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All about the private pilot license

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What is the Private Pilot License?


The PPL (Private Pilot Licence) is a European licence which is accessible after 45 hours of flight. This license allows you, according to a standardized qualification, to fly different types of motorized aircraft in many countries around the world. To do so, you must go to a flight school to learn how to fly and to know the different navigation codes. Following a practical training followed by a practical exam you will eventually obtain a qualification that allows you to fly.

Once you have passed this exam, you will be able to fly in a single engine aircraft first. To fly larger aircraft you will need to obtain a rating for the type of aircraft you wish to fly. You will be taught how to fly the aircraft so that you can be autonomous in all circumstances. For example, a blind flight.

Obtaining this license also allows you to take passengers on board your aircraft, but you cannot be paid for it. In fact, obtaining a private pilot’s license does not authorize paid commercial transport. Holders of this license do not operate under the Public Transport of Passengers (TP or TPP) regime. However, the costs incurred during the flight can be shared between the passengers and the pilot. However, in order to carry passengers, the pilot must have made 3 landings and 3 take-offs in the last 3 months.

This private pilot’s license can therefore be suitable for all those who plan to fly for their pleasure or leisure. They can however evolve afterwards towards other qualifications.


How to obtain a private pilot’s license?


The Private Pilot License can be issued in many countries around the world that recognize it mutually. It is for example delivered in France by the Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile, but also in the United States by the Federal Aviation Administration, or in Canada by Transport Canada. The prerequisites differ depending on the organization that issues the license, but overall the requirements are the same in these countries.

The training to obtain a private pilot license is given by a qualified instructor. It can also be given by a pilot who has at least the license in question, the rating for which he is instructing, and a valid instructor rating. This training is offered in an approved professional school or in a flying club.


What are the prerequisites to obtain a private pilot’s license?


In order to begin training for your license, you must be 14 years of age or older, and at least 16 years of age for your first solo flight. Also, you must be 17 years old when you take the test, and have a class 2 medical certificate of physical and mental fitness. This certificate is issued in France by a doctor with an aeronautical medicine qualification.

If you wish to obtain your license and fly in foreign airspace or in the airspace of a multilingual country, you will have to prove a sufficient level of expression and comprehension in the language used in radiotelephone communications. Often you will have to prove your level of English, as the universal language of air traffic control is English.


What is the training to obtain a private pilot’s license?


The training of a private pilot consists of a theoretical part and a practical part. These two parts are taught in parallel. Before taking the technical part, the candidate must have passed the theoretical exam. This theoretical test of the PPL takes the form of two MCQs of 120 questions, for which a minimum of 75% of the answers must be correct. Different topics are covered in these MCQs, such as regulations, human performance, communications and meteorology. This test can be taken several times, over a maximum period of 18 months.

Then, to take the next test, the practical test, the candidate must be at least 17 years old and have completed at least 45 hours of flight, including 10 hours solo and 25 hours of instruction with an instructor. On the day of the test, you will be examined and evaluated by a FE (Flight Examiner). These are examiners approved by the Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile. Until the last moment, the course remains unknown. On the ground, the examiner will brief you and indicate the route you will have to fly, then you will have to perform the following steps, and pass at least one of them:


  • 1st step : Pre-flight operation and take-off
  • Step 2: Handling
  • Step 3: En route procedures
  • Stage 4: Approach and Landing Procedures
  • Stage 5: Abnormal and Emergency Procedures

You will be required to fly an aircraft within its limitations, and perform maneuvers with flexibility and precision while maintaining control of the aircraft at all times. The practical flight test should not exceed one hour.


Validity and renewal of the private pilot’s license


The private pilot license, once obtained, is valid for 24 months. The validity dates are always the last day of the month.

To extend the validity of your license before its expiration date, you must, in the 12 months preceding the expiration date

  • to have completed 12 hours of flight time, including at least 6 hours as pilot in command
  • have completed one hour with an instructor
  • have performed 12 take-offs and 12 landings

To renew your private pilot license, you will have to pass a practical aptitude test with an examiner.


What is the average price of a commercial pilot license?


We can estimate the cost of a private pilot’s license, including the training and the various tests, at about 8 000€. In practice, you should generally note an average of 18 months of training. Sometimes 12 months if you opt for one or two lessons per week.


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