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Australian Recreational Pilots License

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

Flying has always held a special allure, captivating the imaginations of people from all walks of life. The dream of soaring through the clouds, exploring the world from above, and feeling the thrill of piloting an aircraft is something many aspire to achieve. In Australia, one way to turn this dream into a reality is by obtaining a recreational pilot's license (RPL) or private pilot's License (PPL). This article explores what the Recreational pilot license entails, its limitations, the associated costs, and the required training to obtain your recreational or private pilot license in 2023.

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Information on the Recreational Pilot's License (RPL):

The Recreational Pilot's License is the entry point into the world of aviation for many aspiring pilots in Australia. It is designed for individuals who want to fly recreationally and is more restrictive compared to other pilot licenses such as the PPL.

Limitations of the Recreational Pilots License:

1. Aircraft Limitations: RPL holders are allowed to fly only specific types of aircraft, such as single-engine, piston-powered airplanes with a maximum takeoff weight of 1,500 kilograms. This limitation ensures that Recreational Pilot License holders are familiar with simpler aircraft before progressing to more complex ones that could be flown on a private pilot's license.

2. Daylight and Visual Flight Rules: Recreational pilots can only fly during daylight hours and must operate under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). This means they must have good visibility and clear skies, limiting their ability to fly in adverse weather conditions or at night.

3. Passenger Restrictions: RPL holders are not permitted to carry passengers for hire or reward (paying passengers), limiting their flights to solo or with an instructor. You may fly with non-paying passengers or cost-splitting passengers but you are limited to the amount of passengers depending on your medical. If you hold a class 2 or 1 medical, you may fly with extra passengers. If you have a recreational medical then you are limited to flying by yourself or with a safety pilot/instructor.

If flying with another pilot who holds a class 2 or 1 medical you may take passengers.

Costs of Obtaining a Recreational Pilots License:

Obtaining an RPL involves several costs, including training, examinations, medical assessments, and licensing fees. The overall cost can vary depending on factors such as location, flight school, and individual aptitude. Here is a rough breakdown of the expenses involved:

  1. Flight Training: The flight training component can cost anywhere from AUD 10,000 to AUD 15,000, depending on the flight school and the number of flight hours required. This typically includes the cost of aircraft rental and instructor fees. Other fees you need to be aware of are landing fees, briefing fees, and fees not included in your hourly rate for aircraft hire. To obtain your recreational pilot's license you must complete 2 hours of dual training and 5 hours of solo flight before you can sit the flight practical test.

  2. Theory Examinations: There are theory exams that aspiring pilots must pass, covering subjects like navigation, aerodynamics, meteorology, and aviation law. The Recreational Pilot License exam is a 2-hour exam that the applicant must obtain a 70% pass mark on. The exam costs $182.38 each ($117.38 invigilator fee and $65 CASA fee. The current pass rate in 2023 for the recreational pilot exam is 52%. Please email me before you sit this exam for any help or questions.

  3. Medical Examination: A Class 2 aviation medical examination is required, which can cost around $250 depending on the DAME. To find a DAME google search or use the CASA website.

Training Requirements to Obtain a Recreational Pilots License in 2023:

To obtain an RPL in Australia, individuals must complete the following training requirements:

  1. Flight Training: Aspiring pilots must complete a minimum of 25 hours of flight time, which includes at least 20 hours of dual flight time (with an instructor) and at least 5 hours of solo flight time.

  2. Theory Knowledge: Students must pass the Recreational Pilots License theory exam which includes the subjects of aviation law, meteorology, human factors, and basic aviation engines and systems. A link to the online recreational pilot license course is here.

  3. Flight Test: After meeting the flight time and theory requirements, students must pass a flight test with a designated flight examiner.

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Recreational Pilot License Course:

The RPL course is typically offered by flight schools and includes both ground instruction and flight training. Here's what you can expect from an RPL course:

  • Ground Instruction: Students will receive classroom instruction covering the theoretical aspects of aviation, including subjects like air law, navigation, meteorology, and aircraft systems.

  • Flight Training: The flight training component includes hands-on instruction with a certified flight instructor. Students will learn aircraft handling, flight maneuvers, emergency procedures, and navigation techniques.

  • Self-Study: In addition to classroom instruction, students are expected to engage in self-study to prepare for the theory exam.

  • Flight Test Preparation: The course will also include preparation for the flight test, which assesses a student's ability to operate an aircraft safely and proficiently.


Obtaining a Recreational Pilot's License in Australia is an exciting journey that opens up a world of possibilities for aviation enthusiasts. While it comes with certain limitations, the RPL serves as a stepping stone for those who may wish to pursue more advanced pilot licenses in the future. Aspiring recreational pilots should carefully consider the costs and training requirements involved, but the rewards of taking to the skies are well worth the effort and investment.

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