Anyone wishing to obtain a position as a Pilot in Commercial/Airline operations must have the relevant Pilot’s Licence, known as an Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL).

The route to gaining this licence involves intensive training and subsequent testing, but what exactly is required and what are the differences between licences?

Training starts with the Private Pilots Licence which is conducted on a single-engine piston aircraft and includes ground studies to pass the Ground School exams. A successful flight test is required before the licence can be issued. This licence allows the pilot to fly single-engine piston land aeroplanes in visual meteorological conditions, in daylight, but not for hire or reward. The licence held is a Private Pilots Licence with a Single Engine Piston Land Rating attached.

With further training and a supervised solo flight a Night Rating can be added to the licence. An MEP Rating can also be added to enable the holder to fly Multi-Engine Piston Land aircraft. (Further Ratings can be added if required, following mandatory training and testing, i.e. Aerobatics, Seaplane aircraft etc., but these are not a requirement for a professional licence).

Upgrading the PPL to a Commercial Licence (CPL) first requires all 14 written EASA ATPL exams to be passed. We run our own residential ATPL theory course which is completed on a full-time basis within 6 months covering all the subjects essential to passing the exams.

Once the ground exams are done, the Commercial flight training can begin but only so long as certain criteria are met and 175 hours total have been attained. This flight training can be conducted on Multi-or Single Engine Piston Land aircraft. Conventionally this is conducted on a Single Engine Piston Land aircraft, with at least 5h on a complex aircraft. The training involves a minimum of 25 hours (or 15h if an IR is held) and is concluded by a flight test with an authorised CAA Examiner.

The training continues with the Instrument Rating. This requires 45 hours of training (or 55h, if a CPL isn’t held) of which 30h are done on an approved simulator. Following a successful flight test and meeting the relevant criteria an Instrument Rating can be attached to the licence.