There are a number of licences that you can train for, depending on what your flying ambitions are, and whether you are looking to fly as a private or commercial pilot.
Licenses are issued in the UK by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and will be either a National Licence or a European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Licence. This is not expected to change after the UK leaves the EU.
National licences restrict you to aircraft that are regulated by the National Authority, the CAA for the UK, and may restrict you to flying in UK airspace. A National Private Pilots Licences (NPPL) can be for:
- Microlight Aircraft - Flex Wing and Three Axis controls with appropriate training.
- Simple Single Engine Aeroplanes (SSEA) - vintage light aircraft, permit to fly and kit-built aircraft.
EASA Licences afford you with much more flexibility in the types of aircraft and where you can fly. EASA licences available are:
- Balloon Pilots Licence (BPL) - hot air balloons.
- Sailplane Pilots Licence (SPL) - gliders and, with additional training, motor gliders.
- Light Aircraft Pilots Licence (LAPL) - balloons, gliders. Aeroplanes and helicopters less than 2000 kg and no more than 3 passengers. Can be upgraded to PPL with additional training.
- Private Pilots Licence (PPL) – aeroplanes and helicopters. Can be extended with additional training.
- Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL) – aeroplanes and helicopters. Allows you to fly for financial reward.
- Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL) – aeroplanes and helicopters. Restricted to First Officer.
- Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) – full commercial aeroplane and helicopter licence.
The remainder of this item will only consider Private Pilot licences.
The minimum age to get a SPL or BPL is 16
The minimum age to get a PPL is 17.
The minimum age to fly commercially is 18.
EASA PPL, SPL, BPL - The minimum medical requirement is a Class 2 Medical. This is obtained through an Approved Medical Examiner (AME).
EASA LAPL - The minimum medical requirement is a LAPL medical certificate. A LAPL assessment can be conducted by your GP or an AME. If you will only fly in UK Airspace and non-EASA aircraft you may make a Pilot Medical Declaration to the CAA.
National Pilots Licence (NPPL and UK PPL) - Pilot Medical Declaration to the CAA.
For a Pilot Medical Declaration you must be able to meet the medial standards for the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) Group 1 Ordinary Driving Licence (ODL) and you must not suffer or have suffered from a list of specified medical conditions.
As these are subject to change you should confirm the latest requirements with the CAA or visit their website.
For the issue of a Pilot Licence you will be required to complete flight training, at an approved training organisation, and take and pass theoretical knowledge examinations, frequently referred to as Ground School.
The number of hours required to pass your flight training varies depending on the type of licence you are training for, but in any case there are a minimum number of hours required. Flight training consists of dual training with an instructor and solo flight time, culminating in a Flight Test with a Flight Examiner.
As an indication, these are minimum flight times:
PPL(A)and PPL(H) - Minimum 45 Hours
LAPL(A) - Minimum 30 Hours
LAPL(H) - Minimum 40 Hours
NPPL(A) SSEA/SLMG - Minimum 32 Hours
NPPL(A) Microlight - Minimum 25 Hours (Unrestricted)
NPPL(A) Powered Parachute - Minimum 15 Hours (Unrestricted)
For Theoretical Knowledge (Ground School) you should expect to spend around 100 Hours studying and taking examinations, at an approved training organisation.
The subjects covered are:
- Air Law
- Human Performance
- Principles of Flight
- Operational Procedures
- Flight Performance and Planning
- Aircraft General knowledge
When you have passed the theoretical exams they will be valid for 24 months, within which time you must complete the skill test.