Sunday, October 6, 2019

"Total Time" and "Total Flight Time"

I have a confession to make.  I use the term "Total Time" liberally throughout MyFlightbook for the "bottom-line" time of a flight entry.  The problem is, that phrase is not really defined, and could be used by a given pilot to refer to either Pilot Time or Total Flight Time.

These are not quite the same thing.  Per 61.51(j), (in the US at least), Flight Time is in "an aircraft".  No training devices are listed here.  Pilot Time, on the other hand, is what contributes to total aeronautical experience (per 61.1(b)), and it is a superset of Flight Time and appropriate Sim time.

That is to say, if you have 100 hours in an actual flying machine aircraft, 20 hours in a certified level-D full-motion simulator, and 30 hours playing Microsoft Flight Simulator, then you properly have a Total Flight Time of 100 hours, and a total Pilot Time of 120 hours.

When MyFlightbook reports a "Total Time", it is a straight-line sum of that field (constrained by any search criteria you specify); it is not distinguishing sim time from real aircraft; it's not even excluding any time you logged there in uncertified sims like Microsoft Flight Sim.  (MyFlightbook does, however, separate these all out in the 8710 form) So if you log time in a sim in the "Total Time" field, you are adding to your Pilot Time, not to your Flight Time.

As I mentioned in a previous post regarding sims, my best advice here is to leave the "Total Time" field blank when not recording time in an actual flying machine; instead, put any sim time into the "Ground Sim" field (or ground instruction into the "Ground Instruction" property, using any aircraft you like).

So if it's a bad idea, then why do I allow people to put time into the "Total Time" field for sims?  Three reasons:
  • Some pilots are using this to count Pilot Time.  
  • Under other non-FAA regulatory environments, it can sometimes be counted towards flight time.
  • Many pilots do catch-up flights to carry-forward time from paper or other logbooks; as this would be a mix of sim and actual aircraft time, I allow people to mix these.

But there's a third reason people will log this: credit towards aeronautical experience.  For example, a requirement for an ATP rating (61.159) in the US is 1,500 hours of aeronautical experience.  But 61.159(a)(6) allows up to 100 hours of this 1,500 hours to be acquired in an appropriate training device, so many pilots view this as allowing them to "count" up to 100 hours in sims towards their total time.

If you do this, then you are following the "Pilot Time" rule - that's OK, but if someone asks you for your total Flight Time, you need to back out your sim time.

I think, however, that the "correct" (can I use "correct" and "I think" in the same sentence?  Sure, I'll allow it...) way to interpret the aeronautical experience requirement in 61.159 here is "The sum of your Flight Time and MIN(100, time in an FTD or FFS under appropriate rules) is at least 1,500 hours". 

MyFlightbook does know about this substitution and applies it to FTDs and FFSs (under the assumption that you're doing it under a part 121/135/141/142 training course) when reporting your progress towards the ATP rating, so it is not necessary to explicitly add total time for these sim sessions in order to receive credit.  And, in fact, to avoid double-counting, a given flight actually credits MAX(Ground Sim, Total Time), in case you logged both.

So I'll repeat my advice: to keep things clean, only log "Total Time" for flights that are in an actual aircraft.

1 comment:

  1. Great explanation! As a CFI, I wish more people understood this.