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The EASA licence and ratings requirements pages list:

  • PPL(A) - for aeroplanes
  • PPL(H) - for helicopters
  • SPL - for gliders
  • BPL - for balloons

which match:

  • LAPL(A) - for aeroplanes
  • LAPL(H) - for helicopters
  • LAPL(S) - for gliders
  • LAPL(B) - for balloons

It appears that you can upgrade an LAPL to its matching licence; for example, an LAPL(A) to a PPL(A) by taking further instruction and tests (except in the case of the sailplane licence, which seems not to require this, and the airship licence PPL(As), for which their exists no LAPL counterpart).

It looks like the LAPLs are generally easier to obtain (for example, requiring fewer flying hours).

What's the purpose of this apparent duplication of licensing? Are the LAPLs intended to be a pathway to the other licenses, or a destination in themselves?

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  • $\begingroup$ Since you're discussing EASA and the UK CAA, it might be worth keeping in mind the issue of whether the UK will remain in EASA post-Brexit. I've heard, but not verified, that recent policy of the UK has been that by leaving the EU, they will also be leaving EASA. This of course doesn't mean that the UK can't keep something very similar to the EASA LAPL in place, but absent specific bilateral/multilateral agreements, if the UK leaves EASA, then any UK LAPL will not confer the rights and privileges of an EASA LAPL when in an EASA country, even if the requirements of the two are identical. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jul 6 at 11:44
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LAPL (Light Aircraft Pilot License) can be a pathway to a PPL (Privat Pilot License) but can also be just kept by it's own, as it's somewhat cheaper to get and maintain than a PPL.

LAPL has stricter limitations than the PPL, for example they are only valid in EASA countries and not in all ICAO states. Also, LAPL is limited to a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 2000kg and does not have the options of upgrading to IFR or similar (Night VFR is an option though) and a maximum of 4 people on board (3 passengers + you).

Therefore: If you are fine with the mentioned limits, you're good to go for an LAPL. If at some point you want to upgrade to PPL, thats not a big issue as it just requires the additional training hours (theory is the same for LAPL and PPL).

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The first group you list (PPL, SPL, BPL) are ICAO-level as also mentioned in the answer by rauberdaniel, while the LAPLs are EASA only.

One significant difference is that the ICAO-level ones require a class 2 medical, while the LAPL licenses require the less demanding LAPL medical. For some people, this makes all the difference - at the cost of being restricted to flying in EASA-land. Also notice that a class 2 medical, when it expires becomes a LAPL medical (which is "contained" in the class 1 and 2 medicals) until that one expires, too.

Another difference in the gliding corner of the field is that the SPL allows to receive compensation for the flight (getting paid to fly, basically), while the LAPL(S) does not.

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  • $\begingroup$ The CPL (Commercial Pilot License) allows for compensation for the flight, the PPL does not (except Flight Instructor / splitting the costs evenly). SPL is Glider License, that's something completely differnt. $\endgroup$ – rauberdaniel Jul 7 at 6:22

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