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Decide what you want to fly.

Rules differ for getting a pilot's licence depending on the type of aircraft you fly. You can choose among airplanes, gyroplanes, helicopters, sailplanes (gliders), microlights, balloons, or airships. Some licences may be restricted for use in Ireland only while others permit you to fly in other countries.

You should also think about what type of flying you want to do. There are several different levels of pilot licences, from student pilot all the way up to airline transport pilot.

If you wish to make a living as a pilot than you will need to hold a commercial level licence.

The current licence levels available in Ireland are:

  • Student Pilot Licence (SPL) - prerequisite to undergo solo flight while under training (National Licences)
  • Private Pilot Licence (PPL) -  for private use only – cannot be used for hire or reward
  • Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) - for commercial use – can be used for hire or reward
  • Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) - for commercial use – required for command positions

Another licence known as the Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL) is also available but no courses are currently held in Ireland for that level.

Licences are currently issued in accordance with European regulation and where necessary, national legislation.

PART-FCL licences are issued in accordance with the requirements of Regulation (EU) 1178/2011 as amended.

In general becoming a pilot consists of 5 main elements.

Meeting a prescribed medical standard,

  • Normally a Class 1 Medical certificate is needed for commercial use while a Class 2 will suffice for private use. The current standards to be met are outlined in PART-MED
  • Conditions such as asthma, diabetes and colour vision deficiencies are some of the areas that lead to failure to meet a required medical standard.
  • You should confirm that you meet the required medical standard prior to committing to flight training.
  • The removal of a medical certificate for whatever reason (e.g. decrease in medical fitness) will invalidate your pilot licence and the privileges of that licence.

Meeting theoretical knowledge requirements

  • This consists of completion a ground school element and passing a prescribed number of exams (The number varies dependant on the level of licence e.g. 13 exams are required for an ATPL)

Completion of flight training

  • Commercial training is provided by an approved Approved Training Organisation (ATO)
  • Private Pilot training can be accomplished at a Declared Training Organisation (DTO).

Sufficient logged flight experience

  • This varies significantly from one licence level to another and ranges from 30 hours for a microlight private licence to 200 hours for a commercial pilot licence.

Satisfactory completion of a flight examination.

Applicants must also have an acceptable assessed level of English language proficiency.

The specific requirements of each of the items vary from licence to licence.

Training courses also vary. At commercial level there are two main types of course delivery; integrated and modular.

  • The Integrated Course is a highly structured and focused course where a student goes from zero flying experience to completion (Frozen ATPL) in typically 14 to 18 months. To be eligible for this course the candidate must first pass an assessment to ensure that he/she is capable of completing in such a short period of time. Then he/she must be able to commit to training every day, 5 days per week, and adhere to a strict training regime. This course is not always suitable for everyone.
  • The Modular Course is designed for individuals who do not wish to undertake a full time course of study or who wish to "stagger" their training. The course can be completed in several modules over a period of time which is more suited to the trainee. People who have other commitments and cannot train 5 days every week find this method more suitable.

It is important that training is performed by organisations duly authorised or declared to provide it. If you have any doubts about the qualification of a training organization or instructor please confirm before you commence any training. Flight Training is expensive and you should satisfy yourself that you fully understand what options are included in your investment.


Student Pilot Licence

(For a National Licence)




Minimum Age16171821
Medical Standard RequiredClass 2Class 2Class 1Class 1

All flights shall be individually authorised by, made under the supervision of, and in accordance with instructions given by a duly authorised instructor.

No passengers may be carried.

The privileges of the holder of a PPL are to act, but not for remuneration, as pilot-in-command or co-pilot of any aeroplane (or helicopter as appropriate) engaged in non-revenue flights.

The privileges of the holder of a CPL are to:

Exercise all the privileges of the holder of a PPL

Act as pilot-in-command or co-pilot of any aeroplane (or helicopter as appropriate)  engaged in operations other than commercial air transportation

Act as pilot-in-command in commercial air transportation of any single-pilot aeroplane (or helicopter as appropriate)

Act as co-pilot in commercial air transportation

The privileges of the holder of an ATPL are to:

Exercise all the privileges of the holder of a PPL, and CPL

Act as pilot-in-command or co-pilot in aeroplanes (or helicopters as appropriate) engaged in commercial air transportation
TrainingAt an DTO or ATO     At an DTO or ATOAt an ATOAt an ATO
LanguageEnglish Language AssessmentEnglish Language AssessmentEnglish Language AssessmentEnglish Language Assessment
Logged Flight Experience*

200 (modular)

150 (integrated)

Theoretical Exams**None91313
Flight ExamNoYesYesYes


* Hours quoted are overall hours – Other minimum hours criteria must also be satisfied in conjunction with this overall figure.

**Theoretical Knowledge Examinations 


Private Pilot

Commercial Pilot

Airline Transport Pilot

010Air LawAir LawAir Law
020  Human Performance & Limitations  Aircraft General KnowledgeAirframe/Systems/Powerplant
020  --InstrumentationInstrumentation
030 --Mass & BalanceMass & Balance
030 MeteorologyPerformancePerformance
030 --Flight Planning & MonitoringFlight Planning & Monitoring
040CommunicationHuman Performance  Human Performance
050Principles of FlightMeteorologyMeteorology
060Operational ProceduresGeneral NavigationGeneral Navigation
060--Radio NavigationRadio Navigation
070Flight Performance & Planning  Operational ProceduresOperational Procedures
080Aircraft General Knowledge Principles of FlightPrinciples of Flight

*** An additional Type specific exam is also required to have been passed prior to the issue of a helicopter PPL. These tests are performed by the training organisation directly.

The above information should be considered as guidance only. Please refer to the specific requirements relevant for the type of flying you wish to undertake before you commence. It is recommended that you discuss your options with several training providers.