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Becoming a Pilot
(This information courtesy of CASA)

Education Qualifications

Trial Instruction Flight (TIF)

Selecting a Flight Training Organisation


Table of Requirements

Medical Details

Captains & Kings - Biographies of those in the aviation industry

Education Qualifications

CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) does not require any person undertaking an Australian Pilot's Licence to hold formal education qualifications. The education level required to pass the Private Pilot's Licence exams is well within the scope of the average person.

However, if you are undertaking the Commercial, or higher Flight Crew Licence you may find it difficult to pass the examinations unless you have a strong background knowledge of Physics, Mathematics and English. The absence of this background could be overcome by undertaking theory training at a reputable theory-training centre. In addition, it should be noted that airlines generally require passes at Higher School Certificate level in Physics and Mathematics, although the requirements may vary between companies. It is a good idea to contact employers in the area of aviation where you may wish to follow a career and check what their requirements are.


Trial Instruction Flight (TIF)

Do you want to fly for fun, or make a career out of flying? To find out take a Trial Instructional Flight (TIF) at a licensed flying club or training organisation. During the TIF an instructor will allow you to fly the aircraft. This will help you make a more informed decision as to whether you want to continue flying training, and give you the opportunity of becoming completely confident that you want to learn to fly before committing yourself financially. It is also an opportunity to examine the training organisation and its instructors. The normal rate for a TIF is around $45 - $60 and it should last around 30 minutes.


Selecting a Flight Training Organisation

The most important outcome from selecting a training organisation is that you, the prospective pilot, attain a licence with all the skills and theoretical knowledge required to fly both safely and confidently. Cost is an important issue and a significant factor in flying training. However, the quality of training is the first priority. It is recommended that you contact several flying training organisations to evaluate the quality of the training they provide, and then obtain estimates of the charges.

Most of the organisations can be found in your local telephone directory under the headings of 'Flying Schools' or 'Aero Clubs'. Some schools offer full-time courses with live-in facilities and are able to arrange finance to help meet the costs of instruction. Others specialise in providing training for those who can only find the time, or money, to fly occasionally.

The process of selecting a school or training organisation is very complex. CASA provides guidance in these matters in a separate 32 page booklet titled "How to Become a Pilot".



Student Pilot's Licence (SPL)

You must be at least 16 years of age and be capable of reading, writing, speaking and understanding English. An examination by a CASA approved doctor is also required. A list of approved doctors is available on the CASA website. As the level of licence increases, a higher medical standard is demanded so it is advisable to obtain a medical to the highest licence you wish to hold. It would be unwise to spend a large amount of money on flying training to find out you cannot hold a licence for medical reasons.

You can begin flying training without a SPL and therefore no medical, but you will not be able to fly solo without a SPL. This could hold you back later in your training. The SPL is similar to a learner's permit when you learn to drive a car.


Flight Progress Test (GFPT)

The GFPT allows a you to carry passengers within a specified area. When you have obtained a GFPT you have completed all the basic flying sequences and are capable of flying the aircraft safely. However you have not completed any navigation training and therefore the area in which you are permitted to fly relates to the area of training in which you would be familiar.

Before undertaking the GFPT you must:

a) hold a Student Pilot's Licence;

b) pass the Basic Aeronautical Knowledge theory examination;

c) complete a flying syllabus of at least 20 hours; and

d) pass a GFPT flight test with a CASA approved examiner.


Private Pilots Licence (PPL)

Obtaining a PPL is a considerable achievement and should be regarded as such. With a PPL you can fly many types of aircraft and gain similar ratings to a commercial pilot. However, you can not fly for hire or reward. Some of the challenges that you may undertake as a private pilot include further training to fly aerobatics, twin engine aircraft and instrument flying. The list is endless.

Before you can be issued a PPL you must:

a) be at least 17 years of age;

b) hold a SPL or have passed a GFPT;

c) hold a current Medical;

d) pass the PPL theory examinations; and

e) complete a syllabus of flying of at least 40 hours.


Commercial Licence (CPL)

A CPL entitles you to carry passengers for hire or reward, in association with a licenced air service operator. As a commercial pilot you may not operate independently nor advertise for business. Furthermore, with a basic commercial licence you may find it difficult to secure a job. You will need to obtain additional qualifications such as an instrument rating or an instructor rating.

The different areas in which you may choose to operate as a commercial pilot are varied. They include such things as instructing, charter flying (such as joy flights), agricultural flying (crop dusting), air tours in the outback and so on. The major limit when you hold a CPL is that you are not permitted to act as Pilot in Command of an aircraft above 5700kg, maximum weight (normally above ten seats).

Before you can be issued a CPL, you must complete the following:

a) be at least 18 years of age;

b) hold a Private Pilot Licence (recommended);

c) hold a current Medical certificate;

d) pass the CPL theory examination;

e) a syllabus of flying of at least 150 hours in an approved course, or at least 200 hours casual training; and

f) pass a CPL flight test with an approved examiner.



Airline Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL)

An ATPL is necessary to fly as Pilot in Command on a large aircraft such as those used by the airlines. This is the highest licence issued by the CASA.

Before you can be issued with an ATPL, you must:

a) be at least 21 years of age;

b) hold a Commercial Pilot Licence;

c) hold, or have held, a Command Instrument Rating;

d) have a current medical to ATPL standard;

e) pass the ATPL theory examination; and

f) in addition, possess a minimum of 1500 hours of flying experience with specified time requirements in both night and instrument flying.


Helicopter Pilot Licence

A prospective helicopter pilot can train for a helicopter licence following a similarly structured step-by-step flying training syllabus as for fixed wing aircraft pilots, or by obtaining a fixed wing aeroplane licence first and then converting to helicopters later.

In each case, appropriate flying training and theory examinations, relating specifically to helicopter operations, must be completed.

A minimum of 50 hours is required for a Private Helicopter Pilot Licence and a further 90 hours for a Commercial Helicopter Pilot Licence although the latter may be reduced if the final 30 hours of the approved flight instruction is completed within a period of three calendar months.

The next level of licence above CPL(H) is the ATPL(H).

Medical Details

For more information about the medical requirments or to book in for a medical examination contact a Designated Aviation Medical Examiner. Contact details can be found here, at the CASA website

Captains & Kings

Ever wondered how people get a start in the aviation industry and how they progressed from one job to another ?

Captains & Kings gives you biographies of a few people in the aviation industry. See how they got to where they are today.


Last Modified on: 24/01/14

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