Pilot A wants to accompany Pilot B on a cross-country flight in a single-engine, high-performance aircraft. Pilot A is rated for the airplane but does not have a current medical, high-performance endorsement, or current flight review. Pilot A will be practicing simulated instrument flying, wearing a view-limited device, and will be sole manipulator of the controls during the en route portion of the flight. Pilot B meets all the requirements to be PIC and has agreed to be PIC and safety pilot during the flight.
Under these circumstances, Pilot A may log PIC time and simulated instrument time; Pilot B may log PIC time but not instrument time, because he/she is not operating the aircraft by reference to instruments (FAR 61.51).
Pilot A wishes to fly with Pilot B on a cross-country flight in a single-engine, high-performance aircraft. Pilot A is rated for the aircraft but is not instrument rated or endorsed to fly high-performance aircraft and does not have a current medical certificate or flight review. Pilot A will be flying by reference to instruments during actual instrument conditions. Pilot B is legal to act as PIC and has agreed to be the PIC. Under these circumstances, Pilot A may log PIC and actual instrument time (although Pilot A should be prepared to explain to an FAA inspector why PIC time was logged while in actual instrument conditions, when he/she was not instrument rated). Pilot B cannot log PIC as he/she is not the sole manipulator of the flight controls and cannot log instrument time because he/she was not flying the aircraft by reference to instruments (Far 61.51).
Pilot A wishes to fly with Pilot B for the purpose of practicing instrument flying in a high-performance aircraft. Pilot A may legally act as PIC and has agreed to act as PIC. Pilot A will be wearing a view-limiting device and will be flying by reference to instruments. Pilot B is rated in the aircraft and has a current medical certificate but is not instrument rated, endorsed to fly high-performance airplanes, or have a current flight review. Pilot B has agreed to be the safety pilot for the flight.
Pilot A may log PIC and simulated instrument time. Pilot B may log second-in-command (SIC) time. Pilot A is assuming PIC responsibilities and may log PIC. Pilot B is a crewmember where more than one pilot is required and may log SIC (FAR 61.51). Again, because Pilot B is a required crewmember, he/she will need a current medical certificate (FAR 61.3).
Flight instructors may log any flight time as PIC whenever they are providing flight instruction, whether or not they are acting as PIC (FAR 61.51). This mainly applies to FAR Part 91 operations! An instructor may not give flight instruction during a FAR 135 or 121 operation unless he/she is a designated flight instructor as stated in the carrier's approved operations manual.
Another popular question that arises in discussion is whether or not a student pilot may log PIC time. As per FAR 61.51 (e)(4), a student pilot may log PIC when they are the sole occupant of the aircraft and have a current solo flight endorsement. This is a part of the August 4, 1997, Part 61 rewrite and is a change from past regulations.
What happens when a student pilot is taking a checkride for his/her private, recreational, or sport pilot certificate, or a pilot is upgrading to a higher rating or privilege? By FAR 61.47, the examiner is not PIC. The student pilot or pilot at this time is now considered a flight test applicant and may log the flight evaluation as PIC, whether or not he/she passes.
A special note to "time builders": Although the FAA provides several means to log PIC time, PIC time represents flying or instructional experience and sound decision making ability. Commercial employers might not be impressed with hundreds of hours logged as PIC where the pilot was not actually flying.
This document has been prepared from various reference to FARs and letters of interpretation from the FAA.