You've always dreamed of flying a plane. Maybe it's something you've always wanted to do, or maybe you've just thought about it recently. Either way, learning to fly is a great way to sharpen your skills and gain a new perspective on the world.
When planning to become a pilot, obtaining the right licence is crucial to achieving your career goals. For best results, you also need to consider 3 aspects, i.e. location, flight school, and licence type.
There are different pilot licences in Australia: commercial pilot licence, recreational pilot licence, private pilot licence, and air transport pilot licence. Each one has its training requirements, skill level, and certification.
If you live in Australia and are interested in becoming a pilot, read on! Here we've put together some information on the different types of licences you can obtain and tips to help you get started.
Types of Pilot Licences in Australia
In Australia, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) regulates all aviation activity. As part of their role in ensuring safety and security, they issue licences to pilots and administer training standards.
There are different types of licences that allow you to fly different types of aircraft, which are explained below:
Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL)
You will require a licence designated for recreational flying if you want to enjoy flying as a pastime activity (RPL). A Recreational Pilot's Licence (RPL) allows you to act as the sole pilot in command of a light, single-engine aircraft. RPLs are for non-commercial flying. It also allows you to carry up to three passengers in a single-engine aircraft. You must be 16 years old and hold a current Class 1 or Class 2 medical certificate to obtain an RPL. They are issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).
You must pass the CASA medical examination, the RPL exam, and a flight training course with a registered training organisation to get this licence. You'll also need at least 25 hours of flying time, including 20 hours dual and 5 hours as pilot-in-command.
While the minimum need for a private pilot's licence is 40 hours of training, a recreational pilot's licence only takes 30 hours of instruction. You won't have to study how to fly in areas where you need to talk to ATC. Night operations and instrument flying, part of private pilot training, are also removed from the recreational pilot curriculum, making it the cheapest and easiest way to get a pilot's licence.
Private Pilot Licence (PPL)
The Private Pilot Licence (PPL) is the most common pilot licence in Australia. It allows you to fly any aircraft for private purposes, pleasure, recreation, and tourism.
To be eligible for a PPL, you must have reached your 17th birthday and be able to read, speak and understand English. You must also be physically fit to operate an aircraft and have a current medical certificate from CASA.
To get PPL, you'll need to do the following:
First, you'll need to apply for a class or type rating. You'll need to identify the aircraft category or type you want to fly. Once you've chosen your category or type, you'll need further training from a Part 141 or Part 142 flight training operator. You'll learn the theory and then train on the actual aircraft—a process known as 'ground school.'
Then, you'll need to pass a PPL theory exam. This standardised test covers all the information needed for the successful completion of the course.
You'll also need to meet minimum flying experience requirements and do a flight test. In addition to demonstrating your ability to safely control the aircraft and follow procedures, you must complete 40 hours of flying lessons with an instructor.
Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)
A Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) is issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to pilots who wish to operate aircraft in a commercial capacity. To obtain a CPL, you must hold a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and complete either 200-250 hours of flying time or the CASA's approved course.
Commercial pilots must hold a minimum age of 18 years old and be proficient in English. In addition, commercial pilots are required to pass an aeronautical knowledge test before they can take their practical exam. This test covers meteorology, navigation systems, flight rules and regulations, aircraft performance and limitations, radio communication procedures, and aerodynamics, among other topics.
Once you have passed your practical exam and a CPL flight test, you will be issued a certificate that allows you to fly commercially in Australia or overseas.
Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL)
The ATPL is the highest level of pilot licence available in Australia. It requires applicants to hold a commercial pilot licence (CPL) and have completed an approved training course. An authorised pilot can fly planes that hold a specific number of passengers. A pilot needs an Airline Transport Pilot Licence to advance to the position of Captain in a commercial airline.
Classes in ATPL Theory are taken as part of ATPL training, and upon completion, students are awarded either an ATPL Theory Licence, which is equivalent to the ground school portion of pilot training. After this, a pilot must have logged at least 1500 hours in the air before taking the ATPL practical flight exam. You must also be 21 years old to hold an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).