Garg Aviation

single engine aircraft vs multi engine aircraft

Single Engine vs Multi Engine Plane: Making the Right Choice

A single-engine rating allows a pilot to fly aircraft with only one engine, which includes traditional and modern aircrafts such as Cessna 152, Cessna 172 to name a few.

A multi-engine rating, on the other hand, allows a pilot to fly more complex aircraft with more than one engine, such as jets, turboprops and some larger business aircraft. Therefore, obtaining a single-engine rating is usually considered a prerequisite for obtaining a multi-engine rating.

What is a Single Engine Aircraft?

A single engine aircraft is a type of airplane that features only one engine to power its flight. This is in contrast to multi-engine aircraft that have two or more engines. Single engine aircraft are typically smaller and less powerful than multi-engine aircraft, and are often used for personal or recreational purposes such as sightseeing, training, and aerial photography. They are also commonly used for short distance transportation and cargo delivery in some regions. Single engine aircraft come in a variety of designs, including fixed-wing planes, helicopters, and gliders.


1. Cost

Single-engine aircraft are cheaper to purchase and maintain than their multi-engine counterparts. A single engine means fewer parts and less complexity, which translates into less maintenance and lower costs overall.

2. Fuel efficiency

Single-engine aircraft consume less fuel than multi-engine aircraft, making them more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly.

3. Simplicity

Single-engine aircraft are simpler to fly and require less training than multi-engine aircraft. Operators can focus on flying and not have to worry about managing multiple engines and systems simultaneously.

4. Availability

Single-engine aircraft are widely available and can operate from smaller airfields and runways, making them more accessible to operators in remote or rural areas.

5. Performance

Single-engine aircraft are also more maneuverable and agile, making them ideal for recreational flying, sightseeing, and aerial photography.

What is a Multi Engine Aircraft?

A multi-engine aircraft is a type of aircraft that is powered by more than one engine. These engines are usually located on the wings of the aircraft and work together to provide power and stability during flight. Multi-engine aircraft are used in commercial and military aviation and are often employed for long-haul flights or missions that require additional power and redundancy for safety. Some examples of multi-engine aircraft include passenger airliners, cargo planes, and military transport aircraft.


1. Safety

The primary benefit of a multi-engine aircraft is increased safety. If one engine fails, the remaining engine(s) can still provide enough power to keep the aircraft in the air and enable the pilot to land safely.

2. Greater power

Multi-engine aircraft generally have greater power, which enables them to fly higher and faster than single-engine aircraft.

3. Enhanced reliability

Multi-engine aircraft have redundant systems, which means that if one system fails, there are alternative systems in place to take over.

4. Reduced operating costs

Despite the higher initial cost, multi-engine aircraft can be more cost-effective in the long run. They are more fuel-efficient and require less maintenance than single-engine aircraft.

5. Increased accessibility

Multi-engine aircraft can operate from a wider range of airports, including those with shorter runways or those located in rugged terrain. This makes them ideal for use in remote areas.

Multi Engine vs Single Engine quick comparison

Single Engine

  • Simpler to operate and maintain
  • Less expensive to purchase and maintain
  • Slower in speed and lower in altitude
  • Limited payload capacity
  • Limited range
  • Reduced safety margin in case of engine failure


  • Higher speed and altitude capability
  • Greater payload capacity
  • Longer range
  • Increased redundancy
  • Improved safety margin in case of engine failure
  • More complex to operate and maintain
  • More expensive to purchase and maintain

Difference between Twin Engine and Single Engine Aircraft

Twin-engine aircraft have two engines, while single-engine aircraft have only one engine. This is the key difference between the two types of aircraft. However, there are several other differences between twin-engine and single-engine aircraft that are worth discussing.

1. Flight characteristics

The behavior of an aircraft during flight, including its stability, maneuverability, and control.

Single Engine Rating

Takeoff, Climbing, Cruise, Manoeuvring, Landing, etc.

Multi Engine Rating

Takeoff, Cruise, Maneuverabilty, Landing, Engine failure, etc.

2. Performance and Speed

The ability of an aircraft to fly efficiently, quickly, and to reach specific performance metrics such as altitude, rate of climb, and cruising speed.

Single Engine Rating

It depends on various factors like model, altitude, temperature weight and weather conditions.

Multi Engine Rating

Multi engine aircraft usually have a higher performance and faster speed than single engine aircraft due to their ability to generate more power and lift.

3. Safety and Redundancy

The use of redundant systems and safety features to ensure the safe operation of an aircraft and prevent accidents.

Single Engine Rating

Modern and traditional aircrafts are very safe to fly with very lower case of accidents and incidents in the past and present.

Multi Engine Rating

Multi engine aircrafts are very reliable as in case of an engine failing, a pilot is trained to land the aircraft safely with the other operable engine.

4. Training

The education and instruction necessary to become a licensed pilot, including ground school, flight training, and ongoing education and certification.

Single Engine Rating

Training in India, is provided where a pilot is trained for different exercises as day flying, night flying, instrument flying, cross country flights, etc.

Multi Engine Rating

Apart from the above, a trainee will be taught asymmetric, abnormal and different other procedures.

5. Complexity

The level of technical sophistication and complexity involved in the design, operation, and maintenance of an aircraft.

Single Engine Rating

Getting a single engine aircraft rating is a significant achievement for any pilot, and it requires dedication, hardwork and commitment.

Multi Engine Rating

It is an additional certification for pilots who have already earned a private or commercial pilot’s license. It demands a higher level of precision and control that pilots must master.

6. Job Opportunity

The range of career opportunities available in the aviation industry, including pilots, mechanics, air traffic controllers, and other aviation-related professions.

Single Engine Rating

If a single engine rating is obtained, the pilot can pursue a career as a flight instructor in a flying school and pass the knowledge to aspiring pilots or become an airline pilot in a commercial airline.

Multi Engine Rating

There are various opportunities with a multi engine rating. Apart from flying commercially for an airline, one can lookout for job opportunity as a private pilot.

Frequently Asked Questions


1. Is a multi-engine rating difficult to obtain than a single-engine rating?

Obtaining a multi-engine rating can be more challenging than obtaining a single-engine rating. Multi-engine pilot training and certification require a higher level of knowledge, skill, and overall competency. Handling an aircraft with two engines during normal or emergency situations takes a lot of practice, which adds an extra level of difficulty to the certification process. However, both certifications require proper training, dedication, and effort to obtain.

2. Are there any additional costs associated with obtaining a multi-engine rating?

There are additional costs associated with obtaining a multi-engine rating. These costs may include the rental cost of a multi-engine aircraft, fuel costs, instructor fees, and examination fees. Additionally, some flight schools may require additional ground school or simulator training, which may also incur additional costs. It’s important to consult with a flight school or instructor to determine the specific costs associated with obtaining a multi-engine rating.

3. Can a pilot with a single engine rating fly a multi engine aircraft?

No, a pilot with a single engine rating cannot fly a multi engine aircraft.

4. How many hours of flying training are required for a multi engine rating compared to a single engine rating?

According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), pilots training for a multi-engine rating must complete a minimum of 15 hours of flight training in a multi-engine aircraft, including 3 instrument training, General flying (day & night) checks. However, keep in mind that these are minimum requirements, and the actual number of hours required for training will depend on the individual’s skill level and progress.

5. Are there any limitations on a single engine rated pilot compared to a multi engine rated pilot?

A single engine rated pilot is only allowed to fly aircraft with one engine, while a multi-engine rated pilot can fly aircraft with two or more engines. This means that a single engine rated pilot is limited in the types of aircraft they can fly.

Additionally, multi-engine rated pilots usually have more advanced training and experience, which makes them more versatile and qualified to handle more challenging situations. This could include flying in adverse weather conditions or flying larger, more complex aircraft.

Overall, while there are limitations to being a single engine rated pilot, it is still a valuable certification and can provide opportunities for pilots to gain experience, build their skills, and potentially advance to become multi-engine rated in the future.

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