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!