Private Pilots License (PPL)

So, it’s time to finally start your pilot training. The first license you will train to get is your Private Pilots License, or PPL. This will allow you to fly small lightweight aircraft, to go on day trips or short breaks away anywhere you can think of, as well as carry non paying passengers. Expect this course to cost you around £10,000 in total.

The training for the PPL will start with a short introductory flight at a local flying school. For this flight, you don’t need a medical or have passed any exams, this is purely to see if you enjoy the flying experience! So relax, enjoy your time out and make sure to ask your instructor any questions you have.

The next step is meeting the legal requirements to gain a PPL. You must be at least 17 years of age, and able to obtain a “Class 2” medical. As I stated in a previous post however, if you plan on continuing to commercial training, it would be a good idea to get your “Class 1” now, just in case there’s any unknown reasons why you wouldn’t be able to get one.

As far as what theoretical training is required, you will need to pass 9 multiple choice exams. These have a required pass mark of 75%.

What exams will I need to take?

  • Air Law. 16 multiple-choice questions to be answered within 35 minutes. They cover the legal side of general aviation, with topics ranging from the establishment of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to the rules of the air today.
  • Meteorology. 16 multiple-choice questions to be answered within 50 minutes. Covering basic weather theory as well as interpolating weather reports and forecasts.
  • Aircraft General Knowledge. 16 multiple-choice questions to be answered within 35 minutes. Covering all technical matters regarding aircraft, such as Engines, Airframes, Fuel and Oil systems.
  • Navigation and Radio Aids. 12 multiple-choice questions to be answered within 45 minutes. Topics covering ground navigation equipment such as VORs and NDBs, to more modern GPS and RNAV systems.
  • Human Performance and Limitations. 12 multiple-choice questions to be answered within 25 minutes. Topics covering the psychological and physiological effects pilots will undertake during their flying careers.
  • Flight Performance and Planning. 12 multiple-choice questions within 45 minutes. Covering the calculations required to guarantee safe flight, such as take-off and landing distances, as well as calculating the safe mass and balance limits and correct fuel.
  • Communications. 12 multiple-choice questions to be answered within 20 minutes. Covering the theoretical side of Radio-Telephony, such as the phonetic alphabet as well as correct ATC terminology.
  • Operational Procedures. 12 multiple-choice questions to be answered within 30 minutes. Covering the standard procedures and rules that pilots are expected to comply with
  • Principles of Flight. 12 multiple-choice questions to be answered within 35 minutes. This covers the very basics of flight, and why aircraft fly. Things such as lift, drag, thrust and weight will all be covered.

What are the other requirements for a PPL?

Once you have passed your theoretical exams, you must complete your PPL within 24 months. You can also complete the flying side of your training alongside the exams. To prepare for your exams, we recommend PPL Tutor, which can be found here.

As well as your theoretical exams, you will need to have completed at least 45 hours of flight instruction. 25 hours of this must be under dual supervision with a flight instructor, and at least 10 hours must be supervised solo time. This is where you will be in the aircraft on your own, but only once your instructor has signed you off to say that you are safe to complete specific flights.

This is where the detail gets a little more in-depth. Of those 10 hours solo, 5 of them must be solo cross country flight time, i.e. outside of the circuit. At least 1 of those cross country flights must be at least 270KM (150NM) which includes full stop landings at 2 aerodromes, different to the departure aerodrome.

Once everything is completed, it will be time to take your PPL skills test. Your flying school will make the booking for you once they feel you are ready, they may even have one of their instructors who is qualified as an examiner. The test will take around 2 to 2 and a half hours to complete, which can be included in the 45-hour minimum. 

Once your skills test is complete, you will supply the relevant forms to the CAA, and a few weeks later, as long as no issues are found, you will have your shiny blue license come through the post. Make sure you sign it!

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