Flight crew training and licensing frequently asked questions
Part 61 - general
- What is Part 61?
Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR) 1998 contains the rules relating to flight crew licensing including the requirements to obtain and maintain licences, ratings and endorsements, and the limitations that apply to exercising their privileges.
Part 61 commenced on 1 September 2014 and replaced Part 5 of the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) 1988, certain Civil Aviation Orders and many authorisations and approvals.
Visit the Licensing Regulations section for more information.
- When did the new flight crew licensing rules take effect?
The new regulations came into effect on 1 September 2014. However, there is a transition period of four years to provide a smooth change to the new flight crew licensing system. Part 202 of the CASR contains the transition regulations.
- How do the new Part 61 regulations affect pilots and flight engineers licensed under the old regulations?
For most pilots and flight engineers, the new regulations have minimal impact. If you had a CAR Part 5 licence before 1 September 2014, you are authorised to continue exercising the privileges of that licence until 31 August 2018.
New flight review and proficiency check requirements apply and more aircraft are covered by aircraft class ratings such as the multi-engine aeroplane class rating and the single-engine helicopter class rating.
Flight reviews and rating renewals done under CAR Part 5 that were still current on 1 September 2014 continue to be valid until they expire. These expiry dates apply to your new licences, ratings and endorsements that are equivalent to the old authorisations.
The Part 61 Manual of Standards
- What is the Part 61 Manual of Standards?
The Part 61 Manual of Standards contains the aeronautical knowledge and practical competency standards for all Part 61 licences, ratings and endorsements, as well as the standards for Part 64 authorisations.
It is published by CASA under regulation 61.035 as a legislative instrument.
The MOS replaces the Day VFR syllabuses for aeroplane and helicopter licences, and the knowledge and practical standards contained in a number of Civil Aviation Orders.
General competency requirement
- What is the general competency rule?
Every pilot must abide by the general competency requirement, which is covered in Civil Aviation Safety Regulation 61.385. This regulation means that you are responsible for ensuring you are competent to fly a particular aircraft and conduct a particular kind of operation, even if you hold the necessary authorisations. That includes being competent in:
- operating the aircraft's navigation and operating systems
- conducting all normal, abnormal and emergency flight procedures for the aircraft
- applying operating limitations
- weight and balance requirements
- applying aircraft performance data, including take-off and landing performance data, for the aircraft. Pilots should consider undertaking training from a qualified person before flying a type of aircraft they have not previously flown, even if they hold the relevant class or type rating.
Always apply prudent airmanship before flying an aircraft you are not familiar with or haven't conducted a kind of operation recently.
Medical requirements for flight crew
- What medical requirements apply to flight crew?
The following table shows which medical certificate standard applies to someone exercising the privilege of a licence.
Licence privilege Class 1 medical certificate Class 2 medical certificate Recreational aviation medical practitioner's certificate Air transport pilot licence (ATPL) Minimum requirement - - Multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) Minimum requirement - - Commercial pilot licence (CPL) Minimum requirement - - Private pilot licence (PPL) Optional Optional** Minimum requirement* Recreational pilot licence (RPL) Optional Optional Minimum requirement* Student pilot (to fly solo) Optional Optional Minimum requirement*
*If you are exercising the privileges of a licence or flying solo as a student pilot and only have a recreational aviation medical practitioner's certificate, some limitations will apply.
**A PPL holder using a recreational aviation medical practitioner's certificate is limited to flying recreational aircraft only and only by day under the visual flight rules.
For more information, read CASA's information sheet about medical requirements for flight crew.
Learning to fly - student pilots
- Do I need a licence to fly as a student pilot?
You don't need a licence to fly as a student because you are under the supervision of a flight instructor and you flying school at all times while you are learning, including when you are flying solo.
However, to fly solo you need to have an aviation reference number, which you can obtain from CASA, and you need to provide CASA with your proof of identity.
To fly solo, you also need to hold a medical certificate.
- What happened to my student pilot licence (SPL) after 1 September 2014?
Part 61 includes a number of changes for student pilots. Even though the Student Pilot Licence doesn’t exist anymore, the requirements for flying as a student pilot remain the same. You still have to carry photographic ID and be authorised to fly solo by an instructor. Fifteen years is the new minimum age for student pilots flying solo. The GFPT is replaced by the new Recreational Pilot Licence.
- What is the difference between a general flying progress test (GFPT) and recreational pilot licence (RPL)?
A GFPT was a student pilot licence which allowed you to carry passengers and for every flight you needed to be authorised by a qualified fight instructor. Under Part 61, the holder of an RPL is the person responsible for the safety of the flight and they don’t need an instructor to authorise them to fly. RPL holders need to have a separate endorsement to fly in controlled airspace, at controlled aerodromes, use an aeronautical radio and conduct cross-country flights.
- I had a CAR Part 5 student pilot licence and GFPT. Do I automatically get a Part 61 RPL?
- When will I receive my first Part 61 licence? My licence was issued before 1 September 2014?
When you complete a flight review, proficiency check or gain a new licence, rating or endorsement, the flight instructor or flight examiner will enter the details onto your old licence and send a notification to CASA. CASA will update your records and issue you with a new Part 61 licence which will include the updated details. You will retain your CAR 5 licence until you receive the Part 61 document.
- Do I need to provide CASA with any information prior to obtaining my first Part 61 licence? I held a licence before 1 September 2014?
You may need to provide CASA with additional information to ensure your new licence document accurately reflects all of your privileges. Detailed information on the new requirements can be found at the CASA website.
- Will I still get sticky labels put into my log book?
Recreational pilot licences
- What is a recreational pilot licence?
A Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) is a new flight crew licence introduced on 1 September 2014. It authorises pilots to fly light, single-engine aircraft as the pilot in command or co-pilot.
The RPL replaces the student pilot licence and general flying progress test (GFPT) that existed under the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988. If you have an RPL you can fly without supervision from a flight instructor or flying school.
Read CASA's information sheet about Recreational Pilot Licences to find out more.
Private pilot licences
- How do I get a private pilot licence?
You must be at least 17 years old to get your Private Pilot Licence (PPL). You also need to do the following for the category rating you want to get with your PPL:
- learn the theory
- complete flight training at a Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASR) Part 141 or 142 training organisation
- pass a PPL theory exam
- meet the minimum aeronautical experience requirements
- pass a PPL flight test for the licence and category rating.
These requirements have to be met for each additional category rating you apply for, once you have your PPL.
Read CASA's information sheet about Private Pilot Licences to find out more.
Commercial pilot licences
- How do I get a commercial pilot licence?
You must be at least 18 years old to get your commercial pilot licence (CPL). You also need to do the following for the category rating you want to get with your CPL:
- learn the theory
- complete flight training
- meet the minimum aeronautical experience requirements (see below for more information)
- pass a CPL theory exam set by CASA
- pass a CPL flight test for the licence and category rating.
These requirements must be met for each additional category rating you apply for once you also have your CPL.
Read CASA's information sheet about commercial pilot licences to find out more.
Air transport pilot licences
- How do I get my air transport pilot licence?
You must be at least 21 years old to get your ATPL. You also need to do the following for the category rating you want to get with your ATPL:
- hold either a commercial pilot licence or multi-crew pilot licence with the same aircraft category rating
- complete the relevant flight training
- learn the theory and pass an ATPL theory exam for the category rating
- complete an approved course of multi-crew cooperation training
- pass an ATPL flight test
- meet the minimum aeronautical experience requirements.
Read CASA's information sheet about Air Transport Pilot Licences to find out more.
Aircraft ratings and endorsements
- What is an aircraft rating?
An aircraft rating is a flight crew qualification that authorises the holder to operate particular aircraft.
Under the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) 1988 aircraft ratings were referred to as aircraft endorsements, which were specified in Civil Aviation Orders.
The change harmonises Australian terminology with that used by the International Civil Aviation Organization and other countries.
Every type of aircraft, including all of its models, has a type certificate. The type certificate specifies whether it is a single-pilot or multi-pilot aircraft (or in a few cases, both). Different aircraft rating systems are used depending on the purpose such as flight crew licensing, airworthiness, maintenance and flight operations.
In Part 61, there are two kinds of aircraft ratings for flight crew:
- Pilot Class ratings which include different, but similar, types of aircraft
- Pilot and Flight Engineer Type ratings which are limited to one type of aircraft, although a type rating can include models that are variants of each other.
To find out more, read CASA's aircraft ratings overview information sheet.
Aircraft class ratings
- What is a class rating?
An aircraft class rating is a flight crew qualification that authorises the holder to operate aircraft that fit the description of the class rating and are not designated as type-rated aircraft.
For example, a Piper Seneca is a multi-engine aeroplane and is not designated as a type rated aircraft, so it is covered by the multi-engine aeroplane class rating.
Part 61 prescribed the following class ratings:
- single-engine aeroplane class rating
- multi-engine aeroplane class rating
- single-engine helicopter class rating
- single-engine gyroplane class rating
- airship class rating.
To find out more, read CASA's aircraft class ratings information sheet.
- I had a CAR Part 5 Piper Seneca aircraft endorsement, which is a light multi-engine aeroplane. After 1 September 2014, am I authorised to fly other multi-engine aeroplanes? What do I need to do?
Under Part 61, the Piper Seneca is covered by the multi-engine aeroplane class rating. Therefore, you will be granted a multi-engine aeroplane class rating. So from 1 September 2014, you will be authorised to fly any other multi-engine aeroplane that is not listed as requiring a type rating. For example, you do not need to get a separate type rating to fly a Cessna 402. However, you should be cautious about flying aircraft that you are not fully competent in and you must comply with the general competency requirement in regulation 61.385 – see the next question for more information.
- What is a type rating?
The official type ratings list is a Legislative Instrument that will be updated when new types are introduced, changes are made or ratings are no longer required. For more information refer to Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 61.055 and 61.060.
Some type ratings cover several models (variants), so the list includes requirements for differences training.
- Which aeroplanes have type ratings?
- all multi-crew certificated aeroplanes
- specified single-pilot certificated aeroplanes that have performance, complexity or handling characteristics that warrant pilots completing a type specific training course.
To find out more and to view the list of aeroplane type ratings, read CASA's guide to type-rated aeroplanes.
- Which helicopters have type ratings?
- all multi-crew certificated helicopters
- all multi-engine helicopters
- specified single-pilot certificated helicopters that have performance, complexity or handling characteristics that warrant pilots completing a type specific training course.
To find out more and to view the list of helicopter type ratings, read CASA's guide to type-rated helicopters.
Cruise relief co-pilot ratings
- What is a cruise relief co-pilot rating?
This rating authorises you to act as co-pilot of an aircraft of a specified type. However, some limitations apply:
- you can only act as co-pilot with an operator that has an approved cyclic training and proficiency program
- you can only act as co-pilot while the aircraft is at Flight Level 200 or above.
Refer to Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 61.825 to 61.850 or read CASA's aircraft type ratings overview information sheet to find out more.
Multi-crew cooperation training
- What is multi-crew cooperation training?
Multi-crew cooperation (MCC) training covers units of knowledge and practical skills that are used when pilots are part of a multi-crew operation. The training is generic to conducting multi-crew operations and is not specific to a type of aircraft.
It is desirable, although not mandatory, that MCC training is completed before a pilot starts training for a multi-crew certificated aircraft type rating. The details of the content of MCC training is in the Part 61 Manual of Standards (MOS). Refer to Schedule 1 for the units of knowledge and practical flight standards.
In summary, MCC training has to cover:
- knowledge of air transport pilot licence (ATPL) human factors (refer to unit code AHFC, Schedule 3 of the MOS)
- practical experience in managing flight during multi-crew operations (refer to unit code MCO, Schedule 2 of the MOS).
MCC training involves classroom learning and practical training in a suitable flight simulation training device.
To find out more, read CASA's multi-crew cooperation training information sheet.
- I flew a multi-crew aircraft prior to 1 September 2014. Do I need to do a multi-crew co-operation course (MCC)?
Co-pilot instrument ratings
- I had a co-pilot instrument rating under CAR Part 5. What happened to it after 1 September 2014?
If you didn't have a current command instrument rating, you will continue to be limited to flying IFR as a co-pilot. You have two options:
- complete training and meet the standards for the grant of a Part 61 instrument rating (not limited to co-pilot duties)
- complete a co-pilot instrument rating proficiency check. The co-pilot instrument proficiency check (IPC) option is available until 31 August 2018.
Note: the co-pilot IPC is only available to pilots who held that rating before 1 September 2014. Part 61 doesn't make provision for the grant of co-pilot ratings and that brings our standards into line with other countries.
Flight examiners and instructors
- I hold a Grade 1 helicopter flight instructor rating, several helicopter type ratings and an agricultural rating. My instructor rating is due on 28 February 2015. What do I need to do to continue training pilots?
You need to pass a flight instructor rating proficiency check within three months prior to 28 February 2015 to continue instructing. However, you don't need to do separate proficiency checks for each training endorsement you hold.
To continue training pilots for the aerial application rating ('aerial application rating' is the new name for the old agricultural rating), you need to have a current aerial application rating.
Maintaining your licence
- What is a flight review and why do I need to have one?
A flight review is an opportunity to receive training that refreshes your flying skills and operational knowledge. Pilots undertake flight reviews to ensure they continue to be competent flying particular types of aircraft or exercising the privileges of an operational rating.
After gaining a qualification, it is normal for some skills to deteriorate over time. A flight review ensures your piloting skills remain – or are brought back up – to standard.
Flight reviews are also used to meet the International Civil Aviation Organization's requirement for countries to ensure pilots continue to be competent exercising the privileges of their licences and ratings.
To find out more, read CASA's flight reviews information sheet.
- I held a CAR Part 5 PP(A)L and completed my aeroplane flight review on 4 August 2013 in a Cessna 210. I obtained a Piper Seneca endorsement on 15 November 2012. How long can I continue to fly the C210 and Seneca before I need to do my next flight review?
You can continue to fly the C210 up to 31 August 2015. Your 4 August 2013 flight review meets the Part 61 single-engine aeroplane class rating flight review requirement, which is valid for two years. You can continue to fly the Seneca until 14 November 2014.
If you do a multi-engine aeroplane class rating flight review within the period of three months before 30 November 2014, your flight review will be taken to have been done on 30 November 2014, so your next flight review would be due on 30 November 2016. Since the flight review satisfies the requirement for the single-engine aeroplane class rating, you would also be able to continue flying the C210 up until 30 September 2016.
Alternative to a class rating flight review
- Do flight reviews or instrument proficiency checks in type-rated aircraft ever meet the class rating flight review requirement?
Yes. If you complete a flight review or an instrument proficiency check in some types of aircraft then you don't have to do a separate class rating flight review.
To find out more and to view the list of type-rated aircraft that can be used for this purpose, read CASA's information sheet about an alternative to a class rating flight review.
- What is a proficiency check and why do I need to have one?
A proficiency check is an assessment of your skills and knowledge in a particular operational area.
Pilots are required to undertake proficiency checks to ensure they continue to be competent conducting particular kinds of operations.
After gaining a qualification, it is normal for some skills to deteriorate over time. A proficiency check ensures your piloting skills continue to meet the standards described in the Part 61 Manual of Standards, and where applicable, those of your operator.
The following proficiency checks are prescribed under Part 61:
- instrument rating proficiency check (IPC)
- instructor rating proficiency check
- examiner rating proficiency check
- aerial application rating proficiency check
- night vision imaging system proficiency check.
Part 61 refers to operator proficiency checks which are prescribed in the regulations that cover flight operations.
To find out more, read CASA's information sheet about proficiency checks.
Transitioning to the new rules
Part 61 transition provisions
- What are the aims of the transition provisions for Part 61?
Under regulations 202.262 and 202.263, old authorisations are taken to be the same as the equivalent Part 61 authorisation. See examples in the following table.
Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR) 1988 Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASR) Part 61 Private pilot (aeroplane) – licence – PP(A)L Private pilot licence with aeroplane category rating – PPL(A) Grade 2 (helicopter) instructor rating Instructor rating with grade 2 (helicopter) training endorsement Low-level permission for aeroplanes Low-level rating with aeroplane category endorsement
Recent experience and competency checks (such as rating renewals, operator checks and flight reviews) completed before 1 September 2014 continue to be valid after the start of the new regulations and after a new Part 61 licence is issued.
The terms of the CAR 1988 authorisations are retained until the new Part 61 authorisations are issued – such as limitations, conditions and validity periods (up to 31 August 2018).
A suspended CAR 1988 authorisation is taken to be an equivalent Part 61 authorisation and its status is also suspended.
Any administrative action being taken on a CAR 1988 authorisation that has not been finally determined is taken to be the same action on the equivalent Part 61 authorisation.
To find out more read CASA's information sheet about the flight crew licensing transition provisions.
- I am currently a licensed pilot. Do I need to get a new Part 61 licence?
From 1 September 2014 pilots have four years to obtain their new Part 61 licence. In the meantime, you can still use your old licence. The same applies to flight engineers.
To find out more, read CASA's information sheet about new look pilot licences from 1 September 2014.
- When should I apply for my new Part 61 licence?
CASA is reminding pilot licence holders that an application to convert your pilot licence to the new Part 61 licence does not need to be submitted to CASA until one of the following events occur:
- you need to apply for an additional licence
- you are issued a flight crew rating
- you complete a flight review
- you are issued an endorsement on a flight crew rating
- you are issued a flight activity endorsement.
When licence holders are ready to submit their notification, application and completed
Currently CASA is receiving more applications for licence conversions than can be managed immediately. Applications are being prioritised so those pilots who have a need to convert their licence to Part 61 are not disadvantaged.
CASA is doing everything possible to keep up with the demand for new licences.
To find out more, read CASA's information sheet about new look pilot licences from 1 September 2014.
- I held a CAR Part 5 Grade 2 aeroplane flight instructor rating, multi-engine aeroplane training approval, instrument rating training approval, night VFR rating and a current command multi-engine aeroplane instrument rating. What training endorsements do I get under Part 61?
You get a Flight Instructor Rating and the following training endorsements:
- Grade 2 (aeroplane) training
- Multi-engine aeroplane training
- Instrument rating training
- Night VFR rating.
New rules for flight crew licensing examinations
- I completed all my exam theory for my flight crew licence before 1 September 2014. Will CASA recognise this after 1 September 2014?
Yes. However, recent changes were made to the rules for theory exam credits.
Recognition of overseas flight crew authorisations
- How do I convert my overseas licence to an Australian licence?
As a general rule, to convert a foreign licence to an Australian flight crew licence you must pass a Flight Rules and Air Law written examination and a flight test, and obtain an Australian medical certificate.
If you want to convert an overseas rating (for example instrument rating or instructor rating) you need to pass a flight test and either an aural examination or written examination. Examinations and flight tests can only be conducted in Australia.
Pilots holding a New Zealand CPL or ATPL can obtain an Australian licence under the Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1997.
Find out more about converting overseas licences.
Recognition of Australian Defence Force qualifications
- I am an Australian Defence Force member. How do I obtain a flight crew licence, rating or endorsement?
You will need to satisfy CASA that you hold a qualification that is at least equivalent to the one you are applying for.
In addition, you may need to pass an aviation English language proficiency assessment and pass the relevant aeronautical exams.
To be granted an Air Transport Pilot Licence you will need to pass a flight test.
Please note these conversion requirements do not include the issue of examiner or instructor ratings.
Taxiing aircraft and operating aeronautical radio
- Do I need an authorisation to taxi an aeroplane?
Yes. Regulations 228A and 229 of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 (CAR) require a person to be qualified to taxi an aircraft. Parts 61 and 64 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASR) include provisions for authorising people to taxi aircraft.
To find out more, read CASA's information sheet about taxiing aircraft.
Further information on the licensing regulations is provided in our comprehensive suite of information sheets available on the CASA website. If you have further queries not answered here please email the CASA licensing and registration centre (CLARC), phone 131 757 or contact your local Aviation Safety Advisor.