I am working on my instrument rating and I need to build up both my instrument time and Cross Country time to meet the requirements. I am planning on making most of that time by flying with a friend who I will switch off between hood time and safety pilot. We are planning on doing lots of cross country hood time to meet our hours. Also the safety pilot will be designated PIC so that we can claim PIC time as safety pilot.

We need to build 50 hours PIC cross country time so my question is can the safety pilot, if they are designated PIC for the flight, claim cross-country time even if they are not touching the controls for that flight?

  • $\begingroup$ "Also the safety pilot will be designated PIC so that we can claim PIC time as safety pilot." - You do realize that the legal pilot in command will be responsible for the other guys flying if there is a violation or accident. The logbooks will tell the story to the FAA on who was the legal pilot in command. $\endgroup$
    – wbeard52
    Dec 10 '19 at 18:30

The safety pilot cannot log cross-country time.

The FAA has issued a Legal Interpretation (Gebhart) that clarifies the FAR.

Section 61.65(d) contemplates that only the pilot conducting the entire flight, including takeoff, landing, and en route flight, as a required flight crewmember may log cross-country flight time. Because a safety pilot does not conduct the entire flight, a person acting as a safety pilot for a portion of the flight may not log any cross-country flight time for the flight.


According to FAR 61.1, one of the requirements of cross-country flight is that it is flight time that includes a landing at a point other than the point of departure. Presumably, no one is under the hood at that point, and so only the pilot who makes that landing is logging time at that moment, and so only they can log it as cross country time.

XC time also must include the use of dead reckoning, pilotage, electronic navigation aids, radio aids, or other navigation systems to navigate to the landing point. Which one of you is doing that?

  • $\begingroup$ I'd also add the aside that this is a really bad way to learn instruments. Presumably, you shouldn't have to "build your instrument time" by flying with a safety pilot before getting your rating. That's an excellent way to establish bad habits. $\endgroup$
    – Dave-CFII
    Dec 10 '19 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ I think that training with a safety pilot who is also working on the rating makes both better instrument pilots. After you learn the basics of instrument flying the rest of the hours are just learning to maintain focus and consistently fly the approaches. Unless you are really bad at instrument flying, the CFII is just acting as an expensive safety pilot for most of the 40 hours. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Dec 11 '19 at 1:24

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