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Scenario:

  • A pilot is rated to fly gliders in the United States.
  • The pilot allows his glider flight review to lapse.
  • That pilot now decides he wants to get a type rating for the airplane category, single engine land.

Question:

  • Does the pilot have to be flight review current in order to solo in a powered airplane?
  • (Secondary question, as long as we are at it) Does the pilot have to be flight review current in order to take the FAA practical (check ride) in a powered airplane?

Note: I'm most interested in the answer under US FAA regulations, though the answer in other countries would be of interest as well.

I have spent some time looking over the FARs, specifically 14 CFR 61.56 and I cannot find anything conclusive either way.

I should mention that I suspect the answer to this question to be no, though I am not prepared to offer evidence to back this up.

I've already seen this related question asking whether a biennial flight review is valid for any airplane category, but I don't believe it's a duplicate because that only covers the situation where the pilot is rated in both catagories. This question refers to the situation where the pilot is rated in one category, but not the other.

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You do require a flight review, per the Beard (2013) interpretation:

Finally, you have also asked whether a person operating in solo flight under a § 61.31(d) endorsement must comply with the flight review requirements in § 61.56(c). With a few listed exceptions, no person make act as pilot in command of an aircraft unless within the previous 24 calendar months that person completed a flight review with an authorized instructor. 14 C.F.R. § 61.56(c). Section 61.56(g) provides an exception for student pilots provided the student pilot is undergoing training for a certificate and has a current solo flight endorsement as required under § 61.87. Because this exception applies to student pilots, a pilot who holds a higher level pilot certificate and has an endorsement for solo flight under § 61.31(d) must comply with the flight review requirements in § 61.56 before acting as pilot in command of any aircraft.

Regarding the student pilot exception, others have suggested in comments that you are in fact a student pilot because you're new to the category/class. However, the interpretation says you are not:

Section 61.81 states that subpart C "prescribes the requirements for the issuance of student pilot certificates, the conditions under which those certificates are necessary, and the general operating rules and limitations for the holders of those certificates." As such, by its express language, subpart C to part 61 applies only to those persons who are seeking or hold a student pilot certificate.

So, since you will be acting as PIC and none of the exceptions in 61.56 apply, you need a flight review. As for a checkride, the person taking the checkride is acting as PIC (61.47(b)) so again, you would need a valid flight review.

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  • $\begingroup$ So the pilot who last flew gliders a decade ago, has a burden to become current in gliders & take a flight review in them, before he can solo in an SEL, while his buddy going through the same program simply solos when his instructor says, go? That makes no sense. How do you say that the prior-glider pilot is other than a student, like every other student, when it comes to what he's doing in his SEL training? $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Aug 4 '17 at 2:42
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    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ No one ever said the regulations have to make sense :-) Have a look at 61.81: the student pilot regulations apply only to someone who holds a student pilot certificate. Once you become a private pilot, you never hold a student pilot certificate again, therefore Subpart C becomes irrelevant. That's why 61.31 applies here, not 61.87. And as I mentioned in my answer, I couldn't find a specific article on this, so I'm fully prepared to be wrong if someone finds a better explanation. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Aug 4 '17 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ It's not him saying that, it's both the FAA and the FARs. He is not like every other student because he can exercise the privileges of a licensed private pilot when he's PIC. The students cannot. So because when he solos he gets extra privileges, he also must meet additional requirements. $\endgroup$ – David Schwartz Aug 4 '17 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ @RalphJ I did think of one semi-plausible reason for this. If someone's already a pilot they should have a certain level of knowledge about regulations, weather, radio communications etc. and it's unlikely that type training would cover that again, unless it's directly relevant to the new aircraft. Requiring a flight review would make sure that the pilot is at least fairly current on that knowledge: in your example, the student has just learnt all that stuff whereas the glider pilot may have forgotten it. I'm not saying I'm right, just that it seems possible. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Aug 7 '17 at 13:53
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I'm not sure what the ediquite is for anwering your own question. However, after seeing the extent of the discussion here, I did a bit of deaper research and finally came across this from the FAA Acting Assistant Chief Counsel for Regulations:

The pilot is training to add a glider category rating to his pilot certificate. Per 61.56(c), the pilot in question must have a current flight review to perform solo flights in a glider during training. Section 61.56(g) provides an exception for student pilots, provided the student pilot is training for a certificate and has a current solo flight endorsement as required under 61.87. A pilot who holds a higher level pilot certificate must comply with the flight review requirements in 61.56(c) before acting as pilot in command of any aircraft. The question of whether a certificated pilot needs a current flight review to perform solo flights in another category or class of aircraft is discussed in the Letter of Interpretation to Daniel Beard, January 9, 2015, a copy of which is enclosed with this response.

This, of course, deals with the reverse situation, but I would assume the same would apply for a glider ppl trying to solo for powered.

Thus I believe @pondlife is correct here and will click the check mark for that answer.

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We deal with this in my glider club fairly often. 14 CFR Part 61.56 provides several ways to get credit for a flight review. Imagine the extreme case of a former military pilot who has only ever flown multi-engine jets - how would he/she get a flight review in any cost effective manner?

The answer to "I don't want to spend money getting current in something I'm not going to fly again" is the FAA Wings program. An actual Flight Reviews must be done in something in which you are rated. That's not true for Wings. So, with a little planning, the first few dual flights in the new aircraft can go into Wings. Combine that with some appropriate online training and boom. You have credit for a flight review.

Works great. Now, I hope that maybe someone will see this seven months after the original conversation(s).

Terry Pitts, CFIG

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