This new licence has been specifically
designed to meet the requirements of the recreational flyer and is
therefore less complex, and thus somewhat easier to attain, than the
up till now only of the UK option, the JAR (European) PPL.
A structured course of flying instruction over a minimum 32
hours, plus Navigational Flight Test, a Flying Skill Test and a
series of Ground Examinations, will result in a less expensive route
to a Pilot's Licence than has been available for some years.
Perhaps the most significant advantage of the NPPL over JAR is
the less onerous medical requirement. Based on the DVLA 2
(professional driver) and DVLA 1 (private driver) schedules,
applicants will simply sign a declaration of fitness to fly and have
their doctor sign it to confirm they have no reason to believe that
he/she does not reach the DVLA 2 standard. If a medical condition
does not prevent the applicant from reaching this standard but
he/she meets DVLA 1 then he can fly solo with another qualified
pilot only. A series of GP guidance notes are available on diseases
such as diabetes, heart problems, epilepsy etc. But the good news is
that many of the aliments that with JAR are a definite medical
failure need not necessarily rule you out from flying with a NPPL.
Another major advantage with the NPPL is that pilots of different
categories of aircraft will receive credit for their existing
experience should they wish to learn to fly something different. For
instance a glider or microlight pilot wishing to take up light
aircraft flying will not have to complete the full 32 hour course,
thus making it a financially viable option.
The licence does have a few operational limitations over the JAR
1. As a recreational licence is fundamentally for flying VFR
(visual flight rules or where the pilot can see the ground where he
is going). There is no facility for flying in cloud on instruments.
2. It is currently confined to UK airspace. However in time it is
hoped that other EU states will recognise the NPPL, just as they do
our car licences, and foreign flight will be permitted.
3. A maximum of four people, including the pilot, can be flown.
To what extent these limitations impact on your individual
requirements is a personal issue but it is a fact that the vast
majority of current PPL holders only fly in VFR and in four or less
seat aircraft. And surprisingly few fly abroad.