Pilot - Civil Aviation (General Aviation)

 

Content

Pilot Licences
First things first: The Private Pilot Licence (PPL)
Build a career as a Pilot with a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)
Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL)
Ratings

 

Pilot Licences

To be a pilot is a dream to many people. It can be one of the most rewarding and fun filled careers in the world but takes a lot of hard work, dedication and responsibility. This article should answer all your questions about the life of a Civilian Aviation Pilot in South Africa and how to follow your dream to become one.

The South African Civil Aviation Authority issues different types of pilot licences for different types of pilots and flight operations. These licences differs from South African Air Force pilot’s licences and any pilot, Air Force or Civilian, piloting a South African aircraft with a civilian licence (ZS- or ZU-) must hold the appropriate licence issued by the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

Different Licences issued by the SACCA include:

  • Student Pilot Licence (SPL)
  • Private Pilot Licence (Aeroplane) (PPL-A)
  •  Private Pilot Licence (Helicopter) (PPL-H)
  • Commercial Pilot Licence (Aeroplane) (CPL-A)
  • Commercial Pilot Licence (Helicopter) (CPL-H)
  • Airline Transport Pilot Licence (Aeroplane) (ATPL-A)
  • Airline Transport Pilot Licence (Helicopter) (ATPL-H)
  • Glider Pilot Licence (GPL)
  • Free-balloon Pilot Licence (FBPL)
  • Airship Pilot Licence (ASPL)

 

First things first: The Private Pilot Licence (PPL)

The first step for anyone wanting to become a pilot is to obtain a Private Pilot Licence (PPL). This type of licence will allow you to fly the type of aircraft listed on your licence with passengers on board but you as pilot may not be rewarded for the flight in any way. Though a PPL is useless to start a career with it is a necessary step to be able to enrol for a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). For an aircraft owner or aviation enthusiast wishing to fly for the fun of it, this will be the only licnece you need!

Educational Requirements

There are no educational requirements to start training but it is strongly advised that you should at least have a matric certificate and have a good understanding of the English language. Mathematics and Geography are not compulsory but it will make the course a lot easier to understand and if you wish to make a career out of flying it might just be what you need to get a job instead of someone else who did not take these subjects. The more you have to show, the better your chances are!

Medical Requirements

A Class I (required for a CPL) or Class II Medical Examination must be passed upon which you must apply for a Student Pilot's Licence (SPL). Do not be misled by the old air force standards of medical evaluation. The standards are not as high in General Aviation. For example, people with bad eye sight are allowed to fly with glasses and there are no height requirements. You can go to a certified Aviation Medical Examiner for an examination to see if you are fit to be a pilot.

The PPL Syllabus

The PPL course consists of a well worked out syllabus consisting of 7 theoretical knowledge subjects and 45-50 hours of flight lessons (some with an instructor, some solo). You have to attend Ground School classes on all of the subjects and write and pass the exams before applying for a PPL.

The 7 Ground School theoretical knowledge subjects are as follows:

1.) Principles of Flight
2.) Aircraft Technical and General
3.) Navigation
4.) Flight Performance and Planning
5.) Aviation Meteorology
6.) Human Performance and Limitations
7.) Air Law

A Restricted Radio Licence course as well as an English Proficiency Examination is also included in the Ground School syllabus.

You should note that these examinations must be written and passed within a period of 18 months the last of which must be passed not more than 36 months before the flight skills test.

The table below explains the hours and flight time that you have to log before applying for a PPL.

  PPL - Aeroplane PPL - Helicopter
Total Hours: 45 50
Dual Instructions Hours: 20 20
Solo Hours: 15 15
Simulatot Hours: 5 5

Most flight schools don't have set dates or hours that you need to attend. You can start whenever you like and continue at your own pace. Soon after your first flight lesson and medical examination has been passed you will be issued a Student Pilot Licence (SPL) that will allow you to fly solo (without anyone on board) for the duration of your training. 

Financials

Aviation is an expensive industry. Aircraft are delicate and expensive to operate and maintain and the increase in fuel prices makes it even worse. A PPL (A) can cost you anything from R 60 000 – R90 000. A PPL (H) is even more expensive and can cost up to R 180 000! Unfortunately, banks don’t offer student loans for Private Pilot Licences and sponsorships are almost non-existent for any pilot licence. The good news is that banks do offer loans for Commercial Pilot Licences so it is possible to save money for a PPL and loan money from the bank to continue your training to commercial level. Keep in mind that entry level pilot salaries are between R5 000.00 and R10 000.00 p/m so make sure that you can pay off a loan after you have qualified as a pilot before taking the loan.
It is not impossible for anyone to get the funding needed for a pilot licence. There are ways and if it is your dream to fly then you will find a way to fund your licence! It is very important to remember that it is illegal for a PPL pilot to take money from anyone as a reward for a flight! This includes money to pay for the fuel used for the flight!

PPL Checklist

  • You must be at least 17 years of age.
  • You must have a valid Class I or Class II Medical Certificate.
  • You must have a valid Restricted Radio Licence.
  • You must have a valid Student Pilot Licence (SPL) OR have or have held one of the following within the previous 60 months:
  • You must write and pass the 7 PPL theoretical knowledge exams in the required time period.
  • You must fly and log the required hours set out in the column above.
  • You must pass the PPL flight skills test when you adhere to all of the above requirements within 36 months after you have passed the last theoretical knowledge exam.
  • Your training must be done at an Aviation Training Organisation approved by the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

 

Build a career as a Pilot with a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

The Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) is for pilots that want to make a career out of flying or earn money for piloting an aircraft. No pilot may act as pilot in command of a South African registered aircraft and receive award in any form unless he is the holder of a valid Commercial Pilot License (CPL) or an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).

Educational Requirements

Again, there are no educational requirements but the pilot in question must be the holder or have been the holder of a valid South African Private Pilot Licence (PPL) in the previous 60 months to begin with CPL training. Always remember that enough does not always mean that you will be the first to be considered when applying for a job. The more you have to show, the better your chances!

Medical Requirements

A Class I Medical Certificate is required for a CPL. It differs from a Class II Medical Certificate in that it must be renewed every year. Older pilots must renew their medical certificates more often or submit six-monthly medical reports to keep their medical certificates valid. Do not be misled by the old air force standards of medical evaluation. The standards are not as high in General Aviation. For example, people with bad eye sight are allowed to fly with glasses and there are no height requirements. You can go to a certified Aviation Medical Examiner for an examination to see if you are fit to fly.

The CPL Syllabus

The CPL course consists of a well worked out syllabus consisting of 8 theoretical knowledge subjects and ±50 hours of flight lessons. It may also include a night- and instrument rating course. The night rating will allow you to pilot an aircraft at night time while the instrument rating allows you to pilot an aircraft in conditions where you don’t have visual reference to the ground (In clouds etc.). 100 hours of the required 150 hours can be flown as pilot in command without an instructor.

The following 8 subject exams must be written and passed before applying for a CPL:

1.) Flight Performance and Planning
2.) General Navigation and Plotting
3.) Radio Aids and Communication
4.) Aircraft Technical and General
5.) Instruments and Electronics
6.) Aviation Meteorology
7.) Air Law and Procedures
8.) Human Performance and Limitations
(The content of these subjects are not the same as those in the PPL and ATPL syllabus!)

A General Radio Licence course exam must also be passed. The CPL flight skills test must be undertaken within 36 months after the theoretical knowledge examinations where passed.

The table below explains the hours and flight time that you have to log before you can apply for a CPL.

  CPL - Aeroplane CPL - Helicopter
Total Hours: 150 + 45 PPL 150 + 50 PPL
Dual Instructions Hours: 50 50
Solo Hours: 100 100
Simulatot Hours: 15 15

Financials

Most South African banks offer student loans for Commercial Pilot Licences (CPL). However, there are limits as to how much they loan. A CPL(A) can cost as much as R 250 000. Taking out a loan of that much will require a monthly payment of at least R 4 000! The entry level salary for most pilots is round about R 5000 per month. You’ll have to plan very carefully if you decide to take out a student loan for flight training. The second option is to take out a second bond on your house (if you own one). This will result in a lower monthly payment but will take much longer to pay off.

CPL Checklist

  • You must be at least 18 years of age.
  • You must have a valid Class I Medical Certificate.
  • You must have a valid General Radio Licence.
  • You must have a valid Night Rating.
  • You must have written and passed the 8 theoretical knowledge examinations.
  • You must have a valid Private Pilot Licence (PPL) OR have or have held one of the following within the previous 60 months:
    •   A Pilot Licence issued by a foreign country or state.
    •   South African Air Force Pilot qualification.
    •   A Student Pilot Licence (SPL) in the case of an applicant having done an approved integrated training course.
  • You must fly and log the required hours set out in the column above.
  • You must pass the CPL flight skills test when you adhere to all of the above requirements within 36 months after you have passed the last theoretical knowledge exam.
  • Your training must be done at an Aviation Training Organisation approved by the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

 

Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL)

This is the highest commercial pilot’s licence obtainable. An airline transport pilot can act as pilot in command of an aircraft in any commercial air transport operation. All aircraft weighing more than 5 700kg, aircraft requiring a pilot and co-pilot and any aircraft undertaking public transport flights require an ATPL pilot in command.

Educational Requirements

There are no educational requirements but the pilot in question must at least be the holder or have been the holder of a valid South African Private Pilot Licence (PPL) or a valid instrument rating in the previous 60 months and show evidence of attending a multi crew co-operation course in the previous 60 months to begin with ATPL training. Always remember that “enough” does not always mean that you will be the first to be considered when applying for a job. The more you have to show, the better your chances! You must be at least 21 years of age when applying for an ATPL.

Medical Requirements

A Class I Medical Certificate is required for an ATPL. It differs from a Class II Medical Certificate in that it must be renewed every year. Older pilots must renew their medical certificates more often or submit six-monthly medical reports to keep their medical certificates valid. Do not be misled by the old air force standards of medical evaluation. The standards are not as high in General Aviation, for example, people with bad eye sight are allowed to fly with glasses and there are no height requirements. You can go to a certified Aviation Medical Examiner for an examination to see if you are fit to fly.

The ATPL Syllabus

There are 6 theoretical knowledge subjects to be passed before you can apply for an ATPL:

1.) Aircraft Technical and General
2.) Navigation
3.) Meteorology
4.) Instruments and Electronics
5.) Radio Aids
6.) Flight Planning

(The content of these subjects are not the same as those in the PPL and CPL syllabus!)

The table below explains the hours and flight time that you have to log before you can apply for an ATPL.

  ATPL - Aeroplane ATPL - Helicopter
Total Hours: 1 500
(may include 45 from PPL and 150 from CPL)
1 500
(may include 50 from PPL and 150 from CPL)
PIC Under Supervision: 500 500
PIC Hours
(150 may be as PIC under supervision):
250 250
Cross Country Hours
(100 may be as co-pilot or PIC under supervision):
200 200
Instrument Hours
(no more than 30 on Flight Simulation Device):
75 75
Night Flying Hours
(PIC or co-pilot):
100 100

Financials

A pilot can start flying for reward (money + hours) once he/she is the holder of a Commercial Pilot License (CPL). This means that the all the hours obtained as a commercial pilot will be taken into account when applying for an ATPL.

ATPL Checklist

  • You must be at least 21 years of age.
  • You must hold a valid Class I Medical Certificate.
  • You must have a valid Private Pilot Licence OR have or have held one of the following within the previous 60 months:
    •   A valid South African CPL.
    •   A Pilot License issued by a foreign country or state.
    •   A valid South African Air Force Pilot qualification.
    •   A Student Pilot Licence (SPL) in the case of an applicant having done an approved integrated training course.
  • You must have a valid Instrument Rating.
  • You must have completed a multi-crew co-operation course within the previous 60 months.
  • You must have written and passed the 6 theoretical knowledge examinations.
  • You must pass the ATPL flight skills test when you adhere to all of the above requirements within 36 months after you have passed the last theoretical knowledge exam.
  • Your training must be done at an Aviation Training Organisation approved by the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

 

Ratings

A pilot’s licence is much different from a driver’s licence. Aircraft are much more complicated than cars thus the differences between different types of aircraft are much greater. Aircraft comes in many shapes and sizes and requires different ratings to pilot.

If you are the holder of a valid South African Pilot Licence and have completed training for the appropriate rating you can apply for some of these ratings such as:

  • Different Type and Class Ratings
  • Night Rating (Allows you to pilot an aircraft at night time.)
  • Instrument Rating (Allows you to fly in conditions where there is no visual reference to the ground.)
  • Post Maintenance Flight Test Rating.
  • Tow or Tug Ratings
  • Aerobatics Rating
  • Helicopter Sling or Winch Rating

It goes without saying that all of these ratings require additional training. The South African Civil Aviation Authority website explains these ratings and the requirements to apply for them in detail.

Category Ratings

An Aeroplane PPL differs from a Helicopter PPL. If you want to pilot both Aeroplanes and Helicopters you'll have to complete a PPL course for each respectively. The same applies for a CPL and ATPL.
Pilot licences can be endorsed by the following Category Ratings:

  • Aeroplane
  • Helicopter
  • Glider
  • Free-balloon
  • Airship
  • Powered-lift

Type and Class Ratings

These ratings are required to pilot different types of aircraft in different classes. An aircraft class rating is required to pilot all types of aircraft within a particular aircraft class. Some aircraft requires class and type ratings to pilot others only require a class or type rating.

There are many kinds of Class Ratings including the following:

  • All single-engine piston Aeroplanes (land)
  • All single-engine piston Aeroplanes (sea)
  • All multi-engine piston Aeroplanes (land)
  • All multi-engine piston Aeroplanes (sea)
  • Each manufacturer of single-engine Turbo-prop Aeroplanes (land)
  • Each manufacturer of single-engine Turbo-prop Aeroplanes (sea)
  • All touring Gliders
  • All conventional Gliders

Type Ratings include the following:

  • All Helicopters
  • All Warbirds
  • Aeroplanes with a maximum certificated mass exceeding 5700 kg
  • Multi-engine Turbo-prop Aeroplanes
  • Aeroplanes certified for operation with a flight crew of 2 or more

Please feel free to contact us should you require more information.