Commercial Pilot Licence

The EASA-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 at least 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 hours will include 10 hours of instrument instruction and 15 hours of visual flight instruction. Five hours of the instrument instruction can be taken in a simulator.

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

  • Air Law
  • Aircraft General Knowledge — Airframe/Systems/Powerplant
  • Aircraft General Knowledge — Instrumentation
  • Mass and Balance
  • Performance
  • Flight Planning and Monitoring
  • Human Performance
  • Meteorology
  • General Navigation
  • Radio Navigation
  • Operational Procedures
  • Principles of Flight
  • Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Communications

Many students, if going on to fly for an airline decide to complete the full ATPL examinations which now, under new EASA (European) rules, only adds 1 more exam to the list, IFR Communications. 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 consists of Instrument Meteorological training, with the student flying the aircraft with sole reference to the aircraft’s instruments and navigation aids. The third section consists 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.

Before you take your CPL skills test, you will need to have completed a total of 200 hours total time, of which 100 hours should be pilot-in-command (with 20 hours cross country PIC), a solo cross-country flight of at least 540km (most people complete this during hour-building),

So, what are the specific privileges of holding a Commercial Pilot Licence?

The holder of a EASA-CPL is permitted to carry our all privileges of a PPL or LAPL holder and is permitted to act as pilot in command of any aircraft engaged in operations such as aerial photography or crop-spraying work but not commercial air transport. Holders may however, act as PIC in commercial air transport of any SINGLE-pilot aircraft subject to restrictions or co-pilot in commercial air transport, subject to restrictions including a valid type-rating.


Is my licence valid for ever?

Yes, now under new EASA rules, your CPL will be valid for life, or as long as you hold a valid Class One medical certificate. Your specific privileges, SEP or MEP will still need to be 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 handling skills and normally involves a navigation element.

However you can simply re-validate 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 at least 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 CPL?

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 over £450.
  • Equipment and study materials. These can be purchased online and usually amount to approximately £500-600 depending on whether you decide to purchase your own headset, which on their own can cost as much as £800 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 and for students that don’t already hold an Instrument Rating.

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