How to become a private pilot

  • 1

    Step 1

    Go for a Trial Flight

    This is the perfect time to try out flying an aircraft to see if it is something you enjoy and want to pursue further. You can do this at one of the many local flying schools around the country. This will also give you an opportunity to check out the school and decide if it is somewhere you would feel comfortable learning to fly.

  • Take a Medical Examination

    This isn’t strictly required at this point but getting a Class 2 Medical sooner rather than later ensures you aren’t disappointed at a later date. You must have completed your medical prior to being allowed to fly solo (eg: without an instructor). A Class 2 Medical has to be taken with an Aeromedical Examiner (AME), a list of AME’s is held by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and can be found on their website.

  • Check your Maths and Physics are up to scratch

    Good GCSE-level Maths and Physics skills help you keep up with the pace of training. If you’re a bit rusty or if school is a distant memory then going over some basic GCSE level Maths and Physics would be a good idea.

    Why not check you are ready with the CATS book “Key Facts: Maths & Physics for Pilots”?

  • Start Your Training

    Getting a PPL (Private Pilots Licence) is the very first licence all pilots have to undertake. Now you’ve taken your trial flight, you should choose carefully where and how to complete this course.

    There are two parts to a PPL course, which we unpack further in the next two steps - theoretical knowledge and flight.

  • 2

    Step 2

    Take your PPL Theory

    This section of the PPL course is where the foundation is laid for all your future aviation knowledge.

    We recommend that this is carried out either at your flight school (if they run suitable classes) or at a specialist theory provider such as CATS.

  • PPL theory includes 9 theory subjects with exams to be taken in each.

    Why not see if you are ready for the exams with the CATS book “Key Facts: EASA PPL PART-FCL Exams”?

  • A specialist will run courses designed to help you complete the PPL theory prior to starting your flight training, using well-developed materials and experienced ground instructors.

    This step typically takes 1 month and costs £500+

    CATS offers a free PPL theory training system online and week-long PPL Theory brush-up courses.

  • 3

    Step 3

    Take your PPL Flight lessons

    PPL flight training consists of a minimum of 45 hours of flying lessons. These lessons are structured and arranged into exercises, which cover the basic skills required to safely fly an aircraft.

    Once these lessons have been completed and the instructor feels you are ready, you will be put forward for a flight test with an approved examiner.

    This step typically takes 2-6 months and cost £7000+ The minimum age at completion is 17 years of age.

  • 4

    Step 4

    Add some ‘ratings’ to your PPL

    As you build experience, you will want to try new things. You will need to gain ‘ratings’. There are lots to choose from - below is a list of the more common ones:

  • Night Rating

    This allows you to use the privileges of your PPL at night.

  • Instrument Rating Restricted (IRR)

    This teaches you how to make an instrument approach and fly in instrument conditions should you inadvertently find yourself flying in these conditions.

  • Tail Wheel Rating

    This allows you to fly aircraft with a tail wheel configuration i.e. two wheels at the front one at the rear as opposed to the more familiar tricycle gear with one wheel in the front. This opens up the opportunity to fly many vintage aircraft.

  • Floatplane Rating

    This allows you to fly an aircraft with floats replacing the normal wheeled undercarriage, enabling you to take off and land on water.

  • Instrument Rating (IR)

    This allows you to plan a flight in which you would take off, fly and land in “Instrument meteorological conditions”.

  • Competency-Based Instrument Rating (CBIR)

    This rating gives the same privileges as the full IR, but with a reduced theory and flight courses. The reduction is based on experience gained whilst flying using the IRR or an IR issued outside of Europe.

  • Aerobatic Rating

    This is a fun way to safely learn how to explore the aerobatic abilities of a suitably certified aircraft.

  • 5

    Step 5

    Get Paid To Fly

    By this point you may be considering flying as a career. There are many different pilot jobs in aviation - the most common is flying for an airline. To become an Airline Pilot, you will need to have completed professional level training and as a minimum: gained passes in the 14 Airline Transportation Pilots Licence (ATPL) theoretical knowledge exams, hold a commercial pilots licence with a multi engine instrument rating and have completed a multi crew cooperation course.

    Another job (and the first paid job of many pilots) is that of a Flight Instructor (FI). This requires that you hold the minimum of a PPL along with a Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL) theory. To start the FI course you must have flown 150 hours as “pilot in command” and have 200 hours total flight time logged.

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CATS, 110 Butterfield,
Luton, LU2 8DL
+44 (0) 1582 434 222

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