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Situation: On an aircraft with a flight deck large enough to fit multiple people, three pilots are onboard. 1 PIC in the left seat, and two certified copilots taking turns flying in the right seat for proficiency. When not in the right seat, the other pilot is seated nearby actively participating in training discussions and talking through training scenarios.

Question: Can the two copilots log the entire time of the flight towards their total flight time even when not seated in one of the two pilot seats? Of course they could only log SIC time when actually seated in the right pilot seat.

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  • $\begingroup$ Which FAR are you reading that leads you to believe that might be possible? $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    May 20 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ 61.1 states: 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. Re: (i) All three pilots are serving as required pilots. I understand only two pilots are required to fly this plane at minimum, but if the mission of the flight is training and proficiency, then are not the two trainee pilots required? Re (ii): both pilots are receiving training at the same time by participating in discussions. $\endgroup$
    – K Richter
    May 20 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ Also, I’ve read several comments on this forum about third pilots (whether two first officers on a flight or a first officer and a second officer) on the flight deck of long haul flights being able to log total time, but just not SIC time if not actually sitting in one of the two pilots seats; but those comments didn’t cite regulation or justification, so I’m just looking for more info regarding logging flight time in three pilot situations. $\endgroup$
    – K Richter
    May 20 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ It doesn’t work that way. That third guy is not required. $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    May 20 at 22:10
  • $\begingroup$ In the military we had a category called "special crew time" for any crewmember who wasn't a rated pilot, or for rated pilots not acting as PIC or SIC. I don't know if it would be an issue with the FAA or a prospective employer if your log book PIC and SIC added up to less than total time, but I wouldn't even try. (I certainly didn't count any of my mil crew time towards pilot ratings, nor did I put it on my resume...) $\endgroup$ May 20 at 22:34

3 Answers 3

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Your Question: "Can the two copilots log the entire time of the flight towards their total flight time even when not seated in one of the two pilot seats? Of course they could only log SIC time when actually seated in the right pilot seat." (emphasis mine and considering U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations)

According to the definitions of "Pilot Time" and "Type of pilot experience or training," noted below, the "total flight time" category of flight time referenced in your question does not appear to qualify as "Aeronautical Experience" for any of the various certificates or ratings issued under 14 CFR 61 for the one pilot not seated in a pilot seat.

However, the pilot sitting in a pilot seat could log Pilot-in-Command (PIC) time if he/she was the sole manipulator of the controls and rated in the aircraft or Second-in-Command if the aircraft in question requires more than one pilot per its type certification.

The definition of "Pilot Time" (Ref: 14 CFR 61.1) states:

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, full flight simulator, flight training device, or aviation training device;

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

(iv) Serves as second in command in operations conducted in accordance with § 135.99(c) of this chapter when a second pilot is not required under the type certification of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is being conducted, provided the requirements in § 61.159(c) are satisfied.

Also, according to 14 CFR 61.51(b)(2) logbook entries must include:

Type of pilot experience or training -

(i) Solo.

(ii) Pilot in command.

(iii) Second in command.

(iv) Flight and ground training received from an authorized instructor.

(v) Training received in a full flight simulator, flight training device, or aviation training device from an authorized instructor.

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  • $\begingroup$ A bit of a grey area is when a flight requires crew rest. In a case of an ultra long haul 16 hour flight, there must be 4 crew members on board. Some airlines have you log the entire flight time while some have you only log time while in the seat. $\endgroup$ May 20 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ “ (i) Serves as a required pilot flight crewmember; “ When I am sleeping in the bunk, I am still a required crew member. $\endgroup$ May 20 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeSowsun - I don't argue that. But when crediting flight time for "Aeronautical Experience" purposes under part 61 the time has to be logged and qualify under FAR 61.51. Also, Pilot-in-Command time, as defined under FAR 1.1 does not require (the PIC) to be sitting in a pilot seat. The OPs question is specifically not about PIC time. Look at FAR 61.51 (e) (2). $\endgroup$
    – 757toga
    May 20 at 22:01
  • $\begingroup$ @MikeSowsun interesting how some airlines have the nonflying longhaul pilots log total time and then other airlines don’t. For the airlines that DO have the nonflying pilots log total time, as you stated it’s because the additional pilots are ‘required.’ Is that requirement for more than two pilots FAA mandated, or airline mandated? $\endgroup$
    – K Richter
    May 20 at 22:01
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    $\begingroup$ @MikeSowsun, I would argue your point. When you are sleeping in a bunk you are not "serving as a required pilot flight crewmember" by any definition. You are resting, so that later you may be refreshed, and then be able to "serve as a required pilot.." Your presence as a spare may be essential based on policy and the duration of the flight, but you certainly aren't filling a functional role while asleep. $\endgroup$ May 20 at 22:30
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Your question of whether or not a copilot can log SIC time while not seated in a crew seat is an absolute NO. They cannot log SIC time.

§61.51(f) Logging second-in-command flight time.

A person may log second-in-command time only for that flight time during which that person:

(1) Is qualified in accordance with the second-in-command requirements of § 61.55, and occupies a crewmember station in an aircraft that requires more than one pilot by the aircraft's type certificate;

(2) Holds the appropriate category, class, and instrument rating (if an instrument rating is required for the flight) for the aircraft being flown, and more than one pilot is required under the type certification of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is being conducted; or

(3) Serves as second in command in operations conducted in accordance with § 135.99(c) of this chapter when a second pilot is not required under the type certification of the aircraft or the regulations under which the flight is being conducted, provided the requirements in §61.159(c) are satisfied.

To log total flight time you must be a required crewmember. A required crewmember is defined by the aircraft certification or by the operating rules.

There are no rules I am aware of that allows you to do this.

See 61.55(a)

A person may serve as a second-in-command of an aircraft type certificated for more than one required pilot flight crewmember or in operations requiring a second-in-command pilot flight crewmember only if that person holds:

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  • $\begingroup$ thanks for post. My question isn’t whether the pilot not in a pilot seat can log SIC time; but whether the pilot not in a pilot seat can accumulate general pilot time or time towards their total flight time. Pilots not in a pilot seat of long haul flights can still log total flight time. I’m wondering if the same could be done in a multiple pilot training mission/situation. Thanks again. $\endgroup$
    – K Richter
    May 20 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ @KRichter - Are you asking a question regarding how Military flight time would apply for military logging purposes? Or are you asking how the "total flight time" (per your question) would apply and be logged under FAR Part 61 for currency, aeronautical experience for certificates, ratings, etc? $\endgroup$
    – 757toga
    May 20 at 23:23
  • $\begingroup$ @757toga the second part: I’m asking how the ‘total flight time’ would apply and be logged per FARs. I am beginning to see that only nonflying pilots on long-haul flights are allowed to log total pilot time when not sitting in a pilot seat. My exact situation does involve a military flight where the mission is specifically to train multiple copilots. I’m not concerned about my own military rules for logging time in this forum thread, just the FAA rules regarding logging the time. Thanks all. $\endgroup$
    – K Richter
    May 20 at 23:46
  • $\begingroup$ I recommend that the OP reword his question to clarify whether he is asking about military flight time logging and receiving credit (per what ever military branch his question involves) or specifically asking about logging flight time using FAA regs and for FAA certification, currency etc. under FAR part 61. I will probably Vote to Close otherwise $\endgroup$
    – 757toga
    May 21 at 18:15
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You didn't say what branch of service you were in, but in the hard cover logbooks used by the USN and USMC, there are 4 columns under the header "PILOT TIME". Those 4 columns are listed below, along with a brief explanation of what I remember we would log in each category:

  • TOTAL PILOT TIME - (The sum of the other three columns - note that it isn't called total "FLIGHT" time...)
  • FIRST PILOT - (Time logged as manipulator of the controls.)
  • CO-PILOT - (Time spent not as manipulator of the controls, but may be acting as navigator, talking on radios, instructor letting student fly, etc.)
  • A/C COMMANDER - (Self explanatory, similar to PIC in that you can act as A/C commander even while not manipulating the controls, so time in this column may or may not match either of the other two columns.)

These categories are roughly equivalent to FAA definitions of PIC and SIC time, but they obviously aren't an exact match. Clearly though, total time is ONLY intended to include pilot time.

There is a separate column, NOT under the "pilot time" header, labeled SPECIAL CREW TIME. This column was used to log time for other crew members such as non-pilot rated officers, (Naval Flight Officers) or enlisted crewmembers such as flight engineers and loadmasters. It could also be used by rated pilots in case they wanted to log total time in the airframe while not occupying a pilot seat or performing pilot duties. (such as dead heading in a back seat) Many of my pilot friends purposefully avoided logging crew time to keep their logbooks "pure".

Since you cannot log pilot time when not occupying a pilot seat, and since there is no category for total flight time, the question really becomes, what is your operations officer wanting to do with "TOTAL" time?

Because if you stick with the way the logbook is laid out, then total time will only include pilot time. If you want to track special crew time for any reason, then log it. It probably won't count for pilot upgrade purposes, (depending on policy) but it might be good enough for your local Lockheed Martin representative to present a 1000 hour pin.

However, if you want to somehow differentiate between reading/sleeping in the cargo bay on long flights vs sitting in the flight engineer seat observing and actively participating in quality training, (which has tremendous value, and I think is really the root of your question...) then establish a policy to only log crew time when directly observing the two pilot seat occupants.

Alternately, you could choose to log all non-pilot "flight time" in the airframe time as crew time, but create a separate training spreadsheet to track non-pilot seat, active monitoring of the PIC and SIC, with the A/C Commander signing off the training log after each flight.

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  • $\begingroup$ I recommend that the OP reword his question to clarify whether he is asking about military flight time logging and receiving credit (per what ever military branch his question involves) or specifically asking about logging flight time using FAA regs and for FAA certification, currency etc. under FAR part 61. I will probably Vote to Close otherwise $\endgroup$
    – 757toga
    May 21 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ @michaelhall Thanks so much, sir. Your post set me straight with understanding how the FAA regulates the logging of time in this situation. I truly appreciate everyone’s help. This is in regards to a Coast Guard unit, btw. Our Ops will, just as you said, count this ‘special’ time towards minimums required for right seat copilot to left-seat upgrade. Again, thanks all. Question resolved. $\endgroup$
    – K Richter
    May 22 at 1:01

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