Getting a private pilot licence (PPL)

If you would like to fly a private aircraft, you need a private pilot licence (PPL).

A PPL lets you:

  • command or co-pilot an aircraft in a private operation
  • do flying training.

You can get a PPL for any of these aircraft category ratings:

  • aeroplane
  • helicopter
  • powered-lift aircraft
  • gyroplane
  • airship.

What you need to get a private pilot licence

To get a PPL you must be:

You must also do a medical test and get a medical certificate.

We issue these medical certificate classes for a PPL licence:

  • Class 2 to take the PPL flight test.
  • Class 1 or Class 2 to fly an aircraft.

You may also hold a recreational aviation medical practitioner’s certificate (RAMPC) to fly an aircraft.

If using an RAMPC, you will be limited to flying:

  • recreational aircraft by day under visual flight rules only
  • with only one passenger
  • under 10,000 ft AGL.

How to apply for a private pilot licence

To get a PPL for your chosen aircraft category rating, you'll need to do the following:

  1. Apply for a class rating or type rating.
  2. Learn the theory and train with a Part 141 or Part 142 flight training operator.
  3. Pass a PPL theory exam.
  4. Take a general English language assessment (you only need to do this once).
  5. Do the minimum flying experience.
  6. Pass a PPL flight test.

Once you have your PPL, you can:

  • go through this process again to add more aircraft category ratings
  • add other flight crew ratings and endorsements.

You will need to keep your licence active with a flight review.

To fly in a multi-crew aeroplane, you must also do approved training in multi-crew cooperation. You don't have to do this training if you took part in multi-crew operations before 1 September 2015.

Theory and the exams for private pilot licences

Some of the subjects you will learn for PPL are:

  • flight rules and air law
  • aerodynamics
  • meteorology
  • navigation
  • flight planning
  • power plants
  • aircraft systems.

You can study the theory yourself, for example, through a self-learning course. Or you can go to a flying school or aero club.

The PPL theory exam tests how well you know the theory of your chosen aircraft rating.

Training courses for private pilot licences

Flight training courses teach general, cross-country and instrument flying.

There are 2 types of courses:

  • intensive integrated courses, through Part 142 flight training operators
  • non-integrated courses, through Part 141 flight training operators.

Some organisations offer both types of courses. You can search for a Part 141 or Part 142 flight training operator near you.

In an integrated training course, you do ground theory with practical flight training at the same time. It's a structured course that you can do quickly.

If you do non-integrated training, you will do more practical flight training and it will take longer.

Your flying training operator may credit you for training you've already done.

They will assess that training and your current knowledge and skills. This helps them work out what else you need to know and do before the test.

Basic instrument flying

You will need to do basic instrument flying if you are:

  • applying for an aeroplane licence (PPLA)
  • doing an integrated course of training for a helicopter licence (PPLH).

Otherwise, basic instrument flying is optional.

If you get a PPLH through a non-integrated course without doing basic instrument flying, your licence will have a note that it doesn't meet the PPL international standard.

You can still do the basic instrument flying later.

Flying experience for a private pilot licence

The amount of flying experience you need to get a PPL depends on the aircraft category rating you're training for.

You can do these hours in any aircraft or any category except when conditions apply. If the condition is that you must fly a certain aircraft type, it must be recognised or registered.

Minimum hours for an aeroplane PPL

Experience Hours for an integrated course Hours for a non-integrated course Conditions
Aeronautical experience 35 40 Up to 5 hours can be in a flight simulator
Flight time as a pilot 30 35 20 hours must be in an aeroplane
Solo flight time 10 10 Must be in an aeroplane
Solo cross country 5 5 Must be in an aeroplane and include a flight of at least 150 NM with a full-stop landing at 2 aerodromes outside the flight training area.
Dual instrument time 2 2 Can be in a flight simulator
Dual instrument flight time 1 1 Integrated must be in aeroplane

Minimum hours for a helicopter PPL

Experience Hours for an integrated course Hours for a non-integrated course Conditions
Aeronautical experience 35 40 Up to 5 hours can be tethered or in a flight simulator
Flight time as a pilot 30 35 30 hours must be in a helicopter
Solo flight time 10 10 Must be in a helicopter
Solo cross country 5 5 Must be in a helicopter and include a flight of at least 100 NM with landings at 2 areas other than where the flight began
Dual instrument time 2 2 Can be in a flight simulator
Dual instrument flight time 1 1 Must be in a helicopter

Minimum hours for a gyroplane PPL

Experience Hours for an integrated course Hours for a non-integrated course Conditions
Aeronautical experience 35 40 Up to 5 hours can be in a flight simulator
Flight time as a pilot 30 35 20 hours must be in a gyroplane
Solo flight time 10 10 Must be in a powered aircraft with minimum 5 hours in a gyroplane
Solo cross country 5 5 Must be in a powered aircraft and include a flight at least 100 NM with landings at 2 areas other than where the flight began

Regulations for private pilot licences

The rules for private pilots are in these sections of Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations:

  • Subpart 61.E – general limitations
  • Subpart 61.H – private pilot licences
  • 61.505 – privileges of private pilot licences
  • 61.510 – limitations on exercise of privileges of private pilot licences – multi-crew operations
  • 61.515 – requirements for grant of private pilot licences – general
  • 61.520 to 61.535 – aeronautical experience requirements for private pilot licences (applicants who have completed integrated training courses)
  • 61.540 to 61.565 – aeronautical experience requirements for private pilot licences (applicants who have not completed integrated training courses).
Online version available at: https://www.casa.gov.au//licences-and-certificates/pilots/pilot-licences/getting-private-pilot-licence-ppl
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