Want to enjoy the thrill of flying, but have no intentions of becoming a commercial pilot? The Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) might be for you.
What Is The Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL)?
LAPL stands for ‘Light Aircraft Pilot License’. It’s replacing the UK NPPL as the new ‘less stringent’, non-commercial pilot’s license. LAPL-A is specifically for aircrafts, and is the focus of this post.
The LAPL-A is perfect if you’re unable to gain a full Class 2 Medical, or just want to enjoy the thrill of flying around the local area. It also enables you to take your friends and family as passengers.
What Are The Entry Requirements For The LAPL?
The minimum age to obtain a licence for an aeroplane (or helicopter) is 17. For sailplanes and balloons, the minimum age is lower — at 16.
► Medical Requirements
You need to obtain a Medical Certificate.
To do this you have to visit an AeMC, AME or your NHS GP with proof of your identity. A declaration must be obtained confirming the following:
- Facts about your Medical history.
- Whether you’ve had a medical examination before, by whom, and the result.
- Whether you’ve been assessed as unfit or had a medical certificate suspended or revoked.
When you’re issued a medical certificate its validity is determined by your age at the time you took the medical, and calculated from the date of the examination. This is used for issue and renewal of your licence.
If you applying for re-validation of a medical certificate, then it will be calculated from the expiry date of the previous certificate. You can have your re-validation examination up to 45 days before your previous one expires.
If you hold a LAPL medical certificate that has expired your examiner will assess your medical history and carry out the renewal examination.
To find out more on Medical Certificates check out my post: Medical Certificates — Are You Fit To Fly?
What Are The Privileges To Obtaining A LAPL?
A LAPL-A allows you to act as pilot in command (PIC) on two classes of aircraft — a single-engine piston aeroplane (on land), or touring motor glider (TMG).
The privileges granted to the the licence holder are to:
- Act as Pilot in command (PIC) on single engine piston aeroplane, carrying:
- A maximum of 3 passengers.
- A maximum certificated take-off mass of 2000 kg or less.
- No more than 4 persons on board the aircraft.
- Passengers — if the holder has completed 10 hours of flight time as PIC.
Unless you complete further training, you’ll only be licensed to act as PIC in the class and variant of aircraft that you passed your skill test in.
"Different variants" include additional aircraft complexities. Such as a constant speed propeller or retractable undercarriage.
What Is Required During the LAPL Training?
Before applying for a LAPL you must complete a training course at an approved training organisation (ATO). The training involves both theoretical knowledge and flight instruction.
Find your local ATO from our Flight School Finder.
► Obtaining A LAPL-A If You Have An Existing Licence
If you have a relevant current rating on a licence (e.g. PPL) in the same category of aircraft and are applying for a LAPL, you will not have to do any additional training or skills tests. However, if your rating has lapsed you will need to complete the LAPL skills test.
If you hold a LAPL-S with a TMG rating and you want to apply for a LAPL-A, you must:
- Complete 21 hours of flight time on a TMG after you have received your TMG licence endorsement, and
- Meet the requirements on the ‘extension of privileges’ to another class (or variant) of aeroplane.
► Practical Experience
During the LAPL-A you complete at least 30 hours of flight training on aeroplanes including;
- 15 hours of dual flight instruction in the class the skills test will be taken.
- 6 hours of supervised solo flight time, including at least 3 hours of solo cross-country navigation flight time with at least 1 cross-country flight of at least 150 km (80 NM)
- You’re required to perform 1 full stop landing at an aerodrome different from the aerodrome of departure.
► 9 LAPL Examination Subjects
Exams need to be taken and passed in the following subject areas:
- Human Performance & Limitations
- Air Law
- Flight Performance & Planning
- Operational Procedures
- Aircraft General Knowledge
- Principles of Flight
Subjects 1-4 are the core topics. The remaining 5 topics are specific for aircraft training.
At first these topics may sound intimidating — but they don’t require any prior knowledge of aviation. With enough exam practice students don’t usually struggle with the theoretical aspect of this course.
Note: If you successfully pass the theoretical exams for the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence they remain valid for 24 months. In this time you must complete the skills test, otherwise it lapses and you’ll have to retake them.
► Skills Test
At the end of your training you will need to take a Skills Test in an aircraft.
You’ll have to demonstrate to an examiner that while acting as pilot in command (PIC) you can competently carry out the procedures and manoeuvres taught during your training.
How Much Does The LAPL Course Cost? How Long Does It Take To Complete?
► Initial Cost
The LAPL is less expensive to complete than the PPL. This is because the minimum number of required hours is lower. Courses start from as little as £5,000.
A LAPL has a minimum time requirement of just 30 hours flight instruction. You should be able to achieve your LAPL within one year, or much sooner. It depends on the spare time that you have to devote to lessons and study.
LAPL vs PPL: The minimum time for the PPL is 45 hours of flying instruction. Hence the lower price for the LAPL.
Is My LAPL Licence Valid Forever?
The privileges of your licence will only remain valid if you completed the course in the last 24 months, as pilot of an aeroplane or TMG. This requires:
- At least 12 hours flight time as PIC (including 12 take-offs and landings).
- ‘Refresher’ training of at least 1 hour of total flight time with an instructor.
If you do not meet these requirements you will need to complete:
- A proficiency check with an examiner before you exercise the privileges of the licence, or
- The additional flight time or take-offs and landings to meet the requirements above (flying dual or solo), under the supervision of an instructor.
So What’s Next After Obtaining The LAPL?
You can extend your LAPL privileges if you are endorsed to do so by an examiner — which is similar to applying for ratings on other licence types. The extensions to licence privileges relate to your aircraft category.
For example, you could obtain your Flight Radio Telephony Operators Licence since the LAPL does not require a language proficiency test and therefore doesn’t qualify you for this automatically.
► LAPL For Different Aircrafts
If you’re applying for a LAPL in a category of aircraft you don’t already hold the privileges to fly, you will be credited for the common subjects but not the category-specific ones. These will need to be taken and passed for the aircraft.
To extend a LAPL-A to include an additional class — either the SEP (up to 2000 kg), or the TMG, depending on which you already have, you will need to complete the following 2 stages:
1) Three hours of flight instruction, including:
- 10 take-offs and landings under instruction, and
- 10 supervised solo take-offs and landings.
2) A skills test to demonstrate competency and theoretical knowledge in your new class, in the following subjects:
- Operational procedures
- Flight performance & planning
- Aircraft general knowledge
► Additional Privileges
To extend the privileges of a LAPL-A in the class of aircraft in which you took your Skills test, you will need to complete differences or familiarisation training. These include courses such as:
- Retractable Gear
- Variable Pitch Prop
- Single Power Lever (i.e. Diesel Engine)
- EFIS (Glass Cockpit Instruments)
Assuming you're medically able to do so, you can begin your PPL after completing your LAPL.