EASA Private Pilot Licence

The PPL is the international baseline for a private pilot, valid worldwide. Holders can fly aircraft up to 5.7 tonnes and with 19 seats on a non-commercial basis. The scope of the course is slightly more extensive than the LAPL, incorporating some basic instrument flight and radio navigation.

You can fly European registered aircraft anywhere, worldwide. The licence can also be validated to fly aircraft registered in other countries, such as USA, Canada or New Zealand.

Further ratings can be added including Instrument (flying in cloud) and Instructor.

You can upgrade from a LAPL with a short course and skill test. It’s also straightforward to convert from an older UK PPL to the full EASA PPL with some training on radio navigation aspects.

What does a PPL Licence allow?

  • Fly a single engine aeroplane VFR with MTOW (Max TakeOff Weight) up to 5,750kg with no more than 19 people on board. This includes all our club aircraft.
  • Fly anywhere in worldwide in EASA registered aircraft. Fly any registration of aircraft in the UK (including N-reg, 2-reg etc.)  Licences can be validated for use with third country registered aircraft outside the UK.
  • 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).
  • Take differences training for more sophisticated features (retractable gear, variable pitch propeller, pressurisation, tailwheel, EFIS Glass Cockpits,
  • 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.
    • Instrument Ratings: IR(R), CB-IR, EIR
    • Aerobatic
    • Sailplane (i.e. glider) towing
    • Banner towing
    • Mountain
    • Floatplane
  • 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)
  • Fly/hire local aircraft in other countries, such as USA, New Zealand, Canada subject to validating or converting your licence in those countries.


You need to be reasonably fit and enthusiastic. If you can drive a car, you can almost certainly fly a plane. However, we do train disabled pilots using our adapted controls.

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

45 hours of flight instruction

9 theory exams (identical to the full PPL course)

Radio Telephony practical exam

PPL Skill Test

After Passing

After passing the final skill test, you can apply for a PPL licence. You may not take passengers until it has been issued, but may fly solo supervised by an instructor.

Retaining Currency

While your EASA PPL licence is valid for life, you must have flown fairly recently and with an instructor for it to be valid for solo flight. There is a fixed two yearly cycle during which your licence is signed.

During the second year of each 24 month period, you must have

  • Flown 12 hours of which 6 were as Pilot in Command
  • Flown 12 take-off and landings
  • Flown one hour  with an instructor
  • Had your licence endorsed and forms sent off to the CAA

It is now permitted for a flight instructor or class rating instructor to endorse your licence (rather than requiring an examiner to do so), provided they gave the 1 hour instruction and have the authority to do so on their own licence. This can be done anytime during the second year of each period.

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 30 days. If at night, then one of each of those take-offs and landings at night.

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

Next Steps

You may find the PPL 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 with just 5 hours flight training.
  • Progressing to an IR(R), allowing you to fly in poorer weather conditions and cope with unexpected cloud. The standard course takes 15 hours and involves one theory exam and a skill test, which can all be conducted through the club.