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Difference Between Being a Commercial Pilot and Private Pilot

Functioning in the aviation industry calls for the exceptional training of individuals. From pilots to maintenance workers, everyone in the industry is accustomed to their line of work. Pilots, however, must complete comprehensive training and pass various written and practical exams to obtain their flying license. 

A pilot’s designation as a ‘Commercial Pilot,’ a ‘Private pilot,’ etc., is decided based on the license they are applying for. But at times, this term may be used interchangeably or may bring in questions from those still trying to understand the industry. Let’s take a look at the difference between being a commercial and a private pilot.

What is a private pilot?

A private pilot is a certified aviation professional with a private pilot certificate to fly an aircraft legally. Private pilots receive training for small aircraft operations, navigation, aircraft exercises, flight planning, and emergency approaches. Having a PPL (Private Pilot License) 

Here’s what you need to get a private license:

  • Being at least 17 years old.
  • Passing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical exam.
  • Having at least 40 flight hours, with at least 20 hours of instruction and 10 hours of solo flight.
  • Passing written, oral, and practical flight tests.

What is a commercial pilot?

A commercial pilot is an aviation expert with a commercial pilot certificate. Commercial pilots can work in any environment, depending on their class rating. Class ratings determine where aircraft pilots can operate, such as single-engine or multi-engine planes.

The requirements to get a commercial license include: 

  • Having a private pilot’s license.
  • Being at least 18 years old.
  • Being well-informed about the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) updates.
  • Having 150 flight hours.
  • Passing written, oral, and practical flight tests.

What are a pilot’s general professional duties?

Pilot duties depend on where their area of work and the type of aircraft they fly, but there are typical responsibilities for every licensed pilot:

Performing inspections: Pilots must complete a series of before and after flight reviews to ensure their aircraft is automatically stable and doesn’t require fixes.

Establishing routes: Pilots can make decisions in the air about which particular route they’ll take to their stop based on weather, traffic, and other elements.

Calculating risk: Pilots frequently assess the risk of specific actions while flying to ensure the safest attainable flight for their passengers and crew.

Maintaining records: Pilots must keep detailed records about their reviews and flights.

Communicating with investors: Pilots consistently communicate with other aviation stakeholders, like other pilots and air traffic controllers, to make sure they’re flying safely.

Assuring safety: Pilots try to make every flight secure and comfortable for their passengers and crew members.

Flying the aircraft: Pilots are in control of the plane and manage the rules while flying.

 Benefits of being a private pilot:

  • A start to your career in aviation: A private pilot license is, in fact, a portal to more advanced learning, mainly if you want to become a professional aviator, like an airline pilot. 
  • Liberty: Once you’re qualified, you can fly to client meetings, networking meetups, and industry conferences and head back to your hometown on the same day.
  • Unique experience: Flying on a private plane gives you moments of amusement, challenges, and excitement
  • Plus point in Resume: Even if the job you are applying for has nothing to do with aviation, promoting that you are a licensed private pilot will definitely impress a potential employer. 

Benefits of being a Commercial pilot:

  • Flight benefits: Most major airways give their employees the ability to travel for free on flights with open seats.
  • Limited hours: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) limits pilots’ working hours per year for safety reasons, giving commercial airline pilots a significant amount of time off.
  • Compensation: Airways usually pays commercial airline pilots for their flight hours and provides additional bonuses and minimum hours.
  • Freelancing: Commercial airline pilots have the freedom to fly private planes, offering them freelancing opportunities if they are interested.


Every line of work has its own perks and challenges. When you decide to become a Pilot, you will be facing an abundance of both. We hope this article could give you an insight into the key differences between a Commercial pilot and a Private pilot. You can always check for Aviators of Tomorrow, one of the best pilot training schools in India, to provide you with holistic training. 


AOT Crew

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