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.
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.