Private Pilot Training

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) establishes the criteria that must be met in order to obtain a Private Pilot Certificate. Those requirements are spelled out in detail in CFR §61.102-120, but the basic minimums are listed below:

  • Age: 17 Years (16 to Fly Solo)
  • Total Flight Time: 40 Hours
  • Instruction Flight Time: 20 Hours
  • Solo Flight Time: 10 Hours
  • Third-Class FAA Medical Certificate
  • FAA Written Test
  • FAA Practical Test (Checkride)

It's important to keep in mind that these are the FAA-mandated minimums. The national average for students to complete their private pilot training is around 70 hours total flight time. Aero Atlanta students typically receive their license in an average of 55 hours. Also, there is no minimum age to start flying lessons, the ages above only apply to solo flight and license eligibility.

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FAA Medical Certificate

You'll need to visit an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) to obtain your medical certificate / student pilot's license before you can fly solo. An AME is a doctor the FAA has authorized to give flight physicals (a flight physical is basically a routine physical exam). You can apply for a first-, second- or third-class medical certificate. Private pilots only need to obtain a third-class medical certificate.

If you plan to continue training to earn your commercial pilot's license, you'll need a second-class medical to exercise your privileges as a commercial pilot. If you're ready to get your medical certificate, you can click here to locate an AME in your area.

Ground School

Ground school is an integral part of flight training at all levels. In fact, you'll spend some time on the ground with your instructor before / after each flight. In addition to the ground portion of each flight lesson, Aero Atlanta (in conjuction with Jeppesen Training Products) has developed a customized syllabus that will make it easy for you to prepare for each flight lesson. You'll also learn a lot through interactive online modules, videos, graphics and quizzes. When you need help, your instructor will work with you to make sure you understand each concept thoroughly.

Instrument Training

An instrument rating isn't a license, but rather an add-on to an existing Private or Commercial Pilot Certificate. It allows you to act as PIC (Pilot In Command) of an airplane during IFR conditions (inside clouds, low visibility, etc.) as well as in Class A airspace. Instrument training centers around becoming proficient at flight solely by reference to instruments, and also includes more in-depth study of weather and rules and procedures that apply during IFR conditions.

Obtaining an instrument rating requires dedication and effort, but the payoff is tremendous. As an instrument-rated pilot, it's much more likely that you'll be able to complete a planned flight because weather conditions are less of a factor. There are specific criteria that must be met in order to be eligible for an insrument rating. The FAA details them in CFR §61.65, but here's the shorter version:

  • Prerequisite: Private or Commercial License
  • Age: 17 Years
  • Total Flight Time: 50 Hours PIC
  • Simulated or Actual Instrument Flight Time: 40 Hours
  • Instrument Instruction Flight Time: 15 Hours
  • FAA Written Test
  • FAA Practical Test (Checkride)

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Commercial Pilot Training

If you want to be able to make money as a pilot, you need to have a Commercial Pilot Certificate. It's not just for airline pilots - even a crop duster needs a commercial license! Commercial pilot training enhances your ability to control the airplane by executing specific maneuvers to very high standards. You must have at least 250 hours of total flight time to obtain this certificate, and there are other requirements which include:

  • Prerequisite: Private Pilot's License
  • Age: 17 Years
  • Total Flight Time: 250 Hours
  • Commercial Instruction Flight Time: 20 Hours
  • Complex Aircraft Flight Time: 10 Hours
  • Third-Class FAA Medical (To Obtain Commercial License)
  • Second-Class FAA Medical (To Excercise Commercial Privileges)
  • FAA Written Test
  • FAA Practical Test (Checkride)

For further reading on the FAA requirements for a Commercial Pilot Certificate, you can check out CFR §61.121-133.

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There are both fixed and variable costs that you need to consider when calculating your total flight training investment. Fixed costs include books and supplies for ground school, testing, FAA medical exams and administration fees. Variable costs include the aircraft, fuel and instructor. While it's impossible to provide an exact dollar amount, below are estimates for the fixed and variable costs for each license and rating we offer:

License / Rating Fixed Cost C172 G1000 SR20-G6 PA-28R Instructor Total Cost (Estimated)
Private Pilot $2,319 $13,080 $23,100 N/A $5,070 $20,469 - $31,719
Instrument Rating $1,679 $10,350 $17,325 $8,370 $4,275 $16,304 - $23,279
Commercial Pilot $1,050 $5,750 $9,625 $4,650 $2,375 $8,075 - $13,050

Below you will find a detailed listing of the estimated fixed costs for each corresponding certificate or rating listed above. Fixed cost estimate for Commercial Pilot Certificate training assumes an existing private pilot with a minimum of 225 hours total time.

Private Pilot Certificate:
  • Headset: $350
  • AAFC/Jeppesen Private Pilot Kit: $459
  • Admin and Processing Fees: $70
  • Annual Club Dues: $300
  • Zero-Deductible Insurance: $500
  • FAA Charts: $50
  • FAA Medical Exam: $90
  • FAA Written Exam: $160
  • FAA Practical Test: $600

Instrument Rating:
  • iPad 4 (128GB): $529
  • ForeFlight Basic Plus for iPad: $100
  • Annual Club Dues: $300
  • FAA Written Exam: $160
  • FAA Practical Test: $600
Commercial Pilot Certificate:
  • Annual Club Dues: $300
  • FAA Written Exam: $160
  • FAA Practical Test: $600

Prices subject to Georgia sales tax and are subject to change without notice. Fuel prices change frequently - prices listed on chart accurate as of 04/2019. Ask us for current rates. Cost listed for instructor assumes basic instructor for Cessna training, advanced instructor rates apply for instruction in Cirrus aircraft. Instructor cost includes both flight and ground instruction, based on AAFC averages for the corresponding license or rating. Your costs may be higher or lower than the averages listed above.