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I was having a discussion with a colleague about what aircraft qualify for logging complex time. We were discussing whether or not time flying transport-category turbojet aircraft qualified as complex according to the regulations. It's probably irrelevant at that point in a career, but my interpretation is that turbojet aircraft are not complex. 14 CFR 61.1 defines a complex aircraft as one having a retractable landing gear, flaps, and a controllable pitch propeller. It goes on to give some provisions for control computer or FADEC, but it still mentions propellor controls. In turbojet aircraft you just set the throttle, even if there are a lot of computer-controlled variables changing in the engine.

While it's not a jet, the Daher-Socata TBM 900 single-engine turboprop airplane has a single throttle quadrant and an automatically controlled propeller. It's still considered complex under the regulations even though there's no lever to adjust the prop and it's still complex. I give this example only because it has a single throttle lever and is still complex.

TBM 900 Throttle Quadrant

I'd love to get more interpretations on whether turbojet aircraft are technically complex according to the definitions of 14 CFR 61.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm a bit confused by your terminology: turbojets have no propellers and most modern 'jet' engines are really turbofans, which also have no propellers. Or are you asking about turboprops? $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Nov 11 '15 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ Daher-Socata TBM 900 is not a turbojet (nor turbofan), it is a turboprop. And it is unusual among turbo-props with not having a propeller control. Most turboprops do have propeller pitch levers that control the desired RPM and allow feathering the propellers. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Nov 11 '15 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ Did I say that the TBM 900 is a turbojet? $\endgroup$ – ryan1618 Nov 11 '15 at 18:45
  • $\begingroup$ @RyanBurnette: Well, you consistently refer to "turbojet aircraft", and then use the TBM 900 as an example. $\endgroup$ – Fred Larson Nov 11 '15 at 19:00
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    $\begingroup$ Take one of the blank columns in your logbook and write "Turbine" in it. Put your turbine time there. When you can finally start logging that the only logging category that truly matters going forward is "turbine PIC". No one is going to ask for "complex", "high performance" or "high altitude" time once you get to that stage of your career. $\endgroup$ – casey Nov 11 '15 at 19:00
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Complex ratings apply only to aircraft with propellers, so any kind of jet aircraft is by definition not complex.

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Turboprops area complex, certainly because of the gear and flaps.

Regarding the prop, of course, some do have prop levers, but many single-engine FADEC systems have electric prop governors. In the case of 2-lever systems, like the TBM and the PC-12, there is a condition lever which does indeed control the prop, even though only in certain regimes of flight.

See What does the condition lever in turboprops control?

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