What Is a Recreational Pilot Licence and Where Does It Fit Into a Pilot Training Program?
If you want to dip your toes into aviation life, consider obtaining a recreational pilot licence (RPL). With an RPL, you can pilot a light, single-engine aircraft unsupervised. An RPL is ideal for aspiring aviation enthusiasts who would like to obtain flight experience within a relatively short time. If you are planning to become a private or commercial pilot, the RPL is typically the first step in a pilot training program.
What Is a Recreational Pilot Licence and Its Requirements?
Before you can consider an RPL, you must be at least 16 years old and have the aviation English language proficiency to operate an aeronautical radio. The RPL application process consists of the following:
- Complete aviation theory education and training
- Perform the general English language proficiency assessment
- Obtain a Class 2 medical certification
- Complete 25 hours of flying time
- Pass the RPL Theory Test
- Complete the RPL Flight Test
If you pass the flight test and obtain your RPL, you can either maintain an active RPL or continue your training to add endorsements or obtain higher licences.
How Do You Maintain a Recreational Pilot Licence?
Once you obtain an RPL, you have to meet certain requirements to keep your licence in active status. At a bare minimum, you must do the following:
- Complete a flight review
- Perform three take-offs and landings within the last 90 days to be able to carry a passenger
- Maintain a Class 1 or 2 medical certificate to fly at heights above 10,000 feet
Maintaining an active status is also important to avoid further costs.
What Are the Limitations of a Recreational Pilot Licence?
A pilot who holds only an RPL has several flight restrictions.
- Single-engine craft only with a maximum weight of 1,500kg
- Daytime flying only in visual conditions
- Maximum distance of 25 Nautical Miles (~50km) from the departure airport
- No multi-crew operations
An RPL is not recognised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. If you want to pilot an aircraft in another country, you would need to obtain approval from that country's aviation authority or obtain a Private Pilot Licence. However, if you plan on only flying in Melbourne, then an RPL is ideal.
What's the Difference Between a Recreational Pilot and a Private Pilot?
Recreational pilots can command a single-engine aircraft with a maximum weight of 1,500 kg. They can only fly within a 25-nautical mile boundary from the departure airport. Private pilots have fewer restrictions and can fly anywhere within Australia with up to five passengers.
Can Recreational Pilots Make Money in Australia?
No, RPL holders are unable to fly an aircraft for reward or hire. You will require a Commercial Pilot Licence to be remunerated for flying. The RPL is designed for private flying only, as a stepping stone towards your Commercial Licence.
Where Can You Obtain a Recreational Pilot Licence?
If you are aiming to obtain an RPL in Melbourne, there are many flight schools in Melbourne or surrounding areas that can assist. Holmes Institute offers innovative and comprehensive courses that can complete your aviation journey. Within the first fliyin unit of our Bachelor of Aviation programme, students have the opportunity to obtain their recreational pilot licence. At Holmes, we nurture your aviation career to successfully obtain a commercial pilot licence. Contact us to start your journey into the sky.