The Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) is a licence that allows you to fly certain light aircraft. It is different from the more common Private Pilot Licence (PPL), as we shall see. The LAPL syllabus is shorter than the PPL, and it is, therefore, ideal for those who are just starting in aviation.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about the LAPL, including how to obtain it, who is eligible for it, and what privileges it bestows upon those aviators who hold one.
What is the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence?
A LAPL is a private pilot’s licence which allows the holder to act as PIC (pilot in command) on single-engine piston aeroplanes-land (SEP (land)), single-engine piston aeroplanes-sea (SEP (sea)) or touring motor gliders (TMG) with a maximum certificated take-off mass of 2000 kg or less, carrying a maximum of 3 passengers.
The privileges of the licence are limited to the type and class of aircraft in which the skill test was taken, but additional training may be completed to enable privileges for other aircraft types.
- Minimum age: 17
- Maximum number of passengers: 3
- Medical: Class 2 medical certificate
- Maximum weight of aircraft: 2,000 kg (two metric tonnes)
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Do I need a medical certificate to learn to fly?
You will need a Class 2 medical certificate to obtain an LAPL.
While you’re flying dual with an instructor you don’t need an LAPL medical certificate, but you do need one before you fly solo. It is therefore wise to obtain one before you start spending your money on any kind of training and before buying any pilot gear.
To apply for a certificate you need to be registered with your GP (or your military GP if you’re in the Armed Forces). If you have no ongoing medical conditions the examination can be carried out by your GP, but if you have anything that needs to be assessed then you need to be examined by an aeromedical examiner (AME).
Your medical certificate needs to be revalidated at least 45 days before it expires. For pilots under 40 the certificate lasts five years and for pilots 40 years old or more the revalidation period is every two years.
What training do I need to complete to obtain an LAPL?
The syllabus for the LAPL includes a minimum of 30 hours of flight training. It should be stressed that this is a minimum figure and most students will take many more hours to complete the training. You should budget for at least another ten hours on top of this figure.
The sort of things that determine how long it eventually takes for a student to complete the training and to be ready for the skill test include; continuity of training, personal abilities, quality of instruction, etc.
The LAPL is a qualification that allows the holder to fly aircraft of a certain category, under certain conditions. To qualify for a LAPL, you must complete a training course at an approved training organisation (ATO) or declared training organisation (DTO). You will also need to pass exams in the theoretical knowledge subjects (see below).
Once you have qualified for a LAPL, you will be able to fly light aircraft under specific conditions, such as during the day and in good weather under VFR (Visual Flight Rules) in VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions).
LAPL Ground School Subjects
There are nine written exams in all. The first four are common to all aircraft types and are considered the core subjects that every student pilot needs to study.
- Air Law
- Human Performance & Limitations
The other five subjects are specific to the aircraft type in which you are trained for your licence.
- Aircraft General Knowledge
- Principles of Flight
- Flight Performance & Planning
- Operational Procedures
The LAPL Skill Test
Once you have completed your LAPL course, you will need to take a skill test with an examiner. The examiner will test your ability to competently carry out the procedures and manoeuvres that you have been taught while acting as pilot in command (PIC).
To pass the LAPL skill test, you will need to demonstrate your competence in several areas. The test must be conducted by an EASA state-qualified Part-FCL approved examiner.
You must have had some flight instruction on the same aircraft category or type that you will be taking your skill test.
What aircraft can I fly with an LAPL?
Once in possession of your LAPL, you’ll be able to fly a variety of aircraft types, provided of course that you’ve been checked out the aeroplane of your choice. These include aircraft commonly seen in UK skies and available for hire by the hour at flying clubs and flight schools; Piper Warriors and Piper Archers, Cessna 150/152s, etc.
How do I keep my LAPL valid?
Once you successfully pass the theoretical exams and the skills test, and submitted all your paperwork the the CAA, you’ll eventually receive your LAPL. For your licence to remain valid, you must meet one of the following conditions within the previous 2 years:
- Completed at least 12 hours of flight time as PIC or dual or solo under the supervision of an instructor. This must include 12 take-offs and landings.
- Passed an LAPL proficiency check with an examiner. This check should be based on the skill test for the LAPL.
What if I already have some flying experience?
Pilots who already have some flying experience and prior knowledge may be credited towards the flight instruction training, which will reduce the total amount of time required for the licence. The credit will not exceed 50% of the 30 hours of flight instruction, and will not include the requirement of 6 hours of supervised solo flight time.
What’s the difference between Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and the LAPL?
This question is answered in this post, LAPL vs PPL – Options For UK Private Pilots Flying Light Aircraft
Where can I find some LAPL Training?
There are flying clubs and schools throughout the UK offering flight training and refresher training.
Before you embark on any flight training for any licence, you may want to book an experience flight just to see how to feels to be in the
What additional training can I do?
Once you have your LAPL you can add a Night Rating and an Aerobatics Rating.
The LAPL is designed to be a licence for recreational flying. If your goal is to ultimately gain a commerical pilot licence then you should train for a PPL instead.
Where can I find out more?
All the information in this article is to the best of my knowledge. To be certain of the latest requirements, always check the UK Civil Aviation Authority website section Light Aircraft Pilot Licence or speak to a qualified Flight Instructor at your nearest general aviation airfield.
- AME – Aeromedical Examiner
- AeMC – Aeromedical Centre
- ATO – Approved Training Organisation
- CAA – Civil Aviation Authority
- CFI – Chief Flight Instructor
- CPL – Commercial Pilot Licence
- DTO – Declared Training Organisation
- FI – Flight Instructor
- GA – General Aviation
- LAPL – Light Aircraft Pilot Licence
- PIC – Pilot In Command
- PPL – Private Pilot Licence
- SEP – Single Engine Piston (single engine aircraft)
- TMG – Touring Motor Glider
- VFR – Visual Flight Rules
- VMC – Visual Meteorological Conditions