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Changes to flight crew licences
Since 1 September 2014, CASR Part 61 has prescribed the requirements and standards for the issue of flight crew licences, ratings and other authorisations, including those issued to pilots and flight engineers.
View examples of two types of the new look CASR Part 61 PPL and ATPL licences. The new licences have no expiry date, are recognised internationally and comply with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 1 requirements. They also adopt the ICAO's aircraft type and class ratings system, simplifying the aircraft endorsement system for pilots. Under the new licences, flight crew training needs to be conducted by a Part 141 or Part 142 operator.
- Student pilot licence (SPL)
- Recreational pilot licence (RPL)
- Private pilot licence (PPL)
- Commercial pilot licence (CPL)
- Multi-crew pilot licence (MPL)
- Air transport pilot licence (ATPL)
- Glider pilot licence (GPL)
- Balloon licence holders
- Overseas licence holder
- Australian Defence Force member
There is no student pilot licence (SPL) in Part 61. The minimum age to fly solo is 15.
A new recreational pilot licence (RPL) is available to pilots not wanting to obtain a PPL and to pilots wanting to transfer from the recreational aviation sector to fly registered aircraft.
The RPL replaces the old SPL and general flying progress test (GFPT).
To obtain an RPL, you must be 16 year old and have:
- a current medical certificate—this may be either Class 1 or 2, or a recreational aviation medical practitioner’s certificate (RAMPC) (note that there are conditions on the number of passengers you can carry if you hold a RAMPC)
- 25 hours flight time comprising 20 hours dual and five hours solo
- passed an aeronautical exam for the associated category rating
- passed a flight test.
RPL holders are limited to:
- flying no more than 25nm from the aerodrome where the flight began, the designated training area, or a direct route between the two
- day VFR private operations in a single engine aircraft with a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 1500kg.
If an individual already holds a pilot certificate issued by a recreational aviation administration organisation or a GFPT, they will be able to exercise the privileges of a RPL after they have conducted a flight review.
The following endorsements can be added to an RPL:
- Controlled aerodrome endorsement (RPCT)
- Controlled airspace endorsement (RPCA)
- Flight radio endorsement (RPFR)
—this requires an aviation English language proficiency assessment
- Recreational navigation endorsement (RPNA)—this requires minimum flight time of five hours solo cross-country and a minimum of two hours dual instrument time, of which at least one hour is flight instrument time.
For a private pilot licence (PPL) you must be at least 17 years old and successfully complete an integrated or non-integrated course of training.
Integrated courses require (amongst other things) 35 hours of flight time, including 10 hours solo, five hours solo cross country and two hours instrument time.
Non-integrated courses require an additional five hours flight time (40 hours in total).
An applicant can qualify for the PPL(H) by meeting the old standards in the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 (CAR) until 31 August 2017. That training is not ICAO compliant and doesn’t necessarily include training in basic instrument flying.
Definition: Integrated course
'Integrated' means an intensive course of training:
- designed to ensure that a course participant receives ground theory training is integrated with practical flight training
- for which the ground theory training and practical flight training are conducted by the same operator
- conducted according to a syllabus that satisfies the knowledge and flight standards specified in the Part 61 Manual of Standards for a private or commercial pilot licence
- designed to be completed within a condensed period of time.
To obtain a commercial pilot licence (CPL) you must be at least 18 years old and successfully complete an integrated or non-integrated course of training.
Integrated courses require (amongst other things) 150 hours of flight time for the aeroplane category rating and 100 hours for the helicopter category rating.
Non-integrated courses require 200 hours for the aeroplane category rating and 150 for the helicopter category rating.
A CPL holder cannot be pilot-in-command of:
- an aircraft engaged in multi-crew charter or regular public transport (RPT)
- an aircraft certified for a single pilot with a MTOW of more than 5700kg in RPT
- a turbojet aircraft with MTOW greater than 3500kg in RPT.
The theory exams must be completed within a two-year period to remain valid.
An applicant for a helicopter category CPL is now required to complete training in basic instrument flying.
An applicant can qualify for the CPL(H) by meeting the old standards in the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 (CAR) until 31 August 2017. That training is not ICAO compliant and doesn’t necessarily include training in basic instrument flying.
To obtain a multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) you must be at least 18 years old and successfully complete an MPL-integrated course of training of at least 240 hours of aeronautical experience.
An MPL holder is authorised to be the co-pilot of an aircraft they have a type rating for in an IFR operation. However, the pilot must be working for an operator that is approved as a training and checking organisation.
For an air transport pilot licence (ATPL) you must be at least 21 years old.
The ATPL with the aeroplane category rating [ATPL(A)] includes the privileges of the Part 61 instrument rating.
You are also required to:
- hold a CPL or MPL with the same category rating
- have at least 1500 hours experience for the aeroplane category rating, or 1000 hours for the helicopter category rating
- have completed an approved course of training in multi-crew cooperation (MCC).
The theory exams must be completed within a two-year period to remain valid.
One of the most significant changes in the new regulations is the introduction of an ATPL flight test. The flight test will be in a multi-engine, turbine aircraft or an approved flight simulator.
While the flight test for the ATPL(A) must be conducted as an IFR multi-crew operation with a co-pilot, the test for the ATP(H) must be done in a helicopter that is certificated at least for Night VFR operations with a co-pilot, or an approved flight simulator. The helicopter test can be done as an IFR or VFR operation.
An ATPL holder is only authorised to fly IFR as a single-pilot operation if they have previously completed a flight test or instrument proficiency check as a single-pilot operation. They must also have flown under IFR in a single-pilot aircraft within the previous six months. This requirement is the same for other licence holders.
Part 61 includes a glider pilot licence (GPL), which is ICAO compliant. To obtain the licence, you must be at least 16 years old.
You are also required to have (amongst other things that apply to all licences, such as aviation English language proficiency and a background security check):
- a pilot certificate issued by a recreational aviation organisation that administers glider activities
- undertaken at least six hours of flight time, including two hours solo, as well as 20 launches and 20 landings in a glider or motorised glider.
As an ICAO compliant licence, the GPL is expected to be recognised by foreign aviation authorities and this will assist Australian pilots wishing to participate in gliding competitions overseas.
The requirements for balloon licence holders will continue to be contained in CAR Part 5 until the new CASR Part 131 is published. At that time the licensing requirements for balloons will be transferred to Part 131.
For an overseas licence holder to obtain a flight crew licence with an aircraft category rating, CASA must be satisfied that the overseas licence is at least equivalent. In addition, you must be able to demonstrate aviation English language proficiency and hold an authorisation to operate a radio.
If you are converting your overseas licence to an Australian CPL, multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) or ATPL, you must pass the flight test and theory exams specified in the MOS.
If you are an Australian Defence Force member and want a flight crew licence, rating or endorsement, you must satisfy CASA that you hold a qualification at least equivalent to the one being applied for. In addition, you may need to pass an aviation English language proficiency assessment and pass the aeronautical exams required. You are required to pass a flight test to be granted an ATPL. These conversion requirements do not include the issue of examiner or instructor ratings