Stages in Gaining Private Pilot’s Licence

Phase 1 – First Solo

To get to the point of undertaking your first solo flight you will have practised take-offs and landings, and general flying within the airport circuit. This is basically a consolidation of everything that you have learned to date, such as operation and effect of controls, straight and level flying, climbing and descending, turning and stalling. By this stage, your instructor will have found you competent to do these operations on your own. Most students are ready to attempt their first solo after reaching 10-20 hours. Before you can do so, however, you must pass a brief multi-choice exam. From this point on, you will focus on preparing for your first area solo where you will demonstrate your ability to fly solo outside the airport circuit but still within the training area used by the Gunnedah Flight Training.

Phase 2 – Area Solo

Your first area solo in the training area will involve practising simulated engine failure during which you will exercise your own judgement, simulate radio calls and trouble checks as well as passenger briefs. It will also include a short navigation exercise to and from the local training area to enable you to demonstrate some chart reading skills. As you progress, you will learn to fly the aircraft in all situations in preparation for your General Flying Progress Test (GFPT). To complete Phase Two you will again have to achieve a pass in a multi-choice exam. Typically 8-10hours of flying are required in this stage.

Phase 3 – General Flying Progress Test (GFPT)

Before you can undertake this test you first need to pass the Basic Aeronautical Knowledge theory examination. You will also need at least 20 hours flight time which includes 5 hours as pilot in command and 2 hours instrument time, of which at least 1 hour must be instrument flight time.

The average student is not ready to attempt the GFPT until the 30 hour mark.

During this test, you will demonstrate to an approved testing officer that you can competently manage the aircraft in all basic phases of flight. If you pass the test, you will be able to carry passengers in private operations (ie Not for hire or reward) within the confines of the student pilot area limit. Your solo or pilot-in-command flights must still be approved by your instructor. After the GFPT, you will be able to commence navigation training.

Phase 4 – Private Pilot’s Licence

Phase four introduces you to larger aircraft and teaches you the navigation skills required to allow you to safely pilot an aeroplane between aerodromes. During this phase you will complete cross-country navigation exercises to aerodromes such as Tamworth, Bankstown, Coffs Harbour etc. Normally 25 hours of training is required during this phase.

The navigation exercises teach the practical skills and airmanship required for flying safely to distant locations plus management of fuel and flight logs, radio communication and transition through different airspace, control zones, unplanned diversions due to weather etc., and circuits at distant locations with landings on different types of surfaces.

Prior to undertaking the PPL test, you must have acquired at least 40 hours of flight time as a pilot that includes: – 5 hours of general flight time as pilot in command; and – 5 hours of cross country flight time as pilot in command; and – 2 hours of instrument flight time. You must also pass a theory examination which covers flight rules and air law, navigation, performance and flight planning, meteorology and principles of flight. Although the minimum experience requirement is 40 hours, the average pilot is ready to attempt the Private Pilot Licence flight test after about 55-60 hours. You can undertake the PPL flight test while still 16, however, you cannot be issued with the licence until your 17th birthday.

Passing the PPL test will allow you to hire an aircraft and fly with passengers to any aerodrome in Australia.