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Step-by-Step guide to getting your Recreational Pilots License

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

Achieving the dream of flight is now much easier these days with the introduction of the Recreational Pilots License (RPL) which was introduced with Part 61. The RPL took over the GFPT (General Flying Progress Test).


Getting your RPL pilots license, RPL license requirements, RPL limitations, Can a RPL fly with passengers, Australian Pilot training, Pilot training in Australia,
Getting your Pilots License

Contents:


What is a Recreational Pilots License?

The RPL- Recreational Pilots License allows people to be qualified and operate within 25 nautical miles of the aerodrome of operation while flying an aircraft with one passenger with an aircraft weight of less than 1500Kg. The pilot may operate with more than one passenger if they hold a class 2 medical.

The Pilot must only be operating in the Day VFR flight rules and conducting private operations only.


How to get an RPL Pilots License:

To achieve the RPL license you must hold a valid medical, obtain the experience required to sit the RPL flight test to the required standards, and pass the RPL theory Exam and flight test. The training must be conducted at a Part 141 training operator, and the applicant must obtain an English language proficiency assessment (level 3 and above).


What age can I get my RPL?

A pilot obtaining an RPL must be 16 years of age, this does not stop the individual from training at the age of 15 or younger. They will only be allowed to operate an aircraft below 1500kg once they pass the RPL flight test at least on their 16th birthday.


What medical is required for an RPL pilot's license?

A pilot looking to learn to fly should first obtain a medical to make sure they can continue to fly and operate and aircraft. An example of someone not obtaining a medical would be someone starting flight training and then finding out they are color blind. To operate an aircraft less then 1500kg as a RPL license holder the pilot must have either a RAMPC ( recreational aviation medical practitioner's certificate) allowing them to fly with 1 passenger or either a Class 2 or 1 medical allowing them to operate with more then 1 passenger.


Can you fly with Passengers?

Yes, the RPL holder may operate and carry one passenger on a flight if they hold a RAMPC medical. If the pilot holds at least a class 2 medical they may fly an aircraft with more than 1 passenger or must fly with a pilot in the control seat who has at least a class 2 medical.


What hours are required to get an RPL?

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Aircraft Taking Off

The hours required to get your RPL pilot's license are below, these are the minimum requirements to sit your flight and most students will go over the hours dependent on the students ability and flying standards.

  • at least 25 of hours flying time,

  • including 20 hours of dual,

  • and 5 hours as pilot-in-command (Solo circuits and training area)

What theory is Required to obtain an RPL?

When learning to fly you will be required to complete multiple theory tests, for the issue of the RPL you will be required to obtain passes in the following exams:

  • English language proficiency test

  • Pre Solo exam (in-house)

  • Radio license exam (in-house)

  • Pre-area solo exam and (in-house),

  • RPLA theory Exam (CASA)

The pass mark for all theory exams is 70%, The RPLA exam is made up of multiple choice questions and you will have 2 hours to complete the exam. The exams cost $173.89 each ($108.89 invigilator fee and $65 CASA fee) and must be completed at an exam center. Pass-rate for 2021 was 52%, meaning one in two people fail the exam due to lack of preparation and study.


The exams will test your knowledge on the syllabus in Part 61 Manual of Standards (MOS) schedule 3 -

You should also know the RPL, PPL and CPL (Aeroplane) workbook (PDF 643kB).

Unit code

Unit of knowledge

BAKC

Basic aeronautical knowledge

RFRC

RPL Flight rules and air law

RMTC

RPL Meteorology​

PHFC

PPL Human factors

RBKA

Basic aeronautical knowledge – aeroplane

RPL Flight Test Theory Check:

Link to Form: Click Here


Flight Test Theory Guide coming SOON- Email and subscribe for Draft


Privilege and Restrictions of an RPL CASR: Volume 2, Part 61.460

Applicability of Drug and Alcohols regulations of an RPL CASR: Volume 3, Part 99

VFR aircraft instrument requirements:

Emergency Equipment Requirements:

Fuel Planning:

Managing Passengers and Cargo:

Aircraft speed limitations: Air Speed indicators

Aircraft Systems (relevant to your aircraft).


RPL Flight Test Requirements:

Link to Form: Click Here

RPL Flight Test CASA form 61-1486
RPL form from CASA to be filled out

Can I convert RA-Aus to RPL?

Yes, The RA-AUS license is equivalent to the RPL, to convert to an RPL you must fill in form 61-1TX and send it to CASA with the equivalent documents. You will also be required to sit a flight review in an aircraft below 1500Kg. If you have been flying Navigation, CTA and on a CSU RA-Aus aircraft those ratings will be transferred across. You must have completed the aeronautical experience required for the RPL flight test which should be the same as the RA-Aus license experience.


The cheapest and most sensible method to get your RA-Aus converted would be to conduct the flight review and check in a GA-registered Aircraft that is also flown in RA-Aus. For example a GA-registered Jabiru or Sling aircraft. A Cessna 172 is much larger and would take some time before a flight school would let you operate by yourself.


What Endorsements can I add to my RPL?

  • controlled aerodrome endorsement (RPCT)

  • controlled airspace endorsement (RPCA)

  • flight radio endorsement (RPFR) – requires an aviation English language proficiency assessment

  • recreational navigation endorsement (RPNA) – requires 5 hours solo cross-country minimum flight time.

What are the Limitations of an RPL over a PPL?

The major Con's with an RPL are you can not operate or fly a multi-engine airplane (Boo-Hoo) and can not fly at night (thank god) (you can only fly solo at night when you're in training.)


The RPL is not an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) license. Other countries don't recognize it and therefore you may not transfer it if you decide to fly in another country. Hours are accepted worldwide and if you are current and able then you would only have to pass their exams and demonstrate your ability to fly within that country.


Useful RPL resources:

CASA website for RPL: Click Here

CASA website: RPLA Theory Exam practice: Click Here

Privilege's and Restrictions of a RPL CASR: Volume 2, Part 61.460


Keep Up-to-date with the latest in training, theory exams, and flight schools in the Facebook group, Join the group now.

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