PPL or LAPL – The Private Pilot’s Licence Options in the UK

Anyone thinking of learning to fly or who has already started is immediately confronted by all kinds of unfamiliar words, abbreviations, and acronyms.  One of the first things to consider is the licence type that is best suited for your ambitions.

Flying, like sailing and a whole host of other sports and activities, has its own language and although things may seem a little daunting at first pretty soon the aspiring pilot will be chatting with ease using many new words and phrases.

In fact, part of the enjoyment of learning to fly is becoming familiar with the language of aviation.  Being able to understand the written and spoken word of flight will increase your confidence and spur you on to greater achievements.

PPL or LAPL – Private Pilot’s Licence

When people speak of a Private Pilot’s Licence they are usually referring to a PPL.  In the UK this licence is issued by CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) in accordance with the rules set down by  the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency).

The LAPL (Light Aircraft Pilot’s Licence) is alternative to the PPL.  The training syllabus for this licence is a simplified version of the full PPL and consequently the privileges it conveys to holder are fewer

NPPL – National Pilots Licence

A few years ago the CAA introduced the NPPL (National Pilots Licence). This is a non-EASA licence for microlight pilots.  The syllabus requirements for this are less stringent than the EASA PPL, but then so are the privileges granted to anyone holding this type of licence.

Microlight pilots can obtain their licences on either a flexi wing or a three axis aircraft.  Flexi wing microlights are usually open cockpit and have a single wing that is moved by a control bar.  Three axis aircraft are similar to conventional aircraft but are obviously much lighter.

A note on spelling

You may see the PPL defined variously as:

  • Private Pilots Licence
  • Private Pilot’s Licence
  • Private Pilots License

I’ll leave it to the reader to decide which is grammatically correct suffice to say that the apostrophe is needed and it says ‘Private Pilot’s Licence’ on the cover of mine!

So, right from the outset if you decide you want to learn to fly up the point where you’re licensed to do so then you have to choose between the LAPL and the PPL.

The full EASA PPL extends the privileges of the pilot and it’s the one to aim for if you want to fly abroad for business or pleasure.  It’s also the one to obtain if you have any ambitions for adding an Instrument Rating and proceeding into commercial aviation.