What does the PPL(A) license allow me to do?
The Private Pilot license issued by an EASA member allows its holder to act without remuneration as a pilot in command or co-pilot on aircraft or touring motor gliders (TMGs) carrying out non-commercial operations, as well as to exercise all the rights of a LAPL(A) holder.
Now let’s break down the legislation and see what each thing means:
- Non-commercial operations: flights that do not imply any type of remuneration, this is, we can only perform flights of a recreational nature, as a hobby.
- LAPL (Light Aircraft Pilot License): when obtaining PPL(A) license we are also granted the ability to fly ultralight aircraft.
- Aircraft: the PPL(A) license is aimed at flying small size aircraft, which in many countries are commonly known under the name of general aviation or light aviation aircraft.
Despite what is mentioned above, the legislation dictates a series of cases in which we could be able to be remunerated (and thus make money) with our PPL(A) license:
- While serving as a PPL(A) or LAPL(A) flight instructor.
- By conducting skill tests and proficiency checks for said licenses.
- By carrying out training, skill tests and checks of the ratings or certificates attached to said licenses.
What are the steps to follow to obtain a PPL(A) license?
Choose an appropriate flight school
The first thing will be to choose a flight school or ATO (Authorized Training Organization) that offers this type of course. This is a very important choice, so below we have collected a series of indicators that can be useful to help you take a decision:
- Ground and Flight Instructors: as we are starting from zero in aviation, it is recommended to visit the school’s facilities, meet instructors, talk with them and even ask to attend a theory class first-hand if possible.
- Fleet: we will try to choose a flight school that has a modern and well-maintained fleet that will inspire us with confidence when flying.
- Other students' experiences: without a doubt, hearing an unbiased opinion from a student will help us decide.
- Size of the school: if our main goal is to continue with other pilot licenses in the future (CPL(A) or ATPL(A) it is advisable to select a big flight school. If, on the other hand, we do it purely as a hobby, we can go for a smaller school or a flying club where we will find a much closer treatment and tailored training.
- Distance to the airport: in general aviation, the weather is a key factor. Many flights are cancelled due to bad weather just before departure. One of the most disappointing things is leaving home several hours early and then ending up cancelling the flight right before jumping into the plane. This happens more times than one can imagine.
- Price: without a doubt, this will be a key factor, although it should not prevail over the others. Nowadays almost all flight schools have their course price adjusted to the market price. If you are given a great discount, look at it twice before taking it.
Going through the course
The PPL(A) course is divided into three phases.
1. The theoretical phase is made up of 9 subjects. Once completed, the student will sit the official exams in order to attempt to pass them successfully. If you want to know more about how the theoretical phase works, we recommend you to take a look at this article where we discuss everything in detail.
2. The flight phase comprises a total of 45 hours divided as follows:
- 35 h of dual flight (with a flight instructor).
- 10 h of solo flight, including a 150 NM triangular flight with a full stop at three different airports.
Added to this, we will also need to have at least a valid Class II Medical Certificate, before making our first solo flight. Note that we don’t need to have a valid medical certificate to enrol, attend ground school or start flying with an instructor.
3. Skill Test. Once the student has satisfactorily completed the two previous phases, the skill test will be carried out with a flight examiner. This consists of a pre-planned flight by the students along a certain route of his choice, where the examiner will try to test out all the skills and knowledge he acquired.
Obtaining the license and rating
Once the skill test has been successfully completed, we will obtain our PPL(A) license in a digital format via e-mail.
On our PPL(A) license, next to field XII. We would read the following: SEP(L) (Single Engine Piston Land). This is the rating that we have obtained during our course, which will allow us to fly single-engine piston aircraft on land. By obtaining the PPL(A) license, we are also automatically given that rating.
It is very important not to confuse a license with a rating. Licenses are proof that we have successfully completed a training course in the past while ratings indicate whether we are still capable of exercising our privileges to a minimum set level.
Our PPL(A) license can have different ratings associated with it if we decide to advance in our training as a pilot by completing other courses:
- SEP / Single-Engine Piston
- MEP /Multi-Engine Piston
- NR / Night Rating
- IR / Instrument Rating
While the PPL(A) license does not expire, the ratings do. All of them expire after one year and must be renewed, except the SEP, which is renewed every 2 years.
From now on we can start flying as a hobby at other flight schools, flying clubs or even by buying our own plane. The license also opens up the possibility of accessing other flight training courses to obtain the ratings above mentioned and thus be able to apply for professional pilot licenses such as the CPL(A) or ATPL(A).
We at Private Pilot Exams really hope that this article has helped you to clear out doubts about the PPL(A) license. Don’t hesitate to share it and in case you want to know more, take a look at some other articles that we think can be as useful.