Logging Cross-Country Time

Logging Cross-Country Time

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:

  1. To meet the requirements (except rotorcraft and powered parachute category rating) for a private certificate, a commercial certificate, instrument rating, or for the purposes of exercising recreational pilot privileges (except in a rotorcraft) under 61.101(c), cross-country time requires a point of landing that is more than 50 nm straight-line distance from the original point of departure. 14 CFR 61.1(b)(3)(ii)
  2. To meet the requirements for any pilot certificate with a rotorcraft category rating or the instrument-helicopter rating, or for the purpose of exercising recreational pilot privileges in a rotorcraft under 61.101(c), cross-country time requires a point of landing that is more than 25 nm straight-line distance from the original point of departure. 14 CFR 61.1(b)(3)(v)
  3. To meet the requirements for a sport pilot certificate (except for powered parachute privileges), cross-country time requires a point of landing that is more than 25 nm straight-line distance from the original point of departure. 14 CFR 61.1(b)(3)(iii)
  4. To meet the requirements for a sport pilot certificate with powered parachute privileges or a private pilot certificate with a powered parachute category rating, cross-country time requires a point of landing that is more than 15 nm straight-line distance from the original point of departure. 14 CFR 61.1(b)(3)(iv)
  5. To meet the requirements for the ATP certificate, cross-country time is more than 50 nm straight-line distance from the original point of departure with no requirement for a landing. 14 CFR 61.1(b)(3)(vi)
  6. For a military pilot who qualifies for a commercial pilot certificate (except with a rotorcraft category rating) under 61.73, cross-country time is more than 50 nm straight-line distance from the original point of departure with no landing requirement. 14 CFR 61.1(b)(3)(vii)

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.