A Private Pilot License (PPL) is the first step to becoming a pilot. This license is the basic license you need to learn how to fly.
You can then build on this by doing additional training to obtain further ratings and categories, which allow you to fly other aircraft and carry passengers.
As your PPL is one of the most essential documents in a pilot’s life, does it ever expire? We find out how long a private pilot license is valid for, and whether you can ever lose your license.
How Long Is A Pilot License Valid For?
A private pilot license (PPL) is valid for a lifetime, so it does not expire. However, there are certain conditions attached to a pilot license.
If you are planning to take a commercial pilot course with another airline or company, they may require that you have a current PPL in order to maintain their rating.
This means that you need to fulfill the legal criteria for the PPL, which are a flight review every 2 years, a current medical certificate and 3 take-offs plus landings in the last 3 months.
The last criteria are only required if you plan to carry passengers. You need to carry these documents with you at all times to ensure your pilot license is valid.
Requirements To Keep Your Private Pilot License Valid
As mentioned, there are three criteria that you need to fulfill to ensure your pilot license stays valid. Let’s take a look at these in more detail.
Flight Review Every 2 Years
Every two years, you must complete a flight review. If you do not complete this, then your pilot license may be suspended.
To complete a flight review, you will fly with an instructor. The review is a refresher and not as strict as your initial test.
In comparison to your flight exam with a designated pilot examiner, the flight review also doesn’t require an oral test.
Check with your instructor what you want to cover. It’s a good idea to cover everything from weather issues to emergency procedures, or anything that you might struggle with.
If you are not flying regularly, then it’s best to get some extra training sessions to make sure that you meet the FAA standards, and you are up-to-date with all emergency procedures.
A big bonus is if you are looking to get a new rating or a new license, then this can count as your flight review.
This is an excellent way to save money and time.
The medical certificate associated with your pilot license does have an expiry date, and it needs to be reissued after a certain time period.
This depends on the class of the certificate. There are three classes of medical certificates.
First Class Medical Certificate
Class 1 Medical Certificates are issued when you have an airline transport pilot license. This is the strictest medical certificate, and therefore it is valid only for a short time.
For pilots under the age of 40, this medical certificate is valid for 1 year. For pilots older than 40, the first-class medical certificate is valid for 6 months.
If you do not renew your first class medical certificate, then it will be automatically downgraded to a second class, and then third class.
Second Class Medical Certificate
Class 2 Medical Certificates are issued when you hold a multiengine airplane pilot license, so when you get your commercial pilot license.
This medical certificate for pilots is valid for 1 year, and if you do not renew it, it will be downgraded to a third class certificate.
Third Class Medical Certificate
Class 3 Medical Certificates are the most common type of medical certificate. These are issued when you have a private pilot license.
This certificate is valid for 5 years for pilots under 40. For pilots above the age of 40, this medical certificate is valid for 2 years.
The expiry date is always at the end of the month, even if the renewal date states another date.
Three Take-Offs And Landings Within 3 Months
This is a requirement just for pilots who want to carry passengers. For pilots who only fly solo, then they do not need this.
You will need to certify these three takeoffs and landings every 90 days in your category (for example, airplane), type (for a type rating) and class (multi- or single-engine).
It’s also good to know that takeoffs and landings during the night are separate from nighttime flights, so you will need to complete 3 separate takeoffs and landings within 3 months.
Can You Lose Your Private Pilot License?
Yes, you can lose your private pilot license. The FAA has no record of how many people have lost their licenses (see also “How Do I Find My FAA Records?“).
However, there are cases where pilots have lost their license because of gross misconduct.
In such cases, the FAA may revoke the pilot’s license without notice. For example, flying drunk or under the influence of drugs can mean the pilot has his license revoked immediately.
There are also penalties on how long he may not be able to fly. In case of misconduct and alcohol abuse, this is usually 1 year.
Here are some other reasons why a pilot may lose his private pilot license.
Intended Falsification Of Records
A pilot may falsify records to avoid paying taxes. He may also falsify records to avoid having to file flight logs.
Falsifying records is illegal, and could result in an instant revocation of his license.
Flying For Hire
Some pilots use their private pilot license as a way to earn money by carrying passengers.
These pilots are breaking the law, and they could face serious consequences, such as losing their license.
Failing To File Flight Logs
Another reason for losing your private pilot license is failing to file flight logs. This means that you failed to report all of your flights to the FAA.
Failure to file flight logs can lead to fines, suspension of your license, and even criminal charges.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Old Do You Have To Be For A Private Pilot License?
In order to complete the written test for a private pilot license you need to be at least 15 years old.
However, if you want to fly a glider, you can do this already from age 14.
Can You Become A Pilot With A PPL?
Yes, a private pilot license allows you to operate any lightweight plane without passengers. You will then be able to add other categories and ratings, which allows you to fly other aircraft, such as helicopters.
If you want to carry passengers, then you will need a commercial pilot certificate, which allows you to operate all kinds of planes and take passengers with you.
What’s The Difference Between PPL And LAPL?
A private pilot license is for light airplanes that are registered in your country but you can take them all around the world.
A LAPL is limited to European countries because it is a type of license which was created by the EASA in Europe to apply a standard across the different national pilot’s licenses in European countries.
So there we go! This is everything you need to know about renewing the documents that go with your pilot’s license.
This shouldn’t be difficult to do, but you will need to make sure that you mark the expiry dates for the medical certificate and your flight review in your calendar, so you have plenty of time to renew them.