Pilot Certification Terminology Aviation schools offer flight training and certification for those wanting to pilot different types of aircraft. Here is a list of terms that will help you to understand the various levels of pilot certification:
Student Pilot: A certificate given to a pilot in training. The certification allows that student to fly only when accompanied by a flight instructor under certain conditions.
Sport Pilot: Certification that allows for the flight of only light sport aircraft.
Recreational Pilot: The certification received after having completed a minimum of 30 hours of training according to Part 61 of the Federal Aviation regulations. Recreational pilots may fly in daytime only, and are allowed to carry only one passenger.
Private Pilot: Certification achieved after having successfully completed 40 or more hours of flight training. This certificate allows pilots to fly for business purposes across the country with more than one passenger. Pilots carrying private pilot certification may also fly at night. Passengers may share the cost of the flight with a pilot carrying private certification, but private pilots cannot charge passengers for the flight.
Instrument Rating: An adjunct qualification a pilot may receive in addition to private or commercial certification. An instrument rating requires additional training in meteorology, and further flight training as it relates to flight instrumentation.
Commercial Pilot: Certification for pilots with more extensive training than private pilots, who are allowed to fly for hire.
Flight Instructor: An individual who holds at least a commercial pilot certification or an air transport pilot certification, that has passed two written exams and an additional flight test. Flight instructors must demonstrate that they possess the instruction techniques, skills and experience required to safely and effectively teach people to fly.
Air Transport Pilot: The highest class of aircraft pilot certification. Air transport pilots are authorized to act as pilot-in-command of aircraft exceeding 12,500 pounds and over nine passenger seats.