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I would really like some help on making the decision as to which license is more suitable for my situation. From reading various forums online, others have had the same questions, but I couldn't find a concrete answer anywhere.

My situation:

  • No previous flying experience
  • Would like a license so that I can privately rent on a very recreational basis (I expect to average an hour or two per month after obtaining either license, largely due to cost - the local airport will hire out a 172 for £140 per tacto hour (including fuel and VAT), which equates to around £120 per flying hour for typical usage). Taking friends along for the ride would of course, be ideal.
  • Desire to keep cost to a minimum - I would like to keep the cost of the training, from zero to license to under 8k (pounds/euros) if possible. This includes training materials, lessons, test/exam fees and landing fees. I believe this is possible, if I manage to stick to the lower end of the average number of hours.
  • Local school offers full LAPL course (providing the minimum 30 hours) for £5290.
  • Local school offers full PPL course (providing the minimum 45 hours) for £7450.
  • Both prices are based on learning in a Cessna 150.
  • The weather in Uk and part of France I move to is not always great. There is often a lot of cloud, rain and wind.

So based on all of the above, which license would you recommend? The LAPL is cheaper, requires less hours (local school says 30) and is more attainable. It can also be upgraded to a PPL at a later date for instrument / night rating. However, due to the weather, will I get to fly as much with the tighter restrictions, if not, maybe it's better to just fork out the extra time and money and go straight for the PPL?

Apologies for the long winded question, I wanted to provide as much info as possible so that I can get the best answer possible as I am very conflicted at the moment but want to make a start. I hope that the answer isn't 'neither'. Which is what I'm worries about, since I don't want to be spending all of my disposable income on flying, I can't very well go out every week.

Location information: The training will take place in the UK, although I will be moving to France shortly after obtaining either license.

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    $\begingroup$ Whichever you chose DO NOT HAND OVER A WEDGE OF CASH. Pay as you go. Flight schools go out of business regularly and you will lose it all. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 10:24
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    $\begingroup$ If you're happy sticking to Europe, then it sounds like the LAPL would be sufficient for you. However, personally, I've always queried if it works out much cheaper to do the LAPL - there's a huge amount of crossover between the two and on top of that you need to do 10 hrs post license before you can carry passengers. I opted for the full PPL and I must say it's nice to have the option to take that worldwide and to be able to add whatever ratings I desire. Agree with @Jamiec, though, never pay up front $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 10:26
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, absolutely. The advice on every GA group I belong says dont do it. $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 10:27
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    $\begingroup$ This is the exact same dilemma I had when I started training 2 years ago. I started off doing the LAPL but switched to the PPL at around 17 hours (up until about 20 hours the training for both is exactly the same, at that point they start to diverge slightly). I switched because I realised I was never going to get the licence in the minimum hours (I'm not sure if many people do?) so that meant I would be paying the same amount as I would for a PPL but for a licence with more restrictions. And on a budget the 10 hours after getting the licence will take 5/6 months. $\endgroup$
    – BDLPPL
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 10:50
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    $\begingroup$ I also note that you state that you will be training in the UK, then moving to France after getting the license. This feels like beating a dead horse, but consider the potential impact of Brexit on your plans, especially if you go for a LAPL. Will EU (French) authorities accept a UK LAPL post-Brexit? Maybe, but potentially not. You'll still have your experience and knowledge, so in theory getting a EU LAPL having a UK LAPL, even if the EU doesn't accept the UK LAPL, should be easier than getting a LAPL from scratch; but it will still come at a cost both in terms of time and money. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 11:50

3 Answers 3

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An LAPL allows you to act as PiC, carrying passengers, but only in the type and variant you pass your test on.

A LAPL for aeroplanes will allow you to act as pilot in command (PIC) on two classes of aircraft: either a single-engine piston aeroplane (land) or touring motor glider (TMG) with a maximum take-off mass of 2000 kg or less, carrying a maximum of 3 passengers, with no more than 4 persons on board.
source

Whereas a PPL you will be able to fly all variants of SEP (source), with the exception that for things like taildraggers, and more complex aircraft (such as those with retractable undercarrige) you will need extra training and endorsement.

The only other major difference is the day you pass your receive your PPL license, assuming you have conducted 3 take offs and landings in the prior 90 days, you will be able to take passengers. An LAPL requires you to complete 10 hours solo once receiving your LAPL license before taking passengers.

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  • $\begingroup$ So if I train for my LAPL in a 150, can I then fly a 172? $\endgroup$
    – Cloud
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Cloud I'm not 100% sure. From reading that CAA webpage I don't think so. Its not the same variant as you passed your skills test on (Assuming a 150). $\endgroup$
    – Jamiec
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 11:43
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The LAPL does allow you to fly a Cessna 172 as it's maximum take-off weight is less than 2000kg, during the day, in visual meteorological conditions. It does not allow you to add any extras on, you cannot possibly fly at night or in instrument conditions, ever. With the PPL you can get a night rating or get an instrument rating for flight in cloud. Not that with the PPL you cannot fly in IMC, so if you at some point want to fly in IMC then the LAPL is not a good choice.

The thing is if you want at some point to convert a LAPL to a PPL you just need a few hours of extra training and pass the written tests and checkride. So you could start with a LAPL and upgrade later if money is an issue. If it isn't then I'd go for the PPL, it's much more interesting being able to fly at night, especially in France where there's many more airfields with lights.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think with the PPL you will also be allowed to fly in airspace where a radio would be required, which really opens up the airspace you can fly in. Check into that aspect as well. $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 11:43
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    $\begingroup$ @CrossRoads In Sweden, even UL and TMG are allowed to fly in controlled airspace (or more accurately, airspace with a requirement for two-way radio communications), given compliance with that requirement. I'm pretty sure also non-motorized gliders are, subject to the same requirement for two-way radio communications. What I can say with almost 100% certainty is that in Sweden, the aviation radiotelephony privilege is legally separate from the pilot's license. I imagine the UK and France are both similar in this regard. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 12:19
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    $\begingroup$ You can add a night rating to the LAPL and as per @MichaelKjörling, you will do an RT license during your LAPL and fly in controlled airspace the same as a PPL could. $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think there's any limitations on that with the LAPL @CrossRoads. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 13:00
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Yes, it's cheaper and the course is shorter, but the syllabus for the LAPL includes a minimum of 30 hours of flight training. It should be stressed that this is a minimum figure and most students will take many more hours to complete the training. You should budget for at least another ten hours on top of this figure.

How long it will actually take for either licene will depend on several factors, not least of which is the continuity of training. Fly more often and you'll probably end up completing the course in nearer the minimum number of hours.

As for the weather, you're going to be learning the same subjects and procedures as you would for the full PPL, so you'll still be flying in VMC under VRF just like PPL holders do. So yes, you can fly as much as the weather allows. If you decide you want to become instrument rated then you can upgrade to a PPL later and add an instrument rating. By then you'll have gained some experience so the process will be easier that going through it all in one burst of training.

So, you can complete the LAPL and spend the money you've saved on building experiece as PIC until you're ready for the next stage.

I note that the questions and answers here are from 2018 so be sure to check the CAA website for any changes to the requirements. My post about LAPL vs PPL contains a lot more information and I try to keep it up to date with the latest developments.

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