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Requirements for 'complex' airplane seem to vary between regulators and between pilots, so let's have this settled once and for all.

What is the definition of a 'complex' airplane as defined by FAA and EASA?

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For the FAA, a "complex aeroplane" must have:

  • A retractable gear (not necessary for a seaplane);
  • In-flight adjustable flaps; and
  • A controllable pitch propeller.

The FAA's definition is given in 14 CFR 61.1:

Complex airplane means an airplane that has a retractable landing gear, flaps, and a controllable pitch propeller, including airplanes equipped with an engine control system consisting of a digital computer and associated accessories for controlling the engine and propeller, such as a full authority digital engine control; or, in the case of a seaplane, flaps and a controllable pitch propeller, including seaplanes equipped with an engine control system consisting of a digital computer and associated accessories for controlling the engine and propeller, such as a full authority digital engine control.

However, the EASA has a different definition of a "complex motor-powered aircraft" that is an airplane, which is considerably more "complex":

an aeroplane:

  • with a maximum certificated take-off mass exceeding 5 700 kg, or
  • certificated for a maximum passenger seating configuration of more than nineteen, or
  • certificated for operation with a minimum crew of at least two pilots, or
  • equipped with (a) turbojet engine(s) or more than one turboprop engine

Note that 5700kg is about 12567 pounds.

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    $\begingroup$ Could you add the EASA definition aswell, europeans have a pretty different ideea what a complex is : caa.co.uk/… $\endgroup$ – Radu094 Jan 23 '14 at 9:42

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