There are currently two types of licence for UK pilots, the European EASA-FCL PPL (Aeroplane), and the EASA-FCL LAPL (Aeroplane). Both the licence requirements and the privileges differ. EASA PPL (A) or LAPL (A)? Choosing which licence to go for is simple - if you want to fly with more than three passengers, in marginal weather conditions, you need the EASA PPL (A) licence. The PPL (A) has few restrictions and allows you to add the IR(R) instrument rating to your licence. The LAPL (A) is restricted to single engine aircraft, with a maximum take of weight of 2000kg and no more than 4 persons on board including the pilot. Both licences are valid throughout Europe and can include the Night qualification.
Before you can apply for your licence, there are requirements that have to be met before the licence can be issued. The first is a medical. If you are applying for the EASA PPL (A) or LAPL (A) licence, you will need to have passed a Class 1 or Class 2 medical certificate, issued by a CAA authorised medical examiner (AME). There is also a minimum age for the licences to be issued. This is currently 17, although training can be started before this time.
The two courses are similar in subject, but the hours required before the licences can be issued vary depending on which you choose to apply for. The EASA PPL (A) requires a minimum of 45 hours, 25 of which will be dual instruction, and 10 hours will be solo including at least 5 hours of cross-country flying. The LAPL (A) course requires 30 hours flying, 22 of which are dual and 10 are solo incorporating 4 hours of solo cross-country flying.
Both licence types require the student to have passed multiple choice exams on the following 9 subjects: Aviation Law, Operational Procedures, Human Performance & Limitations, Navigation & Radio Aids, Meteorology, Aircraft (General), Principles of Flight, Flight Performance & Planning and Communications. There will also be a radiotelephony practical exam for the Radiotelephony Operator's Licence, which allows you to operate the VHF radios in an aircraft in UK airspace.
Once you have passed the written exams, completed the course and the minimum hours required, you will undertake a skill test with a CAA examiner, testing your proficiency in the aircraft, general handling and navigation.