signpostThere are two parallel paths to learning to fly in Australia. Both are the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), but the administration of sport or recreational flying  is delegated to specific organisations for the class of aircraft. Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) is the organisation under which Orange Flight Training operates. CASA issues a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) whereas RAAus issues a Pilot Certificate (PC) and a number of endorsements.

From 1st September 2014, CASA introduced a Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) as an interim step towards the PPL, replacing the old GFPT. This is virtually identical to the Pilot Certificate with Passenger and Cross-Country endorsements, but it can allow the holder to fly heavier aircraft with four seats. 

If you wanted to fly at night, or in adverse weather conditions, fly larger, heavier more sophisticated aircraft, or fly commercially, then these options are available to the PPL holder (with a lot of additional training) but are not available to PC holders. The good news, however, is that all training and exams to gain the PC are fully convertable to CASA's new Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL), allowing you to fly most four seat aircraft. You can download the CASA Information Sheet which details the conversion process.

If you find this confusing, you're not alone! The bottom line is that its very cost effective, even for a career pilot, to learn under the RAAus, then convert to an RPL if you find you want to take your flying to the next level. 

Training Syllabus

The Syllabus of Flying Training is set by RAAus (and approved by CASA) and requires a minimum of 20 hours flight training, including a minimum of five hours solo time. Realistically, it will take most people with average skills around 25-30 hours total to reach the standard necessary for the issue of a PC. This entitles you to fly on your own, within a 25 nautical mile (about 45 km) radius of the airport, allowing you to refine and enhance your skills and feel more comfortable in the aircraft.

With an additional five hours minimum (10 hours total) solo time, and after completing a satisfactory flight check with an instructor, you'll then be able to take a passenger with you, and can share the cost of the flight.

To lift the 25 nm limit, you'll need to undertake cross country flying training for a minimum of 12 hours, including at least two hours of solo cross country time. This training will take you to unfamiliar airfields using basic navigation techniques, and enable you to find your way to remote airstrips, carry out in-flight diversions, monitor fuel usage, interpret weather forecasts and a whole range of activities associated with flying basically anywhere in Australia.

Download an Information Sheet for syllabus information, a full breakdown of the costs, and some additional information on  Jabiru aircraft and the privileges and limitations associated with a holding Pilot Certificate.


Whilst learning to fly isn't a cheap exercise, in terms of average earnings, it's more affordable now than it's ever been.

Within the Recreational system, it's possible to gain a basic Pilot Certificate for around $5,500 to $6,000, with another $2,000 to $3,000 to remove the area restriction and allow flight virtually anywhere in Australia, outside controlled airspace.

Orange Flight Training requests payment at the time of each lesson, and accepts payment by Visa or Mastercard credit or debit cards, and EFTPOS from most banks. Monthly accounts can be established to approved customers.

Download an Information Sheet for a full breakdown of the costs, and some additional information on  Jabiru aircraft, the training syllabus and the privileges and limitations associated with a holding Pilot Certificate.