PPL or LAPL?

The Leicestershire Aero Club offers flying training for both the EASA Private Pilots Licence (PPL) and the Light Aircraft Pilots Licence (LAPL).

It should be noted that a LAPL does not make you any less a pilot than a PPL holder. Both licences allow you to fly most of the popular single-engine aircraft such as the Cessna 152 & 172, Piper Warrior & Arrow. They both allow you to take passengers on your flights allowing you to share the experience with family and friends.

So which licence should you go for?

First, ask yourself why you want to fly. Is it the start of a new career? Is it for a hobby, to be able to fly to places for lunch with friends on a nice day? Or do you want to fly an aircraft for business or to fly yourself to business meetings? Your answers to these questions will help you make a decision.

So what are the differences between the two?

A PPL will allow you to fly European registered aircraft around the world, with a LAPL you are limited to Europe. Where a PPL is an ICAO (worldwide) standard license, the LAPL was created by EASA (Europe) to standardise all the different national recreational pilots licenses. National licenses only allowed you to fly in the country of issue and for many pilots being able to fly in the country they live in is all they want to do.

Both the LAPL and PPL allow you to fly single-engine aircraft. With the LAPL this in enclosed within the license but with the PPL it is added as a SEP rating (Single Engine Piston). This is an important difference as the LAPL is valid for life, but a SEP is valid for 2 years.

If you renew your SEP before it expires it can be done by flying 12 hours in the previous year, including 1 with an instructor or by a proficiency check with an examiner. If the SEP expires, you have to do training to get you back to standard then a proficiency check with an examiner.

With the LAPL it is easier. Although it is valid for life, you have to have flown 12 hours in the last 24 months including 1 hour with an instructor. If you haven’t you need to fly the 12 hours with an instructor or under their supervision, or do a proficiency check with an examiner. Either way, you have to fly to keep it current but with the LAPL you do not need an examiner to sign it off to keep flying.

In both cases, you have to fly to keep your LAPL or SEP current, but with the LAPL you do not need an examiner to sign it off to keep flying.

With a PPL you can add extra qualifications, so-called ratings, such as an Instrument Rating to fly in more weather conditions, Night Rating to fly during the hours of darkness or even Aerobatics. The only rating you can add to a LAPL is the Night Rating.

Similarities

Both Licenses allow you to fly light aircraft and with a LAPL this is limited to a maximum take-off weight of 2000kg. Most light aircraft such as the Cessna 152 &172, Piper Warrior & Arrow or even a Cirrus SR22 have a maximum weight below 2000 kg.

For both licenses you have to pass the same 9 theory exams, a practical Radio test and a Skills Test.

Overview

PPL LAPL
Region
(European registered aircraft)
Worldwide Europe
Validity PPL: Lifetime

SEP: 2 Years

LAPL: Lifetime

SEP: N/A

Medical Class 2

Under 40: Valid 5 Years

Over 40: Valid 2 Years

Over 50: Valid 1 Year

LAPL Medical

Under 40: Valid 5 Years

Over 40:  Valid 2 Years

Additional Ratings Multi-Engine, Instrument Rating, IMC Rating, Night Rating, Aerobatics Night Rating
Minimum Training Hours 45 hours of which,

10 hours Solo of which,

5 hours Solo Cross Country

Including 1 Cross Country of 150 NM landing at 2 airfields

30 hours of which,

6 hours Solo of which

3 hours Cross Country

including 1 Cross Country of 80 NM landing at 1 other airfield

Aircraft Restrictions N/A Max Take-Off Weight: 2000 Kg

Max Passengers: 3

Conclusion

If you simply want to fly a small aircraft of up to 4 seats with your friends and family within the UK, a LAPL is sufficient and it potentially saves you up to 15 hours of flight training.

At Leicestershire Aero Club we advise our new students to train for the LAPL unless they want to add extra ratings to their license or go the commercial route. You can always upgrade your LAPL to a PPL with a bit of extra training at a later date.

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