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Private Pilot Licence | or Private Pilot License?

Written by admin. Posted in Aviation General

Your choice of Private Pilot License depends on what you want to fly and where you want to fly, and ultimately whether you eventually want a career in aviation.


The question is which is the right one for you?

But before we start, I just want to get some spelling issues out of the way. So as to avoid being inundated with comments or emails regarding the fact that I did not spell licence correctly, I just want to point out that whilst this article is predominantly associated with UK general aviation I do not want our US friends to miss out and as such I may or may not use the US spelling also which is license. – There glad I got that one out of the way!

Anyway, once you have made the decision that you want to learn to fly, you can be rest assured of being in good company. In the UK there are approximately 25,000 PPL holders, and several thousand student pilots currently working towards one type of license or another.

Unlike driving a car, you can start to learn to fly at pretty much any age, although your flying instructor will no doubt have a say as to whether they feel you are suitable or not. The only age restrictions are that you must be at least 16 years old to fly solo and 17 to take your General Flying Test – the all-important final hurdle to getting your PPL.

One thing you will have to get used to whilst learning to fly is an over zealous use of acronyms: for example, a Private Pilot’s License is a PPL; General Aviation (the term that represents most leisure flying and small aircraft) is GA; and all pilots refer to that grand overseer of all things to do with aviation in the UK, the Civil Aviation Authority, as the CAA.

Referring back to the CAA, as stated this is the governing body that oversees all aviation in the UK, general and otherwise, it also includes the people who will issue you with your PPL once you have completed your PPL training. The CAA, however, now works with other European national authorities as part of the JAA (Joint Aviation Authority), which itself will soon be taken over by EASA (the European Aviation Safety Agency). This situation is being constantly reviewed and changed to suit new political and administration needs, it is therefore worth keeping your eyes on the various news pages and forums for the latest updates.

Red tape and politics aside for one moment, once the CAA has issued your PPL license, you will be allowed to fly in any other EASA member country’s airspace using aircraft registered in any EASA member state. So, for example, if you’re on a trip or holiday in say France and fancy taking in a flight over the South Coast East, you will be legally allowed to hire a French registered aircraft and take in the view. Alternatively, if you want to fly your British ‘G-registered’ aeroplane to Germany, that’s absolutely fine as well.

This also means that you could decide if you wanted to, to do your PPL (or even CPL and ATPL) training at one of the growing number of flight training organizations (FTO) based overseas but working to a JAA/EASA syllabus. As a matter of fact, you can even find such FTOs in non-JAA/EASA countries, and as you would probably expect, Florida remains one of the most popular destinations. However, you should bear in mind that there are pros and cons to training overseas.

Outside Europe, there is a large range of licensing and governing bodies connected with aviation. The biggest of these is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in America. Many UK pilots fly on FAA licenses, primarily due to the attraction of the lower price of training in the US. The downside to this however is that with an FAA license, if you are on a flight which cross international boundaries, you can only fly FAA N-registered aircraft. You may however fly an aircraft registered in any country, but only within that country’s airspace, so no cross border trips.

If you put aside the slight negatives outlined above and decide to train for an FAA license – or that of any other non-EASA member – you can always convert your license to a JAA equivalent one, once you return to Britain. This isn’t much of an issue or prolonged procedure and the CAA are generally very helpful and will give you all the advice and information you need – contact the CAA on 0207 379 7311 or at www.caa.co.uk


Types of license

You will find elsewhere on this site plenty of information pertaining to the different types of pilot’s license that are available, as well as a brief description of the training requirements and limitations. It wasn’t that long ago that there was basically a PPL for private pilots looking to fly for recreational purposes, a CPL (Commercial Pilot’s License) if you wanted to be paid to fly, and an ATPL (Airline Transport Pilot’s License) if you wanted to fly for the airlines. For those of us who fly primarily for fun, there’s now also the very useful NPPL (National Private Pilot’s License); this is similar to the PPL although it requires fewer hours tuition, but it does restrict the type of flying. Then there’s the MPL (Multi-crew Pilot License), which is principally a fast track version of the ATPL, but with much of the required flight training being completed on simulators.

As you may now come to expect this is a constantly changing picture with even more license types on the horizon.

As you work towards your license and work through your training, any hours you complete either as a student or a qualified pilot will need to be recorded in your logbook. Your logbook is your passport to flying, recording exactly which type of aircraft you have flown, the date each flight took place, whether you were the Pilot in Command (PIC) and where you went. Whenever you visit a new airfield or club, or choose to fly a different type of aircraft or train towards a new license, your logbook will be your proof of previous experience. A key piece of advice here: keep a duplicate or photocopy of each page just in case you lose the original. I would also recommend that you write inside your log book in a bold marker pen the words “Reward if Found” and a contact telephone number, should anyone find your log book.

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Comments (17)

  • Alan Isaac

    |

    Hello there,
    I live in Thailand and would like to do a fast track PPL somewhere close like Australia. Could you please recommend a good school.
    Regards,
    Isaac.

    Reply

  • admin

    |

    Hi Isaac

    I cannot recommend any particular flying school in Aus. I’m sure you’ll appreciate its a huge country and there are many schools. Firstly you need to decide what you want to achieve and what you want to fly. Ultimately what do you want to do with your PPL once you have it? I ask this particular question and try to help budding pilots with this problem in this article above and also this article “which private pilot’s license?

    However I know of this site here Australian Flying Schools which I think you will find useful?

    Best Regards

    Darren

    Reply

  • Darren

    |

    Hi
    I am thinking of doing a fast track ppl in florida; what sort of time sacle would that be, and any other info would be great
    Darren

    Reply

  • Darren Bardsley

    |

    Darren

    Many people ask a similar question and as you would possibly expect, there isn’t necessarily a fixed timescale. It is very much dependant upon yourself and how you take to it as well as the weather. Although countries like Florida have much better weather than the UK generally speaking, there are days where the wind picks up and keeps you grounded.

    I have written a recent article covering this very subject and hopefully you will find it useful. Take Your PPL Exams at Home or Overseas

    Please let me know your comments.

    Darren

    Reply

  • Stephen

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    Hi,
    I am looking to do a ppl for light aircraft with the intention f being a comercial pilot. Do you have any advice on how to start my ppl (Im in the atc and hoped thay could help).
    P.S i wish to do it in the UK
    Stephen

    Reply

  • admin

    |

    Hi Stephen
    Glad you dropped by and took the time to post a comment/question.
    The best bet is to look up your local airfield. Look at a couple of schools, if there are more than one in your area. Talk to the instructors and visit each flying school. Tell the instructors what you want to achieve and ask how they can help you to achieve your PPL and ultimately your CPL. Its more about how you find the instructors and how personable they are towards you. After all you will be spending quite a lot of time of over the next year or so with them. Once you have chosen your preferred school and before you settle on one for sure, make sure you talk to some of the students and ask for their views on the pros and cons of the school. Then its time to book a trial flight with your chosen instructor/school. You will then get to see how they teach; what their approach is to new students and how comfortable they make you feel.

    I have written a brief article on Choosing a Flying School which you can get to quickly by clicking the link/highlight text.

    Hope this helps..Let me know how you get on.

    Darren

    Reply

  • Stephen

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    thanks i will,
    Stephen

    Reply

  • Jack

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    hi,

    I want to fly a gulfstream g650 but i don’t know what license i need?
    I want to fly from england to florida so what do i need?

    Reply

  • bilal

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    dear enquirer
    i would like to know that once i attained training of ppl the licence fee is include in training package .if not then how much is fee for licence and second thing is once i get ppl then which aircraft i fly .

    thanks

    Reply

  • admin

    |

    dear enquirer
    i would like to know that once i attained training of ppl the licence fee is include in training package .if not then how much is fee for licence and second thing is once i get ppl then which aircraft i fly .

    thanks

    I am not sure what you mean by package. If you are contemplating learning to fly with a flying school that offers packages (usually made up of a fixed amount of hours) then you will have to check with the school directly. I would think it highly unlikely that your PPPL Licence fee is included as you will normally pay the aviation authority of your given country (e.g. the CAA in the UK or the FAA in the USA). The price f the PPL licence again is dependant upon the country which you are obtaining your licence. the UK NPPL for example is about £135 to obtain once you have completed your training and successfully passed all your ground school exams.

    In reference to what type of aircraft you can fly, depends on what aircraft you have learned to fly. There are a number of PPL variants, for General Aviation 3 axis single engine, twin, microlight 3 axis, microlight flexwing, gyro, or helicopter to name the main ones. If for example you have trained on a piper … and then want to fly a Cessna … you will need to have a few hours additional training on that type of aircraft.

    Hope this helps.

    Darren

    Reply

  • Cristal

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    Hello,

    I have recently received my private pilots license with the US. I will be going to study at a University in England for 2 years starting this summer. What are the additional steps I need to obtain so I can fly in the UK?

    Thank you

    Reply

  • darren

    |

    Hi Cristal
    I don’t believe there are any additional steps you need to take. However when you come to the UK, you will no doubt be looking to find a local flying club, where you can hire aircraft from. You will need to discuss with the aircraft owners/operators the license you have and on which aircraft type you trained and passed. You may be requested to have an hour or so with the local flying instructor prior to them letting you loose with one of their aircraft. But this is often the case when you are looking to hire an aircraft and when the operator does not know you.

    Most importantly DON’T forget to bring your PPL license with you when you come to the UK.

    Darren

    Reply

  • Cristal

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    Hello Darren, that is wonderful. Thank you for informing me, I truly appreciate it. I will call local airports to see about their flying program clubs available. Is there any local flying clubs you would recommend that is the most reasonable in price and good people / staff working at the airport?? I will be staying in Poole / Dorset / Bournemouth area.

    Thank you,

    Cristal

    Reply

  • darren

    |

    Hi Cristal
    Cristal

    I have been meaning to add a directory of flying schools here in the UK and your message has prompted me to look at his again. However in the meantime, I hope the following list will help?

    Abbas Air
    Crompton Abbas
    Tel: 01747 811767
    e: fly@abbasair.com
    w: http://www.abbasair.com

    Bournemouth Flying Club
    Bournemouth
    Tel: 01202 578558
    e: vicky@bfclub.co.uk
    w: http://www.bfclub.co.uk

    Dorset Flying Club
    Bournemouth
    Tel: 0800 083 7320
    e: ian@dorsetflyingclub.co.uk
    w: http://www.dorsetflyingclub.co.uk

    Solent School of Flying
    Bournemouth
    T: 01202 582181
    w: http://www.bourne2fly.co.uk

    Hope you get fixed up

    Regards
    Darren

    Reply

  • Cristal

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    THANK YOU!! You’ve been so helpful!

    Reply

  • Lesley

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    My son is in the ATC and is plane mad. He is desperate to learn to fly and has had a trial lesson.

    I know he can start counting hours towards a PPL at 14, but then cannot obtain license until 17. Is it worth starting at 14 or will the learning be too spread out, would he be better waiting til he is nearer 17?

    Reply

  • darren

    |

    Hi Lesley
    It seems you already know some of the limitations for young pilots. Basically there are only a few age restriction, the first being that your son has to be 16 to fly solo and 17 before he can take the GFT/GST (General Flying Test). It took me 18 months to obtain my private pilots licence due to the good old British weather. Whether the learning is too spread out, quite simply is a matter of funds. One of the cheapest ways for your son to start his flying career, would be to consider training on a microlight aircraft. The lessons are generally cheaper than flying in a GA type aircraft. Once he had achieved his licence he could then have some additional training hours on a different aircraft if he wanted to.

    Again it really depends on how deep your pockets are. Learning to fly is similar to learning to drive a car. If you were to only have say one lesson a month, it is very likely that most of what you learned the previous lesson, will have been forgotten. However if you can afford to have a few blocks of lessons in close proximity then that may be a better bet. Personally, I would probably hold off embarking on having full blown lessons, until he was 15+. That way the lessons can be fairly continuous, up to his 17th Birthday. Conversely if funds allow, your son could gain a lot more hours training before taking the final GFT and thus become much more proficient, confident and a safer pilot by that time.

    I’d really suggest speaking with your local flying school and get their advice as well.

    Hope that helps.

    Darren

    Reply

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