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What Are the Different Types of Commercial Pilot Programs?

By M. Kayo
Updated Feb 13, 2024
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Since there are so many different types of aircraft, different types of commercial pilot programs have been developed to train pilots in the specific operation of each aircraft. While specific implementation varies widely by country, the international requirements and training for commercial pilot programs are generally certified by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).The programs used to train today's commercial aircraft pilots are basically the same, with some notable exceptions. Individual power configurations of different airplanes determine what type of pilot training is needed for safe operation.

Although the fundamentals of flight training programs may be very identical, some areas of the world have developed their own commercial pilot training programs. Most pilots today are trained according to the standards of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approved international commercial pilot training program. The Joint Aviation Authorities of Europe (JAA) and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in India have each developed their own training programs and aircraft ratings for commercial pilots flying in those areas of the world. Many other countries have their own commercial pilot programs including Canada, New Zealand, and Singapore. Even though there are different aviation authorities around the world, their commercial pilot training programs are recognized by the ICAO.

Once a commercial pilot acquires a license, additional training is required to fly other types of commercial airplanes. Commercial pilot training programs for other airplanes include single-engine and multi-engine ratings. Training programs for single engine airplanes typically include training to operate smaller aircraft while multi-engine rated programs offer training for larger commercial airplanes such as those operated by larger airlines. There are also individual commercial pilot programs designed for specific airplanes like the Boeing 737, 747, Airbus A320, and other commercial airliners.

Since airplanes are different than other aircraft, there are separate commercial pilot programs for aircraft such as helicopters, gyro-planes, airships, and balloons. Most pilots who acquire a commercial pilot's license to operate these types of aircraft have already been through some other pilot training program. As with any other training program, those who are licensed to operate these aircraft must meet the special requirements of that aircraft. For example, a commercial helicopter pilot will require much different training than a commercial balloon pilot or the pilot of a Boeing 767.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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