The European Light Aircraft Pilot Licence was introduced by EASA (the European regulator) in 2012, largely  based on the successful UK NPPL licence. It’s intention is to reduce the requirements and cost of gaining a pilot licence suitable for non-commercial flight. Medical requirements have also been relaxed, with some PPLs downgrading to LAPLs for that reason.

This isn’t a microlight licence and allows full use of quite sophisticated aircraft up to 2,000kg, with up to 3 passengers, so quite suitable for all our club aircraft. It can be upgraded to a full PPL licence later with a short course and skill test.

You can also convert from a microlight licence to the LAPL with just a few hours flight training. Those who already have UK NPPL(A) licences can do this as a paperwork exercise.

What does a LAPL licence permit?

  • Fly a single engine aeroplane VFR with MTOW (Max TakeOff Weight) up to 2,000kg with no more than 4 people on board. This includes all our club aircraft.
  • Fly anywhere in EASA-land (European Union, Switzerland and a few other European countries) including the Channel Islands
  • Carry passengers, including cost sharing of direct costs but not for profit, provided they have made 3 take-offs and landings within the last 90 days. The cost sharing doesn’t need to be split equally (e.g. pilot might contribute 10% while 3 passengers contribute 30% each).
  • Train and qualify for additional ratings:
    • Night, permitting Night VFR. If passengers are taken, then at least one of the three recent take-off and landings must have been at night.
    • Aerobatic
    • Sailplane (i.e. glider) towing
    • Banner towing
    • Mountain
    • Differences training for tailwheel, floats, skis, variable pitch propeller, retractable undercarriage
  • Fly a non-EASA aircraft (e.g. Annex II) in the UK. This includes many lower cost and home-built aircraft overseen by the LAA (Light Aircraft Association)


You need to be reasonably fit and enthusiastic. If you can drive a car, you can almost certainly fly a plane.

Training can be logged from age 14, solo flight is permitted at age 16 and licences issued at age 17. There is no upper age limit although you must have a current medical certificate.

If you wear spectacles, you may need to have two pairs with you when flying. If colour blind, then you may not be allowed to fly at night. If disabled, we may be able to accommodate you with our specially adapted aircraft.

For training in our aircraft, we require a minimum height 4′ 6″ (to ensure you can see out the windscreen with your feet on the pedals) and max height 6′ 4″. Weight limits of 115kg (PA28) and 95kg (PS28) apply.

Course Content

30 hours of flight instruction

9 theory exams (identical to the full PPL course)

Radio Telephony practical exam

Navigational Skill Test

General Handling Skill Test

After Passing

After passing the final skill test, you can apply for a LAPL licence. Your first 10 hours must be flown solo, thereafter you can take passengers.

Retaining Currency

While your LAPL licence is valid for life, you must have flown fairly recently and with an instructor for it to be valid for solo flight. Unlike the PPL, there is no fixed two yearly cycle during which your licence is signed. Instead, you are responsible for ensuring that the criteria are met prior to any flight.

Within the previous 24 months, you must have:

  • Flown 12 hours as Pilot in Command
  • Flown 12 take-off and landings
  • Flown one hour with an instructor

Your medical certificate must also be current and valid.

If flying with passengers, you must have made three take-offs and landings within the previous 90 days. If at night, then one of each of those take-offs and landings at night.

Bristol Aero Club also has some currency rules which are detailed in our operations manual.

Next Steps

You may find the LAPL meets all your needs, so go out and enjoy using it.

For those wanting a further challenge, you could consider

  • Adding a night rating. These are popular during the Winter evenings and can be completed at Gloucester with just 5 hours flight training.
  • Progressing to a full PPL licence. While there aren’t any more theory exams, you’ll need further flight instruction to cover the topics omitted from the full PPL syllabus, such as radio navigation. You’ll also need a full Class 2 medical. After training, you conduct a Skill Test and apply for a replacement licence.