Commercial Pilot Licence

The JAR-CPL or Commercial Pilot Licence for short is a licence that allows the holder to fly an aircraft which is UK registered in almost any country in the world for remuneration. The CPL is considered as a professional pilot licence as the standard of training and indeed flying is set at a high level.

Before you begin a CPL, what do you need?

To start training and indeed be awarded with a CPL you must be atleast 18 years of age and be the colder of a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and a Single-Engine Piston rating or Multi-Engine Piston rating, the second one, if not currently held can be combined with a commercial course, adding 5 hours to the training. You must have completed a night qualification and have a minimum of 150 hours total time, with 20 hours cross-country flying. You must have also completed a cross-country solo flight of no less than 540km. You must also be a holder of a valid Class One Medical and you must have also passed the required CPL or ATPL theory exams at an approved training organisation.


What will I, and what am I required to do during the training?

During the Commercial Pilot training, you will complete a minimum of 25 hours dual training, reduced to 15 hours if the student already holds an Instrument Rating and boosted to 30 hours if a night rating is not held at the commencement of the training.

The CPL theoretical examinations that should all be passed before commencing the course are in the following topics:

  • Air Law
  • Meteorology
  • Communications
  • Principles of Flight
  • Human Performance and Limitations
  • Flight Planning and Performance
  • Operational Proceedures
  • Aircraft General Knowledge
  • Navigation

Many students, if going on to fly for an airline decide to complete the full ATPL examinations which adds 5 more exams to the list but saves time and money later on in the training course. The course usual begins with some general handling and circuits to a commercial standard, allowing the student to get a feel for the standard of CPL flying. The next section then cosists of Instument Meteorological training, with the student flying the aircraft with sole reference to the aircrafts instruments and navigation aids. The third section conists of cross country flying, Visual Flight Rules and Instrument Flight Rules are used during this phase. The final stage is a mock test.

Once all the above has been completed you will then be able to apply to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the issue of your Commercial Pilot Licence.

Most students will take longer than the minimum 25 hours with averages varying from school to school, be sure to check this average out when considering flight schools, of which you can find your local in our Flight School Directory.


So, what are the specific privilidges of holding a Private Pilot Licence?

The holder of a JAR-CPL is permitted to carry our all privilidges of a PPL licence and is permitted to be paid for their services, be that charter, aerial photography or crop-spraying work.


Is my licence valid for ever?

No a Commercial Pilot Licence is valid for 5 years, with your specific privilidges, SEP or MEP being renewed every 2 years. The simplest way is to have a proficiency check with an approved CAA examiner, within the last three months of your rating. This type of check normally lasts around one hour and is a test of your general handinling skills and normally involves a navigation element.

However you can simply revalidate your rating by ensuring you fly 12 hours in the proceeding 12 months before expiry, one of these hours must be with a suitably qualified instructor, flight tests do count, and of the 12 hours atleast 6 must be as pilot in command and must have consisted of 12 take-offs and 12 landings.


What is the cost of obtaining a PPL?

Once again there is no fixed cost when gaining a licence, it is set by the cost of a number of things, we've completed a list below, be sure to ask your prospective school how much each of the below cost before embarking on your training as some schools may avoid explaining the extras!

  • Hourly aircraft hire rate including an instructor.
  • Landing fee and Touch & Go fees for the entire course.
  • School membership fees.
  • Exam fees, including ground exams and flight test fees.
  • Cancellation and no-show fees.

As well as the above costs there are also a number of other fixed costs to take into account when making your calculations:

  • Class One medical fee costing £330.
  • Equipment and study materials. These can be purchased online and usually amount to approxiamtely £400-500 depending on whether you decide to purchase your own headset, which on their own can cost as much as £600 for the advanced sets.
  • Examiner fees and licence issue fees, these can be found on the CAA Scheme of Charges document, by clicking here.

Having taken all these costs into account a CPL dependant upon your location and choice of school can cost between £6000 and £8000, this of course would be with the minimum 25 hours of training.


So once I have a CPL, is that it?

Certainly not, why not check out the other qualifications and ratings you can add to a CPL by following our links below:

Night Qualification

Instrument Meteorological Conditions Rating

Instrument Rating

Instructor Rating