Types of Pilot Licenses

Pilots · 7 min read · May 03, 2022
types of pilot licenses

A pilot’s license, also known as a pilot certificate, validates a person’s ability to operate an aircraft. Do not be confused by the terms “certificate” and “license,” since they both signify the same thing. However, a certificate is more commonly used in the United States and neighboring nations, whilst a license is more commonly used in the United Kingdom, EASA, and Asian countries.

Let’s have a look at the entire procedure.

General requirements for different types of pilot licenses

Once you are enthralled by the prospect of gaining your wings, to become a pilot, you must now review all the formalities as well as your character and academic criteria.

The next stage is to register in secondary school or high school, with the goal of passing English, Math, and Physics. Supplemental educational qualifications may apply to some air carriers. In 2008, the FAA was even obliged by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to give an English proficiency certification on many types of personnel certificates. Private, commercial, and airline transport pilots, as well as flight engineers and navigators who fly internationally, are all subject to the provisions.

A medical examination of the candidate’s hearing, vision, concentration, and general wellbeing is essential prior to training. In the US a recognized FAA First Class Medical Certificate will be awarded upon satisfactory completion. This certificate is needed by all pilots for the duration of their flying operations.

To begin training, you must be 18 years old. You must be authorized to live in the country where your training program is offered. You may get additional information about the particular criteria of your selected training program by contacting us.

Two pilots maneuvering an aircraft during a clear day.

FAA requirements

The FAA has different requirements for obtaining a pilot certificate based on the type of aircraft you operate. There is no requirement for a pilot’s license if you want to fly ultralight aircraft. You must also consider the sort of flying you would like to accomplish. For more information, refer to 14 CFR Part 61.

EASA requirements

The Implementing Rules (issued in the Official Journal of the European Union) and related Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC), Guidance Material (GM), and Certification Specifications include the requirements of the Regulation on the flight crew.

The Official Journal of the European Union released Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 on November 25, 2011, laying out technical criteria and administrative functions for the civil aviation flight crew.

ICAO recommendations

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has concurred on the essential conditions for obtaining the license and the rights it gives, but the execution varies considerably from country to country.

To be eligible for a commercial airline pilot’s license, an applicant must be capable of reading, writing, understanding, and communicating in English. You must first get second-class medical certification before applying for a commercial pilot’s license. Following completion of those requirements, the candidate will be given an exam by the regulatory aviation authority, which will include an oral and practical flight test conducted by an examiner.

There will be a handful of sub-qualifications or ratings on a certificate or license. They go into further depth on the license’s real rights, such as the aircraft types that can be operated (single or multi-engine) if flying under instrument flight rules is permitted on an instrument rating, or whether coaching and evaluating trainee pilots are permitted on an instructor or FAA-designated pilot examiner rating.

Student pilot certificate

Eligibility for a student pilot certificate

You are eligible if:

  • You are at least 16 years old. You should be at least 14 years old to operate a glider or a balloon.
  • You can read, communicate, and comprehend English.

This course has no time frame, but nevertheless, the student pilot must have flown 10 hours in the three months prior to receiving the PPL.

Sport pilot certificate

The sports pilot license may be the ideal option to get started on your training right away, for a fraction of the expense of learning to fly to become a professional pilot.

With a sports pilot license, there will be some functional restrictions. Without extra training and instructor approval, you cannot fly at night or in areas of the busiest airspace, and you cannot fly above 10,000 feet. You may fly several of the most technologically sophisticated planes on the market today, including one with one passenger. The sport pilot license is a cost-effective initial step into the skies that offers many of the benefits of a private license while requiring less training time and expense.

Recreational pilot certificate

The sport pilot license may be the ideal option to get started on your training right away, for a fraction of the expense of learning to fly.

With a sports pilot license, there will be some functional restrictions. Without extra training and instructor approval, you cannot fly at night or in areas of the busiest airspace, and you cannot fly above 10,000 feet.

You may fly several of the most technologically sophisticated planes on the market today. This is a cost-effective initial step into the skies that offers many of the benefits of a private license while a recreational pilot certificate requires less training time and expense.

Recreational certificate holders are subject to specific limits and prohibitions due to the decreased mandatory training. You can only carry one passenger in a single-engine aircraft with up to four seats and 180 horsepower or less. The above-mentioned categories encompass the majority of general aviation aircraft that are affordable to hire or buy.

Approval for a recreational pilot to perform solo flights is under the observation of an authorized flight instructor for the purpose of acquiring a supplementary license or rating (FAR 61.101 (h) (i)).

A private pilot controlling a small aircraft and carrying a passenger in the back.

Private pilot license (PPL)

The most desirable sort of pilot qualification is a Private Pilot License (PPL). You can lawfully fly an airplane if you have a private pilot’s certificate. Private operators are taught to fly small planes on their own. Flight training includes aircraft movements, navigation, safety procedures, and cross-country preflight checks. While some people obtain the license for recreational or sporting purposes, it is the first important step on the path to becoming an airline pilot.

Because a private pilot’s license permits you to fly into and out of every civil airport, you can do everything from heading to a neighboring airport for lunch to flying across the nation or anywhere on the globe. A private pilot can provide flights to relatives and friends, practice maneuvers, or participate in one of the many fantastic organizations that expose people to flight.

Private pilot license requirements

A PPL requires 50 hours of flight instruction. This training has no time frame; rather, the student pilot should have flown for at least 10 hours in the three months prior to receiving the PPL.

  • Minimum 17 years of age
  • Have a student pilot’s license, sport pilot’s license, or recreational pilot’s license 
  • Obtain flight training and a logbook affirmation from an authorized instructor 
  • Fulfill the aeronautical minimum qualifications for the aircraft rating wanted 
  • Pass a skills test for the airplane category rating

For a comprehensive list of all the criteria, see 14 CFR 61.103. 

Commercial pilot certificate

A commercial pilot certificate is a sort of pilot certificate that allows the possessor to operate as an aircraft pilot and get employed for it. For the primary aircraft types of airplanes, airships, balloons, gliders, gyroplanes, and helicopters, different permits are given.

A minimum of 60 days are required to obtain CPC.

You should be at least 18 years old, have a valid Private Pilot License (PPL), and be fluent in English to seek a Commercial Pilot License. If you fulfill these requirements, you must next choose between a commercial single-engine license (CSEL) and, a commercial multi-engine license (CMEL) for multi-engine aircraft. Once you’ve made your decision, you’ll need to find a reputable flight school to complete your training. A second-class medical certificate is also required.

Pilots develop their knowledge and understanding at ground school in order to fulfill the stringent competitive authority criteria. You should pass the basic proficiency test after completing 40 hours of ground school.

To obtain a commercial pilot’s license, you must have accumulated 250 hours of flying time, with 100 hours in powered aircraft and 50 hours in all types of aircraft. In addition, 100 hours of pilot-in-command experience are required, 50 of which must have been in an airplane.

You must have 50 hours of cross-country flight time, with 10 hours in an airplane, 20 hours of training, 10 instrument, 10 complex or TAA, and 10 hours of solo flight time. This is all that commercial pilots are required to do.

Flight instructor certificate

As your aviation career progresses, you might want to consider getting your flight instructor certificate. As a certified flight instructor, you’ll be able to swiftly gain flying experience to fulfill airline and company recruiting requirements. Becoming a qualified flight instructor is a demanding and exciting career that puts all you’ve learned throughout your pilot training to good use. Flight instructors strive to be mentors in the aviation world, sharing their expertise and experience with their students, and for many, it will be their first job in the industry.

Two pilots are sitting in a dark cockpit illuminated by the instrument panel.

Airline transport pilot (ATP) license

The maximum caliber of aircraft pilot certification is the airline transport pilot certificate. Before being the pilot in charge of an airplane with 9 or more seating capacity, pilots must have an ATPL or ATPC.

You must have a minimum of 1500 hours of airplane training, particularly 250 hours as a pilot in command (PIC), and should be at least 23 years old to take the ATP skills test.

Those who meet one of the following requirements may be awarded Restricted Licenses (which allow them to undertake just second-in-command activities) in the United States:

  • Military pilots who have 750 hours of cumulative flight time and are at least 21 years old
  • Graduates of authorized institutions with a four-year degree in aviation and at least 1000 hours of cumulative flying time who are at least 21 years old
  • Aviation professionals with a two-year degree and at least 1250 hours who are at least 21 years old
  • Pilots who have logged at least 1500 hours and are at least 21 years old

A sound theoretical test encompassing the relevant subject domains is essential for the FAA Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. Applicants for the EASA airline transport pilot license must complete 14 independent theory tests, as well as a six-month institutional or twelve-month distance-learning program.

Remote pilot certificate

The Remote Pilot Certification (RPC) is a government-issued certificate that allows you to operate unmanned aerial systems (UAS) also known as “UAVS”, for commercial reasons.

You must meet the following requirements to receive your Remote Pilot Certificate:

  • 16 years or older
  • Read, write, speak, and understand English
  • Be in good physical and mental condition
  • Have an aeronautical radio operator’s license if you intend to fly in regulated airspace (AROC). An AROC facilitates communication with other pilots, engineers, air traffic controllers, or emergency responders in the region through the VHF radio aviation band.
A captain of an aircraft controlling the aircraft.

Pilot ratings and endorsements

Your ratings are endorsements that increase the scope of your certification capabilities. Consider ratings to be additions to your pilot’s license. Ratings come in a considerably wider range than licenses. They contain your aircraft category/class rating, “type rating” for aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds, turbojet or turbofan, and other license operating rights.

The following list provides a known list of aircraft types that are generally accepted worldwide.

  • Airplane/Airplane category
  • Rotorcraft
  • Glider
  • Lighter-than-air
  • Powered-lift
  • Powered Parachute
  • Weight-shift-control aircraft


Which pilot license is best?

The airline transport pilot (ATP) certificate is the most comprehensive pilot certificate available and is required for pilots who desire to operate passenger planes for a livelihood. You can fly a commercial jetliner in Class A airspace using ATP.

What can you fly with a private pilot certificate?

The private pilot’s license permits you to fly nearly every single-engine piston aircraft below 18,000 feet in good weather conditions (VFR), with the exception of non-jet and non-turboprop-powered aircraft.

What is a Class 3 pilot?

The FAA defines three types of medical certificates: Class 3 medical certifications are only valid for private pilot activities. It has the minimum stringent medical standards, and the certificates are valid for 5 years for candidates under the age of 40 and 2 years for anyone over the age of 40.

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Aeroclass Team
A team of professionals with a deep passion for the aviation industry bringing you the newest and the most striking industry-related news and content.

1 comment

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about flight training.

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