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AOPA Training Courses

AOPA is actively involved in promoting growth in General Aviation, from ab-initio training for your first Pilot Licence to Pilot retention and continued enjoyment of your licence privileges. AOPA supports the achievement of added competences to your flying experience, through additional training and/or additional ratings.

Advanced training for higher skill levels, or additional ratings, can be undertaken through many of our Corporate members.

The Air Navigation Order 2016 definition:

“aerobatic manoeuvres” means loops, spins, rolls, bunts, stall turns, inverted flying and any other similar manoeuvre intentionally performed by an aircraft involving:

(a) an abrupt change in its attitude;

(b) an abnormal attitude; or

(c) an abnormal variation in speed,

not necessary for normal flight or for instruction for licences or ratings other than aerobatic rating.

There are three AOPA Aerobatic Certificate Courses, which can only be offered by current Corporate Members of AOPA who are registered to provide Aerobatic Training :

  • Basic
  • Standard
  • Intermediate

All of the courses cover learning various aerobatic manoeuvres. AOPA together with the British Aerobatic Association (BAeA) have designed these syllabi of instruction in order to encourage those pilots who wish to become proficient in aerobatic manoeuvres to undertake the right training through a properly structured formal course. These courses are also required if pilots want to take part in Aerobatic events organised by the BAeA.

Looping Yes Yes Yes
Rolling  Yes Yes Yes
Stall Turn  Yes Yes Yes
Half Cuban Eight   Yes Yes
Four Point Roll   Yes Yes
Hesitation Loops   Yes Yes
Flick Rolls     Yes
Rolling Turns     Yes
Climbing Rolls     Yes

Theoretical Knowledge

The Theoretical Knowledge section of the course will consist of a minimum of eight hours, four hours of briefings/lectures to be given by a person qualified to instruct in aerobatic flying and the remaining four hours to be carried out through self study under supervision.

Flight Test

The flight test must be carried out by an instructor registered with AOPA for this purpose and it should be noted that the flight test is in addition to the eight hours required in the Theoretical Knowledge part of the course.

A candidate may commence the course at any time after qualifying for a Private Pilot’s Licence or National Private Pilot’s Licence. There are no minimum preentry hour or time requirements to enter the course of training. The courses consist of dual flying with an instructor who is qualified to give aerobatic instruction. (Pilots who already have some aerobatic experience may qualify for a reduction in the flying hour requirement of the course.)

It is recommended that pilots do not practice solo aerobatics until they have been trained and proved competent in certain aspects of aerobatic flying depending on what level they are at, see brief outline below.

The course of training is reflected in the syllabus and upon completing the course candidates will be required to have their competence assessed in the air.

Upon completion of the course to the required standard, the applicant will be signed off as competent at basic aerobatic manoeuvres on an application form provided in the Syllabus and upon receipt of this form, we will issue an AOPA Aerobatic Certificate to provide evidence of competency.

EASA Aerobatic Rating

The UK CAA has deferred the requirement to hold this rating until 8 April 2018.

From 8 April 2018, to undertake Aerobatic flights in an EASA aircraft an EASA Licence and Part-FCL Aerobatic Rating will be required. Aerobatics may still be flown in non-EASA aircraft (such as the Chipmunk or Bulldog) after 8th April 2018 without an Aerobatic Rating, no matter which licence a pilot holds. :

FCL.800 Aerobatic Rating

(a) Holders of a pilot licence for aeroplanes, TMG or sailplanes shall only undertake aerobatic flights when they hold the appropriate rating.

(b) Applicants for an aerobatic rating shall have completed:

(1) at least 40 hours of flight time or, in the case of sailplanes, 120 launches as PIC in the appropriate aircraft category, completed after the issue of the licence;
(2) a training course at an ATO, including:

(i) theoretical knowledge instruction appropriate for the rating;
(ii) at least 5 hours or 20 flights of aerobatic instruction in the appropriate aircraft category.

(c) The privileges of the aerobatic rating shall be limited to the aircraft category in which the flight instruction was completed. The privileges will be extended to another category of aircraft if the pilot holds a licence for that aircraft category and has successfully completed at least 3 dual training flights covering the full aerobatic training syllabus in that category of aircraft.

If you complete an AOPA Aerobatic Certificate before 8 April 2018 there are no minimum flight time requirements as PIC.

The AOPA Aerobatic Certificate will be recognised as an EASA Aerobatic Rating, though will need to be added to an EASA licence from 8 April 2018.

Applications for a Part-FCL Aerobatic Rating should be made using Form SRG 2157  

Aerobatics Course Syllabi

AOPA have produced a separate syllabus for each of the three levels offered; Basic, Intermediate and Standard.

Training is offered by a number of Training Organisations who are AOPA Corporate Members and registered with AOPA to offer the Aerobatics Training:

See a List of AOPA Corporate Members offering Aerobatics Training

See a Map of AOPA Corporate Members offering Aerobatics Training

Any Flight Training Organisation may register with AOPA to provide the Aerobatics Training so long as they are also an AOPA Corporate Member. For further details contact the AOPA UK Office.

Copies of the relevant Syllabus, and updates, are provided by AOPA to the registered Flight Training Organisation as part of their registration fee. This may be in either electronic form or hard copy as required.

The syllabi are produced and Copyrighted by Campbell Consultants, who receive Royalties for each copy. Under the copyright, Flight Schools registered to provide the Aerobatics Training course may make copies of the relevant syllabus for use by their Instructor/s and Students taking an Aerobatic Course, for their own personal reference only. The syllabus may not be made publicly available or copied, in whole or part, for wider distribution in any form.

You may purchase a copy of the syllabus for your own personal use, which excludes providing aerobatic training unless you have a Corporate Membership, or other agreement with AOPA UK, for training use. It should be noted that these syllabi do not contain any reference material other than the syllabus content.

To purchase a copy, either printed or pdf file format, please click here.

Not ready for an Instrument Rating?

The AOPA Radio Navigation Course has been designed to encourage pilots who hold a licence to obtain formal training in radio navigation procedures for use under Visual Flight Rules in accordance with the privileges of their licences.

Additionally, for holders of a PPL issued by the UK CAA, the course of training can be taken as a progressive step towards obtaining a IR(R) rating. This means that a PPL holder who has qualified for the AOPA Radio Navigation Certificate may be exempt from up to five hours instrument training of the Applied Stage of the IR(R) course. AN IR(R) can also be added to an EASA PPL licence for the time being, though is only valid in the UK.

The course is available from any flight training organisation that is a corporate member of AOPA.

There is a cost of £10 for members and £15 for non-members to cover AOPA Admin costs for the issue of the Radio Navigation Course certificate.  Details are contained in the course syllabus and training record which will be provided by your training organisation.


Ground Training

Completion of Core Course in Ground Training, comprising a minimum of 10 hours, five hours training to be give by an instructor competent to give radio navigation instruction and the remaining five hours through self study under supervision.

Ground Training subjects:

  • Basic Radio Principles
  • Morse Code
  • Basic principles of Radio Navigation Aids
  • Pre-Fight & Aerodrome Departure Procedures
  • Aeronautical Information Publications
  • Flight Planning
  • Use of En-Route Radar Services
  • Use of GPS

Flight Training

The course will consist of a minimum of five hours flight training, of which one hour may be conducted in a Flight Navigation Procedures Trainer or a flight simulator approved by the CAA.

Flight training will be conducted by an Instructor, authorised by the UK CAA, whose Licence has had the Applied Instrument Limitation rating removed.

Flight Training Subjects:

  • Use of Radar Services
  • Use of GPS as an additional navigation aid.

In addition, each candidate will select three of the following four radio navigation aids for ground and flight training; VOR, DME, ADF and VHF/DF.

Radio Navigation Certificate Skill Test

Completion of Radio Navigation Skill Test to be conducted in flight by a Flight Examiner authorised by UK CAA who has been approved by AOPA.

Skill Test Requirements

On completion of the course the candidate will be required to have his/her competence assessed in flight by a Flight Examiner who is authorised by the UK CAA, and has been approved by AOPA.

A VFR dead reckoning navigation leg of not less than 25 nm using any of VOR, DME, ADF or VDF for fixing backed up by map reading; GPS may be used to confirm fixes. Direct tracking to/from navigation beacons will not be allowed

A diversion leg of at least 20nm must then be flown using only radio aids for navigation except for visual identification of the final destination, GPS may be used as the main aid but must be backed by at least one fix using other radio navigation aids.

In the course of the whole flight all other tasks listed on the Skill Test form will be assessed. The training in the navaids selected will be in conformity with the knowledge and competence in Radio Navigation required for those sections of the syllabus for the UK IR(R) rating.

Procedure for obtaining the Radio Navigation Certificate

A candidate wishing to obtain the certificate can commence the course at any time after qualifying for a Private Pilot’s Licence and a Flight Radio Telephony Operator’s Licence. Courses are run by a number of AOPA Corporate members :-

List of Training providers

Map of Training providers

There are no minimum pre-entry hour or calendar time requirements nor is there a calendar time requirement to complete the course of training.

The application form contained in the syllabus must be completed by the candidate, the instructor(s) conducting the course and the Examiner. These are available from your training provider.

The completed form is to be sent to AOPA with a cheque for £15 to cover administration and issue of certificate. However if the candidate is a member of AOPA this fee will be £10.

The AOPA Flying Companions Certificate Course has been designed to increase the enjoyment, participation and confidence in flying for those who regularly accompany private pilots. This includes the safe recovery and landing at an appropriate airfield as a result of an emergency.

The course should be available from any flight training organisation that is a corporate member of AOPA. It has been structured to enable those who fly regularly with a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) holder to be more involved in the flight and, therefore, more confident when flying as a passenger. Some flying companions may wish to continue training for the PPL. If so the hours flown on the course may be counted towards that qualification. However, it should be noted that the syllabus is an abridged version of the early flight exercises and ground studies for the PPL and covers only parts of the training requirements for the Part-FCL PPL.

Similarly, those wishing to assist with the operation of the radio on a private flight would need to hold a Radiotelephony Licence and their Instructor will be able to advise how to achieve this. The training for this AOPA Certificate will not necessarily comply with the standard procedures and phraseology required by the applicant for a Radiotelephony Licence.

Course Objectives

  • To increase the enjoyment, participation and confidence in flying for those who regularly accompany private pilots Completion of at least 10 hours of briefings/ lectures given by a flight instructor at a level appropriate to the requirements of the course.
  • Safe recovery and landing at an appropriate airfield as a result of a simulated emergency. This is not conducted as a test and use of Emergency Services may be made if available.

Satisfactory completion of the course will enable the candidate to obtain the Flying Companions Certificate.

Flying Training

The course consists of a minimum of eight hours dual flying with a qualified Flight Instructor conducted within a period of 12 months. This would normally be undertaken in the type of aircraft regularly flown with the student taking control from the appropriate passenger seat.

Theoretical Knowledge Instruction

  • Subjects covered:
  • Air Law
  • Principles of Flight
  • Human Performance & Limitations

Flight Training

  • Subjects covered:
  • Effects of controls
  • Making use of instruments
  • Aircraft systems that need to be monitored
  • Use of the radio and transponder
  • How circuits are flown at an airfield
  • Understand the aeronautical map
  • How to use the Emergency Services

Flight Exercises

  • Covering:
  • Cockpit familiarisation
  • Use of radio
  • Using controls in flight
  • Flying straight and Level
  • Climb, descend and turn
  • Make a safe landing
  • Reading an aeronautical map in the air
  • A simulated emergency

Obtaining the Flying Companions Certificate

Download a syllabus and application form:  Click here to download the syllabus and application form

When you have completed the training course, complete the application form contained in the syllabus and have it certified by the the instructor(s) conducting the course.

The completed form should then be sent to AOPA along with a cheque for £20 to cover administration and issue of certificate.

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