Getting your private pilot licence
Learn about the new rules for private pilots – in effect since 1 September 2014. The full rules are contained in Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations.
This information sheet includes details about an exemption which came into effect on 1 July 2016 (CASA EX97/16). It provides an alternative to aircraft class rating and pilot type rating biennial flight reviews, with an aircraft category and multi-engine aircraft requirement.
- Who does this information apply to?
- Students currently undertaking flying training.
- Anyone who is considering gaining a private pilot licence.
- Flight instructors.
- Flight training organisations.
- Flight examiners.
- What is a private pilot licence?
- A private pilot licence (PPL) is a licence that allows a holder to pilot an aircraft as pilot-in-command or co-pilot when the aircraft is being operated in a private operation or the holder is receiving flying training.
- Can I fly any aircraft using my PPL?
No, you must hold the appropriate aircraft category rating on your PPL and the class or type rating for the aircraft you want to fly. Refer to CASA’s Aircraft class ratings and Type ratings information sheets for more information.
If you are applying for a PPL for the first time, you must also apply for an aircraft category rating and a class rating or type rating. The most common aircraft category rating is aeroplane. The other category ratings are helicopter, gyroplane, airship and powered-lift aircraft. After you have obtained your licence and category rating, you can apply for another category rating on the licence.
If you want to fly as pilot-in-command or co-pilot in a multi-crew operation, as well as holding the appropriate aircraft rating you must have completed an approved course of training in multi-crew cooperation. If you conducted multi-crew operations before 1 September 2015, you don’t have to complete that training.
- How do I get my PPL?
You must be at least 17 years old to get your 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 CASR Part 141 or 142 flight 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.
- What is involved in learning the PPL theory?
The theory syllabus for the PPL includes subjects such as flight rules and air law, aerodynamics, meteorology, navigation, flight planning, power plants, aircraft systems and other relevant subjects.
You can study the theory yourself if you have a self-learning course or you can attend classes at a flying school. Contact a flying school to work out what is the best way for you to complete the theory training for the PPL.
Each category rating PPL exam covers all of the subjects and the aeronautical knowledge standards that are prescribed in Schedule 1 of the Part 61 Manual of Standards (MOS). The details of the knowledge standards for each unit are in Schedule 3 of the MOS.
- Is there a PPL exam?
Yes. For each category rating there is a separate exam which covers the full theory syllabus that is relevant to that category rating for the PPL.
More information about theory exams is available on the CASA website. Flying schools can also provide details about the theory and exams.
- What do I need to know about my flight training for a PPL?
You need to complete a course of flight training with a Part 141 or Part 142 operator. It includes basic general flying, as well as cross-country and instrument flying.
Flight training organisations which held an AOC prior to 1 September 2014 can continue providing flight training using their old AOC until they obtain their Part 141 or Part 142 certificate or by the 31 August 2018 transition deadline.
There are two types of courses: intensive integrated courses and non-integrated courses. Part 142 schools conduct integrated courses and Part 141 schools conduct non-integrated courses. A school can hold both certificates.
The practical flight standards are prescribed in Schedule 2 of the MOS.
- When does instrument flying become mandatory for the helicopter PPL?
Flight training organisations can continue to deliver flying training according to the old regulations after 1 September 2014 – this does not have to include instrument flying.
The current regulations require that all courses must include instrument flying from 1 September 2018. However, consideration is being given to the implementation of instrument flight training as part of the Part 61 post implementation review project.
If you obtain your licence without doing the instrument flying, it will include a note that your licence doesn’t meet the international standard for a PPL. You can complete the instrument flying later.
- What is an integrated training course?
- An integrated training course is an intensive program that combines ground theory with practical flight training in a structured course and is designed to be completed within a condensed period of time. Theory training is delivered in parallel to the practical training as a planned integrated sequence. The benefit of integrated training is that the flying experience required is reduced compared to non-integrated training.
- How much flying experience do I need to get my PPL?
The following table summarises the flying experience you need to have to obtain a PPL with an aeroplane category rating or a helicopter category rating.
Category rating integrated courses
Category rating non-integrated courses
Flight time as pilot
30@ (including at least 20A)
30@ (including at least 20G)
35@ (including at least 20A)
35@ (including at least 30H)
35@ (including at least 20G)
Solo flight time
Dual instrument time
Dual instrument flight time
* means up to five hours of the minimum aeronautical experience can be in an approved flight simulation training device.
** means up to five hours of the minimum aeronautical experience can be in a flight simulation training device or as tethered flight time.
@ means the flight time can be in an aircraft of any category.
A means flight time must be in registered or recognised aeroplanes.
H means flight time must be in registered or recognised helicopters.
G means flight time must be in registered or recognised gyroplanes.
X means flight time must be in powered aircraft (for gyroplane solo flight time, 10 hours must be in powered aircraft and a minimum of five hours must be in gyroplanes).
# means the flight time must include a flight of at least 150 nautical miles during which a full-stop landing is made at each of two aerodromes not within the flight training area for the aerodrome from which the flight began.
+ means the flight time must include a flight of at least 100 nautical miles during which a landing is made at each of two landing areas other than the one where the flight began.
^ means instrument time can be completed in a flight simulation training device or aircraft.
- What are the medical requirements for a PPL?
You need to have an appropriate medical certificate (Class 2) to take the PPL flight test.
When exercising the privileges of a PPL licence you can choose to fly a Class 1 or Class 2 medical certificate issued by CASA, or with a recreational aviation medical practitioner’s certificate (RAMPC).
If you are using an RAMPC, you will be limited to flying recreational aircraft by day under visual flight rules only. Other limitations apply when carrying more than one passenger and operating above 10 000 ft AGL.
If you are a PPL holder using a RAMPC, you will be limited to flying recreational aircraft only, and only by day under the visual flight rules.
Refer to CASA’s Medical requirements for flight crew information sheet for more details.
- How do I maintain the privileges of my PPL?
To keep flying you need to have a current aircraft rating flight review
Under Part 61, if you are flying aircraft covered by the single-engine aeroplane class rating, you need to have done a flight review in a single-engine, class-rated aircraft within the previous 24 months.
If you fly both helicopters and aeroplanes, you need to have a separate flight review for each class of aircraft you fly. If you have a current multi-engine aeroplane class-rating flight review, you are authorised to fly single-engine aeroplanes.
An exemption came into force on 1 July 2016 which provides an alternative to the aircraft rating flight review. Instead of needing a flight review for each aircraft rating, pilots only need to hold a valid flight review in an aircraft of the same category that was completed in the previous 24 months. If you want to fly a multi-engine aircraft, the flight review needs to have been done in a multi-engine aircraft of the same category.
If you are carrying passengers, you also need to meet the recent experience requirements of three take-offs and landings within the previous 90 days.
For more details about aircraft ratings and flight reviews refer to the following CASA information sheets: Aircraft ratings, Aircraft class ratings, Aircraft type ratings, Flight reviews and Proficiency checks.
- Want to know more?
Visit the Licensing regulations section.
The new rules for private pilots are contained in Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations:
- Subpart 61.E – general limitations
- Subpart 61.H – private pilot licences
- Regulation 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
- Regulations 61.520 to 61.535 – aeronautical experience requirements for private pilot licences (applicants who have completed integrated training courses)
- Regulations 61.540 to 61.565 – aeronautical experience requirements for private pilot licences (applicants who have not completed integrated training courses).