Student Pilot to Private Pilot:
In order to obtain a private pilot license from the FAA, you must first become a Student Pilot. CFR 61.83 requires that a student pilot applicant must be 16 years of age, and must be able to read, speak, write and understand the English language. You will also need to provide proof of US Citizenship to your instructor and or flight school. An applicant for a student pilot must meet with a designated aviation medical examiner, prior to starting a pilot training program. Once the applicant receives the FAA medical certificate, they can now start their flight training. You can expect your training to involve two aspects, one is aeronautical knowledge which pertains to CFR parts 61 and 91. CFR part 61 pertains to certifications for pilots and instructors, and CFR part 91 pertains to general operating and flight rules. The other is pre-solo flight training which entails maneuvers and procedures that your instructor will teach to you. Prior to conducting your solo flight, a student pilot must demonstrate satisfactory proficiency and safety to your flight instructor. Since each student is different by nature, the degree of learning is never the same. You will also be required to receive ground and flight training on how to perform cross country flights. These cross country flights will help build your confidence and prepare you for real world flying.
Private Pilot Certificate:
To be eligible for a private pilot certificate, a person must be at least 17 years of age and must be able to read, speak, write and understand the English language. The person must receive a logbook endorsement from the training instructor that states they are prepared for the aeronautical knowledge test on the areas listed in CFR 61.105(b). The person also must receive another endorsement from the training instructor that states that they have received flight training in the areas listed in CFR 61.107(b) and that they are prepared for the practical test or as we instructors call it, "The Checkride".
The FAA Aeronautical experience required for an airplane single-engine rating consists of the following:
At least 40 hours of flight time that includes 20 hours from your instructor and 10 hours of solo training. 3 hours of cross country time, 3 hours of night flight training which includes 1 (100 nautical mile cross-country flight ), 10 takeoffs and 10 landings at an airport, 3 hours of simulated instrument time, 3 hours of flight training with your instructor to prepare for the practical test 2 calendar months before your test. Your 10 hours of solo flight time must consist of 5 hours of solo cross country time and 1 solo cross country flight that is 150 nautical miles. Also required is 3 takeoffs and 3 landings at an airport with an operating control tower. Once all of your flight requirements are complete and you have obtained all the necessary endorsements your instructor will set up your Checkride with a FAA Examiner or a DPE (Designated Pilot Examiner).
Private Pilot Privileges and Limitations: CFR 61.113
A private pilot cannot carry passengers or property for hire, that means to get paid for. A private pilot may, for compensation or hire, act as pilot in command in connection with any business or employment if the flight is only incidental to that business and does not carry any passengers or property. A private pilot may share the operating expenses like fuel, oil, rental fees with the passengers. A private pilot may act as pilot in command of a charitable, nonprofit, or community event as described in CFR 91.146. A private pilot may be reimbursed for operating expenses that are related to search and location of downed aircraft. A private pilot who has at least 200 hours of logged flight time may demonstrate an aircraft to a potential buyer. A private pilot who meets the requirements of CFR 61.69 may act as pilot in command of an aircraft towing a glider. A private pilot may act as pilot in command for the purpose of conducting a production flight test in a light-sport aircraft intended for certification under CFR 21.190.
Commercial Pilot Certificate:
To be eligible for a commercial pilot certificate, a person must be 18 years of age, be able to read, speak, write and understand the English language. The person must hold at least a private pilot certificate, must receive a logbook endorsement from a certified instructor stating that the person is prepared for the knowledge test. The person must pass the knowledge test on the aeronautical knowledge areas listed in CFR 61.125. The person must receive the required ground training, flight experience and a logbook endorsement from a certified instructor in the areas listed in CFR 61.127(b)
Commercial Pilot Privileges and Limitations: CFR 61.133
A person who holds a commercial pilot certificate has the privilege to act as pilot in command of an aircraft carrying persons or property for compensation or hire, provided the person is qualified. A person who applies for a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane category, class and does not hold an instrument rating is prohibited to carrying passengers on cross country flights more than 50 nautical miles or at night.