Certification and/or Rating Certification (IACRA) system (also see Aircraft Ratings and Pilot Certifications):

  • Student Pilot: (Non-military pilots start here, with very few exceptions)
  • Sport Pilot
  • Recreational Pilot Private pilot (in the grand scheme of ratings, think of this as a high school diploma)
  • Commercial Pilot (This is like a 2-year degree, and if this is your first FAA rating as a military pilot, it is the level at which you will get a competency rating).
  • Airline Transport Pilot the (PhD of flying)

Notice that “Instrument” isn’t a certificate. It is an additional rating. Instrument Airplane (or Rotorcraft,etc…) is implied with ATP since you can’t have one without the other. You can hold an instrument airplane rating on the private or commercial certificate also.  Pilot certificates are also broken down by aerospace vehicle (category, class by type (if required)), and by additional ratings. Examples of “category” include Airplane, Rotorcraft, Glider, Powered Lift, and Lighter than Air. Class includes Airplane, Single Engine Land; Airplane, Multi Engine Sea, Rotorcraft Helicopter, etc… Examples of ratings you can have include:

Private Pilot, Airplane, Multi-Engine Land; Instrument Airplane;

or

Airline Transport Pilot, Airplane Multi Engine Land BE-300, MU-400 (T-1A type rating);

or

Commercial Pilot, Airplane Multi and Single-Engine Land, Rotorcraft Helicopter; Private Pilot Privileges Glider, Instrument Airplane and Helicopter.

Confused yet? The answer to the original question, “what am I eligible for” lies in these questions: what did you fly at pilot training? What have you been rated in while in the military since pilot training? You are eligible for Commercial Pilot privileges, and Instrument Privileges in whatever you flew (with some exceptions) as long as you have proof of a checkride. FAR 61.73 address military competency.

Earning the Airline Transport Pilot rating is a different ball of wax…specifically, the Multi Engine ATP.   I won’t go into the full background of why the requirements to earn this rating changes @ 5 years ago, but there is currently no waiver for military competency for the Certification Training Program (CTP). The
CTP is the pre-req for the written test for the Multi Engine ATP. The CTP in no way prepares you for the written test (see Sheppard Air above). The written test opts you for the practical test. There is a waiver for military pilots when it comes to the practical, but it only waives the 1,500-hour requirement to 750 hours, and authorizes you to earn an ATP-Restricted.  The ATP-R is also authorized for Part 141 Flight School graduates with either a 2- or 4-year degree (but the hour requirement varies.

Speaking of Part 141 (and 61 from above) …these are the 2 FAR’s that cover GA flying training. You can also train under Part 121, 125, 135, and 142 (and I will cover those in yet another article titled: Training). For now, I hope it suffices to say that anybody with an instructor rating and an airplane can train you under Part 61 WITHOUT ANY SUPERVISION FROM THE FAA!…until something goes wrong, and the FAA steps in. There are lots of Part 61 flight schools. Part 141 flight schools, on the other hand, are certificated by the FAA to teach flying at the university level. Part 141 flight schools voluntarily allow the FAA to heavily supervise and monitor their activity.There is a lot involved with Part 141 schools that I will not talk about except to say it is a huge expense to earn and maintain the certificate (if anybody really wants to know, email me). Most airlines add points to your application if you check the box that says, “I attended a Part 141 Flight School.” Don’t check the box if you didn’t…they’ll check.  A flight school must be approved by the FAA under Part 141 (or 142 for simulators) to offer training that is paid for using the GI Bill, or COOL, or to offer work under Skill Bridge (I’ll cover that in another paper that I’ll call: Non-Traditional Funding for Pilot Certificates).

Last topic, I promise: Part 91 is the set of rules that governs “how” we fly in GA (i.e. weather requirements, cloud clearances, required equipment, etc…). For example, under Part 91 rules, there is no weather minimum required to take off. That’s right. And, if you’re VFR in Class G airspace, you don’t even need a radio or transponder…or attitude indicator. So, the least qualified pilots have the least restriction and no oversight.

But Chris, why do I care about this stuff?  I am going to retire/separate, and go on to be an airline pilot…Competency as a professional pilot has many forms. One constant: it is your job to continue studying, even after you get your “forever” job. My first instrument approach at my airline was an old-school VOR-A…into Mexico City (very mountainous) …at night…around thunderstorms…and, there was a rock in my shoe. OK, the last line wasn’t true, but you get my point. I have done charters at my airline with a major sports team in the back of the jet at night, under VFR (the team went into overtime during playoffs, and the tower closed). Knowing how to operate in the national airspace system is required, but no one is going to spoon feed it to you.

To wrap this up: There are lots of rules and regs that you never cared about before…you may still not care about them, but at least now you know about them. When in doubt: ask!


Instructor Certificate Add-on Ratings

Last week, we posted an article about adding ratings to an existing pilot certificate rating; this week, we’ll cover instructor add-on ratings. If you haven’t already, recommend reviewing what ratings you are eligible to hold based on your military experience: What ratings do I hold? and What instructor ratings do I hold?. If you would like a full explanation of FAA certificates and ratings, you can read Civilian Ratings Explained.

Recommendation: As mentioned in the previous articles, before applying for the airlines, make sure to mil comp as many of your military ratings as possible; however, we do not recommend pursuing add-on ratings (requiring flight training and check rides) simply for your airline app – the additional points won’t be worth the time/money spent on obtaining the additional ratings. If you want to use additional ratings (e.g. you want to instruct on the side), then the training and check rides are worth it – read on!

For military airplane instructor pilots:

If you have only instructed in single or multiengine military airplanes and you would like to add-on the other rating, see the table below. *NOTE: If you have only instructed in a military multiengine aircraft limited to center thrust and received a Flight Instructor, Instrument – Airplane certificate from the FAA, you can now hold a full Flight Instructor, Multiengine Airplane certificate based on a rule change last summer. You will need to visit a Flight Standards District Office (FSDO) or mil comp designated pilot examiner (DPE) to be reissued your flight instructor certificate; no additional testing needed. For a mil comp DPE, check with your FSDO or ask around – there is no list available online; for Goldsboro pilots, we have 2 mil comp DPEs here!

*You must have a commercial or ATP certificate in the class (single-engine or multiengine) before you can take your instructor check ride for that class (reference §61.183(c)). If you need to get your commercial or ATP add-on in either single or multiengine, refer to Pilot Certificate Add-on Ratings.

**Per §61.191, you must meet all the requirements of §61.183 for an add-on rating, including having a spin endorsement in your logbook (reference – §61.183(i)(1)). Check with your examiner ahead of time – some consider the spin endorsement requirement met if you hold an instructor certificate already (since you met all the requirements to get the certificate). Others will want to see the endorsement in your logbook. If an endorsement is required, you can ask any FAA-certificated instructor who has done spin training with you (in any airplane, military or civilian) for the endorsement, or call around to local flight schools; most experienced military pilots only require a single ride. The spin endorsement required can be found in Advisory Circular 61-65, Appendix A (current version is AC 61-65H, but that changes frequently; use the most current version).

For military helicopter and powered-lift instructor pilots:

Since you will be adding another category (airplane vs powered-lift / helicopter) to your instructor certificate, the check ride will be more involved, but the process is similar to airplane instructors.

*Military powered-lift pilots qualify for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane multiengine land rating. For details, reference What ratings do I hold?.

**Once you hold one airplane instructor rating, use the previous chart for any additional airplane instructor add-on ratings.

Add-on Check Rides

To know what will be required of you for any instructor check ride, reference the Practical Test Standards (PTS) for that certificate. *The FAA is moving from the PTS to the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS); eventually all check rides will use the ACS. The ACS and PTS are the FAA’s check ride guides; each certificate (private / commercial / ATP / instructor) has either an ACS or PTS broken into Areas of Operation and associated Tasks for each Area of Operation. If you have an existing rating, you do not have to complete all tasks; check the Additional Rating Task Table (example shown below) to determine what tasks you need to accomplish. For example, if you hold a flight instructor certificate with single-engine and instrument ratings and you plan to take the multiengine instructor add-on check ride, go to the PTS for Flight Instructor and scroll down to the Additional Rating Task Table for the Airplane Single-Engine check ride (shown below); take note of the required tasks in the column for AME (Airplane Multiengine) and IA (Instrument – Airplane).

When you’re setting up flight training for an add-on rating, talk to the flight school and ensure your experience and ratings are clear and that the flight school’s training plan meets the requirements and prepares you for the check ride. The school should double check with the examiner and/or FSDO for any additional requirements if your specific check ride is not given routinely.

We hope this series of articles has been helpful! We only covered the most common ratings / add-ons for military pilots, so if we did not cover your situation, feel free to contact us.


Pilot Certificate Add-on Ratings

In our previous two articles, we covered what pilot certificate and instructor certificate ratings you can receive based on military experience (your mil comp ratings). Now that you know what certificates and ratings you hold via mil comp, we’ll go through how to earn additional certificates/ratings that you can’t get based on the military aircraft you’ve flown. If you’d like a full explanation of how FAA certificates work, please see our previous write-up, Civilian Ratings Explained.

ATP CERTIFICATE

Earning your ATP certificate is not an add-on to an existing certificate but a new certificate level. For military pilots, either your commercial certificate can be “upgraded” to an ATP certificate (reference 14 CFR 61.153) or you can take your ATP check ride based on military experience (reference §61.153(d)(2)). **If you do not have your commercial pilot certificate prior to your ATP check ride, make sure to check with your flight school / examiner ahead of time to ensure they are familiar with the process. To earn your ATP, you will need to:

  • Complete the ATP Certification Training Program (ATP-CTP);
  • Pass the ATP Multiengine Airplane written test (ATM);
  • Meet the ATP experience requirements (reference §61.159 for unrestricted or §61.160 for restricted ATP); and
  • Pass the ATP check ride.

During the check ride, you will surrender your commercial pilot certificate and receive a temporary ATP certificate. When you receive your permanent ATP certificate in the mail, the front of your certificate will read AIRLINE TRANSPORT PILOT; you will keep private or commercial privileges (if you have them) for single-engine. Any multiengine ratings (including type ratings) will bump up to the ATP level, and because your ATP assumes/includes instrument privileges, your certificate will no longer read INSTRUMENT – AIRPLANE. Sample ATP certificate below (sample type ratings for a pilot who flew T-1s):

PILOT CERTIFICATE ADD-ONS

If you are interested in adding on more ratings to your existing commercial or ATP certificate (i.e. you would like to add single or multi privileges to your certificate or you are a helo pilot looking to fly airplanes), see below.

Recommendation: As mentioned in the previous articles, before applying for the airlines, make sure to mil comp as many of your military ratings as possible; however, we do not recommend pursuing add-on ratings (requiring flight training and check rides) simply for your airline app – the additional points won’t be worth the time/money spent on obtaining the additional ratings. If you want to use additional ratings (e.g. you want to instruct on the side or rent a single-engine airplane to fly your family around), then the training and check rides are worth it – read on!

For military pilots who already have airplane ratings:

*Note: This section applies to powered-lift pilots (AV-8B, V-22, F-35B) because powered-lift pilots qualify for commercial pilot certificates with an airplane rating; see the “What ratings do I hold?” article for further information.

If you have a commercial or ATP certificate with only single or multiengine ratings and you would like to be able to fly either single or multi, see the process below. Be sure to read the notes under the chart! If your multiengine rating is limited to centerline thrust, you no longer have to take a check ride to remove the restriction; simply visit a FSDO or mil comp DPE (see the “What ratings do I hold?” article for details.)

*If you plan to get your ATP, that will give you multiengine privileges, and the commercial add-on check ride is unnecessary.

**Review the ACS (Airmen Certification Standards) for the commercial check ride and the PTS (Practical Test Standards…this will eventually be replaced by an ACS) for the ATP check ride to decide which option to choose; most military pilots find the ATP add-on check ride to be easier – the ATP check ride is instrument approach focused, whereas the commercial check ride will have a number of new maneuvers. NOTE: The ATP add-on does not work the same way going from ATP AIRPLANE SINGLE ENGINE LAND to ATP AIRPLANE MULTIENGINE LAND; if you have an ATP single-engine, to get the ATP multiengine, you will need to complete the CTP and written (reference – §61.165(f)).

***The only difference in the ATP single-engine mins from your ATP multiengine mins is you must have 50 hours of airplane single-engine time (reference §61.159(a)(3): “50 hours of flight time in the class of airplane for the rating sought”…the class of airplane is single-engine). If you don’t have 50 hours of single-engine time, you can choose Option 1, the commercial single-engine add-on check ride.

 

For military pilots with only helicopter ratings:

If you have a commercial certificate with only helicopter ratings and you would like your airplane ratings, see the process below. Once you have an airplane rating on your certificate, you can reference the chart above for additional add-on ratings.

*Some transitioning helicopter pilots prefer to get a private airplane single-engine add-on first and then work up to the commercial certificate. There are some good write-ups (see this article from jetcareers.com) available online comparing the processes. To determine which works best based on your flight experience, compare the flight experience requirements for private pilot (§61.109) and for commercial pilot (§61.129); you will need to meet those mins before accomplishing your add-on check ride.

**Found in §61.129 for commercial pilots

Add-on Check Rides

To know what will be required of you for any check ride, check the Airmen Certification Standards (ACS) OR Practical Test Standards (PTS) for that certificate. *The FAA is moving from the PTS to the ACS; eventually all check rides will use the ACS. The ACS and PTS are the FAA’s check ride guides; each certificate (private / commercial / ATP / instructor) has either an ACS or PTS broken into Areas of Operation and associated Tasks for each Area of Operation. If you have an existing rating, you do not have to complete all tasks; check the Additional Rating Task Table (example shown below) to determine what tasks you need to accomplish. For example, if you hold a commercial multiengine rating, and you plan to take a commercial single-engine add-on check ride, go to the ACS for commercial and scroll down to the Additional Rating Task Table for the Airplane Single-Engine Land check ride (shown below); take note of the required tasks in the column for AMEL (Airplane Multiengine Land).

When you’re setting up flight training for an add-on rating, talk to the flight school and ensure your experience and ratings are clear and that the flight school’s training plan meets the requirements and prepares you for the check ride. The school should double check with the examiner and/or FSDO for any additional requirements if your specific check ride is not given routinely.

We’ll tackle add-on instructor ratings next! As always, if you have questions, please feel free to contact us.


What instructor ratings do I hold?

Last week, we shared information on verifying which FAA ratings you can receive via the mil comp process (What ratings do I hold?). This week, we’ll run through instructor ratings. Again, for a full explanation of civilian ratings, you can check out Civilian Ratings Explained. We’ll cover the basics below, but if you have a situation or question that is not covered, feel free to contact us!

Your instructor certificate (i.e. your instructor license) will be a separate card from your pilot certificate. The front will show FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR. What you’re qualified to instruct in will show on the back.

Two notes under the LIMITATIONS section: First, you have to fly with your pilot certificate when instructing. Second, your flight instructor certificate expires! The FAA recently made reinstating an expired certificate less painful for military pilots (you have to visit a FSDO with proof of a military instructor check within the past 6 months – reference 14 CFR 61.199), but recommend not letting it expire. To renew, you can visit a FSDO with an updated military instructor check (reference – §61.197 (2)(iv)) or complete an online renewal course like American Flyers, King Schools, etc. (reference – §61.197 (2)(iii)).

Below are the instructor ratings you will receive based on military aircraft flown. Your instructor certificate will not show type ratings or land / sea; you can instruct in any aircraft which falls under the rating listed on your instructor cert (e.g. if your instructor certificate includes an AIRPLANE SINGLE ENGINE rating, then you can instruct in whatever single-engine aircraft are listed on your pilot certificate; if your pilot certificate shows AIRPLANE SINGLE ENGINE LAND, you can instruct in single-engine land but not single-engine sea planes.).

*As mentioned in the pervious article, the FAA did away with the centerline thrust restriction in August 2018. If you received your FAA instructor certificate AFTER the rule change, you will receive AIRPLANE MULTIENGINE; INSTRUMENT – AIRPLANE just like standard multiengine instructors. If you received your instructor certificate before the rule change, you will need to visit a FSDO with your paperwork to receive the AIRPLANE MULTIENGINE rating.

If you also instructed in helos and/or powered-lift, you will also have one or more of the below. For powered-lift pilots, you will not receive an airplane instructor rating – reference FSIMS 8900.1 Vol 5, Ch 2, Sec 15, 5-620 E.2.

If you have not visited the FSDO to get your instructor certificate, then you will need to: 1. Take the mil comp instructor written test (study via Sheppard Air and then either test on base at the education center if they offer FAA testing or at a local test center). 2. Take your written and instructor check ride paperwork to the nearest FSDO or a Designated Pilot Examiner who can handle mil comp paperwork (check with your FSDO or ask around – there is no list available online; for Goldsboro pilots, we have 2 mil-comp DPEs here!). If you have previously completed the mil comp process for your instructor cert but now fly another military aircraft that qualifies you for an additional instructor rating, you do not need to take an additional written test; simply visit the FSDO or mil comp DPE with your paperwork.

Next up – what can you do with these ratings in the civilian aviation world? And how do you add other ratings that you can’t get via mil comp?


What ratings do I hold?

The FAA gives military pilots a Commercial Pilot Certificate (i.e. your pilot’s license) with ratings based on military aircraft flown. This article was written to help walk you through what ratings should be included on your certificate based on your military experience. (If you would like a complete explanation of how the FAA certificate system works, see our previous article Civilian Ratings Explained).

The FAA issues a Commercial, Instrument rating for any military aircraft in which you have received a Form 8 / NATOPS check OR completed pilot training. So you will have a Commercial Pilot Certificate (pilot’s license) which will look like this:

The front simply shows that you are a Commercial Pilot; specifics are on the back (see below).

Under RATINGS, you will have COMMERCIAL PILOT, and under that will be listed all your ratings (single-engine, multiengine, etc). The options are shown below.

After your airplane ratings, you will also see INSTRUMENT – AIRPLANE.

*As of August 2018, the FAA decided to do away with the centerline thrust restriction category (so if you fly an aircraft with no VMC, you will receive a multiengine rating with no restrictions). If you received your certificate before the rule change, your ratings will show the centerline thrust restriction. You can have it removed by visiting a FSDO (or FAA examiner qualified to do mil comp paperwork) and be issued a new certificate. You can also have it removed during your ATP check ride by performing a VMC maneuver.

**These are the most common. For a complete list, look up your aircraft in the “Equivalent Military Designation” column of 8900.1 Figure 5-88.

NOTE: If you received your Private Pilot Certificate before pilot training and you ONLY flew multiengine aircraft in the military, then under COMMERCIAL PILOT and your ratings from the military, you will see PRIVATE PRIVILEGES AIRPLANE SINGLE ENGINE LAND; but if you flew a military single-engine plane, you will get a COMMERCIAL AIRPLANE SINGLE ENGINE LAND, which supersedes the private, so PRIVATE PRIVILEGES will no longer show on your certificate. If you had other civilian ratings before joining the military and have questions, feel free to contact us to discuss.

If you flew helos and/or powered-lift, you will also have one or more of the below, again based on your Form 8 / NATOPS check and aircraft flown during pilot training. Please note that powered-lift pilots also qualify for airplane ratings (reference FSIMS 8900.1 Vol 5, Ch 2, Sec 15, 5-619 G).

Your certificate does not automatically update, so the only ratings that will show on your certificate are the ones which you had flown the last time you visited the FSDO (Flight Standards District Office). If you have additional ratings you would like to add, simply visit the FSDO (no additional testing required if you already hold a mil-comp Commercial Pilot Certificate). Make sure to set up an appointment (most do not accept walk-ins; at some locations, mil comp is only done on certain days of the week). When scheduling the appointment, try to get the contact info of the inspector who will be doing your paperwork so you can confirm what documents he / she wants to see. To save yourself a trip to the FSDO, ask around your unit to see if anyone knows a mil comp rep (we have two here in Goldsboro, NC!) or ask your FSDO if there are any examiners who handle mil comp paperwork.

NOTE: This article assumes you hold a commercial certificate; if you have never completed your mil comp paperwork, you will need to take the mil comp written test and then visit the FSDO. Study via Sheppard Air, and then find a nearby test center (or ask your base education office if they offer FAA testing). Then call the FSDO for an appointment.

As always, if you have questions about this, feel free to contact us!


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