Private Pilot Flight Training

The Flight Training Element of the Private Pilot's Licence

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What is a Private Pilot’s Licence?

This is an informational page and is, as far as possible, unbiased. To find out about our course, or to book your place, please go to the Book a Course page.

A private pilot licence (PPL) is a type of pilot licence that allows the holder to act as pilot in command of an aircraft privately (not for remuneration).

Please note: we have given a lot of information on this page! It is provided to better inform you, but it is not necessary to remember it all or even understand it at this point in your training. The instructors and staff at your chosen school should be able to take you through all the information you need to know.

How do I complete my Private Pilot’s Licence course?

Please first read the Private Pilot’s Licence Theory page found here:

>> PPL Theory

As mentioned in the PPL Theory page, you have two choices. You can either do your theory as a separate course, or include it at the school you choose.

In this information we will only talk about the flight training part of the PPL course.

What is the minimum age to hold a PPL?

You can start logging hours at 14 years old, but you are only permitted to fly by yourself (solo) from the age of 16 years old. To take the flight test and apply for the PPL licence you must be 17 years old.

Do I need a medical to start my PPL flight training?

Whilst you are not required to hold a medical to start flight training toward your PPL licence, you will not be able to fly solo (by yourself) which is a requirement of the training, until you hold at least a Class 2 medical certificate.

Please see the link below for more information on medicals for pilots:

>> Information on Medicals

How long does the PPL course take to complete?

This depend on several factors, including your availability, the instructor’s availability and of course the weather!

If you start your course during the winter in the UK it could take 3-4 months but if you were to train full time in Spain it might take as little as 6 weeks.

How much does the PPL course cost?

This very much depends on the school you chose, their location and the aircraft type. Things such as landing fees vary as do fuel costs, but you will need to allow between £10,000 – £15,000.

What’s involved in the PPL training?

The PPL flight course consists of a minimum of 45 hours of flight instruction on aeroplanes, of which 5 hours may have been completed in an approved flight simulator (Flight Simulator Training Device FSTD), and will include at least:

  • 25 Hours of dual instruction.
  • 10 Hours of supervised solo flight time: including at least 5 hours of solo cross-country flight time with at least 1 cross country flight of at least 270 kilometres (KM) or (150 Nautical miles NM), that includes full stop landings at aerodromes different to the departure aerodrome.

What are the PPL flight lessons?

Below is an extract from the Acceptable means of compliance to ED decision 2011/016/R.

This is the reference material that is used to create a PPL flight training course, this should only be used as a reference and for your interest, your instructor will provide you with the details on your particular course.

Accordion Content

Flight instruction

The PPL(A) flight instruction syllabus takes into account the principles of threat and error management and also covers:

(i) pre-flight operations, including mass and balance determination, aircraft inspection and servicing;
(ii) aerodrome and traffic pattern operations, collision avoidance precautions and procedures;
(iii) control of the aircraft by external visual reference;
(iv) flight at critically low air speeds, recognition of, and recovery from, incipient and full stalls;
(v) flight at critically high air speeds, recognition of, and recovery from, spiral dive;
(vi) normal and crosswind take-offs and landings;
(vii) maximum performance (short field and obstacle clearance) take- offs, short-field landings;
(viii) flight by reference solely to instruments, including the completion of a level 180 ° turn;
(ix) cross-country flying using visual reference, dead reckoning and radio navigation aids;
(x) emergency operations, including simulated aeroplane equipment malfunctions;
(xi) operations to, from and transiting controlled aerodromes, compliance with air traffic services procedures, communication procedures and phraseology.

Before allowing the applicant for a PPL(A) to undertake his/her first solo flight, the FI should ensure that the applicant can use R/T communication.

Syllabus of flight instruction

The numbering of exercises should be used primarily as an exercise reference list and as a broad instructional sequencing guide; therefore the demonstrations and practices need not necessarily be given in the order listed. The actual order and content will depend upon the following interrelated factors:

(i) the applicant’s progress and ability;
(ii) the weather conditions affecting the flight;
(iii) the flight time available;
(iv) instructional technique considerations;
(v) the local operating environment;
(vi) applicability of the exercises to the aeroplane.

Each of the exercises involves the need for the applicant to be aware of the needs of good airmanship and look-out, which should be emphasised at all times.

Exercise 1a: Familiarisation with the aeroplane:

(A) characteristics of the aeroplane;
(B) cockpit layout;
(C) systems;
(D) checklists, drills and controls.

Exercise 1b: Emergency drills:

(A) action if fire on the ground and in the air;
(B) engine cabin and electrical system fire;
(C) systems failure;
(D) escape drills, location and use of emergency equipment and exits.

Exercise 2: Preparation for and action after flight:

(A) flight authorisation and aeroplane acceptance;
(B) serviceability documents;
(C) equipment required, maps, etc.;
(D) external checks;
(E) internal checks;
(F) harness, seat or rudder panel adjustments;
(G) starting and warm-up checks;
(H) power checks;
(I) running down system checks and switching off the engine;
(J) parking, security and picketing (for example tie down);
(K) completion of authorisation sheet and serviceability documents.

Exercise 3: Air experience: flight exercise.

Exercise 4: Effects of controls:

(A) primary effects when laterally level and when banked;
(B) further effects of aileron and rudder;

(C) effects of:
(a) air speed;
(b) slipstream;
(c) power;
(d) trimming controls;
(e) flaps;
(f) other controls, as applicable.

(D) operation of:
(a) mixture control;
(b) carburettor heat;
(c) cabin heating or ventilation.

Exercise 5a: Taxiing:

(A) pre-taxi checks;
(B) starting, control of speed and stopping;
(C) engine handling;
(D) control of direction and turning;
(E) turning in confined spaces;
(F) parking area procedure and precautions;
(G) effects of wind and use of flying controls;
(H) effects of ground surface;
(I) freedom of rudder movement;
(J) marshalling signals;
(K) instrument checks;
(L) air traffic control procedures.

Exercise 5b: Emergencies: brake and steering failure.

Exercise 6: Straight and level:

(A) at normal cruising power, attaining and maintaining straight and level flight;
(B) flight at critically high air speeds;
(C) demonstration of inherent stability;
(D) control in pitch, including use of trim;
(E) lateral level, direction and balance and trim;
(F) at selected air speeds (use of power);
(G) during speed and configuration changes;
(H) use of instruments for precision.

Exercise 7: Climbing:

(A) entry, maintaining the normal and max rate climb and levelling off;
(B) levelling off at selected altitudes;
(C) en-route climb (cruise climb);
(D) climbing with flap down;
(E) recovery to normal climb;
(F) maximum angle of climb;
(G) use of instruments for precision.

Exercise 8: Descending:

(A) entry, maintaining and levelling off;
(B) levelling off at selected altitudes;
(C) glide, powered and cruise descent (including effect of power and air speed);
(D) side slipping (on suitable types);
(E) use of instruments for precision flight.

Exercise 9: Turning:

(A) entry and maintaining medium level turns;
(B) resuming straight flight;
(C) faults in the turn (for example in correct pitch, bank and balance);
(D) climbing turns;
(E) descending turns;
(F) faults in the turns (slipping and skidding on suitable types);
(G) turns onto selected headings, use of gyro heading indicator and compass;
(H) use of instruments for precision.

Exercise 10a: Slow flight:

Note: the objective is to improve the student’s ability to recognise inadvertent flight at critically low speeds and provide practice in maintaining the aeroplane in balance while returning to normal air speed.

(A) safety checks;
(B) introduction to slow flight;
(C) controlled flight down to critically slow air speed;
(D) application of full power with correct attitude and balance to achieve normal climb speed.

Exercise 10b: Stalling:

(A) safety checks;
(B) symptoms;
(C) recognition;
(D) clean stall and recovery without power and with power;
(E) recovery when a wing drops;
(F) approach to stall in the approach and in the landing configurations, with and without power and recovery at the incipient stage.

Exercise 11: Spin avoidance:

(A) safety checks;
(B) stalling and recovery at the incipient spin stage (stall with excessive wing drop, about 45 °);
(C) instructor induced distractions during the stall.

Note 1: at least two hours of stall awareness and spin avoidance flight training should be completed during the course.

Note 2: consideration of manoeuvre limitations and the need to refer to the aeroplane manual and mass and balance calculations.

Exercise 12: Take-off and climb to downwind position:

(A) pre-take-off checks;
(B) into wind take-off;
(C) safeguarding the nose wheel;
(D) crosswind take-off;
(E) drills during and after take-off;
(F) short take-off and soft field procedure/techniques including performance calculations;
(G) noise abatement procedures.

Exercise 13: Circuit, approach and landing:

(A) circuit procedures, downwind and base leg;
(B) powered approach and landing;
(C) safeguarding the nose wheel;
(D) effect of wind on approach and touchdown speeds and use of flaps;
(E) crosswind approach and landing;
(F) glide approach and landing;
(G) short landing and soft field procedures or techniques;
(H) flapless approach and landing;
(I) wheel landing (tail wheel aeroplanes);
(J) missed approach and go-around;
(K) noise abatement procedures.

Exercise 12/13: Emergencies:

(A) abandoned take-off;
(B) engine failure after take-off;
(C) mislanding and go-around;
(D) missed approach.

Note: in the interests of safety it will be necessary for pilots trained on nose wheel aeroplanes to undergo dual conversion training before flying tail wheel aeroplanes, and vice-versa.

Exercise 14: First solo:

(A) instructor’s briefing, observation of flight and de-briefing;

Note: during flights immediately following the solo circuit consolidation the following should be revised:

(B) procedures for leaving and re-joining the circuit;
(C) the local area, restrictions, map reading;
(D) use of radio aids for homing;
(E) turns using magnetic compass, compass errors.

Exercise 15: Advanced turning:

(A) steep turns (45 °), level and descending;
(B) stalling in the turn and recovery;
(C) recoveries from unusual attitudes, including spiral dives.

Exercise 16: Forced landing without power:

(A) forced landing procedure;
(B) choice of landing area, provision for change of plan;
(C) gliding distance;
(D) descent plan;
(E) key positions;
(F) engine cooling;
(G) engine failure checks;
(H) use of radio;
(I) base leg;
(J) final approach;
(K) landing;
(L) actions after landing.

Exercise 17: Precautionary landing:

(A) full procedure away from aerodrome to break-off height;
(B) occasions necessitating;
(C) in-flight conditions;

(D) landing area selection:
(a) normal aerodrome;
(b) disused aerodrome;
(c) ordinary field.

(E) circuit and approach;
(F) actions after landing.

Exercise 18a: Navigation:

flight planning:

(a) weather forecast and actuals;

(b) map selection and preparation:
(1) choice of route;
(2) controlled airspace;
(3) danger, prohibited and restricted areas;
(4) safety altitudes.

(c) calculations:
(1) magnetic heading(s) and time(s) en-route;
(2) fuel consumption;
(3) mass and balance;
(4) mass and performance.

(d) flight information:
(1) NOTAMs etc.;
(2) radio frequencies;
(3) selection of alternate aerodromes.

(e) aeroplane documentation;

(f) notification of the flight:
(1) pre-flight administrative procedures;
(2) flight plan form.

departure:

(a) organisation of cockpit workload;

(b) departure procedures:
(1) altimeter settings;
(2) ATC liaison in controlled or regulated airspace;
(3) setting heading procedure;
(4) noting of ETAs.

(c) maintenance of altitude and heading;
(d) revisions of ETA and heading;
(e) log keeping;
(f) use of radio;
(g) use of navaids;
(h) minimum weather conditions for continuation of flight;
(i) in-flight decisions;
(j) transiting controlled or regulated airspace;
(k) diversion procedures;
(l) uncertainty of position procedure;
(m) lost procedure.

arrival and aerodrome joining procedure:

(a) ATC liaison in controlled or regulated airspace;
(b) altimeter setting;
(c) entering the traffic pattern;
(d) circuit procedures;
(e) parking;
(f) security of aeroplane;
(g) refuelling;
(h) closing of flight plan, if appropriate;
(i) post-flight administrative procedures.

Exercise 18b: Navigation problems at lower levels and in reduced visibility:

(A) actions before descending;
(B) hazards (for example obstacles and terrain);
(C) difficulties of map reading;
(D) effects of wind and turbulence;
(E) vertical situational awareness (avoidance of controlled flight into terrain);
(F) avoidance of noise sensitive areas;
(G) joining the circuit;
(H) bad weather circuit and landing.

Exercise 18c: Radio navigation:

use of GNSS:

(a) selection of waypoints;
(b) to or from indications and orientation;
(c) error messages.

use of VHF omni range:

(a) availability, AIP and frequencies;
(b) selection and identification;
(c) OBS;
(d) to or from indications and orientation;
(e) CDI;
(f) determination of radial;
(g) intercepting and maintaining a radial;
(h) VOR passage;
(i) obtaining a fix from two VORs.

use of ADF equipment: NDBs:

(a) availability, AIP and frequencies;
(b) selection and identification;
(c) orientation relative to the beacon;
(d) homing.

use of VHF/DF:

(a) availability, AIP, frequencies;
(b) R/T procedures and ATC liaison;
(c) obtaining a QDM and homing.

use of en-route or terminal radar:

(a) availability and AIP;
(b) procedures and ATC liaison;
(c) pilot’s responsibilities;

(d) secondary surveillance radar:
(1) transponders;
(2) code selection;
(3) interrogation and reply.

use of DME:

(a) station selection and identification;
(b) modes of operation: distance, groundspeed and time to run.

Exercise 19: Basic instrument flight:

(A) physiological sensations;
(B) instrument appreciation; attitude instrument flight;
(C) instrument limitations;

(D) basic manoeuvres:
(a) straight and level at various air speeds and configurations;
(b) climbing and descending;
(c) standard rate turns, climbing and descending, onto selected headings;
(d) recoveries from climbing and descending turns.

What’s involved in the PPL skills test?

The skills test is the test to determine whether you have reached the standard required to hold a Private Pilot’s Licence.

For the skills test you will fly with a PPL Flight Examiner (FE). You will only be put forward by your instructor once they feel you are ready.

Accordion Content

CONTENTS OF THE SKILL TEST FOR THE ISSUE OF A PPL(A)

(a) The route to be flown for the navigation test should be chosen by the FE. The route may end at the aerodrome of departure or at another aerodrome. The applicant should be responsible for the flight planning and should ensure that all equipment and documentation for the execution of the flight are on board. The navigation section of the test should have a duration that allows the pilot to demonstrate his/her ability to complete a route with at least three identified waypoints and may, as agreed between the applicant and FE, be flown as a separate test.

(b) An applicant should indicate to the FE the checks and duties carried out, including the identification of radio facilities. Checks should be completed in accordance with the authorised checklist for the aeroplane on which the test is being taken. During pre-flight preparation for the test the applicant should be required to determine power settings and speeds. Performance data for take-off, approach and landing should be calculated by the applicant in compliance with the operations manual or flight manual for the aeroplane used.

FLIGHT TEST TOLERANCE

The applicant should demonstrate the ability to:

(1) operate the aeroplane within its limitations;
(2) complete all manoeuvres with smoothness and accuracy;
(3) exercise good judgment and airmanship;
(4) apply aeronautical knowledge;
(5) maintain control of the aeroplane at all times in such a manner that the successful outcome of a procedure or manoeuvre is never seriously in doubt.

The following limits are for general guidance. The FE should make allowance for turbulent conditions and the handling qualities and performance of the aeroplane used:

(1) height:
(i) normal flight

with simulated engine failure

(2) heading or tracking of radio aids:
(i) normal flight

with simulated engine failure

(3) speed:
(i) take-off and approach
(ii) all other flight regimes

± 150 ft
± 200 ft (if ME aeroplane is used)

± 10 °
± 15 ° (if ME aeroplane is used)

+15/–5 knots ± 15 knots

CONTENT OF THE SKILL TEST

The skill test contents and sections set out in this AMC should be used for the skill test for the issue of a PPL

SECTION 1: PRE-FLIGHT OPERATIONS AND DEPARTURE

Use of checklist, airmanship, control of aeroplane by external visual reference, anti/de-icing procedures, etc. apply in all sections.

a) Pre-flight documentation, NOTAM and weather briefing
b) Mass and balance and performance calculation
c) Aeroplane inspection and servicing
d) Engine starting and after starting procedures
e) Taxiing and aerodrome procedures, pre-take-off procedures
f) Take-off and after take-off checks
g) Aerodrome departure procedures
h) ATC compliance and R/T procedures

SECTION 2: GENERAL AIRWORK

a) ATC compliance and R/T procedures
b) Straight and level flight, with speed changes

c) Climbing:
i. best rate of climb;
ii. climbing turns;
iii. levelling off.

d) Medium (30 ° bank) turns
e) Steep (45 ° bank) turns (including recognition and recovery from a spiral dive)
f) Flight at critically low air speed with and without flaps

g) Stalling:
i. clean stall and recover with power;
ii. approach to stall descending turn with bank angle 20°, approach configuration;
iii. approach to stall in landing configuration.

h) Descending:
i. with and without power;
ii. descending turns (steep gliding turns);
iii. levelling off.

SECTION 3: EN-ROUTE PROCEDURES

a) Flight plan, dead reckoning and map reading
b) Maintenance of altitude, heading and speed
c) Orientation, timing and revision of ETAs and log keeping
d) Diversion to alternate aerodrome (planning and implementation)
e) Use of radio navigation aids
f) Basic instrument flying check (180 ° turn in simulated IMC)
g) Flight management (checks, fuel systems and carburettor icing, etc.)
h) ATC compliance and R/T procedures

SECTION 4: APPROACH AND LANDING PROCEDURES

a) Aerodrome arrival procedures
b) * Precision landing (short field landing), crosswind, if suitable conditions available
c) * Flapless landing
d) * Approach to landing with idle power (SE only)
e) Touch and go
f) Go-around from low height
g) ATC compliance and R/T procedures
h) Actions after flight

SECTION 5: ABNORMAL AND EMERGENCY PROCEDURES

This section may be combined with sections 1 through 4

a) Simulated engine failure after take-off (SE only)
b) * Simulated forced landing (SE only)
c) Simulated precautionary landing (SE only)
d) Simulated emergencies
e) Oral questions

SECTION 6: SIMULATED ASYMMETRIC FLIGHT AND RELEVANT CLASS OR TYPE ITEMS

This section may be combined with sections 1 through 5

a) Simulated engine failure during take-off (at a safe altitude unless carried out in an FFS)
b) Asymmetric approach and go-around
c) Asymmetric approach and full stop landing
d) Engine shutdown and restart
e) ATC compliance, R/T procedures or airmanship
f) As determined by the FE: any relevant items of the class or type rating skill test to include, if applicable:

i.) aeroplane systems including handling of auto pilot;
ii.) operation of pressurisation system;
iii.) use of de-icing and anti-icing system.

g) Oral questions

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