Assume "pilotage" is used for all flights other than circuits around the pattern.

Assume, in the flights that follow, at any point where required, an instructor travels to the departure point and approves the flight.

At what point in the following sequences must the pilot stop logging the accumulating flight time as one single cross-country flight--

  1. For general logbook purposes
  2. For meeting the cross-country aeronautical experience requirements for a private pilot's license under part 61 in the USA? (NOT the "long" cross-country requirement.)
  3. To meet the 200-hour cross-country experience requirement for the ATP rating under part 61?
  4. To meet the 100-hour cross-country experience requirement to act as PIC under part 135?

Please explain your answers.

Let's say a pilot does the following:

Case 1:

  • a) Takes off
  • b) Flies to a point 60 miles away, full stop landing
  • c) Flies back to start, full stop landing
  • d) Flies to a point 60 miles away, full stop landing.

In case 1, would it change the answer in any way if I revealed that the pilot got out of the airplane and slept overnight between steps b and c only?

How about if she got out of the airplane and slept overnight between steps c and d only?

Case 2:

  • a) Takes off
  • b) Lands at a point 60 miles away, full stop landing.
  • c) Flies to a point 10 more miles away, full stop landing.
  • d) Gets out of the airplane at eats lunch
  • e) Flies to a point 10 more miles away, full stop landing.
  • f) Gets out of the airplane and stretches
  • g) Makes 10 circuits around the pattern without using pilotage, with full stop landings.
  • h) Flies to another point 60 miles away, full stop landing.
  • i) Gets out of the airplane, takes a nap.
  • j) Gets back in airplane, flies to a point 60 miles away from both the latest takeoff point and the original start point, full stop landing.
  • k) Rents a motel room and stays over night.
  • l) Flies on to another place 100 miles away.
  • m) Stays with a friend for a month, while making 10 short flights around the airport without using pilotage.
  • n) Flies back to the original starting point.
  • o) Makes 10 more short flights over the course of the next month without using pilotage.
  • p) Flies to a point 60 miles away.

In case 2, would it change the answer in any way if I revealed the pilot was on a long vacation and the aircraft and pilot were actually based at the point that the last flight "p" ended up at, and he had departed from there two days previous to the first flight in the list (a)?

Relevant: http://www.boldmethod.com/learn-to-fly/regulations/logging-cross-country-flight-time/

  • $\begingroup$ Excuse the formatting. Please fix it into a nice list without changing the content; I'll look closely at what you did and learn how for next time. Than you. $\endgroup$ Oct 8 '18 at 0:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Your question is quite long and you've already linked to an article about logging cross-country time. Can you perhaps make your question more specific? Is there some scenario that isn't addressed in the article you linked? And have you already seen this question? $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Oct 8 '18 at 0:48
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much for the re-fomatting. I'll check out what you did so I can learn how to create lists. $\endgroup$ Oct 10 '18 at 3:55

It is not in the interests of the FAA to provide a specific definition of how long an aircraft can spend on the ground before a flight "ends".

Pilots are expected to use their judgment to deal with weather, fuel planning, air traffic control, etc. Pilots are also expected to use their judgment when deciding what should and should not be logged as a single cross country flight.

This is good for pilots. The FAA trusts us to do the right thing.

Ok, but what about my questions?

  • For general logbook purposes you can do anything you want. Exactly nobody cares what's in your logbook except you (and maybe the person interviewing you for a job in your future).

  • Private, commercial, and ATP experience require hours, not flights. Therefore you may log case 1 as one flight, two flights, or three flights, depending on which is most reasonable in your judgment as a pilot and based on the unique circumstances of the flight. For the most part this simply means you need to decide whether you want to fill out one, two, or three lines in your logbook.

  • Similarly, you may log all of case 2 on one enormous line in your logbook, if for some reason the unique circumstances of the flight indicate that that's the best way to do it. (Maybe you're going to the south pole, and the month-long break is because you had mechanical trouble along the way.) Similarly, you may choose to log each leg or even each landing as a separate line in your logbook (for a total of 38 lines), if that makes more sense in your judgment.

  • The longer the stop, the more difficult is it to argue that it should be considered one flight. I think it would be exceptionally difficult (though not impossible, see above) to make the case that two hours worth of flying separated by a month of not flying should be considered one flight.

  • As guidance, remember that your logbook is a reflection of you as a pilot. If there's uncertainty, ask yourself "How would I like to be perceived, if someone were to audit this logbook?" If there's still uncertainty, ask an instructor. If there's still uncertainty, ask an FAA inspector. They're there to help.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good answer. I might add that the person reviewing a logbook (Inspector/Examiner) will make a judgement as to whether or not what is logged as cross country time for 61.51 purposes is acceptable. Not every possible scenario, outside of those explicitly implied by the regulations (61.51 and 61.1) have been identified within a policy or legal interpretation. $\endgroup$
    – 757toga
    Oct 8 '18 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ This answer seems to imply that the number of hours logged as cross-country flight time is going to come out the same no matter how we answer my question. But that is clearly not the case. $\endgroup$ Oct 9 '18 at 15:40

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