Getting a recreational pilot licence (RPL)

If you would like to fly for recreation, you need a recreational pilot licence (RPL).

An RPL lets you fly a light, single-engine aircraft as the pilot in command, without supervision.

Carrying passengers with an RPL

You can carry one passenger if you hold a Recreation Aviation Australia (RA-Aus) pilot certificate.

You can carry more than one passenger if you hold an RPL and either:

  • hold a Class I or Class II medical certificate
  • fly with another pilot who:
    • holds a Class I or Class II medical certificate
    • occupies a flight control seat in the aircraft
    • is authorised to fly that aircraft.

What you need to get a recreational pilot licence

To get an RPL, you must be:

To take the flight test, you must do a medical test and get a Class 1 or Class 2 medical certificate.

You could instead produce a recreational aviation medical practitioner’s certificate (RAMPC).

For your licence to be active, you must also:

How to apply for a recreational pilot licence

To get an RPL, you must do the following:

  1. Learn the theory and complete your training

    You need to train with a Part 141 training operator.

    Learn more about Part 141 training operators.

  2. Sit the general English language assessment

    If you use an aeronautical radio, you will need to meet general English language proficiency (GELP).

    You only need to do this once.

    Learn more about applying for a GELP assessment.

  3. Get the medical certificate

    Learn more about medical certificates.

  4. Pass the RPL exam

    Learn more about the RPL exams.

  5. Complete at least 25 hours flying time

    Complete your required flying time. This includes:

    • 20 hours dual
    • 5 hours as pilot-in-command.
  6. Pass an RPL flight test

    Once you have your RPL, you can:

    • go through this process again to add more category ratings
    • add endorsements
    • continue to train for higher licences.

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

If you have a student pilot licence plus GFPT

The RPL has replaced the student pilot licence plus GFPT.

To turn your student pilot licence plus GFPT into an RPL, you must:

You can go through the transition process any time, but we recommend doing it after the flight review.

If you have an RA-Aus pilot certificate

An RA-Aus pilot certificate is equivalent to an RPL.

To get a CASA-issued RPL:

  • complete application form 61-1RTX Recreational Pilot Licence and send it with evidence (the form tells you what to provide and how to submit it)
  • do the flight review for your aircraft rating.

Your category rating, aircraft class rating and design feature endorsements will transfer across.

You will also get a recreational navigation endorsement if:

  • your certificate authorises you to do cross-country flights
  • you've done at least 25 hours flying time, including 20 hours dual and 5 hours as pilot-in-command.

Adding endorsements

You can add endorsements through a Part 141 training operator.

Endorsements you can add include:

  • controlled aerodrome endorsement (RPCT)
  • controlled airspace endorsement (RPCA)
  • flight radio endorsement (RPFR) – requires an aviation English language proficiency assessment
  • recreational navigation endorsement (RPNA) – requires 5 hours solo cross-country minimum flight time.

These endorsements let you do certain things as a recreational pilot.

Unless you hold a navigation endorsement you are limited to flying within 25 NM of:

  • your departure aerodrome
  • your flight training area
  • the route between your departure aerodrome and the flight training area.

You must have:

  • a flight radio endorsement to use the aircraft radio during the flight
  • a controlled airspace endorsement to fly in controlled airspace
  • a controlled aerodrome endorsement to fly at a controlled aerodrome.

Restrictions on recreational pilot licences

You can only fly single-engine aircraft using your RPL. To fly a multi-engine aeroplane:

Flying solo at night

With an RPL, you can only fly solo at night when you're in training.

A flight instructor from a flying school must supervise you.

You can't carry passengers on those flights.

Flying in other countries

The RPL is not an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) licence. Other countries don't recognise it.

To fly in another country you need to get approval from that country's aviation authority.

Pilot-in-command of multi-crew operations

With an RPL, you cannot be pilot-in-command of a multi-crew operation.

Because of this, your pilot-in-command under supervision (PICUS) hours will not count towards future training.

Changes under the RPL from student pilot licence

Current responsibilities under the RPL include:

  • making decisions about your own flights – for example, flight planning, go and no-go decisions, and fuel planning
  • ensuring your aircraft is airworthy prior to flight
  • reporting airworthiness and safety issues and occurrences.

If you already hold a flight radiotelephone operator licence you will be granted the flight radio endorsement under your new RPL licence. See Aeronautical radio operators for more information.

Regulations for recreational pilot licences

The rules for recreational pilots are in CASR Part 61 - Flight Crew Licencing:

  • Division 61.E.1 – general limitations on the exercise of pilot licence privileges
  • Subpart G 61.460 to 61.500 – recreational pilot licences regulations
  • Division 61.L.5 – pilot type ratings, flight reviews
  • Subdivision 61.112 – flying as a student pilot – authorisation to pilot a recreational aircraft at night under the VFR, or a non-recreational aircraft.

Transitioning a CAR 5 licence to a Part 61 licence

You can no longer exercise the privileges of a CAR Part 5 licence. If you hold a CAR 5 licence it will need to be transitioned to the new Part 61 licence to continue to operate.

These include licences, ratings, endorsements, authorisations, approvals, and delegations issued under:

  • Part 5 of CAR
  • a CAO made under Part 5 of CAR
  • CAO 29.6
  • CAO 29.10
  • CAO 29.11
  • CAO 82.6.

You can transition your licences by using the ‘Recognition and Transfer CAR Part 5 Qualifications’ form.

Last updated:
23 Aug 2022
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