AOPA frequently receives inquiries regarding cross-country distances and landing requirements. Over the years, the regulations have changed. To assist our members, we have constructed an overall summary of the requirements that will be helpful.
By definition, cross-country time includes any flight conducted by a pilot in an aircraft that includes a landing at a point other than the point of departure that includes the use of dead reckoning, pilotage, electronic navigation aids, radio aids, or other navigation systems to navigate to the landing point. Reference: 14 CFR 61.1(b)(3)(i).
TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL CLARIFICATIONS to the general definition above, the following situations have higher requirements:
AOPA recommends that you log all cross-country hours under the basic cross-country column and then add the distance and landing information under the notes or remarks column alongside. This will enable the pilot to correctly provide his or her cross-country hours depending on the question asked, the situation presented, or the certificate or rating sought.
Pilots may think that they would only need to account for cross-country hours that can be used to meet certificate requirements. This is true from a strict FAA legal point of view; a pilot only has to prove those hours used for certificate requirement and the various currency requirements. We have seen pilots sell themselves short, however, when asked for cross-country time on an airline job application, an insurance renewal form, or the cross-country requirements for a Part 135 pilot in command under 14 CFR 135.243(b) and (c), all of which were looking for total cross-country time.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.