Commercial Pilot Resources

Here you can find resources to help you on your journey to becoming a commercial pilot. The commercial training is all about honing your skills of energy management as well as developing a more advanced and professional knowledge of aviation. Training in a complex or technically advanced aircraft is required as is a long cross country.

A second class medical is required to exercise the privileges of Commercial Pilot unless you are flight instructing, then a third class medical is all that’s needed (§ 61.23(a)(3)(ii)).

The commercial certificate is your new “license”. The instrument rating was an add-on to your private pilot certificate but this will replace your private license. The major base certificates are:

  • Student
  • Sport
  • Private
  • Commercial – You are here
  • Airline Transport Pilot


Commercial Pilot Overview

Here is a document covering the requirements, general checkpoints, and endorsements necessary for a Commercial Pilot Certificate.

For more information, consult the relevant parts of the FAR/AIM (this list is not comprehensive and you should always consult the full scope of the regulations to be as safe and prepared as possible):

§ 61.123 Eligibility requirements: General.

§ 61.125 Aeronautical knowledge.

§ 61.127 Flight proficiency.

§ 61.129 Aeronautical experience.

§ 61.133 Commercial pilot privileges and limitations.

Complex Airplane (§ 61.1)

  • Retractable landing gear
  • Flaps
  • Controllable pitch propeller

Technically Advance Airplane (§ 61.1, §61.129(j))

  • Continuously visible electronic Primary Flight Display (PFD) and Multifunction Display (MFD) using a moving map GPS
  •  A two axis autopilot integrated with the navigation and heading guidance system

Written Exam

You must take a written exam through PSI that is $175:

  1. Commercial Pilot Airplane (CAX, 100 questions, 3.0 hours allotted time)

Like Private Pilot and Instrument Rating, you need an endorsement for this exam. You can either obtain this after going through the required items with your instructor and keeping a ground log or completing an online course (e.g. King Schools).

This is a complex topic and is likely to comprise a decent portion of the commercial checkride. You should be familiar with these terms and the flowchart can also help you make the right decisions on what is and isn’t legal.

It is also important to note that “compensation or hire” may seem vague but according to AC 61-142, the FAA considers flight time as “compensation.” Therefore, consider a private pilot flying their club’s aircraft to another airport with a maintenance shop and because it’s a “maintenance flight” the club waives the charges. This is technically compensation as the pilot is receiving flight time and would require a commercial certificate for this ferry operation.

Holding Out: When a carrier represents itself “to the public, or to a segment of the public, as willing to furnish
transportation within the limits of its facilities to any person who wants it.” (AC120-12A) Examples include advertising, signs, announcements, or reputation.

Air Carrier Certificate: Issued by the FAA to ensure the holder can design, document, implement, and audit safety critical processes that comply with regulations and safety standards, and manage hazard-related risks in operating environment in compliance with FAR Part 121 (airlines) or Part 135 (private charters).

Part 121: Regulations pertaining to the operation of scheduled air carriers (i.e., the airlines).

Part 135: Regulations pertaining to the operation of commuter and on-demand charters (e.g., private jets).

Part 125: Regulations pertaining to the operation of aircraft with > 20 seats or a maximum payload capacity of > 6,000 pounds, when used for private carriage (e.g., charter of large aircraft).

Common Carriage: “A carrier becomes a common carrier when it “holds itself out” to the public, or to a segment of the public.” (AC120-12)

Private Carriage: The transport of goods by a carrier who is under contract to transport those goods by vessel. (common law)

Dry lease: The owner provides the aircraft without a pilot or crew. Neither the owner or lessee needs an air carrier certificate if the aircraft doesn’t carry people or property for compensation or hire. The lessee usually assumes operational responsibility (e.g., maintenance, insurance).

Wet lease: The owner supplies the aircraft with a pilot or at least one crew member. The owner assumes operational responsibility (e.g., maintenance, insurance).

Leaseback: The owner sells the aircraft to the lender who then leases the aircraft back to the original owner.

Commercial Maneuvers

These are the lessons, resources, and documents I use with my students as supplements while I teach them. They are not meant to be a substitute for certified ground or flight training. Always consult with your flight instructor for clarification and before attempting any maneuver/approach.


This WWI maneuver consists of a maximum performance climb while executing a 180° turn. Throughout the maneuver, the flight attitude is constantly changing.

Eights on Pylons

Eights on pylons are the most advanced ground reference maneuvers. Find the lesson plan and presentation below.

Demonstration of Eights on Pylons Commercial Maneuver