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6 Answers

Can I take my checkride with less than forty hours?

Asked by: 3560 views , , ,
FAA Regulations, Instrument Rating, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

I’ve heard apocryphal stories that one can take one’s (private pilot or instrument rating) checkride with less than forty hours (total time or instrument time, respectively), and you can count the hours during the checkride toward your total (TT for PPL, or simulated/actual IMC for instrument).

According to §61.65: “(d) Aeronautical experience for the instrument-airplane rating. A person who applies for an instrument-airplane rating must have logged:


(2) Forty hours of actual or simulated instrument time in the areas of operation listed in paragraph (c) of this section, of which 15 hours must have been received from an authorized instructor who holds an instrument-airplane rating, and the instrument time includes…”

§61.109 contains similar language.

It would seem that the question hinges on the interpretation of the word applies. Does the pilot applicant apply before the checkride, or does the application for the certificate/rating occur once the checkride is completed successfully and the paperwork is sent off to the FAA?

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6 Answers

  1. Bill Trussell on Mar 13, 2012

    First, you ( the applicant) must meet all the requirements of part 61 for the certificate or rating upon presentation of your credentials and application form to the administrator or his/her representative, either a FAA pilot examiner or designated pilot examiner (DPE).  Most of us apply for a rating or certificat through our local DPE. 
    The first task the DPE performs is a check of the application for accuracy and completeness.  This is the time where total time and other requirements are checked.  If you have logged less than the required time you will be sent home to complete the required time and return.  If you are lucky you will not have this time counted as a failure of the practical test.
    The only way of applying for a certificate or rating with less than the required time included in Part 61 is to apply for that certificate or rating based on graduation from a Part 141 flight school program.
    The other logical argument against presenting yourself at a practical test with less than the required amount of time is “how do you know how long your flight test will be and as a result how much time you can log for this flight?”
    The application process begins upon your initial presentation to the FAA or a DPE, not after.

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  2. Ron Klutts on Mar 13, 2012

    I think it refers to being qualified to take the checkride when you show up to see the DPE. I think of applying for a job, you need to be qualified on the day you show up for the interview, not afterwards. Same for the checkride, you need to meet the requirements before proceeding and not that you will gain the last bit of experience during the checkride itself.

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  3. John D. Collins on Mar 13, 2012

    Ron, I agree with your conclusion, but I didn’t have the qualifications for my first job when I interviewed for it and got my job offer.  The offer was contingent upon me graduating with my BSEE degree the following June. This situation can occur on a job interview, but presenting oneself for a practical flight test having not met all the required qualifications, will result in you not being eligble to take the test.

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  4. Kris Kortokrax on Mar 13, 2012

    “If you are lucky you will not have this time counted as a failure of the practical test.”
    No luck involved.  The practical test will not begin if the applicant doesn’t meet the quelifications.  You can’t fail a test that has not begun.

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  5. Matthew Waugh on Mar 14, 2012

    I bet you somewhere in the last 30 years you could find a DE who was buying the idea that the time flown in the practical test could be used as qualifying hours. You may even be able to find a DE who conducted such test.
    I doubt you can find one now 🙂

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  6. Eric Hawicz on May 27, 2012

    I think I found a portions of the regs that is relevant to this question:
     §61.103:  To be eligible for a private pilot certificate, a person must:

    (g) Meet the aeronautical experience requirements of this part that apply to the aircraft rating sought before applying for the practical test.
    So the definition of the word “applied” in the other sections is irrelevant because this explicitly says you need the experience before the checkride.

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