Common questions prospective pilots have are:
- What are the requirements to become a pilot?
- When can I begin training at a flight school?
- What are the medical requirements?
- What are the different licenses, ratings, and qualifications?
- How long will it take to complete flight training?
- How much should I budget for private pilot training?
- What can I do with a PPL?
What are the requirements to become a pilot?
To earn your first license (the Private Pilot License PPL), you need to successfully pass a knowledge exam consisting of nine subjects (Air Law, Navigation, Meteorology, Principles of Flight, Aircraft General Knowledge, Human Factors, Performance, Mass & Balance, Flight Planning, and Communication). You must also pass a practical test, which consists of an oral exam and flight skills assessment. Since 2008, all pilots are required to pass an English language proficiency exam. In addition, pilots must undergo a medical evaluation to receive a medical certificate.
When can I begin training at a flight school?
While there is no minimum age to receive flight instruction, you must be at least 16 years old to solo an airplane, and 17 to be issued a PPL. It is recommended you check with the flight school regarding its specific requirements to begin flying lessons. For more information, please visit www.brusselsaviationschool.com.
What are the medical requirements?
There are two main classes of medical certificates. Class 2, the least restrictive, is required to act as a Private Pilot. Class 2 medicals are valid for up to five years (actual validity varies with age). For professional pilots (commercial and airline), a Class 1 medical is required. Class 1 medicals have stricter requirements than the Class 2 and are valid for up to one year (actual validity varies with age). People often assume that pilots can’t wear glasses and must be in near-perfect health, but some health conditions are acceptable according to established criteria. The best way to know if you are fit to fly is to schedule an appointment with an aviation medical examiner (AME). Though you don’t need a medical to fly with an instructor, it is highly recommended that you obtain your medical in the early stages of training. (Click here for the Belgian Medical Exam) (Click here for the British Medical Exam)
What are the different licenses, ratings, and qualifications?
There are three levels of pilot licenses: Private Pilot (PPL), Commercial Pilot (CPL), and Airline Transport Pilot (ATPL). With a PPL, you may carry passengers, but cannot receive payment for your flying activities. A CPL enables you to earn a salary and work in a variety of commercial flying jobs, including as an airline co-pilot. An ATPL is the highest certification and is required to serve as an airline captain.
You can always add extra ratings and qualifications to your license, but unless you enroll in an integrated training program (a very expensive option), you must begin by obtaining the PPL. From there, you can upgrade to a CPL and eventually to the ATPL.
Additional ratings and qualifications you might pursue are:
- Night Flight Qualification (added to the PPL)
- Complex Airplane: permits you to operate aircraft with retractable landing gear and a controllable-pitch propeller (optional for a PPL, required for a CPL)
- High Performance Aircraft: permits you to operate aircraft with engines of more than 200 horsepower (can be added to a PPL or CPL)
- Instrument Rating (can be added to a PPL or CPL)
- Multi-Engine Rating (can be added to a PPL or CPL)
- Aircraft Type Ratings: required to operate large airplanes and all jet aircraft (i.e. Boeing 737, Airbus A320)
Some countries have additional qualifications and ratings, including mountain flying, aerobatics, glider towing, etc.
Usually people pay for their own training until obtaining a CPL with the Night Qualification, Instrument Rating, and Multi-Engine Rating. The ATPL and Aircraft Type Ratings are often paid for by airlines or corporate flight departments that employ professional pilots.
How long will it take to complete flight training?
Training time depends on many factors. Weather, aircraft, student & instructor availability, available budget, student study habits, and individual aptitude all affect the duration of training time. The best strategy for reducing training time is to fly often and study as much as possible. Typically, students take between six months and one year to earn a PPL.
How much should I budget for private pilot training?
Flight training costs can vary depending on the flight hours necessary for the student to achieve the required proficiency, type of aircraft flown for training, and flight school rates. Some schools advertise prices based on the minimum required flight hours and don’t include additional expenses (charts, books, medical & license fees, etc.). With minimum flight time and additional expenses, you might spend €8000-9000. However, a more realistic budget would be around €10,000. Our pricing estimate is based on a minimum 1h of flight time per week. The best strategy for reducing training expenses is to fly often and study as much as possible.
What can I do with a PPL?
A PPL offers you numerous opportunities for adventure. For starters, you may fly a single-engine piston airplane (up to 5.7T) in visual conditions. You can take friends and family on trips to small towns and big cities. With a PPL, you can fly a European-registered aircraft around the world. As you gain experience, you can add new ratings and qualifications, providing access to new areas of general aviation. A PPL allows you to land at a number of commercial airports including Barcelona Girona, London Biggin Hill, Cambridge, Brussels Charleroi, Liège, Paris Beauvais, Toussus-le-Noble, Genova, Volos, Sion, Geneva and many more. With a PPL, you’ll never run out of possibilities for adventure.
For more information on regulatory requirements, visit the Civil Aviation Authority website: