Private Pilot

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A different view - Somerset Levels - Courtesy Mike Cronk

After looking at the various options and requirements for a career as a pilot, perhaps you’ve decided that it isn’t for you. There are many other aviation careers you may be interested in instead, for example in Air Traffic Control, engineering, as cabin crew, airport and aircraft handling or airline operations.

However you may still want to experience the freedom and excitement of flying an aircraft as a recreational pilot. There are a number of ways you can achieve this.

One option is to train for a Private Pilot’s Licence on your chosen light aeroplane, helicopter or microlight. Details of the main licences, PPL, LAPL or NPPL can be found below. As a licence holder you may share the experience with family & friends by taking them on a flight with you at the controls (although you must not receive payment). If this appeals to you then your next step should be to visit your local flying school or flying club at a nearby airfield to arrange a “Trial Lesson”. PPL training will require at least 45 hours of flying and will cost around £8,500. Once you have your licence you can hire club aircraft for approximately £120 per hour. Contact you’re the local flying school at your nearest airfield for further details.

Inbound to Caernarfon - Courtesy Mike Cronk
Courtesy The Air League

Another exciting branch of aviation is gliding, where you can learn to soar without an engine on thermals and air rising over hills. Gliding clubs are dotted across the country and provide a sociable and alternative way to learn to fly. For many pilots this has been the first step before progressing onto powered aeroplanes. Most clubs offer instruction and some opportunities to be fly the aero-tow aircraft. Alternatively you can use an engine to get you into the air if you fly in a motorglider. Contact your local club for a “Trial Lesson” and for further information visit the British Gliding Association (BGA) at www.gliding.co.uk.

If you’d like an even more natural flying experience why not try Hang-gliding or Para-gliding. Clubs can be found at popular hills & slopes in the UK and more details are at the British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association at www.bhpa.co.uk.

Perhaps drifting on the breeze in a hot air balloon or flying an airship or blimp is for you. Further details can be found at the British Balloon & Airship Club (BBAC) at www.bbac.org.

Courtesy of Bristol Balloons
Courtesy AOPA/Alon Marsh

There are of course other forms of recreational aviation that you may want to experience. The British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) at www.bmaa.org can give you more details about these lightweight aircraft. To fly a gyroplane try contacting the British Rotorcraft Association (BRA) at www.gyroflight.co.uk. Fancy jumping out of an aircraft and parachuting to the ground? Perhaps you’d rather fly the aircraft that they jump out of? Try the British Parachute Association www.bpa.org.uk.

If you have a disability, experiencing the excitement of piloting your own aircraft or achieving a pilot’s licence is certainly possible. Contact Aeromobility (www.bdfa.net), the APT Charitable Trust (www.disabledflying.org.uk) or Freedom in the Air (www.freedomintheair.org) for further information.

Sponsorships

There may be sponsorships available to help you fund some of the cost of your flying training, perhaps even a full licence. For further details try our sponsorships page.

Aeroplane (A) Licences

PPL(A)

EASA Private Pilot Licence (Aeroplanes)

Summary

An EASA licence allowing you to fly, but not for remuneration. Typically used for light aircraft (eg a flying club Cessna/Piper) and you may carry passengers.

Privileges

  • Act without remuneration as Pilot in Command (PIC) or Co-pilot on any aeroplane [on the licence] engaged on non-commercial flights
  • Day only
  • ICAO VFR minima – typically 5km (1.5km possible) & clear of cloud, but it does vary with airspace and altitude

You must be…

  • Aged 17, although may start training earlier
  • EASA Part-MED Class 1 or 2 Medical

Training requirements

Total Flight Time≥ 45 hours
Dual Instruction≥ 25 hours
Solo≥ 10 hours
Ground Exams9 multiple choice exams
Flight TestsPPL(A) Skills Test

Development

  • A minimum number of hours and take-off/landings are required in a 24-month period to keep the PPL(A) current.
  • Class/Type Rating – to fly other aircraft types, eg multi-engine.
  • Night Rating – to act as PIC at night, after 5 hours of night training.
  • Flying Instructor (FI) Rating – to instruct up to LAPL/PPL level & you may receive remuneration.
  • Instrument Rating (IR) – to fly as PIC/Co-pilot under IFR, i.e in cloud or in controlled airspace. Require a Night Rating before training course.
  • Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) once ≥ 150 hours for a CPL Modular Course.

LAPL(A)

EASA Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (Aeroplanes)

Summary

An EASA licence which permits the holder to fly for leisure within Europe, but not for remuneration. Typically used for light aircraft (eg a flying club Cessna/Piper) and you may carry passengers. It is more restrictive than a PPL(A).

Privileges

  • Act without remuneration as Pilot in Command (PIC) on any aeroplane [on the licence] engaged on non-commercial flights
  • Aeroplanes restricted to SEP or TMG, maximum take-off mass of 2000kg or less and a maximum of 3 passengers (4 persons on board).
  • May only carry passengers after 10 hours PIC after licence issue.
  • Day only
  • ICAO VFR minima – typically 5km (1.5km possible) & clear of cloud, but it does vary with airspace and altitude.

You must be…

  • Aged 17, although may start training earlier
  • EASA Part-MED Class 1 or 2 Medical or LAPL Medical Certificate

Training requirements

Total Flight Time≥ 30 hours
Dual Instruction≥ 15 hours
Solo≥ 6 hours
Ground Exams9 multiple choice exams
Flight TestsLAPL(A) Skills Test

Development

  • A minimum number of hours and take-off/landings are required in a 24-month period to keep the LAPL(A) current.
  • Class/Type Rating – to fly other aircraft types.
  • Night Qualification – to act as PIC at night, after completing PPL basic instrument training and 5 hours of night training.
  • Private Pilots Licence (PPL) – ≥ 10 hours instruction & ≥ 4 hours solo.

NPPL(A) (SSEA/SLMG)

UK National Private Pilot Licence for Aeroplanes (SSEA/SLMG)

Summary

A UK licence which permits the holder to fly for leisure within the UK only and not for remuneration. It is more restrictive than a PPL(A) and allows you to fly a typical light aircraft (eg a flying club Cessna/Piper). If you haven’t upgraded to a LAPL(A) before April 2015 then you will be restricted to non-EASA aircraft.

Privileges

  • May fly as Pilot in Command (PIC) of any Simple Single Engine Aircraft (SSEA) or Self Launch Motor Glider (SLMG) for which a class rating is included on the licence
  • ≤4 persons on board, including the pilot
  • UK only, although other states possible with conditions
  • Day only
  • UK ANO VFR Limits
    • In sight of surface
    • Visibility outside controlled airspace ≥5km SSEA or ≥3km SLMG
    • Visibility inside controlled airspace ≥10km

You must be…

  • Aged 17, although may start training earlier.
  • NPPL medical declaration from a GP or an EASA Part-MED Class 1, Class 2 or LAPL Medical Certificate.

Training requirements

SSEA & SLMG Only

Total Flight Time≥ 32 hours
Dual Instruction≥ 22 hours
Solo≥ 10 hours
Ground Exams9 multiple choice exams as per PPL(A)
Flight TestsNavigation & General Skills Tests

Development

  • For more information visit www.aopa.co.uk for SSEA and www.gliding.co.uk for SLMG flying.
  • A minimum number of hours and take-off/landings are required in a 24-month period to keep the NPPL(A) current.
  • Microlight Class Rating
  • Flying Instructor (FI) Rating & may receive remuneration.
  • The UK NPPL(A) is not a valid licence for any EASA aircraft after April 2015.
  • EASA LAPL(A) – can upgrade if meet LAPL(A) requirements before April 2015.

Helicopter (H) licences

PPL (H)

EASA Private Pilot Licence (Helicopters)

Summary

An EASA licence allowing you to fly, but not for remuneration. Typically used for light helicopters (eg a flying club Robinson R22) and you may carry passengers.

Privileges

  • Act without remuneration as Pilot in Command (PIC) or Co-pilot on any helicopter [on the licence] engaged on non-commercial flights
  • Day only
  • ICAO VFR minima – typically 5km (1.5km possible) & clear of cloud, but it does vary with airspace and altitude.

You must be…

  • Aged 17, although may start training earlier
  • EASA Part-MED Class 1 or 2 Medical

Training requirements

Total Flight Time≥ 45 hours
Dual Instruction≥ 25 hours
Solo≥ 10 hours
Ground Exams9 multiple choice exams
Flight TestsPPL(H) Skills Test

Development

  • A minimum number of hours and take-off/landings are required in a 24-month period to keep the PPL(H) current.
  • Class/Type Rating – to fly other types, eg multi-engine.
  • Night Rating – to act as PIC at night, after 5 hours of night training
  • Flying Instructor (FI) Rating – to instruct up to LAPL/PPL level & you may receive remuneration.
  • Instrument Rating (IR) – to fly as PIC/Co-pilot under IFR, i.e in cloud or in controlled airspace. Require a Night Rating before training course.
  • Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) once ≥ 155 hours for a CPL Modular Course.

LAPL(H)

EASA Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (Helicopters)

Summary

An EASA licence which permits the holder to fly for leisure within Europe, but not for remuneration. Typically used for light helicopters (eg a flying club Robinson R22) and you may carry passengers. It is more restrictive than a PPL(H).

Privileges

  • Act without remuneration as Pilot in Command (PIC) on any helicopter [on the licence] engaged on non-commercial flights
  • Helicopters restricted to single engine, maximum take-off mass of 2000kg or less and a maximum of 3 passengers (4 persons on board).
  • Day only
  • ICAO VFR minima – typically 5km (1.5km possible) & clear of cloud, but it does vary with airspace and altitude.

You must be…

  • Aged 17, although may start training earlier
  • EASA Part-MED Class 1 or 2 Medical or LAPL Medical Certificate

Training requirements

Total Flight Time≥ 40 hours
Dual Instruction≥ 20 hours
Solo≥ 10 hours
Ground Exams9 multiple choice exams
Flight TestsLAPL(H) Skills Test

Development

  • A minimum number of hours and take-off/landings are required in a 24-month period to keep the LAPL(H) current.
  • Class/Type Rating – to fly other aircraft types.
  • Night Qualification – to act as PIC at night, after completing PPL basic instrument training and 5 hours of night training.
  • Private Pilots Licence (PPL) – ≥ 5 hours instruction & a solo cross country.

NPPL (H)

UK National Private Pilot Licence for Helicopters

Summary

This is a proposed UK licence which permits the holder to fly for leisure within the UK only and not for remuneration. It is more restrictive than a PPL(H) and allows you to fly a typical light helicopter (eg a flying club Robinson R22). Details are still being published, so you should contact the CAA for further information.

Privileges

  • Act without remuneration as Pilot in Command (PIC) on any helicopter [on the licence] engaged on non-commercial flights
  • Helicopters restricted to single engine, maximum take-off mass of 2000kg or less and a maximum of 3 passengers (4 persons on board).
  • UK only, although other states possible with conditions
  • Day only
  • UK ANO VFR Limits (TBC)
    • TBC
    • TBC
    • TBC

You must be…

  • Aged 17, although may start training earlier.
  • EASA Part-MED Class 1, Class 2 or LAPL Medical Certificate (note an NPPL medical declaration is not sufficient).

Training requirements

Total Flight Time≥ TBC
Dual Instruction≥ TBC
Solo≥ TBC
Ground Exams9 multiple choice exams as per PPL(H)
Flight TestsNavigation & General Skills Tests

Development

TBC

Airship & Balloon licences

 

For further information about flying a balloon, please visit the British Balloon & Airship Club (BBAC) at www.bbac.org.

Licences

  • EASA Balloon Pilot Licence – BPL
  • EASA Light Aircraft Pilot Licence for Balloons – LAPL(B)
  • EASA Private Pilot Licence for Airships – PPL(As)
  • EASA Commercial Pilot Licence for Airships – CPL(As)
  • UK PPL & CPL are available for Airships & Balloons

Gliders & Sailplanes licences

For further information about flying a glider, sailplane or motorglider, please visit the British Gliding Association (BGA) at www.gliding.co.uk.

Licences

  • EASA Sailplane Pilot Licence (SPL)
  • EASA Light Aircraft Pilot Licence for Sailplanes – LAPL(S)
  • EASA Light Aircraft Pilot Licence for Aeroplanes & Touring Motor Glider extension – LAPL(A) with TMG
  • UK National Private Pilots Licence for Aeroplanes – NPPL(A) SLMG

Microlight licences

For further information about flying a microlight, please visit the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA) at www.bmaa.org.

Licences

  • UK National Private Pilot Licence for Microlights – NPPL(A) Microlight

Gyroplane licences

For further information about flying a gyroplane, please visit the British Rotorcraft Association (BRA) at www.gyroflight.co.uk.

Licences

  • UK Private Pilot Licence for Gyroplanes – UK PPL(G)

Interested in finding out more?

Please contact us for more information