Complex airplane

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A Mooney M20J, an example of a complex airplane.

A complex airplane is defined by the United States Federal Aviation Administration as an aircraft that has all of the following:

The current FAA definitions of "Complex Airplane", either from the Airplane Flying Handbook FAA-H-8083-3B Chapter 11 or from FAA Order 8900.2C, require the airplane to have a propeller. This means that essentially no turbojet and turbofan airplanes (the only exception would be very rare mixed-propulsion airplanes) are "complex" per the FAA definition.

In the US, students generally train for their first pilot certificate in an aircraft with fixed landing gear and a fixed-pitch propeller. It may or may not be equipped with flaps.

Before or after earning the private pilot certificate (PPL) (usually after), a pilot can be trained in complex aircraft operation by a flight instructor. When the pilot has demonstrated proficiency in complex aircraft, the flight instructor endorses the pilot's logbook and the pilot is said to have a "complex endorsement".

As of April 24, 2018 the FAA requires a commercial pilot applicant and CFI applicant to have experience in a complex aircraft; however, the practical test may be taken in a non-complex aircraft for the commercial pilot certificate (CPL) and the flight instructor certificate (CFI).