Federal aviation regulations require pilots to have a high-performance airplane endorsement in order to act as pilot-in-command (PIC) of a high-performance airplane. Any airplane with an engine of more than 200 horsepower is considered “high-performance.” An airplane with a 200-horsepower engine does not qualify. On a multiengine airplane, the engines are evaluated individually (horsepower ratings are not added together).

This one-time logbook endorsement can be earned through ground and flight training. The FAA does not require a special checkride or knowledge test to earn the endorsement. A flight instructor gives you the endorsement after you have received training and have been found proficient. Note: Pilots who logged PIC time in high-performance airplanes prior to 8/4/97 don’t require the endorsement.

High-Performance Endorsement Ground Training

Ground instruction for the high-performance endorsement is focused on aircraft systems and best practices for flying high-performance aircraft. Pilots will learn about the additional planning, judgment, and skills required to operate these aircraft. Special emphasis will be placed on calculating performance and weight & balance. Aeromedical factors and high altitude operations will be reviewed.

High-Performance Endorsement Flight Training

High-performance flight training helps a pilot transition to an aircraft that has faster operating speeds, better climb rates, improved takeoff and landing performance, and more complicated systems than the pilot is used to. Pilots will become familiar with the handling characteristics and operating procedures for the high-performance airplane. Training is designed to teach the pilot how to “stay ahead of the airplane” in all phases of flight.

The FAA does not specify a time requirement to earn the high-performance endorsement. Sometimes insurance companies set minimum flight time requirements in order to act as PIC of a high-performance airplane (but not to receive the endorsement itself).

High-performance aircraft training takes an average of 5 – 10 flight hours depending on a candidate’s flight experience and the type of aircraft used. High-performance training may be combined with complex airplane training if the aircraft meets both definitions.