I'm a British citizen living in Australia who is tossing up on whether to train back home or in Australia. Given the sheer amount of complex information out there, I was wondering what the differences are between the PPL, CPL/ME/IR, ATPL theory & MCC/JOC training in Australia versus in the UK (or the EASA region as a whole), in terms of hour requirements, syllabus, technicalities, rules, licencing system, etc...

A comprehensive guide from those who perhaps have experience or knowledge would be great!

  • $\begingroup$ It might help if you can give us some idea of your goals and where you plan to fly in the long term. Just listing differences - whatever they are - may not be as helpful for you as an answer with some context. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Dec 22, 2018 at 5:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Pondlife: Ideally I plan to fly in Europe, due to family/homesickness, and the fact that low-hour airline jobs are more readily available, as opposed to the flight instructing, charter and bush pilot jobs that Australian low-hour pilots do. I guess two concerns are CASA to EASA conversion (should training be done in Australia), as well as Brexit - the UK's future relationship with the EASA & whether UK licences would be considered 'third country' licences, or the flexible access to pan-European airline jobs as UK citizens. $\endgroup$
    – CliffNash
    Dec 22, 2018 at 6:06
  • $\begingroup$ You're asking a good and interesting question, but I don't know if there's any clear answer. We can't know what Brexit will eventually mean, for example. Because this is a Q&A site, not a discussion forum, we focus on questions that have a clear, objective answer. Discussion and opinions are usually not our thing here, but perhaps a UK or AU pilots forum would have done good advice. But others may see it differently and may have good answers. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Dec 22, 2018 at 6:09

1 Answer 1


I'm an Australian PPL pilot but know some people who have gone through the UK system. Terminology differences aside, the training pathways are pretty comparable. If you choose to train in Australia you can convert your licence to the UK fairly easily by passing a flight test.

The main differences are:

  1. In Australia you need to do 7 CPL exams and then 7 ATPL exams. Once you start each set of 7 you have 2 years to complete the remaining 6. You can self-study if you wish. In the UK there are 14 exams of each (but I think you only must do the ATPLs and CPLs are optional). You must complete all 14 within 18 months and self-study is not an option, you must attend a formal ground school.
  2. Australia does not offer a Multi-Crew Pilot Licence, but still require a Multi-Crew Cooperation Course be completed before the ATPL.
  3. A lot more schools in the UK are tied to an airline, greatly increasing your chances of immediate airline employment, if that is your goal. Not to say that's impossible in Australia but it only happens to a few dozen pilots per year who secure an airline cadetship.
  4. Training in Australia will cost about $120,000 all up. In the UK seems to be about 120,000 pounds!

There are a lot more little differences but ultimately no matter where you train you will come out with an ICAO compliant licence. If you have specific questions you can either edit this one or head to chat.

  • $\begingroup$ Bloody hell 7 exams? How big is each one? $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Dec 22, 2018 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ @John K they vary a bit, I think the shortest is Aerodynamics which allows 75 minutes, the longest one is Flight Planning which allows 3 hours, and even that's not long enough for some. Fairly comprehensive but it beats the 14 topics the Europeans have to do... $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Dec 23, 2018 at 6:31
  • $\begingroup$ In Canada it's one exam for the CPL, one for the instrument rating (INRAT), one for multi-crew, called IATRA, and two exams for the ATPL. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Dec 23, 2018 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Ben - this explanation was really useful & comprehensive in giving me a broad picture of the differences. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – CliffNash
    Dec 26, 2018 at 5:33

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