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Home > Blog > Private Pilot Licence Requirements In The United Kingdom

Private Pilot Licence requirements in the United Kingdom

Posted 07 Jul 2022

Private Pilot Licence requirements

The PPL is easy to upgrade and comes with a host of features that are sure to get any beginner pilot truly excited. If you have a passion for aviation and a will to commit to training, then flying can be one of the most rewarding hobbies out there.

If you are someone who is captivated by the idea of flying across the sky in an aeroplane and wish to experience it for yourself, it may be time for you to start working towards getting your very own pilot licence.

For those who wish to pursue a career in aviation as a commercial pilot, jetting from one place to another in large airliners or heading rescue missions as air ambulance operators, the licence of choice should be the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). However, for those who are in it purely for the love of aviation and a passion for flying, then the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) may be the best way to go!

Not only is the PPL incredibly well-suited to hobbyists and those who wish to experience flying for fun, but it is also a great option for those who are unsure about whether they may want to eventually pursue a career as a pilot.

The PPL is easy to upgrade and comes with a host of features that are sure to get any beginner pilot truly excited. If you have a passion for aviation and a will to commit to training, then flying can be one of the most rewarding hobbies out there.

While many people find joy in reading books or playing football, the ability to fly an aeroplane is a unique skill that is bound to bring you much joy. Flying may seem intimidating to the uninitiated, but it is not much different from driving your own car. All it requires is some practice and a good teacher, and you’ll be soaring through the clouds soon enough!

If you are an aspiring pilot who is looking to get their licence so that they can fly an aeroplane, this may be a good time to look into training options at flight schools and aviation clubs such as Sherburn Aero Club.

For those who are completely unaware of what you will need in order to apply for a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) in the United Kingdom, here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know to kickstart your aviation journey!




A Private Pilot Licence (PPL) is one of the most popular licences amongst hobbyists in the United Kingdom. In order to be able to operate an aircraft, a pilot licence is an absolute necessity, and if you are found flying without one, you will be charged with breaking the law.

Much like when driving a motor car, it is important for the pilot to have certification of their ability to operate the aircraft in order to ensure the safety of those who are around them as well as the pilots themselves. The PPL is a general aviation licence, which means it is opted for by private pilots who are not interested in getting monetary compensation in return for their flying skills.

For anyone who wishes to fly an aeroplane in exchange for money, a commercial licence is necessary. The commercial licence comes with a variety of requirements more stringent than those that must be fulfilled when applying for the PPL. The exact requirements will be elaborated upon in the next section.

 The PPL is a wonderful option for pilots who wish to operate smaller aircraft of the light variety for fun. Many pilots who hold a PPL travel across the world, given they have the right ratings that allow them to fly internationally.

It is a truly diverse licence, with the holder having the ability to upgrade it by adding ratings on top of their PPL, allowing them to travel at night, in conditions of limited visibility such as during bad weather, as well as flying larger aircraft of the multiengine variety with a MEP rating. While the licence is for hobbyists and is easier to obtain as compared to its commercial counterpart, it is in no way limiting!



 The PPL is a very diverse licence, and it is suited to both those who are interested in aviation purely as a hobby, as well as those who wish to eventually pursue a career in aviation. While it is true that a PPL holder cannot fly in exchange for money, it is also true that the minimum age limit for acquiring a PPL is 17 years, while that for the CPL is 18 years old.

For those who would like to get a head start on their aviation journey, it may be a good idea to opt for the relatively low-commitment PPL and train for a year before getting the CPL, which requires a greater financial investment as well as more time. The PPL is perfectly suited to those who wish to fly their own aircraft in order to save themselves the hassle of booking commercial flights with airlines.

Apart from this, it is also great for pilots who wish to fly for fun but do not want to limit themselves to only one type of aircraft or stay within the borders of the UK only.



 While it may seem like it may take years and years of training before a pilot can finally take to the sky, training to fly is actually much easier than it may seem! With just a little bit of time and financial commitment, as well as a passion for flying, an aspiring pilot can take to the skies in no time!

Here’s everything you need to know about training to get a Private Pilot Licence (PPL).



 There are many flight schools, such as the one housed in Sherburn Aero Club, that offer training to beginner pilots who wish to obtain their PPL. Many private pilots who train at Sherburn go on to become commercial pilots as well. In order to be eligible for the PPL, the applicant must have at least 45 hours of flight time logged in.

Out of these 45 hours, ten hours must be dedicated to solo flight, while the rest can be completed in the presence of a Certified Flight Instructor (CFI) during dual-instruction. A cross-country flight totalling at least 270km is also necessary.


Medical certificate

 In order to qualify for the PPL, the applicant must undergo a thorough medical examination by a licenced doctor. This is necessary in order to ensure that the pilot is physically and mentally fit to take to the skies without becoming a danger to themselves or those around them.

In order to apply for a PPL, the applicant must present a Class 2 medical certificate. The examination for the certificate includes eye tests, hearing tests as well as those relating to general physical and mental health.


PPL exam

 Apart from the practical training and the medical certification, the applicant must pass a series of theoretical exams with a score of at least 75% in each test in order to be eligible for the licence.

There are a total of nine exams, which include the topics of Air Law, Principles of Flight, Operational Procedures, Meteorology, Communications, Flight Planning and Performance, Navigation, Human Performance and Limitations, and Aircraft General Knowledge.

You will have four attempts to pass the exams, with a different variation of the test being presented to you each time you decide to retake it. If you fail all four times, you will then be barred from attempting the exam for three months, after which you may try once again.



 The biggest difference between the CPL and the PPL is that while the CPL allows its holder to fly in exchange for monetary compensation, the PPL is for recreational flying only. There is no way to be compensated for flying on a PPL, and those who wish to pursue a career in aviation must upgrade to the CPL.

The PPL is also easier to obtain as compared to the CPL since it comes with a requirement of fewer flight hours. This means training is not as intensive and time-consuming as compared to CPL training. The CPL requires 200 hours of total logged flight time, while the PPL requires only 45.

In addition to this, the CPL also requires applicants to have a Class 1 medical certificate, which is higher and has stricter criteria as compared to the Class 2 certificate required for the PPL.

When it comes to similarities, both licences, in their basic form, allow a pilot to operate a single-engine light aircraft. In order to fly larger aircraft or fly in conditions of reduced visibility, the licence holder will have to apply for additional ratings.



 The PPL, while the most popular, is not the only general aviation licence in the United Kingdom. Other general aviation licences issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of the UK include the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL), as well as the National Private Pilot Licence (NPPL).

Both the LALP and the NPPL come with more relaxed requirements as compared to the PPL. The LAPL requires the applicant to have only 12 hours of total logged-in flight time, with the NPPL requiring a total of 25. Both of these licences are non-ICAO, which means they are UK-specific and cannot be used to travel outside of the UK’s borders.

The LAPL only lets its holder fly light aircraft, with there being no option to upgrade to larger, multi-engine aeroplanes. The LAPL and NPPL are great options for those who wish to fly within the UK and wish to fly only small aircraft, making them good options for hobbyists.



With a basic Private Pilot Licence (PPL), a pilot can only travel within the borders of the United Kingdom. Before Brexit, when the UK was still a part of the European Union and the CAA fell under the jurisdiction of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), PPL holders could easily travel across Europe.  

However, ever since Britain left the EU, the CAA is now separate from EASA and the UK is now treated as a third country. The PPL allows its holder to fly only those aeroplanes which are registered in the UK. For this reason, the pilots who wish to fly into EU territory on their PPL must upgrade their licences to Part-FCL (Flight Crew Licensing), which allows holders to fly aircraft registered in EU territory.

With the Part-FCL rating, you can easily fly into EU territory, given you have the correct documentation. While UK nationals are not required to have a visa to travel into European countries, the pilot must have their passport on hand. This will be checked at the airport before and after the pilot lands.

In addition to this, the pilot should also carry with them a valid EASA-approved medical certification in addition to the CAA-issued one, which is not valid outside of the UK. A certificate of airworthiness is also necessary in order to ensure your aircraft is fit to fly. 



Upgrading your PPL will truly allow you to take full advantage of the licence. It is a good idea to broaden your horizons and open yourself up to travelling outside of the UK borders. There is a great thriving community of aviation enthusiasts across Europe, with a wide selection of aero clubs to fly to in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland, France, and Ireland.  

Apart from the Part-FCL upgrade, the pilot should also get night and instrument ratings that allow them to fly at night as well as in conditions of reduced visibility owing to foggy or hazy weather. If the pilot wishes to expand their skill set even further, they can opt for an MEP rating so that they can fly larger aeroplanes as well!

The PPL is not limiting, and provides many of the same opportunities as the CPL, except for the ability to fly in exchange for monetary compensation.



 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. 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 in 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 flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on the Private Pilot Licence in the UK, its requirements, as well as the training facilities and airfield available at Sherburn.

Photo by Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash 



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