by Kate Bernard
last updated 12/30/14

Flying is not always “just like riding a bike” – pilots need to keep their skills sharp through regular practice and recurrent training. The FAA regulations specify what pilots must do to maintain their privileges. The regulations are minimums, and pilots should strive for a higher level of proficiency.

Takeoffs and Landings

Pilots often speak of being “current” and “night current.” This refers to the FAA regulations for passenger-carrying.

In order to carry a passenger, a pilot must have performed at least three takeoffs and landings within the past 90 days. To carry a passenger at night, the pilot must have performed three takeoffs and landings to a full stop at night.

The required takeoffs and landings must be performed in the same category and class of aircraft used to carry the passenger (i.e. single-engine land does not count for multi-engine land).

Flight Review

Anyone wishing to address the primary accident causal factors that continue to plague the general aviation communityo act as pilot-in-command (PIC) must have completed a flight review within the past 24 calendar months. A flight review consists of, at a minimum, one hour of ground training and one hour of flight training. A flight review is given by a flight instructor.

Certain accomplishments count as a flight review; for example, earning a new pilot certificate or completing a phase of the FAA WINGS program (explained below).

Instrument Proficiency Check

In order to fly under instrument flight rules, instrument-rated pilots must have performed at least six instrument approaches, a holding procedure, and the interception and tracking of navigational courses within the past six months. If pilots let their instrument currency lapse, and do not complete these requirements after an additional six months, they must pass an instrument proficiency check to regain instrument flying privileges.

An instrument proficiency check is similar to the instrument rating flight test, but can be administered by a flight instructor instead of an FAA representative.

FAA Pilot Proficiency Program (WINGS)

The FAA WINGS program is designed to help pilots remain safe ane proficient through a custom-tailored recurrent training program. It is a voluntary program accessed through the FAA Safety Team web site.

Pilots can earn WINGS credit for online courses, in-person seminars/events, and flight training experiences with an instructor.


Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What are the Entry-Level Pilot Certificates?
  2. What are the Eligibility Requirements for a Pilot Certificate?
  3. What are the Medical Certification Requirements for Pilots?
  4. What is Ground Training Like?
  5. What is Flight Training Like?
  6. What Tests are Required to Become a Pilot?
  7. How Much Does it Cost to Become a Pilot?
  8. How Can I Find a Flight School or Flight Instructor?
  9. How Does a Pilot Stay Current and Proficient?
  10. What Additional Certificates and Ratings Can a Pilot Earn?
  11. How Do I Sign Up for an Introductory Flight Lesson?