Flying slow airplanes is a great way to build flight hours, but sometimes you just feel the need for speed. If you are looking to get into flying faster and more complex aircraft, let Charlie Foxtrot India train you to get your High Performance and/or Complex aircraft endorsements.

How do I know if I need a High Performance endorsement?

A PT-6 turboprop definitely has more than 200HP

Figuring out if you need a High Performance endorsement to fly a plane is pretty easy. Does the plane have an engine with MORE than 200 horsepower? If you answered “Yes” then you need a High Performance aircraft endorsement from a qualified instructor in your logbook before you can fly as PIC of that aircraft. This means that a plane can have an engine rated at 200HP and you are okay to fly without an endorsement. But once that engine is rated at 201HP or more, then you need the endorsement.

Check your POH or AFM to find out what the engine in the aircraft is rated at. Some people get confused with model numbers such as the PA-28R-200, and the PA-28R-201. The PA-28R-201 is still rated at 200HP and therefore does not require an endorsement. Piper just changed the model number to 201 to differentiate it from the 200 due to the modifications that were made to the airframe in later models of the aircraft.

Another bit of confusion with the High Performance endorsement comes when you are flying multi-engine planes such as the Piper Seminole. These planes have two 180HP engines. If you do the math, 180+180=360, and 360 is more than 200. But if you look back at the regulations, they specify “an engine of more than 200HP,” so combined horsepower does not matter. Since neither of the Seminole’s engines are more than 200HP alone, you do not need a High Performance endorsement to act as PIC of this twin engine aircraft.

How do I know if I need a Complex endorsement?

Controllable Pitch prop, and flaps, but fixed landing gear. No Complex endorsement needed.

Figuring out if you need a Complex aircraft endorsement is, well, a bit more complex. There are three criteria that need to be met in order for an aircraft to be considered Complex. The aircraft must have retractable landing gear, a controllable pitch propeller, and flaps. But if you are flying a sea plane the aircraft only needs a controllable pitch propeller, and flaps to be considered Complex. Also, the regulations state that even if the pitch of the propeller is controlled automatically by an automated engine control system, it still meets the controllable pitch criteria.

There are several planes out there that meet two of the three criteria for a Complex aircraft such as planes with flaps and controllable pitch propellers but fixed landing gear, or flaps and retractable landing gear, but a fixed pitch prop. In either case, unless it is a sea plane with flaps and a controllable pitch prop, you do no need a Complex endorsement to act as PIC in these planes. Once you check all of the boxes though, you will need the Complex endorsement. Personally, if you are planning to fly any aircraft with retractable landing gear, I would suggest seeking training with a CFI and getting the Complex endorsement anyway.

High Performance, but not Complex (per the FAA regs anyway)

Do I need both endorsements?

It depends on what kind of aircraft you plan to fly. There are planes out there that are High Performance, but not Complex. There are other planes out there that are Complex, but not High Performance. Then there are planes that are both. If you plan on flying airplanes that are both High Performance, and Complex (I’d venture to say that many of the planes that are the most fun to fly fall in this category), then yes, you need both endorsements. But if you are flying a Cessna 182 or Cirrus that are High Performance, but have fixed landing gear, you only need the High Performance endorsement. Likewise, if you are flying a Mooney M20C that has a 180HP engine, retractable landing gear, flaps, and a controllable pitch propeller, then you only need a Complex endorsement. But since these endorsements do not expire you can get both endorsements at the same time even though you may only need one or the other right now.

How do I find an authorized instructor to teach me how to fly High Performance and/or Complex airplanes?

Obviously the instructor will need to have either endorsement before they are allowed to teach the respective subject matter. By virtue of the fact that all instructors have at least a commercial pilot certificate, and one way to meet the requirements for a commercial certificate is to receive 10 hours of flight time in a Complex aircraft, most CFIs will have a Complex endorsement. But a few years ago the FAA waived the Complex flight time in lieu of 10 hours of training in a Technically Advanced Airplane. So there may come a point in the future where fewer instructors will be able to endorse pilots for Complex aircraft. Also, there is no requirement for a commercial pilot or flight instructor to receive a High Performance endorsement, so fewer instructors even now are able to teach in High Performance aircraft.

Justin’s First Solo

When you are looking for an instructor who can teach these subjects it is also important to find out what kind of experience they have. While an instructor who got the 10 hours of flight time in a Complex aircraft to qualify for their Commercial certificate can technically teach you to fly a Complex aircraft, wouldn’t you rather have someone with more than the minimum experience required showing you how to fly these more advanced aircraft?

Justin at Charlie Foxtrot India has been flying High Performance and Complex aircraft literally since he first started flying. He learned to fly in 300HP, Beechcraft A36 Bonanzas. In fact, he has been flying High Performance and Complex airplanes for so long that he received his High Performance an Complex endorsements on the same day he received his first solo endorsement. He has gone on to fly several different High Performance and/or Complex aircraft as well. When it comes to getting your High Performance and Complex aircraft endorsements, it will be hard to find a more experienced, and qualified instructor. So, whenever you are ready to start training for your High Performance and/or Complex endorsements, Contact us to get a quote and schedule your training.