How to Earn a Multi-Engine Rating as a Pilot

If you want to fly higher, farther, and faster, you'll want to earn a multi-engine rating. The multi-engine rating is also a necessary step for any professional pilot who wants a career at one of the airlines.

An applicant for a multi-engine rating is typically already a private or commercial pilot. Rarely, a student pilot will choose to obtain a private pilot certificate in a multi-engine aircraft.

There is a common misconception that a multi-engine aircraft is always safer than a single-engine airplane. In most cases, that's true, but some twin-engine aircraft can be challenging to control when one engine fails. The multi-engine rating, therefore, focuses a lot of attention on aircraft control, performance, and single-engine operations in addition to the usual training topics.

Beyond systems, controllability, and performance, obtaining a multi-engine rating is pretty simple. While it is more costly to train in a twin-engine aircraft, the training is necessary for a professional pilot and important for the aircraft owner who wants to be able to gain in performance, payload, passenger ​space, and speed.

01
Eligibility

Multi-Engine Airplane
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If you've already earned a private or commercial pilot certificate, you'll just need to obtain the necessary training required for a multi-engine rating, as outlined in the Federal Aviation Regulations. If you're applying for a private pilot certificate in a multi-engine aircraft, then normal private pilot applicant requirements apply. That means you will need to be able to read, speak, write, and understand English; be at least 17 years of age; have an FAA medical certificate; and be able to perform basic math.

02
No Knowledge Exam Required

Person filling out answer sheet
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There is no FAA written exam for a multi-engine add-on rating; you'll need to have acquired multi-engine knowledge (performance, aerodynamics, single-engine performance, emergency operations, etc.) only for your practical test, or checkride. If you're a private pilot applicant in a multi-engine aircraft, you'll have to pass the private pilot FAA knowledge exam. ​The exam is 60 questions, and applicants are given two-and-a-half hours to complete it. You need a 70 percent score or better to pass.

03
Flight Training

Pilot and co-pilot checking instruments in cockpit of plane
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To obtain a multi-engine add-on rating under Code of Federal Regulations Part 61, you'll need to be trained on the aircraft's performance and limitations, aircraft systems, performance maneuvers, single-engine operations, spin awareness, emergency operations, and instrument approaches (single engine) if applicable. There are no additional flying-hour requirements on top of the private pilot or commercial pilot certificate except you must have at least three hours in a multi-engine aircraft prior to taking the checkride.

04
The Checkride

Pilot in cockpit
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After you've demonstrated proficiency in a multi-engine aircraft, you should be ready for your checkride. You'll need to be skilled at flying a twin-engine aircraft with one engine failed, and you'll practice that scenario in many different times during a flight: takeoff, landing, maneuvering, during an instrument approach, etc. Since you'll have taken checkrides before, you probably know what to expect: a couple of hours of groundwork for the verbal portion of the exam and a flight. You'll have to respond properly in the many different single-engine scenarios. And don't forget to have your paperwork in order, including you pilot certificate and medical certificate, and to bring the examiner's fee.