Every 2 years, everybody who has an active pilot license has to undergo something known as a flight review to keep their current license active.
Just like everything else that surrounds obtaining a pilot's license, the review does cost money, but it is something that you need to do to keep your license active.
If you do not do the review, your license does not become revoked, but you will not be able to pilot a plane/helicopter again until you have completed the review.
The flight review is incredibly important as it allows the FAA to ensure that all pilots are still up to date with procedures and that they are still safe to take charge of an aircraft.
It is the FAA’s way of monitoring everybody who has a pilot license and looking for potential risks that could end up being disastrous.
Those who complete a flight review do not necessarily pass or fail, this is why pilot licenses do not really expire, it is just a way to monitor the experience and practices of those with pilot licenses.
Do flight hours expire?
No, flight hours do not expire. As long as your flight hours are listed in your logbook and signed off by an instructor then you do not need to worry about losing the hours of experience that you have gathered.
Flight hours are incredibly important when it comes to getting jobs in the aviation industry, so it is important that you always get your hours signed off by an instructor to make them valid.
That being said, while flight hours do not expire, there are some time limits you might encounter when getting flight experience.
Some regulatory qualifications and requirements mean that you need to complete a certain amount of hours within a fixed period of time.
These hours do not expire, but if you fail to complete the required amount of hours within the fixed time then this could impact whether they can count towards your active flight hours.
But generally speaking, no, flight hours do not expire. Every time that you pilot a plane or helicopter then you are actively gaining experience, in terms of hours, and these will last for your whole life.
Does an instrument rating expire?
Unlike flight hours, an instrument rating does expire. In fact, it only has a very small period in which the rating is active because after 12 months it expires.
This applies to the first issue of an instrument rating and also to revalidations. So you will have to get your instrument rating revalidated every 12 months.
To be able to obtain an instrument rating in the first place then you will have to achieve at least 50 hours (preferably more) of cross-country flight time.
You will also have to do at least 10 of these hours in an airplane if you want to get an instrument rating.
If you have done this, you can get an instrument rating which you can then renew every year to ensure your flight abilities are kept up to date and that you can pilot planes to the absolute best of your ability.
If you want to work as a commercial pilot and have the money behind you then it is always a good idea to get an instrument rating behind you.
But ensure you have the finances to support this as you will have to renew the rating every 12 months in order to keep it active.
How often does a private pilot have to fly to stay current?
In order to keep on top of your flight experience and piloting knowledge then you should keep up your hours.
Generally speaking, to stay current a private pilot should aim to fly for at least 4-8 hours a month. If you do not achieve this then your piloting skills can begin to suffer.
If you have a pilot license and use it to fly privately then you should aim to complete a flight that lasts between 1-3 hours at least once every two weeks.
This will allow you to build up your flight hours, and it will also ensure that you brush up on your skills regularly, and that you do not forget any of the important things you need to know when it comes to flying.
As well as flying regularly to stay current, you should also undergo a physical exam regularly to stay current.
This physical exam will allow you to get a third-class medical certificate which you need in order to be able to pilot a plane. So it is important that you keep up your flight hours and complete these physical exams in order to stay current.