Aircraft ratings explained

Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) details what flight crew need to do to obtain and maintain licenses, ratings and endorsements.

An aircraft rating is a flight crew qualification that allows you to operate particular aircraft. The rating(s) you need depends on the type of pilot license you hold and the aircraft you want to fly.

Aircraft category rating

When getting a pilot license, you must choose the category of aircraft that your training and qualifications will relate to.

Under Part 61 there are 6 aircraft category ratings:

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

To operate an Australian (VH) registered aircraft as pilot in command or co-pilot, you must hold the correct category rating on your license. However, you must also have the class or type rating for the aircraft you want to fly.

You can apply to add another category rating on your license once you have your initial license and rating.

For aircraft category rating requirements see Part 61 Division 61.L.2—Aircraft category ratings.

Class ratings

With a flight crew license, you will typically have at least one class rating for an aircraft associated with your license category rating.

If you hold a class rating, you are authorised to operate any aircraft in the class that is not designated as a type-rated aircraft.

Part 61 details 5 different aircraft class ratings:

  • single-engine aeroplane
  • multi-engine aeroplane
  • single-engine helicopter
  • single-engine gyroplane
  • airship.

For example, if you learnt to fly in a Cessna 182 and have a recreational pilot license (RPL), your license will be issued with an aeroplane category rating and a single-engine aeroplane class rating.

If you hold a single-engine aeroplane class rating you may be allowed to fly some multi-engine aeroplanes. For example, multi‑engine centre‑line thrust aeroplanes. However, you will have to complete extra flight training and a flights review or endorsement before you're permitted to do so.

To get a class rating you must complete flight training and pass a flight test with an examiner. This is usually completed as part of your training for a category rating. We provide more guidance about getting a class rating.

For aircraft class rating requirements see Part 61 Division 61.L.3—Aircraft class ratings.

Type ratings

We also specify type ratings for more complex aircraft so pilots complete additional training before flying them.

CASA specifies pilot type ratings for aircraft that:

  • are certified to be operated by more than one pilot
  • are certified in the transport category
  • are multi-engine turbo-jet powered
  • are fitted with more complex systems
  • have unique handling or performance characteristics.

Where appropriate, CASA also specifies type ratings for cruise relief co-pilots and flight engineers.

Cruise relief co-pilot type ratings authorise the holder to act as co-pilot of the aircraft type when the aircraft is at or above FL200.

Flight engineer type ratings authorise the holder to act as flight engineer of aircraft types that must be operated with a flight engineer.

To get a type rating you must complete flight training and pass a flight test with an examiner.

Find more guidance about getting a type rating.

When a type rating is required

You need a type rating on your license to fly all multi-crew certified aircraft. You may also need a type rating for some single-pilot certified aircraft.

Unless you are receiving flight training for the type rating, all members of the flight crew must hold the type rating relevant to the aircraft.

Aircraft that have a type rating are outlined in the Prescription of Aircraft and Ratings — CASR Part 61 Instrument 2021.

To guide which type of rating you need for a specific aircraft, see our:

Last updated:
6 May 2022
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