Read below to learn more about LAPL, who it is for, what’s involved in it, the medical requirements for it, and the criteria to obtain it.
The Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) is designed for people who want to experience the thrill of aviation but can’t find the time to go out to a flight school and spend hours on a Private Pilot Licence. The LAPL is considered to be a low-hanging fruit that can be achieved in less time and with relatively fewer medical requirements compared to a PPL or CPL.
If you have been wanting to fulfil your dreams of flying an aircraft without fully committing to the world of aviation, we have just the licence to get you in the air.
Read below to learn more about LAPL, who it is for, what’s involved in it, the medical requirements for it, and the criteria to obtain it:
Why Get a LAPL?
If you are someone who works 40 hours a week on a 9 to 5 shift, finding the time to invest in a pilot licence may prove to be a difficult endeavour.
To get a Private Pilot Licence, one has to devote up to a minimum of 45 hours of training which can be very difficult, especially if your flight school is located several miles away from your home.
This is why the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) was developed. It is meant to invite even more people into the world of aviation by offering a flexible licence that can help you not only fly an aircraft but also progress to a PPL or even a CPL!
A LAPL is also a great way for people who want to experience a solo flight just to tick it off their bucket list. Although you will be limited to the types of aircraft that you can fly with a LAPL, this will still be a fantastic way for people to quickly soar through the skies and live their dream.
LAPL is also an excellent way for young aviators to sort of get their foot in the door. This licence has similar training when compared to PPL but due to its less intense requirements, young people can get acquainted with the various mechanics of aviation and choose their own destiny in this exciting field!
Benefits of LAPL
The LAPL can be a quick way to get yourself into a cockpit. Using this licence, pilots can easily fly light aircraft during the day without stressing over the long list of requirements usually required for more complex licences.
Here are all of the benefits of flying with a LAPL instead of a licence that requires way more training:
The primary benefit of a LAPL is that it enables pilots to fly aircraft recreationally during day VFR (Visual Flight Rules). This means that even pilots that go for a PPL will essentially be flying using just the LAPL benefits for almost half a year since the weather conditions in the region will be favourable for flying aircraft during the day.
In this case, a LAPL will prove to be a much more convenient and relatively easy pilot licence to obtain rather than a PPL. In addition to this, a LAPL will also be a less expensive option than obtaining a PPL and, as you can imagine, it is also way less expensive than if you go for a CPL.
This “low cost of entry” can help pilots fly aircraft, get a bit of experience, and then decide on their future in aviation more easily. They can also feasibly manage their training expenses since a LAPL requires fewer training hours and less intense theoretical knowledge.
Limited Medical Requirements
One of the key reasons why people opt for a LAPL is that it doesn’t have the same strenuous medical requirements as other flight programmes.
For example, a LAPL doesn’t require the same in-depth medical screening outlined for Class 1 or Class 2 medical certificates that are required for PPL or CPL holders. While the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has strict rules for pilot medicals for all types of pilots, the LAPL has the least serious requirements. This means that you will just have to clear the minimum basic requirements related to your overall health.
Even if you have certain disabilities or active diseases, you may be allowed to fly with a LAPL provided that you give your Aeromedical Examiner (AME) the prescription information, treatment plans, medical reports, and the overall progress of your health. As long as your disease is mild and non-debilitating, you may be able to fly just like any other pilot.
Flying to Impress
Flying aircraft carries serious bragging rights, which means that you can essentially use your LAPL training to impress your family and friends. Flying aircraft is a skill that is rare in the general population, so if you want to stand out and be different, there is no better way to get flying than a LAPL.
A LAPL may also allow you to make new social connections as you will likely also meet up with other like-minded individuals with the same goals and hobbies as you.
Flight schools are teeming with people from all walks of life and if you are a social butterfly, this could be your chance to unfurl your wings and make friends that you can actually fly with.
A LAPL is Open-Ended
A LAPL has restrictions when compared to PPL and CPL licences, but when it comes to growth, you will have every opportunity to work toward a “fuller” licence after obtaining your LAPL.
Once you get your LAPL it will be up to you to decide your way forward. If you would like to just keep your LAPL and fly recreationally and occasionally during the daytime in great weather, then you might not be the type to want to progress forward.
But if you start to get interested in flying aircraft and want to pursue it more seriously, a LAPL can also help you get started on a PPL or even a CPL licence.
The benefit here is that you will have already built a solid base thanks to your LAPL so obtaining a PPL will become easier and who knows, once you get your PPL you may even want to get into commercial operations!
Limitation of LAPL
We have outlined all the benefits of obtaining a LAPL, but of course, there are limitations to this licence as well. Let’s take a look at how a standard LAPL licence can limit your capabilities to fly:
Flying as per VFR
Visual Flight Rules are a set of guidelines outlined for pilots that want to fly aircraft during the day. These guidelines help pilots navigate the skies without any visual hindrance and can significantly reduce the risk of accidents or visual-related mishaps.
LAPL pilots can’t fly during risky or unclear weather conditions. They cannot fly at night or during low-visibility conditions as well. This means that if it’s particularly foggy or rainy, then you might not be allowed to fly for your safety.
The minimum visibility requirement for VFR is 5km. Furthermore, pilots must also maintain a minimum distance of 500 feet vertically and 1500 feet horizontally from any cloud.
Pilots are also required to maintain a minimum altitude based on where they are flying. These rules are to keep the pilot clear from other aircraft and to keep them from entering restricted airspace.
In the case of LAPL, all pilots are required to fly between a specific time period during a clear-weather day. In general, LAPL flights should take place 30 minutes before sunrise and should end within 30 minutes of sunset. These flight timings also include the 5km visibility rule as stated above.
Limited to Certain Aircraft
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of flying with a LAPL is that you are limited to certain light aircraft as opposed to larger aeroplanes that are available to PPL and CPL candidates. In the case of LAPL, pilots are only allowed to train and fly in single-engine aircraft with a limited take-off weight.
The good news is that you can take a maximum of up to 3 passengers with you during your flight but you will be limited to soaring the skies on a relatively low-powered single-engine aircraft.
In comparison, pilots with a PPL get to fly a range of different aircraft which includes multi-engine aircraft that can output way more power and provide an overall different “feel” when flying.
Flying larger and more complex aircraft also means that you can work on your Night Rating to fly aircraft instrumentally, even in the dark or during low-visibility conditions.
No Commercial Opportunities
If you are looking to earn from your LAPL licence, we have bad news. Since this pilot licence is limited to recreational flying only, you will not be able to use your skills to earn with your licence.
Interestingly, many people don’t find this to be a deal-breaker because they see a LAPL as a means to enter the world of aviation without any commitment.
So, if you are a hobbyist who just wants to soar the skies without hoping to earn from your flights, the LAPL is perfect for you. But if you want your flights to be a bit more lucrative, you might want to step up your licence game!
As we mentioned above, once you obtain your LAPL, you will be able to upgrade your licence to a PPL. This means that you can use your LAPL training as a foundation that can allow you to achieve a PPL or even a CPL if you want to fully commit.
Requirements for LAPL
Convinced about getting a LAPL? Here are a few things that you need to keep in mind before going for it:
Unlike a PPL that requires a total of 45 hours of training, a LAPL can be obtained by completing a minimum of 30 hours of flight training.
This includes 15 hours of dual instructions and 6 hours of solo flight time. A LAPL programme also includes training for theoretical knowledge and has several practical tests.
As mentioned above, one of the biggest advantages of going for a LAPL instead of a PPL is because of its relatively relaxed medical requirements.
Pilots with diabetes, high blood pressure, and other mild ailments can fly aircraft using the LAPL programme as long as they can prove that their disease is being treated, is controlled, and will not hinder their ability to operate aircraft. Pilots will be tested for both physical and mental ailments and are expected to pass all the minimum requirements related to visual acuity, hearing, and general fitness before they are awarded a LAPL medical licence.
Pilots may be screened for the following ailments related to both mental and physical health:
- Decreased visual acuity in either eye below 6/9 despite any correction
- Visual field defect
- Need for hearing aid(s)
- Angina/coronary artery disease
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Cardiac valve replacement
- Recurrent fainting
- Implanted cardiac device
- Heart failure
- Chronic lung disease
- Organ transplant
- Cerebral disorder
- Sedative medication
- Antidepressant medication
Please note that this list is not complete; you can find the complete requirements here.
Applying for LAPL Medical
Applying for a LAPL is very easy. You can visit an AME with proof of identity. Once you begin the application process, you will be asked to sign a declaration form which includes three things:
- Your complete medical history.
- Whether you have previously had a medical exam before – if yes, then the result of the previous medical exam.
- Whether you have been rejected or have been declared unfit in the past – or whether your medical certificate has been revoked or suspended in the past.
An AME will then assess your case individually and then issue the certificate based on your overall fitness. Please note that the validity of the licence is 5 years for candidates under the age of 40. For older pilots (above 40), the LAPL is valid for 2 years.
LAPL Training and Medical at Flight Schools
Getting a LAPL is easy once you pick the right flight school. Sherburn Aero Club (SAC) is a great place to start if you are seeking to pursue your aviation dreams with a LAPL.
Not only does Sherburn have a fleet of light aircraft to train on, but you can also get your medical requirements fulfilled without going for a 3rd party Aeromedical Examiner (AME).
Sherburn Aero Club has a staff of experienced flight instructors who fly both recreationally and for commercial purposes. Experienced flight instructors can help you gain a perspective on different topics in aviation and they can also share valuable insights from their own training and experience that can help you immensely during your training.
Furthermore, Sherburn also offers the convenience of obtaining your LAPL medical examination in-house. SAC has a dedicated AME on board. Dr. Mark Bellamy is a highly trained medical professional that isn’t just a doctor but also a fellow aviation enthusiast! This makes him perfect for the role of understanding the individual requirements of pilots and helping them achieve their medical certificates.
WHY CHOOSE SHERBURN AERO CLUB?
Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country.
With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we cater to brand-new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.
If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licences, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.
For full details of what to take with you to your medical; information about cost; frequently asked questions relating to the medical examination, or to make an appointment please contact Dr. Mark Bellamy by email or telephone at 07747 057574.
Sherburn also offers a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month.
For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran.
The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation for the long run.
In addition to that, if you are looking for a hangarage for your own aircraft, need servicing or repairs, want to buy a new aircraft or aviation equipment, or are just looking to enjoy and watch the aircraft, Sherburn Aero Club is the place to be.
Call us on 01977 682 674, email us at email@example.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on the LAPL, PPL, as well as the training facilities and airfield available at Sherburn.
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash