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7 Answers

Logging XC PIC Time

Asked by: 4476 views Instrument Rating

I made a flight from 3GM (Grand Haven, MI) to 08C (Jenison, MI) which was about 18 NM, then from there I went directly to KMOP (Mount Pleasant, MI) which was around 70 NM.  I realize, as the sole manipulator of the controls, that I can log PIC time for the duration of the flights from 3GM-08C-KMOP-08C-3GM.  My question is, in order to log time for my instrument rating, can I only log 'Cross Country PIC' time for the leg that was over 50 NM?  For the day, I technically flew 88 NM each way, but only one leg was over 50. Is this the only leg I can count as XC PIC time?  According to the FAA, I must have a minimuim of 50 hours of CROSS COUNTRY PIC time, not just PIC time in general, which I have almost 50 hours of already.


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7 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    John D. Collins on Jan 05, 2012

    Yes, you may log the total flight as cross country, PIC, that will count towards meeting the instrument rating requirement.  The definition of what you can log for this purpose is found in FAR 61.1(b)(4) where it says in part (emphasis is mine):
    Cross-country time means–

    (ii) For the purpose of meeting the aeronautical experience requirements (except for a rotorcraft category rating), for a private pilot certificate (except for a powered parachute category rating), a commercial pilot certificate, or an instrument rating, or for the purpose of exercising recreational pilot privileges (except in a rotorcraft) under Sec. 61.101(c), time acquired during a flight–
    (A) Conducted in an appropriate aircraft;
    (B) That includes a point of landing that was at least a straight-line distance of more than 50 nautical miles from the original point of departure; and
    (C) That involves the use of dead reckoning, pilotage, electronic navigation aids, radio aids, or other navigation systems to navigate to the landing point.
    Notice that the requirement doesn’t say that any leg has to exceed 50 NM, just the straight line distance from the point of origin to at least one point of landing has to exceed 50 NM. So, if there was another airport half way in-between O8C and KMOP, and you landed at it going both directions, no one leg would exceed 35 NM, but the entire flight would qualify towards your instrument PIC cross country requirement.

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  2. David Cooper on Jan 05, 2012

    This begs the question: what is a “flight”? In other words, would a lenghty layover at an intermediate airport break the chain? What about a stop for food or fuel?

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  3. John D. Collins on Jan 05, 2012

    The FARs don’t define the term “Flight”, but they do specify flight time in FAR 1.1 as :


    Flight time means: (1) Pilot time that commences when an aircraft moves under its own power for the purpose of flight and ends when the aircraft comes to rest after landing.


    So do your brake check after you start the engine by rolling forward a little so  you can begin the clock. It should run until you stop the aircraft at the hangar after landing, just before you turn off the engine. I use my watch for flight time.


    In many cases, the layover will not affect what you can log, but where it does, you have to use your own judgment.  If the flight starts and ends in the same day, I would log all of the time as part of the same cross country flight, regardless of breaks for food, fuel, rest, maintenance, daytime night time or weather. If the flight spans multiple days, there isn’t any specific guidance provided in the FARs. I personally would generally consider it part of the same flight if it was initiated from where the aircraft was based with the intention of returning to the home base, particularly if the purpose of the flight was for cross country travel.  For example, when I fly to Oshkosh, I log it all as a single flight. Of course it wouldn’t matter in this case as even if I logged it as two flights, because each leg is over 650 NM. My conclusion is use your judgment and either way you decide to log it, it is likely to have negligible effect on meeting the cross country requirements.

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  4. David Cooper on Jan 05, 2012

    That makes sense. Thanks.

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  5. Bill Trussell on Jan 05, 2012

    A bit of perspective on where the distance requirement came from might help everyone.  I believe back many years ago the FAA determined that having pilots get ot of their “comfort zones” of their local airport was a good idea for training.  They intended for pilots to experience the need to navigate across routes that might be unfamilar to them, as they would be eligible to do so once certificated. For training purposes going more than 50 NM means that they could very well fly into areas of different weather patterns that require interpretation.  There are plenty of airports in my area just outside of 50 NM that can have totally different weather from what I left in at my point of origin.  The key is the distance away from that airport of origin.  Push comes to shove there is no requirement to log the intermediate stopover, thus meeting the distance requirement anyway.

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  6. Earl Kessler on Jan 07, 2012

    I have an insturment student who is also short on XC time. Each one of our flights has been qualified.  In several instances, the flight from KCXP (Carson City, NV) to KFLX (Fallon, NV) is 48.5 miles. To qualify, we first fly 10 miles south to KMEV (Minden, NV) then to KFLX. This is needed to make it a legal cross country.

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  7. Alex Batista on Sep 03, 2012

    Everyone’s answers posted here make sense. I have a similar case for which Mr Collins’ post might have answered the question. I made a XC flight (KTMB – KIMM – X51 – KTMB) to satisfy my >150 NM solo XC requirement towards my PPL. According to what I read in this post I should be able to log the X51 – KTMB (about 15 NM) as XC time. My particular situation is that when I took off from X51 I had to come back and land at X51 due to IFR weather at KTMB. 30 minutes later I took off again and ended my trip back at KTMB. Would the .4 hour flight from X51 back to X51 (originally intended as my last leg to KTMB) still count as part of my XC “flight”?

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