Federal aviation regulations require pilots to have a complex airplane endorsement in order to act as pilot-in-command (PIC) of a complex airplane.
This one-time logbook endorsement can be earned through ground and flight training. The FAA does not require a special checkride or knowledge test to earn the endorsement. A flight instructor gives you the endorsement after you have received training and have been found proficient. Note: Pilots who logged PIC time in complex airplanes prior to 8/4/97 are grandfathered in and don’t need the endorsement.
14 CFR 61.1(b)(3): Definition of “complex airplane”
Complex airplane means an airplane that has a retractable landing gear, flaps, and a controllable pitch propeller, including airplanes equipped with an engine control system consisting of a digital computer and associated accessories for controlling the engine and propeller, such as a full authority digital engine control; or, in the case of a seaplane, flaps and a controllable pitch propeller, including seaplanes equipped with an engine control system consisting of a digital computer and associated accessories for controlling the engine and propeller, such as a full authority digital engine control.
14 CFR 61.31(e): Additional training required for operating complex airplanes
(1) Except as provided in paragraph (e)(2) of this section, no person may act as pilot in command of a complex airplane, unless the person has –
(i) Received and logged ground and flight training from an authorized instructor in a complex airplane, or in a flight simulator or flight training device that is representative of a complex airplane, and has been found proficient in the operation and systems of the airplane; and
(ii) Recieved a one-time endorsement in the pilot’s logbook from an authorized instructor who certifies the person is proficient to operate a complex airplane.
(2) The training and endorsement required by paragraph (e)(1) of this section is not required if the person has logged flight time as pilot in command of a complex airplane, or in a flight simulator or flight training device that is representative of a complex airplane prior to August 4, 1997.
Complex Endorsement Ground Training
Ground instruction for the complex endorsement is focused on aircraft systems and best practices for flying complex aircraft. Special emphasis is placed on the design and function of retractable landing gear and controllable-pitch propellers. Time will also be spent reviewing the operating limitations and emergency procedures for these systems.
Complex Endorsement Flight Training
The goal of complex endorsement flight training is for the candidate to become proficient in operating multiple systems in what might be a faster, more complicated airplane than what he or she has flown thus far. For many pilots, this means developing new habits and routines.
During flight training, pilots will become familiar with the handling characteristics and operating procedures for the complex airplane. Training is similar to a rental checkout but is more detailed due to the introduction of new systems.
The FAA does not specify a time requirement to earn the complex aircraft endorsement. Sometimes insurance companies set minimum flight time requirements in order to act as PIC of a complex airplane (but not to receive the endorsement itself).
Complex aircraft training takes an average of 5 – 10 flight hours depending on a candidate’s flight experience and the type of aircraft used. Using a flight simulator to reinforce training may shorten the flight time required. Complex airplane training may be combined with high-performance training if the aircraft meets both definitions.
Overall Cost of Complex Airplane Training
Each customer is unique, so overall cost of earning a complex airplane endorsement will vary. Training cost is directly tied to completion time because instruction and aircraft rental are billed by the hour. Jet Air Group does not offer fixed-price “guaranteed” training programs.
A candidate utilizing Jet Air’s Piper Comanche for complex airplane training should budget $1,000 to $1,500 to earn the endorsement. We also offer training in customer-owned aircraft. Several companies and organizations offer flight training scholarships. Financing is available to qualified customers through Pilot Finance. Students enrolled in the aviation program at Lakeland College may be eligible for financial aid.
How to Get Started in Earning your Complex Airplane Endorsement
You can start earning your complex airplane endorsement with Jet Air Group as soon as it’s convenient for you. Please contact us if you’d like to make an appointment to meet with an instructor. We can help you obtain training materials and set up a schedule. Getting started is easy – all you have to do is give us a call at 920-494-2669 in Green Bay or 920-467-2303 in Sheboygan.
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