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Licensing Requirements

New pilot licensing regulations commence on 1 September 2014. CASA is currently reviewing and, where necessary, updating all website content to ensure it correctly reflects these regulations. Please note the information on this page might be outdated. If you have any questions about the new licensing regulations please contact your local Aviation Safety Advisor or CASA’s Licensing and Registration Centre for up to date advice.

The term 'flight crew' is used to refer to pilots, radiotelephone operators and flight engineers.

Currently competency is measured through theory and practical examinations to determine the level of a person's skill and knowledge following training and the accumulation of experience (ie. hours) as well as medical examinations to assess a person's fitness to hold the licence. Many of these examinations are conducted by the aviation industry or medical examiners on CASA's behalf.

Along the way, pilots can acquire endorsements and ratings which add additional privileges to the licence.

An explanation of Licences, Aircraft Endorsements and Ratings

A licence is the first and foremost qualification obtained by a pilot and indicates a general level of training, experience and achievement

An aircraft endorsement indicates that the licensed pilot has gained the hands on, manipulative skills and experience in a particular aircraft type or class of aircraft. In qualifying for the licence, the pilot will obtain at least one aircraft endorsement.

A rating is a qualification that extends the privileges of the licence enabling the holder to engage in various operational activities following further training and testing; ie. ratings can be obtained for flying at night or solely by reference to the aircraft's instrument panel, to teach others to fly or to spray chemicals, seeds or fertilisers for agricultural purposes.

Validity of Qualifications

Once issued, a flight crew licence is valid for life, however, the holder is required to undergo regular recency and medical checks. The frequency and degree of these tests depend upon the nature of the operations being conducted, the more complex the operation the more exacting the checks.

Aircraft endorsements are also valid for life. However, the onus is on the holder to ensure he or she has completed refresher training on the aircraft if he or she has not flown that type for some time.

Some ratings are valid while the licence is valid, other are subject to periodic flight checks.

Method of Issue

Prior to 1 July 2004, student and flight radiotelephone operator licences were issued by industry and CASA. From 1 July 2004, only CASA will be able to issue these licences. All other flight crew licences are issued by CASA.

CASA has established a Log Book Endorsement System so that all ratings and endorsements can be issued by an industry delegate via an entry in the applicant's log book. This enables the applicant to use the qualification immediately. The delegate forwards the paperwork relating to the entry to CASA for inclusion in the pilot's flight crew licensing records. The entries in the log book are proof of any ratings or endorsements held.

Number of pilots in Australia

2006

Type of Licence
Issued 2005-06
Current 2006
Aeroplane
Air Transport aeroplane 378 6,024
Commercial aeroplane 987 3,712
Private aeroplane 1,377 15,304
Student General Flying Progress Tests aeroplane 1,630 3,704
Total Aeroplane 4,372 28,744
     
Helicopter
Air transport helicopter 40 500
Commercial helicopter 216 1,282
Private helicopter 99 770
Student General Flying Progress Tests helicopter 4 31
Total Helicopter 414 1,776
     
Other
Commercial balloon licences 3 96
Flight Engineer licences 0 0
Restricted Flight Engineer licences 4 0
Student Pilot (no GFPT) 4,345 5,299
Total Other 4,352 5,395
     
Grand Total
9,083
36,722

Note: Current figures are as at 30 June 2006, show only the highest level of licence held and include only those pilots who had a current medical certificate enabling them to exercise the privileges of the licence.

Note: Flight Engineers may also hold another flight crew licence and will be included in both figures.

2005

Type of Licence
Issued 2004-05
Current 2005
Aeroplane
Air Transport aeroplane 332 6,103
Commercial aeroplane 670 4.220
Private aeroplane 1,134 15,014
Student General Flying Progress Tests aeroplane 1,476 4,449
Total Aeroplane 3,612 29,786
     
Helicopter
Air transport helicopter 33 433
Commercial helicopter 185 955
Private helicopter 78 388
Student General Flying Progress Tests helicopter 11 43
Total Helicopter 307 1,819
     
Other
Commercial balloon licences 6 90
Flight Engineer licences 0 247
Restricted Flight Engineer licences 0 754
Student Pilot (no GFPT) 0 0
Total Other 6 1,091
     
Grand Total
3,925
32,696

Note: Current figures are as at 30 June 2005, show only the highest level of licence held and include only those pilots who had a current medical certificate enabling them to exercise the privileges of the licence.

Note: Flight Engineers may also hold another flight crew licence and will be included in both figures.

2004

Type of Licence
Issued 2003-04
Current 2004
Aeroplane
Air Transport aeroplane 373 6,025
Commercial aeroplane 804 4,303
Private aeroplane 1,342 15,498
Student General Flying Progress Tests aeroplane 1,628 4,564
Total Aeroplane 4,147 30,390
     
Helicopter
Air transport helicopter 53 429
Commercial helicopter 249 930
Private helicopter 102 376
Student General Flying Progress Tests helicopter 10 41
Total Helicopter 414 1,776
     
Other
Commercial balloon licences 3 90
Flight Engineer licences 0 252
Restricted Flight Engineer licences 0 738
Total Other 3 1080
     
Grand Total
4,561
33,156

Note: Current figures are as at 30 June 2004, show only the highest level of licence held and include only those pilots who had a current medical certificate enabling them to exercise the privileges of the licence.

Balloon total current for 2004 is an approximation only.

Note: Flight Engineers may also hold another flight crew licence and will be included in both figures.

Additional FCL Stats 2004

Type of Licence
Issued 2003-04
Student FE 11
Special Pilot Licences 360
AROCP 286
FROL 2,353
Student 2,379

AROCP=Aircraft Radiotelephone Operator Certificate of Proficiency
FROL= Flight Radiotelephone Operator Licence

Actual number of student pilot licences, AROCP and FROL issued would be higher as many were issued by industry and not notified to CASA

2003

Type of Licence
Issued 2002-03
Current 2003
(See Note 1)
Aeroplane
Private aeroplane 1328 15,507
Commercial aeroplane 805 4,350
Air transport aeroplane 387 6,046
Student General Flying Progress Tests aeroplane 1,678 4,773
Total Aeroplane 4,198 30,676
     
Helicopter
Private helicopter 111 372
Commercial helicopter 203 850
Air transport helicopter 38 395
Student General Flying Progress Tests helicopter 11 51
Total Helicopter 363 1,668
     
Other
Commercial balloon licences 4 98 (see note 2)
Flight Engineer licences 4 285
Restricted Flight Engineer licences 12 744

Note 1: Current figures are valid at 30/6/2003. These figures show only the highest level of licence held and include only those pilots who have a current medical certificate enabling them to exercise the privileges of the licence.
Note 2: Balloon total current for 2003 is an approximation only.

2002

Type of Licence
Issued 2001-02
Current 2002
(See Note 1)
Aeroplane
Private aeroplane 1468 15,860
Commercial aeroplane 877 4,577
Air transport aeroplane 424 5,969
Student General Flying Progress Tests aeroplane 1,856 4,989
Total Aeroplane 4,625 31,395
     
Helicopter
Private helicopter 163 372
Commercial helicopter 209 836
Air transport helicopter 40 379
Student General Flying Progress Tests helicopter 8 47
Total Helicopter 420 1,634
     
Other
Commercial balloon licences 8 98
Flight Engineer licences 0 299
Restricted Flight Engineer licences 16 734

Note 1: Current figures are valid at 30/7/2002. These figures show only the highest level of licence held and include only those pilots who have a current medical certificate enabling them to exercise the privileges of the licence.

2001

Number of current student pilot licences* N/A *
Number of current student pilots with GFPT 4267
Number of current private pilot licences 18425
Number of current commercial pilot licences 6712
Number of current air transport pilot licences 6427
Total number of current pilot licences* 35831*

These numbers are current as of 8 August 2001 and reflect the highest licence held to avoid double counting.

About CASA Flight Crew Licensing

The main function of the CASA Flight Crew Licensing branch is to ensure that all flight crew are appropriately qualified to do their jobs. This is achieved through the setting of technical standards and administrative procedures to control

  • who performs duties that are essential to the operation of an Australian aircraft
  • the qualifications and experience required by such persons
  • who trains and tests the proficiency of such persons to ensure they meet the required standards