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I am an ASEL rated private pilot without a tailwheel nor a complex aircraft endorsement. I have been flying with an aerobatics pilot in his Pitts and his Bonanza for ~10 hours over the last month.

Although I have not confirmed with him, I suspect (and for the sake of discussion, we can assume) that he is not a current certificated flight instructor (I suspect this because he has never offered to sign my log book nor has he suggested that I log the hours as dual).

My question is twofold:

(Q1) pertaining to the requirements to log PIC time given in 61.51(e) do my hours in the Pitts and/or the Bonanza qualify?

FAR 61.51(e)

(1) A sport, recreational, private, commercial, or airline transport pilot may log pilot in command flight time for flights-

(i) When the pilot is the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft for which the pilot is rated, or has sport pilot privileges for that category and class of aircraft, if the aircraft class rating is appropriate;

(ii) When the pilot is the sole occupant in the aircraft;

(iii) When the pilot, except for a holder of a sport or recreational pilot certificate, acts as pilot in command of an aircraft for which more than one pilot is required under the type certification of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is conducted; or

(iv) When the pilot performs the duties of pilot in command while under the supervision of a qualified pilot in command provided -

(A) The pilot performing the duties of pilot in command holds a commercial or airline transport pilot certificate and aircraft rating that is appropriate to the category and class of aircraft being flown, if a class rating is appropriate;

(B) The pilot performing the duties of pilot in command is undergoing an approved pilot in command training program that includes ground and flight training on the following areas of operation -

(1) Preflight preparation;

(2) Preflight procedures;

(3) Takeoff and departure;

(4) In-flight maneuvers;

(5) Instrument procedures;

(6) Landings and approaches to landings;

(7) Normal and abnormal procedures;

(8) Emergency procedures; and

(9) Postflight procedures;

(C) The supervising pilot in command holds -

(1) A commercial pilot certificate and flight instructor certificate, and aircraft rating that is appropriate to the category, class, and type of aircraft being flown, if a class or type rating is required; or

(2) An airline transport pilot certificate and aircraft rating that is appropriate to the category, class, and type of aircraft being flown, if a class or type rating is required; and

(D) The supervising pilot in command logs the pilot in command training in the pilot's logbook, certifies the pilot in command training in the pilot's logbook and attests to that certification with his or her signature, and flight instructor certificate number.

(2) If rated to act as pilot in command of the aircraft, an airline transport pilot may log all flight time while acting as pilot in command of an operation requiring an airline transport pilot certificate.

(3) A certificated flight instructor may log pilot in command flight time for all flight time while serving as the authorized instructor in an operation if the instructor is rated to act as pilot in command of that aircraft.

(4) A student pilot may log pilot-in-command time only when the student pilot -

(i) Is the sole occupant of the aircraft or is performing the duties of pilot of command of an airship requiring more than one pilot flight crewmember;

(ii) Has a solo flight endorsement as required under § 61.87 of this part; and

(iii) Is undergoing training for a pilot certificate or rating.

My interpretation of 61.51(e) is that because I am not yet allowed to fly either plane solo (i.e. I don't have my endorsement for either) then without a current instructor or ATP certificated pilot, I'm out of luck. Any other perspectives/interpretations? Am I missing something?

(Q2) pertaining to the aeronautical experience requirements for an initial ASEL commercial certificate can these hours be credited towards my required 250 hours given in in FAR 61.129(a)?

FAR 61.129 (a) For an airplane single-engine rating. Except as provided in paragraph (i) of this section, a person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category and single-engine class rating must log at least 250 hours of flight time as a pilot that consists of at least...

The language in 61.129(a) seems to indicate that the 250 hours need to qualify as flight time where

FAR 1.1 Flight time means: (1) Pilot time that commences when an aircraft moves under its own power for the purpose of flight and ends when the aircraft comes to rest after landing;

and

FAR 61.1 Pilot time means that time in which a person -

(i) Serves as a required pilot flight crewmember;

(ii) Receives training from an authorized instructor in an aircraft, flight simulator, or flight training device; or

(iii) Gives training as an authorized instructor in an aircraft, flight simulator, or flight training device.

I don't suspect that I am a required pilot flight crewmember; nor is he an authorized instructor (by assumption); so again, am I out of luck?

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    $\begingroup$ Downvoted for obscene language. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Jun 25 '17 at 2:07
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    $\begingroup$ Upvoted because this is a good question. $\endgroup$ – acpilot Jun 25 '17 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ -- the language issues are fixed now $\endgroup$ – UnrecognizedFallingObject Jun 25 '17 at 6:38
  • $\begingroup$ It is a good question, however I think that this may be something that your FSDO is going to have to answer. I suspect that the answer is no, because you would not be acting in the PIC role because you are not rated (nor are you a required crew), you are basically a passenger being allowed to manipulate the controls (well under the PIC's rights) who happens to have a PPL. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jun 25 '17 at 15:38
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First, can you log PIC time in the tailwheel? Yes, you can log PIC tailwheel time but only where you were the sole manipulator of the controls. As discussed in this question, the only requirement is to be "rated" in the aircraft, which is explained in this FAA legal interpretation:

The FAA previously has stated the term "rated" as used in 61.51(e), refers to the pilot holding the appropriate aircraft ratings (category, class and type, if a type rating is required)

Your Private ASEL qualifies you in category and class and there's no type rating needed for the Bonanza or Pitts. So you can log PIC time under 61.51(e)(1)(i) for the time where you were sole manipulator of the controls. You can't log training (dual) time though, unless the other pilot is a CFI and endorses your logbook.

Second, can you use the time towards a commercial rating? This is an interesting point: the definitions in the regulations imply no, as you said, and I can't find any FAA interpretation on it. However, my personal experience is that DPEs were only interested in the PIC time in my logbook. I've never heard of a DPE or anyone else making a distinction between "PIC time" and "pilot time", and AC 61-65 doesn't seem to have any specific guidance for examiners on it, apart from checking that applicants have the required "flight time".

But a DPE might still ask you about logging PIC time without being qualified to act as PIC; that seems like a reasonable question for an oral test, especially for an instrument or commercial checkride. If he spots tailwheel time in your logbook without a tailwheel endorsement, it would be a great lead-in to the topic.

Maybe someone else will find a definitive answer on the "pilot time" question, but if there's nothing official from the FAA so far then you could request a legal interpretation from the FAA Chief Counsel. However, for the sake of your fellow pilots I strongly suggest that you don't do that. If the FAA comes back with the 'wrong' answer, it could create restrictions that didn't previously exist. The Mangiamele interpretation is notorious in that regard because it stopped private pilots from claiming travel expenses from their employers that were previously allowed, or at least tolerated. You really don't want to be the guy who makes it harder for people to get a commercial certificate.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the references; the distinction between being "rated" for the aircraft and being "authorized" to act as PIC is at the heart of my concerns; the instance of the non-instrument rated pilot logging time under IFR was illustrative. $\endgroup$ – David DeVine Jun 26 '17 at 7:39
  • $\begingroup$ In my limited experience I find that the language used in the FARs is at times ambiguous; perhaps this is due to a naive understanding, perhaps this is somewhat by design, or perhaps both. Specifically in 61.51 it states that a pilot may log PIC "flight time" when acting as sole manipulator of controls if s/he is properly rated in the aircraft BUT "flight time" is defined as "pilot time" and in the relevant situation(s) explored above its clear that logging PIC hours may not suit the definition of flight time. $\endgroup$ – David DeVine Jun 26 '17 at 7:43
  • $\begingroup$ Which would lead one to conclude, as you note, a distinction between "pilot time" and "PIC time"; not going to be the one to press the FAA on this because I'd rather log the hours than risk omitting them from my subset of 250. It's not the first time, though, that I've noticed "grey area" seemingly built into the FARs $\endgroup$ – David DeVine Jun 26 '17 at 7:48

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