The commercial checkride is in many respects just a private checkride with higher standards. The Oral portion of the ACS is essentially identical for both except that the commercial ACS asks about risk management, and skills associated with operating as pilot-in-command (PIC) as a commercial pilot.—rather than as a private pilot—in the Pilot Qualifications section. And the answers to the Privileges and Limitations section will be different. The maneuvers in IV. Takeoffs, Landings, and Go-Arounds are even the same but with different tolerances. For example, on takeoff a commercial applicant is expected to maintain VY ±5 knots to a safe maneuvering altitude whereas a private pilot can be within +10 and -5 knots of VY.
There are a few differences in the maneuvers. Both are required to perform VII. Slow Flight and Stalls The private pilot requires a forward slip to a landing and the commercial does not. Steep turns have the same tolerances except that the commercial pilot does the maneuver at 50° and private is at 45°. Where the two diverge is in the ground reference maneuvers.
The private pilot needs to fly rectangular course, S-turns, and turns around a point. The commercial pilot is expected to demonstrate power-off 180° approach and landing. The commercial pilot flies a steep spiral, chandelles, lazy eights, and eights on pylons.
The navigation sections are identical except that the commercial pilot is expected to fly within 100′ of the assigned altitude and the private pilot gets 200′.
The private pilot is only required to have three hours of instrument training and is tested on basic instrument maneuvers so that they can safely get out of inadvertent flight into IMC. Most commercial applicants will have an instrument rating and have an additional 10 hours of instrument training so aren’t tested on this. The private pilot is also tested on night operations and because the commercial requirements specify five hours of solo night flight, they are not tested on night operations.
They will however, most likely be flying at higher altitudes, so they are tested on High Altitude Operations.
The emergency and post flight operations are also identical.
From each applicable Task the applicant will be tested on:
• at least one knowledge element;
• at least one risk management element;
• all skill elements; and
• any Task elements in which the applicant was shown to be deficient on the knowledge test.
Unless otherwise noted in the Task, the evaluator must test each item in the skills section by asking the applicant to perform each one.