www.balloonlife.com

03.2001

12

A column about Federal Aviation Regulations

FAR Out

by Stephen Blucher

Commercial Rating
Requirements

Editor’s note: Mr. Blucher is a commercial balloonist, event
announcer, and active member of the Ballooning Society of Pikes
Peak. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you have areas
that you would like to see discussed or have comments regarding
this article contact Stephen Blucher at sblucher@juno.com.

Therehasbeensome discussionofhow manyhoursandhow
manyflightsapilottakinginstructionfortheCom-mercial
balloon rating must have. Once upon a time the training taken for
the Private certificate would suffice as the training needed forthe
upgrade.TheFAAmadetheirdesiresclearbychangingPart
61.129(h)(4). First, the definitionof flight seemedtobe misun-
derstood and some pilot trainees werelanding, deflating,reinflat-
ingandgoingairborne againon another flight. The only differ-
entiationinPart1.1isbetweenpoweredaircraftandgliders.
Gliders’ time starts when the tow begins as the sailplane (the true
designation) cannot begin a takeoff under its own power, unless
of course it is one of the types with an engine for self launch. No
wordsarethereaboutballoons,nowordsabouttakingthe
envelope to the ground. So, balloons, like airplanes are in flight
“from themoment the aircraft first moves underits own power for
the purpose of flight....” The flight ends when it “comes to rest at
thenextpointoflanding.”Thisallmeansoneinflationand
deflationcould encompassseveral flights.
Just to muckup the waters a bit, this definitionreally has to
do with PILOT TIME rather than flight time; that time which is
“legally”logable.Ihaveknownpilotswhostarttheirclocks
when the balloon is laid out.Others timefrom “burner on” and yet
others from lift off (which is the closest to the rule). Some pilots
have beenknownto logflights they didnotevenfly...but they
were there, onthe ground, and“flew alongmentally”withthe
pilot. Theywill probablyget away withit unlessthe FAA finds
it necessary to scrutinize pilot and balloon(s) logs thoroughly for
somereason.Butwearegettingawayfromthehours/flights
purpose of this article.
Pilots can no longercarry flights or hours forward. Commer-
cial candidates must have a new set of “10 hours of flight training
and 10training flights with an authorizedinstructor inballoons
on the areas of operation listed in 61.127(b)(8)....” The hours are
the hours, there is no way to cut them short. The flights with the
“authorized instructor”, however can be any length necessary to
prep areth e“stud en t”forthetes ts.Asment ioned,one
inflation...one deflation...the number of landings/flights...?

Sec.61.129Aeronautical experience.
(h) For a balloon rating. A person who applies
for a commercial pilot certificate with a lighter-
than-aircategoryandaballoonclassrating
mustlogatleast35hoursofflighttimeasa
pilot,whichincludesatleastthefollowing
requirements:
(1) 20 hoursinballoons;
(2) 10 flightsinballoons;
(3) Twoflights inballoons as the pilotin com-
mand;and
(4)10hoursofflighttrainingthatincludesat
least10trainingflightswithanauthorized
instructor in balloons on the areas of operation
listed in

Sec.61.127(b)(8) of thispart, which consists of at
least—
(ii) For a balloon with anairborne heater—
(A)2trainingflightsof1houreachwithan
authorizedinstructor inaballoonwithanair-
borne heater on the areas of operation appro-
priatetoaballoonwithanairborneheater
within60dayspriortoapplicationforthe
rating;
(B)Twosoloflightsinaballoonwithanair-
borneheater on the appropriateareasofop-
eration; and
(C) One flight involvinga controlled ascent to
3,000 feetabovethe launchsite.

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