What’s the Difference between RPL and PPL?

It’s a common misconception that you must choose to between completing a Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) or a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) when you start flight training. But they’re actually two milestones on the same flight training journey!

So it’s less about which licence you choose, but rather how far you want to take your flight training. Each licence and endorsement you earn along the journey will give you different skills and expand your freedom when you’re up in the air. It can be helpful to know what each licence entails so you can start planning your own flight training journey.

First stop: Recreational Pilot Licence

A Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) is the starting point for your pilot training. Whether you are training for fun or for a career in aviation, the Recreational Pilot Licence will be your first major milestone. After that, you can go on to get your Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL).

The RPL program will teach you basic flying techniques including climbing and descending, take-off and landing, dealing with emergencies etc. Every flight lesson will start with a classroom briefing on the techniques before they’re put into practice. You’ll need to pass several theory exams as well as complete practical flight training.

With a Recreational Pilot Licence, you’ll be able to fly as a Pilot in Command of a single-engine aircraft under the maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 1500kgs, within a boundary of 25 nautical miles from the departure airport.

Next stop: Private Pilot Licence

After completing your RPL, you can continue on to get your Private Pilot Licence (PPL). The PPL training focuses mainly on navigation and will enable you to fly all over Australia.

During the PPL training, you will learn how to navigate to and from different airports. You will go through the following steps:

        1.   Take-off, navigate around the ranges and control steps 
        2.   Fly to a different airport and land 
        3.   Take-off and navigate back to the original airport 

Similar to the RPL program, you will need to pass several theory exams as well as complete practical flight training.

Once you have received your Private Pilot Licence, you will be allowed to act as a Pilot in Command and be endorsed. You will also be able to carry up to five passengers and fly all over Australia.

It’s up to you how far you take your flight training and you don’t need to have your journey planned when you first start out. But be warned, once you’ve gotten a taste for flying through the RPL it’s hard not to catch the bug and want to keep going!

For more information about flight training, check out our Recreational Pilot Licence and Private Pilot Licence courses.