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Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits (2023 Updated)

By: Richard J. Gross
Updated On: November 27, 2022

As a private pilot, you are entitled to fly an aircraft for personal use. You are not allowed to fly for commercial purposes or compensation. There are also some limitations on the types of aircraft you can fly and the conditions under which you can fly.

To be eligible for a private pilot license, you must meet certain age, medical, and experience requirements. In this article, we will discuss the Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits as well as requirements.

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits

As a private pilot, you are allowed to:

  • Fly an aircraft for personal use
  • Carry passengers as long as there is no compensation involved
  • Fly in visual meteorological conditions (VMC)
  • Fly during the day

Limitations

There are some limitations on what you can do as a private pilot. You are not allowed to:

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits
  • Fly for commercial purposes
  • Carry passengers for compensation
  • Fly in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC)
  • Fly at night

Requirements

To be eligible for a private pilot license, you must:

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits
  • Be at least 17 years old
  • Have a current and valid medical certificate
  • Have completed a minimum of 40 hours of flight time, including at least 20 hours of instruction from a certified flight instructor
  • Pass a written exam and a practical test administered by the FAA
  • Be able to read, speak, and understand English

If you meet all of the requirements, you will be issued a private pilot license which will allow you to fly an aircraft for personal use. There are some limitations on what you can do with your license, but overall, you will have a lot of freedom to enjoy flying.

A Private Pilot's License: What Is It?

A Private Pilot License is a certificate that allows the holder to operate an aircraft for personal use. The holder of this certificate is not allowed to fly for commercial purposes or compensation.

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits

To be eligible for this certificate, the applicant must meet certain age, medical, and experience requirements set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The requirements, privileges, and limitations for private pilot licenses are set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). They are based on safety and protect the general public from pilots who are not properly trained or experienced.

Licenses for Non-Commercial Pilots

There are three different kinds of non-commercial pilot licenses: sport and recreational.

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits

Sport Pilot License

A sports pilot license is the simplest and easiest to obtain. It requires less training than the other kinds of licenses and has fewer privileges. To be eligible for a sports pilot license, you must be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver's license.

You must also pass a written exam and a practical test administered by the FAA. The privileges of a sports pilot license include flying during the day and in good weather conditions.

You are also allowed to carry one passenger. However, you are not allowed to fly in controlled airspace or near airports.

Recreational Pilot License

A recreational pilot license is more complex than a sports pilot license but still less complex than a private pilot license. To be eligible for a recreational pilot license, you must be at least 17 years old and have a current and valid medical certificate.

You must also have completed a minimum of 30 hours of flight time, including at least 15 hours of instruction from a certified flight instructor. In addition, you must pass a written exam and a practical test administered by the FAA.

Student’s Pilot License

If you are enrolled in a flight training program, you will be issued a student pilot license. This license allows you to fly with a certified flight instructor. You are not allowed to carry passengers or fly solo until you have met the requirements for a private pilot license.

Higher License Levels

There are two higher levels of pilot licenses: commercial and airline transport.

A commercial pilot license allows the holder to fly for compensation or hire. To be eligible for a commercial pilot license, you must be at least 18 years old and have a current and valid medical certificate.

You must also have completed a minimum of 250 hours of flight time, including at least 100 hours of instruction from a certified flight instructor. In addition, you must pass a written exam and a practical test administered by the FAA.

An airline transport pilot license is the highest level of pilot license. It allows the holder to fly as the captain of an aircraft for a scheduled airline. To be eligible for an airline transport pilot license, you must be at least 23 years old and have a current and valid medical certificate.

You must also have completed a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time, including at least 500 hours of instruction from a certified flight instructor. In addition, you must pass a written exam and a practical test administered by the FAA.

There are several different types of pilot licenses, each with its privileges, limitations, and requirements. The type of license you need depends on how you want to use your skills as a pilot.

Terminologies to Know

The following are some important terms to know when discussing pilot licenses:

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits

Pilot in Command (PIC): The pilot who is ultimately responsible for the operation and safety of the aircraft.

Certified Flight Instructor (CFI): A flight instructor who has been certified by the FAA.

Instrument Rating: An endorsement of a pilot’s license that allows the holder to fly in instrument meteorological conditions.

Multi-Engine Rating: An endorsement on a pilot’s license that allows the holder to fly an aircraft with more than one engine.

Commercial Pilot License: A license that allows the holder to fly for compensation or hire.

Airline Transport Pilot License: The highest level of pilot license that allows the holder to fly as the captain of an aircraft for a scheduled airline.

Airman Medical Certification

A medical certificate is required to exercise the privileges of a pilot license. This certificate is issued by an FAA-approved physician and is valid for a specific period. To be eligible for a medical certificate, you must meet certain medical standards set by the FAA.

These standards are designed to ensure that pilots are physically and mentally fit to fly. It is important to note that these standards are not the same as the medical requirements for a driver’s license.

CFR and FAR

When researching the privileges, limitations, and requirements of a pilot license, you will come across the terms CFR and FAR. These acronyms stand for Code of Federal Regulations and Federal Aviation Regulations, respectively.

The CFR is a compilation of all the regulations promulgated by federal agencies, including the FAA. The FAR is a subset of the CFR that contains only the regulations promulgated by the FAA.

Certificate of Medical Fitness for a Private Pilot's License

To qualify for a private pilot license, you must have a current and valid medical certificate. You can obtain a medical certificate from an FAA-approved physician. To be eligible for a medical certificate, you must meet certain medical standards set by the FAA.

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits

These standards are designed to ensure that pilots are physically and mentally fit to fly. It is important to note that these standards are not the same as the medical requirements for a driver’s license.

The following are some of the medical standards you must meet to obtain a medical certificate:

  • You must be at least 16 years old.
  • You must have good vision, with or without corrective lenses.
  • You must have good hearing that is adequate for safe communication by radio.
  • You must not have any mental disorders that would make it unsafe for you to fly.
  • You must not have any chronic physical conditions that would make it unsafe for you to fly.
  • You must not have any substance abuse problems that would make it unsafe for you to fly.

The FAA Act of 1958

The FAA Act of 1958 created the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and gave it the responsibility for regulating civil aviation in the United States. The act also established the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) as the official representative of general aviation pilots.

The AOPA is a nonprofit organization that represents the interests of general aviation pilots. The organization lobbies Congress and the FAA on behalf of its members, and it provides educational resources and member services.

The following are some of the privileges that are granted to private pilots:

  • You can fly for pleasure or business, but you cannot fly for compensation or hire.
  • You can fly with passengers, but you cannot carry more than four passengers at a time.
  • • You can fly in visual meteorological conditions (VMC).
  • You can fly in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) if you have the appropriate rating on your pilot license.
  • You can fly during the day or at night.
  • You can fly in Class B, C, and D airspace if you have the appropriate rating on your pilot license.

The following are some of the limitations that are placed on private pilots:

  • You cannot fly for compensation or hire.
  • You can only carry a maximum of four passengers at a time.
  • You must fly in visual meteorological conditions (VMC).
  • You cannot fly in Class A airspace.
  • You must have a current and valid medical certificate.

Basic Certification Requirements

To obtain a private pilot license, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be at least 17 years old.
  • You must have a current and valid medical certificate.
  • You must have completed a minimum of 40 hours of flight time, including at least 20 hours of flight time with an instructor and 10 hours of solo flight time.
  • You must have passed a written exam, an oral exam, and a practical test.
  • You must have a current and valid student pilot certificate.
  • You must be able to read, speak, and understand English.

Visual Requirements

To qualify for a private pilot license, you must have a good vision. You must be able to see well enough to read the gauges and instruments on the aircraft, and you must be able to see other aircraft in the vicinity. If you wear corrective lenses, you must have them available while flying.

Auditory Requirements

To qualify for a private pilot license, you must have a good hearing. You must be able to hear well enough to communicate by radio.

Mental Requirements

To qualify for a private pilot license, you must be mentally fit to fly. You must not have any mental disorders that would make it unsafe for you to fly.

Neurological Requirements

To qualify for a private pilot license, you must not have any chronic physical conditions that would make it unsafe for you to fly.

Cardiovascular Requirements

To qualify for a private pilot license, you must not have any heart conditions that would make it unsafe for you to fly.

General Requirements

In addition to the specific requirements that are listed above, you must also meet the following general requirements:

  • You must not have any criminal convictions that would make it unsafe for you to fly.
  • You must not have any substance abuse problems that would make it unsafe for you to fly.
  • You must be able to obtain a security clearance from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or a legal resident alien of the United States.

FAR 67.401: Special Issuance of Medical Certificates

A person who holds a private pilot certificate or higher may apply to the FAA for special issuance of a medical certificate.

A special issuance is granted on a case-by-case basis and is valid for only a limited time. The following are some of the conditions that may qualify for a special issuance:

  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Heart conditions
  • Mental disorders
  • Neurological conditions

To be eligible for a special issuance, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have a current and valid medical certificate.
  • You must be under the care of a qualified physician.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you can safely operate an aircraft.
  • You must not pose a threat to aviation safety.

Statements of Demonstrated Ability (SODA)

A Statement of Demonstrated Ability (SODA) is an authorization that is issued by the FAA instead of a medical certificate.

A SODA allows a person to operate an aircraft without holding a medical certificate, but it is only valid for a limited time. To be eligible for a SODA, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have a current and valid medical certificate.
  • You must be under the care of a qualified physician.
  • You must be able to demonstrate that you can safely operate an aircraft.
  • You must not pose a threat to aviation safety.

FAR 61.53: Prohibition on Operations During Medical Deficiency

The FAA prohibits a person from acting as a pilot in command of an aircraft if that person knows or has reason to know of any medical condition that would make it unsafe for him or her to do so. This prohibition applies to all pilot certificates, including student pilot certificates.

CFR 91.146 – Flights with Passengers for a Charitable, Non-Profit, or Community Event

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits

This regulation allows a pilot to transport passengers to promote a charitable, non-profit, or community event, provided that certain conditions are met. To be eligible for this regulation, the following must be true:

  • The flight must be conducted in an aircraft that is registered in the United States.
  • The flight must originate and end in the United States.
  • The pilot must not be compensated for his or her services.
  • The passengers must not be charged a fee for their transportation.
  • The purpose of the flight must be to transport passengers to promote a charitable, non-profit, or community event.

General

A private pilot license is a type of pilot license that is issued by the FAA. A private pilot license allows the holder to fly aircraft for personal use or to carry passengers for compensation. There are certain privileges, limits, and requirements that are associated with a private pilot license.

Charitable Events

A private pilot may transport passengers to promote a charitable, non-profit, or community event, provided that certain conditions are met. The flight must be conducted in an aircraft that is registered in the United States, and the pilot must not be compensated for his or her services.

Community Events

A private pilot may transport passengers to promote a community event, provided that certain conditions are met. The flight must be conducted in an aircraft that is registered in the United States, and the pilot must not be compensated for his or her services.

Non-Profit Events

A private pilot may transport passengers to promote a non-profit event, provided that certain conditions are met. The flight must be conducted in an aircraft that is registered in the United States, and the pilot must not be compensated for his or her services.

CFR 61.69 – Glider and Unpowered Ultralight Vehicle Towing

This regulation allows a pilot to tow a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle, provided that certain conditions are met. To be eligible for this regulation, the following must be true:

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits
  • The pilot must have a current and valid private pilot certificate.
  • The pilot must have a current and valid medical certificate.
  • The pilot must be familiar with the towing procedures specified in the approved AFM/POH for the specific make and model of a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle being towed.
  • The pilot must have received training from a qualified instructor on the towing procedures specified in the approved AFM/POH for the specific make and model of a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle being towed.
  • The pilot must not exceed the maximum towing speed specified in the approved AFM/POH for the specific make and model of a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle being towed.

Other Benefits of a Private Pilot's License Include

There are some other benefits that come with having a private pilot license. For example, a private pilot may:

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits
  • The ability to fly under Visual Flight Rules (VFR).
  • The ability to fly in Class B, C, and D airspace.
  • The ability to fly at night.
  • The ability to fly in adverse weather conditions.

FAR 61.113: Pilot in Command Limitations and Privileges

A pilot who is operating under FAR 61.113 is limited to the following:

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits
  • Flying a single-engine airplane that is certified for VFR flight only.
  • Carrying a maximum of three passengers.
  • Flying in Class B, C, and D airspace.
  • Flying in adverse weather conditions.
  • Flying at night.
  • Towing a glider or unpowered ultralight vehicle.

Logbook

A private pilot must maintain a logbook that meets the requirements of FAR 61.51. The logbook must contain the following information:

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits
  • The date of the flight.
  • The make and model of the aircraft flown.
  • The N-number of the aircraft flown.
  • The departure and arrival airports.
  • The route of flight.
  • The time in the air.
  • The total time on the aircraft.
  • The name and address of the certified flight instructor who gave the training.

Aircraft Certifications

An aircraft must be registered and certificated in the United States to be flown by a private pilot. The type of certification will depend on the intended use of the aircraft.

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits
  • Aircraft used for personal flight must be certificated as Standard Airplanes.
  • Aircraft used for aerial applications or agricultural purposes must be certificated as Restricted Category Aircraft.
  • Aircraft used for charter flight operations must be certificated as Transport Category Aircraft.

Regulated Airspace

A private pilot is allowed to fly in Class B, C, and D airspace. In order to fly in Class B airspace, the pilot must have received training and a logbook endorsement from a certified flight instructor.

Private Pilot License Privileges and Limits

Class B airspace is generally located around major airports. The boundaries of Class B airspace are depicted on Sectional Charts.

Class C airspace is generally located around medium-sized airports. The boundaries of Class C airspace are depicted on Sectional Charts.

Class D airspace is generally located around small airports. The boundaries of Class D airspace are depicted on Sectional Charts.

Conclusion

The privileges, limits, and requirements of a Private Pilot License are important to understand. This article has provided an overview of each. It is important to remember that these are just general guidelines and may vary depending on the specific situation or location.

If you have any questions about what is involved in obtaining a Private Pilot License, be sure to speak with an experienced aviation professional. More detailed information can also be found in the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs).

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Richard J. Gross

Hi, my name is Richard J. Gross and I’m a full-time Airbus pilot and commercial drone business owner. I got into drones in 2015 when I started doing aerial photography for real estate companies. I had no idea what I was getting into at the time, but it turns out that police were called on me shortly after I started flying. They didn’t like me flying my drone near people, so they asked me to come train their officers on the rules and regulations for drones. After that, I decided to start my own drone business and teach others about the safe and responsible use of drones.

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