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Solo Endorsements: Flying To Other Airports and Cross Countries

172 Cockpit James Good

Last week, I posted about the basic solo endorsements that your student needs before any solo flight. Those endorsements let them fly out of their home airport, and practice in the local area - up to 25 NM away from the airport. So, what do they need to land somewhere else?

Any flight with a landing at another airport becomes a cross country. We usually think of cross country flights as trips farther than 50 NM from the home airport, but technically, any landing at another airport is a cross country. If the trip's less than 50NM, it doesn't count toward the required XC time for a private certificate, but it's still a cross country.

FAR 61.93 covers cross country endorsements, and groups them into three types of flights:

  • Repeated flights to another airport within 25 NM
  • Repeated flights to another airport within 50 NM
  • One-time flights to other airports - a traditional cross country
Student Pilot Solo Cross-Country Endorsement Infographic v2

Prerequisites - The Basic Solo Endorsements

No matter which of these three flights your student's taking, they need two basic solo endorsements:

  • A make and model solo endorsement on their student pilot certificate, and
  • A make and model solo endorsement in their logbook that was issued within the previous 90 days.

(Check out our last post for details on these endorsements.)

Repeated Solo Flights To Another Airport Within 25 NM

You want your student to practice takeoffs and landings at a local airport - within 25 NM from your home airport. What endorsements do you need?

FAR 61.93 (b) covers this - and the requirements are simple. First, you'll give your student training at the other airport, including training on:

  • Both directions over the route,
  • Entering and exiting the traffic pattern, and
  • Takeoffs and landings at the other airport.

Hard to screw up, right? Actually, it can be done. Let's say you decide to save your student money and take two students on the flight - one flies there and the other one flies back. No good - each student needs to receive training on both directions along the route. So, no shortcuts.

Once you've given the training and found your student proficient, you can endorse them. First, check for the appropriate make and model endorsement on the student pilot certificate, and a make and model endorsement in the logbook that's been given within the last 90 days. If they're both there, you can endorse your student for the route. Here's the FAA's example endorsement from AC 61-65E:

I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received the required training of FAR 61.93(b)(1). I have determined that he/she is proficient to practice solo takeoffs and landings at (airport name). The takeoffs and landings at (airport name) are subject to the following conditions: (List any applicable conditions or limitations.)
/s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-15

This endorsement is good forever. As long as your student has a basic make and model solo endorsement issued within the preceding 90 days, they can use this endorsement.

The FAA does specify in FAR 61.93 that the flights need to be for training purposes - practicing takeoffs and landings. So, if you're training a permanent student pilot who wants to use this endorsement as a temporary pilot certificate and travel for work, or any other non-training purpose, don't issue it.

Other Cross Country Flights

For any other cross country flight, including traditional cross country route flights and repeated flights to another airport further than 25 NM but within 50 NM, your student will need specific training in cross country operations.

For a single-engine airplane, those maneuvers and procedures are covered by FAR 61.93 (e), and include cross country operations, flight by reference to instruments, and lots of other stuff. (If I listed them out here, you'd probably fall asleep by the end of the paragraph.)

Finally, your student needs to demonstrate proficiency to you on all of those maneuvers and procedures.

With that out of the way, you'll give two cross country solo endorsements - one on the student pilot certificate, and one in the logbook. But first, check to make sure the student has the endorsements required by FAR 61.87:

  • A make and model endorsement on the student pilot certificate, and
  • A make and model endorsement in the logbook that was issued within 90 days.

Next, you'll endorse the student pilot certificate for the aircraft category (FAR 61.93 (c) (1)) All you need to to is date, sign and enter your certificate details. This endorsement is good forever - even if the student pilot certificate expires.

Student Pilot Solo Cross-Country Endorsement

Finally, you'll endorse your student's logbook for the appropriate make and model (FAR 61.93 (c) (2) (i)). This endorsement is also good forever. Here's the FAA's example from AC 61-65E:

I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received the required solo cross-country training. I find he/she has met the applicable requirements of FAR 61.93, and is proficient to make solo cross-country flights in a (make and model aircraft).
/s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-15

What can your student do with these endorsements? Nothing. But, they let you issue one of the next two endorsements, which lets your student land outside of a 25 NM radius from your home airport.

Repeated Flights To Another Airport Within 50 NM

This sounds a lot like the first endorsement we covered - repeated flights to an airport within 25 NM. It is - and it's covered by FAR 61.93 (b)(2).

Before your student can make repeated trips to another airport farther than 25 NM, but within 50 NM, you need to give them training on:

  • Both directions over the route,
  • Entering and exiting the traffic pattern, and
  • Takeoffs and landings at the other airport.

Just like before, they need to demonstrate proficiency on these maneuvers. Once that's done, you'll check to make sure they have:

  • A make and model endorsement on their student pilot certificate (FAR 61.87),
  • A make and model endorsement in their logbook that was issued within 90 days (FAR 61.87),
  • A cross country category endorsement on their student pilot certificate (FAR 61.93), and
  • A cross country make and model endorsement in their logbook (FAR 61.93)

Then, you'll endorse them to make repeated solo flights to the airport. This endorsement also lasts forever. Here's an example from AC 61-65E:

I certify that (First name, MI, Last name) has received the required training in both directions between and at both (airport names). I have determined that he/she is proficient of FAR 61.93(b)(2) to conduct repeated solo cross-country flights over that route, subject to the following conditions: (List any applicable conditions or limitations.)
/s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-05

Once you've given this endorsement, and as long as your student has a current 90-day make and model solo endorsement, they can take this flight.

The Traditional Cross Country Route Endorsement

What about the traditional solo cross country route flight? Here it is.

Each of the endorsements I've covered up till now require you to fly with the student. This one's different - you only need to review the student's planning.

Once a student has received their initial cross country endorsements, FAR 61.93 (c)(2)(iii) covers the endorsement required for a one-time cross country flight. But, before you give it, you need to meet the requirements of 61.93 (d). (This is why endorsements can be confusing - the requirements are all out of order.)

First - before anything else - check the student's pre-requisite endorsements:

  • A make and model endorsement on the student pilot certificate (61.87),
  • A make and model endorsement in the logbook that was given within 90 days preceding the cross country flight (61.87),
  • A cross country category endorsement on the student pilot certificate (61.93), and
  • A cross country make and model endorsement in the logbook.

Check these first - because if any of them are missing, or the 90 day endorsement has expired, the student can't take the cross country trip.

If the endorsements are there, then you need to:

  • Check the student's preflight planning and determine that it's correct,
  • Check the current and forecast weather conditions and determine the flight can be made under VFR,
  • Determine that the student is proficient to conduct the flight safely.

You don't need to fly with the student - but you need to carefully review the planning and weather. Make sure that the weather doesn't break any limitations that have been placed on the student's solo endorsements.

If the student's ready to go, give them this endorsement from AC 61-65E:

I have reviewed the cross-country planning of (First name, MI, Last name). I find the planning and preparation to be correct to make the solo flight from (location) to (destination) via (route of flight) with landings at (name the airports) in a (make and model aircraft) on (date). (List any applicable conditions or limitations.)
/s/ [date] J. J. Jones 987654321CFI Exp. 12-31-15

Summing It Up

It sounds complicated, but it's not as bad as it seems.

For any flight, your student needs a make and model endorsement on the student pilot certificate (good forever), plus a make and model endorsement in the logbook that was issued within the last 90 days.

To make repeated flights to another airport within 25 NM, your student also needs an endorsement for that airport.

To make flights beyond 25 NM, your student needs a cross country category endorsement on the student pilot certificate, and a cross country endorsement for the make and model in the logbook. These are good forever.

To make repeated flights to an airport beyond 25 NM but within 50 NM, your student also needs a logbook endorsement for that airport. This also lasts forever.

To take a one-time cross country (at any distance), your student needs an endorsement for that route. This can only be used once.

Weird Endorsements - Class B and Night Flights

Next week I'll cover the last two solo endorsements - night operations and flights into Class B airspace.

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