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The National Private Pilots Licence (NPPL) is a specific pilots licence developed in 2002. It is not an internationally recognised licence and does not automatically entitle the holder to fly aircraft in other countries.

The NPPL may include aircraft class ratings that allow the holder to fly specific classes of aircraft such as microlights.

To obtain a NPPL with a microlight class rating you must complete flight training with a UK Civil Aviation Authority Certified Flight Instructor entitled to instruct on microlights.

The microlight class rating can be issued with either of two options. The options are Without Operational Limitations or With Operational Limitations.

Flight Training Requirements

The minimum flight training for the grant of a NPPL with a Microlight Class Rating Without Operational Limitations is:

Minimum total flight time under instruction........ 25 hours

Minimum flight time solo.......................................10 hours

Minimum total navigation flight time..................... 5 hours

Minimum solo navigation flight time......................3 hours

The minimum flight training required for the grant of a NPPL with a Microlight Class Rating With Operational Limitations is:

Minimum total flight time under instruction....... 15 hours

Minimum flight time solo....................................... 7 hours

The operational limitations at initial issue are:

1. The pilot may not carry a passenger.

2. The pilot may not fly with a cloud base less than 1000 feet above ground level or with less than 10 kilometres visibility.

3. The pilot may not fly further than 8 nautical miles from take off.

As part of your flight training you must take and pass a test with an authorised flight examiner to demonstrate your ability to fly a microlight through all the manoeuvres that you have learned during training. The test is called a General Skills Test (GST). The flight time of the GST can count towards the minimum total flight time required to obtain the NPPL, but not towards the solo minimum time.

To ensure that when your licence is issued your skill level and knowledge is current, you must have completed the minimum solo flight time and all the navigation flight training within the twenty-four month period immediately prior to applying for your licence.

Ground Training Requirements.

The training syllabus list all the subject matter that an applicant for a microlight class rating must understand. There is no minimum requirement for training by an instructor to achieve this knowledge, but the applicant must have demonstrated knowledge of the subject matter by passing examinations.

There are written examinations in five subjects. These are Meteorology, Navigation, Aviation Law, Human Factors and Aircraft Technical subjects. The examinations must have been passed within the twenty four month period immediately prior to applying for your licence.

There is one further examination to complete, which is a demonstration of your knowledge of the aircraft type that you have used to complete your GST. This examination is an oral examination and must be conducted by a flight examiner entitled to examine on microlight aircraft. It is usual but not mandated that the examination be conducted at the same time as the GST by the same examiner. The ground oral examination must have been passed within the nine month period prior to applying for your licence.

Pilots holding licences or ratings for other classes of aircraft, current or expired, may be entitled to allowances against the minimum hours required for the NPPL(M). Student pilots with uncompleted courses may also be eligible. 

For further details see the BMAA 

Removing the Operational Limitations from a NPPL Microlight Class Rating.

To remove the Passenger Carrying Limitation, the licence holder must have completed at least 25 hours total flying in microlights, either under training or as a licenced pilot, and at least 10 hours solo flying in microlights. The holders experience is certified in their log book by a flight examiner and the Limitation ceases to apply from that time.

To remove the other limitations the holder must have completed at least 25 hours of total flying in microlight, either under training or as a licenced pilot, including at least 10 hours solo flying in microlights. Additionally, the holder must have completed the navigation training requirements specified in the syllabus within the twenty-four month period immediately prior to applying to have the limitations removed. Application to have these limitations removed must be made in writing on the NPPL Microlight Licence Application Form through the BMAA Licence Administration Centre at the BMAA office address.

Medical Requirements.

A pilot may only fly microlights as pilot in command in the UK if they are considered physically and mentally fit to do so.

For the NPPL there is a provision for a pilot to declare themselves physically fit to fly. The application is made on line on the Civil Aviation Authority

Pilots must be aware of their responsibilities if they suffer from a decrease in medical fitness.

The BMAA strongly recommends that student pilots make their medical declaration or obtain a medical certificate at the start of their training to ensure that they will be able to meet the required medical standards, and do not wait until just before they are ready to fly solo, by which time they MUST have made a declaration or hold a valid Medical Certificate.

Personal Flying Logbook

Every student must possess a Personal Flying Logbook. This is an important legal document so look after it. You must produce this logbook as evidence of your training when you apply for your licence at the end of your course.

Once qualified you must continue to record all of your flights. Your pilot rating needs to be revalidate very two years, and your logbook contains all the evidence of the necessary experience to do so.

Using the Syllabus

The syllabus sets out the structure and content of the flying course that you are undertaking, showing the various stages involved.

When you complete an exercise, your instructor will tell you which one you are going to be doing next. You can then pre-read the next exercise in the syllabus and look up the technical part in your text book, in preparation for your next lesson.

Exercise 1-5

You will begin by learning about the important component parts and systems on the aircraft. You don't need to be an engineer, but you do need to know how things work and how to operate the systems safely. You will learn how to safely start the engine and taxi the aircraft to the take-off point. In the air you will be shown what each control does independently, before combining them together to control the aircraft.

Exercise 6-9

In the basic flight manoeuvres you will start by learning to fly in a straight line( which is not as easy as it sounds when it is windy), then how to climb and descend and turn onto new headings.

Exercise 10

When you've grasped the basics of controlling the aircraft around the sky, you will be shown how to make sure you never inadvertently "stall" the aircraft. (Fly too slowly).

Exercises 12 & 13

Then it's off to taking off and landing, sometimes called circuits and "touch and go's". This stage of training involves many facets and can take a while to fully grasp. It's at this stage that students will often feel their progress seems to slow or get bogged down, especially if there are breaks caused by things like bad weather. Instructors are familiar with this and are there to help you through it.

Exercise 14-16

These exercises are more advanced manoeuvres which might be threaded in-between circuit sessions to give you a break from routine.

Exercise 17a

Then one day you will find yourself sitting in the aircraft at the end of the runway. It's your first solo flight. You will never forget this moment, it's the most exciting thing you will ever do.

Exercise 17b

Next comes the solo consolidation phase. Here you will be flying the aircraft solo and practising all the manoeuvres you have previously learnt dual. You need to be very confident and competent at handling the aircraft before we add on the additional workload of Navigation. About 7 hours total time is normal here. Dual checks may be required from time to time.

Exercise 18

The final stage of training is Navigation. Here you will learn pre-flight planning, including plotting a route, checking weather forecasts, calculating headings and times, fuel reserves and diversions. In the air you will fly initially with your instructor. You will learn to recognise features and topography to fly the aircraft safely along the planned route. You will land at another airfield, have a brew, and then fly back again. You will learn what to do if you get lost or the weather turns bad so you can't continue. 

Once your instructor is happy that you can competently navigate, you will be set off on your Qualifying cross country flight. To fly solo to another airfield, land and then fly back again is a hugely rewarding and satisfying thing to do. You are using all the skills you have learned, and all the hard work comes to fruition.

Exercise 19 & GST

Then it's the last hurdle. There will now be a thorough dual check flight to make sure you have all the requisite skills to pass your flight test. The General Skills Test will last about an hour after which you will feel a huge relief pass over you.

Ground training

There is no laid down format for the ground subjects training, but it should be closely aligned to the knowledge required for the flight training exercises in order to produce an integrated course of training.

Student Records

Every school is required to keep an up to date progress report for each student pilot on a student record sheet. Student records must be kept for at least 2 years after the last entry and should be available for the student to view. If for any reason a student transfers to a new school, a copy of the record should be made available to allow a smooth transfer.

Fitness to fly

Just because you have a current Pilots Medical Declaration or Medical Certificate doesn't mean that you are always fit to fly.

Flying well and safely needs huge amounts of concentration. You will feel drained at the end of your lesson, so it is obvious you must be fit enough at the beginning.

Read up on Human factors at an early stage, and run yourself through the I.M.S.A.F.E. acronym before your lesson.


If you are prone to motion sickness in a car or a boat, it is likely you will experience air sickness at first. Don't worry as it can be common on your first flight. Tell your instructor straight away if you feel ill, it won't get better the longer you leave it, and could prevent a lot of embarrassment and cleaning. You probably won't get it at all on your next flight. Any medication you take for motion sickness must not cause drowsiness.

Preparation for a lesson

To get the most out of your training you must be well prepared for your lesson, both ground and flight and when you take your exams or GST.

For flying lessons, you cannot just turn up to the airfield and "switch on" your flying head. All good pilots start their preparation well before that. You will learn to read the weather starting days in advance, to judge if it will be suitable, and how to check if any airspace restrictions apply. As a student, you will need to read up on the exercise to be flown including any supporting technical information so that you are prepared for the briefing by the instructor. You will save time and money by rehearsing checklists and drills before you get into the aircraft.

Realistic Expectations

Learning to fly should be exciting, richly rewarding and fun. If you set yourself realistic expectations, you will enjoy your flying training. If they are unrealistic, you will end up unnecessarily disappointed.

Gaps in training are inevitable and may be caused by weather or personal circumstances. Sometimes life just gets in the way. But for what ever reason, when you fly again you may find you have forgotten things and it takes time to regain your previous position, so you must be patient.

Another area you need to be realistic is how many hours it might take you to obtain your licence. the 15 or 25 hours are minimums. The licence is rarely obtained in the minimum hours, so you should not base your budget on these minimums.

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