Complete your Light Aircraft Pilot Licence at Waterford Aero Club!
EASA introduced the LAPL to make recreational flying more accessible by reducing the training and medical requirements for those who wanted to fly simply for the fun of flying. Lighter, simpler, and better.
It can be confusing when you are starting out as a student pilot. There is a large amount of information to absorb and so many acronyms that you have never heard before. Hopefully, this page will help clarify one question you may have: What is the difference between the PPL and LAPL?
Let’s start with what they have in common. Both licences allow you to fly most of the popular single-engine aircraft such as the Cessna 152 & 172, Piper Warrior or Cirrus SR22. They both allow you to take passengers on your flights allowing you to share the experience with family and friends.
So why the difference? The agency responsible for aviation safety in Europe (EASA) introduced the LAPL to make recreational flying more accessible by reducing the training and medical requirements for those who wanted to fly simply for the fun of flying. Lighter, simpler, and better.
Below is a list of the most common questions regarding the differences and which licence you may wish to train towards.
1. Why would you recommend one rather than the other?
You should consider the PPL as more appropriate if:
• You plan to pursue an airline career or fly commercially.
• You think you will want to fly or rent aircraft outside the EU.
You should consider the LAPL as more appropriate if:
• You see flying as a hobby.
• You think your flying will be EU based.
• You think you may not meet the medical requirements for a PPL Class 2 medical.
• You think your flying may be more sporadic or you may take breaks from flying of more than two years duration.
2. What are the key differences?
|Validity (EU registered aircraft)||Worldwide||EU|
|Validity Period||Lifetime with 2 year SEP renewal required||Lifetime|
|Medical Validity||Under 40: Valid 5 Years
Over 40: Valid 2 Years
Over 50: Valid 1 Year
|Under 40: Valid 5 Years
Over 40: Valid 2 Years
|Additional ratings you can train for||Multi-Engine, Instrument Ratings, Night Rating, Aerobatics||Night Rating, Aerobatics|
|Theoretical examinations||Both licenses require students to complete an identical ground school course and take the same 9 written exams.|
|Minimum training hours||45 hours; of which 10 hours Solo including 5 hours Solo Cross Country including 1 Solo Cross Country of 150 NM landing at 2 airfields||30 hours; of which 6 hours Solo including 3 hours Cross Country including 1 Solo Cross Country of 80 NM landing at 1 other airfield|
|Aircraft restrictions||Max Take-Off Weight: 5,750 Kg
Max Passengers: 19
|Max Take-Off Weight: 2,000 Kg
Max Passengers: 3**(Ten hours of post qualification solo flying are required before carrying passengers)
3. Can I start with the LAPL and change my mind later?
Yes, you can start training for the LAPL and then transition to the PPL during your training if needed. However, the suggested route would be to finish the LAPL and then do a LAPL-to-PPL conversion post qualification.
4. How do I upgrade from the LAPL to the PPL?
You would need to complete an additional 15 hours of flight time (i.e. the difference between the two courses) and take the PPL flight test. The 15 hours are made up of 10 hours of training to include:
- 4 hours of supervised solo flight; including 2 hours of solo cross country.
- The cross-country time needs to include at least one flight of at least 270 km (150 NM), with landings at two other airports.
- The remaining 10 hours can include any hours you have flown after the issue of your LAPL.
There are no written examinations required as the PPL exams are identical to the LAPL exams already completed.
2. How do I keep the licences valid?
Both licences require you to keep your medical valid as per the table above.
With either licence you must fly regularly to be a safe pilot and to keep it current. However, with the LAPL you do not need a flight with an examiner to keep flying or to restart flying after a prolonged break.
For the PPL, your SEP rating is initially valid for 2 years and you then need to fly 12 hours in the year prior to the expiry date. These 12 hours must include 1 hour with an instructor to keep it valid. If you don’t fly the required 12 hours minimum, then you can substitute a proficiency flight with an examiner. If your SEP rating expires you then need training as required to regain test standard followed by a test flight with an examiner.
For the LAPL, you need to have flown 12 hours in the last 24 months – again including 1 hour with an instructor. If you haven’t completed these hours, you need to fly the 12 hours with an instructor (or solo under their supervision), or do a proficiency check with an examiner.
6. What about additional training after the PPL or LAPL?
Both licences allow for additional training options post qualification including night rating, aerobatics, retractable gear aircraft, variable pitch prop aircraft or tailwheel aircraft.
LAPL holders require additional familiarisation training prior to moving from one aircraft variant to another (e.g. from Cessna 172 to Piper Warrior). Although this requirement is written into regulations for LAPL holders and not PPL holders, in reality any pilot moving from one model or variant to another will need some level of familiarisation training before any club rents an aircraft to them.
PPL holders can continue on to study for their Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) but LAPL holders will need to upgrade to a PPL before then can begin their CPL studies.