Getting a Canadian pilot’s licence [Part 6: Extra Endorsements]

_This is a guest post written by my good friend PC (Papa Charlie in the NATO phonetic vocabulary). He is currently finishing the Seneca College Flight Program Degree.
Make sure to read the previous posts in the series to get the whole picture about what it takes to get a Canadian Pilot’s Licence:


    • *With a private pilot licence in hand, you can add ratings or endorsements to it, expanding the number of aircraft you can fly and the time of day and weather conditions in which you can operate those aircraft. I will tell you about some optional ratings you can get to expand your flying skills. The ratings I’ll mainly discuss are:</p>

    • Aeroplane class/type ratings
    • Night
    • VFR Over The Top (VFR OTT)
    • Instrument

Aeroplane Class/Type Ratings

Most private pilots are endorsed to fly single-engined land aeroplanes, but why stop there? What about flying a multi-engined seaplane? Eh, eh?! For this you will need to upgrade your aircraft class endorsement. There are two kinds of aircraft classes that dictate which surface you can takeoff and land on: seaplanes and landplanes. In addition to this, there are 3 kinds of aircraft classes with different engine layouts: single-engine, multi-engine and multi-engine centre line thrust.

Since takeoff, landing and aircraft handling on water is quite different to that on land, it has its own class rating. For a seaplane rating you need 7 hours of seaplane training, including: 5 hrs dual instruction and a minimum of 5 takeoffs and landings as sole occupant (or PIC for 2-crew planes). You also need to focus on specific exercises like taxiing, sailing, docking, takeoffs, landings, operation on glassy & rough water as well as during crosswind conditions. After you have these requirements, you need to take a flight test. If you got your PPL on a seaplane, you will need the following to get a landplane rating: 3 hrs landplane training, including 2 hrs dual instruction and a minimum of 5 takeoffs and landings while solo. You also need to have made sure to include taxiing, takeoffs and landings (also with crosswinds) during your training.

Single-engined aircraft generally are slow and simple to operate. Why not make things interesting by adding one or more engines. You can then get to places faster and maybe even fly further! Multi-engined aeroplanes are more complex to operate. One huge difference though, is that with two or more engines there is the possibility that you can have assymetric thrust if one fails. It is vital to be able to handle the aircraft under this assymetric thrust condition. For a multi-engine rating you need 10 hrs dual instruction and need to pass a flight test.

An example of a multi-engined centre line thrust airplane is the Cessna 336/337 seen below. The two engines are positioned to the front and back of the cockpit and while one pulls the other pushes. ~Danny

There are also aircraft type ratings where you can be endorsed to fly certain aircraft. You may want to do this to fly an aerobatic plane, a tail-dragger or if you want to operate balloons. The requirements for these vary and can be found in the CARs.

Night Rating

Being restricted to day flying can be inconvenient when flying close to sunrise or sunset. Night flying is rewarding in that you can potentially fly 24/7 and see the skylines of cities at night. In order to get a night rating on your licence, you need 10 hrs night flight time, including: 5 hrs dual (2 hrs of which should be dual cross-country time) and 5 hrs solo flight time (including at least 10 takeoffs, circuits and landings). In addition, you need 10 hrs dual instrument time (5 hrs of which can be instrument ground time – or in a simulator).

VFR Over The Top Rating

The weather beneath clouds can be horrible, but depending on the cloud layers it is usually bright and sunny above them. This can be inconvenient to a flight if a shallow layer of cloud lies over your track. To get around flying under the ceiling, you can exercise the privileges of a VFR OTT rating. VFR OTT ratings allow you to fly over cloud layers that may otherwise hinder a VFR pilot. Note that there are specific conditions that must occur at your destination airport and elsewhere to exercise this privilege. To get this rating, you must complete 15 hrs dual instrument time (5 hrs of which can be ground instrument time). The privileges of this rating can automatically be exercised by a holder of a Commercial Pilot Licence.

Instrument Rating

Most days, the weather can be considered good enough for VFR flight. In some cases though, it is not. To fly on these ‘bad weather days’, you need to fly in accordance with instrument flight rules and need an instrument rating. This rating is issued in four groups.

  • Group 1 – for all aircraft (flight test conducted in multi-engined aeroplane)
  • Group 2 – for multi-engined centre line thrust and single-engined aeroplanes (flight test conducted in MCLT aeroplane)
  • Group 3 – for single-engined aeroplanes (flight test conducted in single-engined aeroplane)
  • Group 4 – for helicopters (flight test conducted in helicopter)

To get one of these ratings, you need to pass the INRAT exam (70% or more). You also need a minimum of: 50 hrs of cross-country PIC flight time and 40 hrs instrument time of which 20 hrs can be instrument ground time. Most notably, the 40 instrument hrs should include a dual cross-country flight under simulated or actual IMC at least 100 nm long (including an instrument approach to minima at two different locations). You will also have to pass a flight test. Note that this rating has a period of validity and has to be renewed every two years.

I hope this has been helpful and I wish you the best of luck in your passion for flying. For the legal regulations, standards and wording regarding crew licences and ratings, visit CARs part 4. Papa Charlie out.