Enrolling in a Part 141 flight school, and following a highly structured path to becoming a commercial pilot is definitely a very popular route to go down.

But what can you expect?

Provided you are at least 18 years old, already hold a private pilot license and third-class medical certificate, the following are the Part 141 Commercial Pilot Requirements you must meet to get your commercial pilot license.

Medical Certificate

A commercial pilot license falls under a second-class medical certificate.

There isn’t much difference compared to a third-class medical certificate, which you should already have in your possession and fly under, but vision requirements do get a bit stricter.

Distant vision must be correctable to 20/20, and if you’re older than 50, intermediate vision also needs to be tested and correctable to 20/40.

It’s usually best to get this before you start training for a CPL, especially because if you don’t meet the requirements for a second-class medical certificate, training to become a commercial pilot will be a waste of time and money.

Flight Hours

A minimum of 190 flight hours must be logged to get a commercial pilot license and become a commercial pilot.

This includes 55 hours with a certified flight instructor that must consist of:

  • 10 hours of training in a complex aircraft (i.e. equipped with an electronically advanced avionics system)
  • A 2-hour cross-country flight in a straight line that covers 100 nautical miles during the day
  • A 2-hour cross-country flight in a straight line that covers 100 nautical miles during the night
  • 3 hours in a multi-engine plane prior to taking the checkride
  • 10 hours of solo flight, or 10 hours while performing the duties of pilot in command
  • 5 hours in night VFR conditions with 10 takeoffs and 10 landings

Written Knowledge Exam

At least 35 hours of ground training, whether that be through the best online ground school or otherwise, is required before you are able to take the written knowledge exam.

You will be tested on topics including flight maneuvers, emergency procedures, cross-country procedures (VFR) commercial and aeronautical decision making, and advanced aerodynamics, to name just a few.

The exam takes 3 hours, consists of 100 questions, and a minimum score of 70% is required to pass. It is taken before the checkride.

Practical Exam (Checkride)

The final step you must complete is to take and pass the checkride. This is conducted by an FAA inspector or designated pilot examiner.

The checkride also involves a short oral exam.

The commercial checkride isn’t too dissimilar to a private pilot checkride. The biggest differences are more stringent flight standards with less room for error and more precise maneuvers.

Part 141 Instrument Requirements for Commercial Pilots

if you haven’t already got an instrument rating added onto your private pilot license, you will definitely want to get one now. A commercial pilot who can’t fly under IFR is a very limited pilot indeed.

Most Part 141 flight schools actually require applicants to have an instrument rating before admission into their program (check out our guide to the best instrument rating courses).

The minimum number of flight hours required for an instrument rating under Part 141 is 35 hours. Simulated flight time can also contribute to getting your instrument rating.

An IFR cross-country flight must also be taken that consists of:

  • A 250 nautical mile flight either via directed routing from an air traffic control facility or along airways
  • An instrument approach at each airport
  • Three different types of approaches with the use of navigation systems (e.g. ILS, RNAV. VOR)

You will also need to take a written and practical exam.

Part 141 Multi-Engine Commercial Pilot Requirements

If you want to work towards becoming an airline pilot, you absolutely need to get a multi-engine rating.

Working as a commercial pilot in other capacities often requires a multi-engine rating too.

Before you are able to take the checkride, you must have logged at least three hours in a multi-engine aircraft. 

are no additional flight hour requirements (although expect it to take 10-15 hours before you are ready), and a written knowledge exam does not need to be taken either.

Training and the checkride will cover topics and maneuvers like preflight procedures, navigation, takeoffs, landings, and go-arounds, emergency operations, and high-altitude operations.]

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Will it Take to Meet All the Requirements for a Commercial Pilot License?

As Part 141 flight schools follow a much more structured training curriculum than Part 61 schools, and the minimum number of flight hours required is 190 instead of 250, you can expect to get your commercial pilot license more quickly.

A commercial pilot license alone should take 2-3 months to earn. However, adding a multi-engine rating to your CPL can add another month.

It’s likely that you already hold an instrument rating, but if not this should take no longer than 2-4 weeks.

Do Airlines Prefer Part 61 or Part 141?

Airlines have no preference whether a pilot has completed their flight training in a Part 61 or Part 141 school.

What matters much more to airlines is your experience, skills, and whether you meet their minimum requirements, such as number of flight hours.

Do You Need a College Degree to Enroll in a Part 141 Flight School?

Part 141 schools and commercial pilots, in general, do not require a college degree. If you want to work for a regional or major airline, though, an associate’s or bachelor’s degree is usually required.

John Myers - Flight Instructor

John is a Certified Flight Instructor who teaches students of all ages how to fly and takes enormous pride and satisfaction seeing his students become licensed pilots.