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Frequently Asked Questions

General Training Questions

The first thing you need to start flight training is an interest in flying!

After that, it will just depend on what you want to do with your flying dream.

There is no legal minimum age, but you do need to be able to reach all the aircraft controls.

You will need to be 15 years old before you can fly solo. You will also need an aviation medical certificate.

If you want to work as a pilot, you will need a commercial pilot licence. For that, you’ll need to be able to get a Class 1 Medical and be 18 years old at the time of your flight test.

If you just want to fly for fun, a recreational pilot licence or private pilot licence will suffice. You can read about some of the differences in our blog post here. You will need to be at least 16 years old to hold one of these.

You must also be able to speak English reasonably well. You will need to provide proof of your English language proficiency before you can fly solo. You can visit the CASA website for more information.

The equipment you need to be a pilot will vary depending on the licence you are aiming for.

For all pilots:

1. A logbook.

2.  A headset (which we have available for hire for $10 per lesson). The best option, though, will be to purchase a new or secondhand headset. The David Clark H10-12.4 is popular (available from Skylines), but, as long as your headset has dual plugs, the choice is up to you and your budget.

3. An aviation reference number (ARN), which is free via CASA.

4. The relevant aviation medical certificate (more details in our Medical Questions section).

5. VTC, VNC and WAC charts for Hamilton and Melbourne.

6. The Visual Flight Rules Guide, which is free via CASA.

For beginners (up to RPL):

1. An RPL theory textbook. We recommend RPL/PPL Study Guide Volume 1 by Bob Tait, available from Skylines Aviation Supply at Moorabbin or from various online stores.

2. The Flight Training Manual (FTM), our in-house study supplement, which includes a USB with important files like aircraft operating manuals and an hour’s tuition with an instructor as part of your first lesson to help you get set up in the best way possible.

For navigation training (up to PPL):

1. A PPL theory textbook. We recommend RPL/PPL Study Guide Volume 2 by Bob Tait, available from Skylines Aviation Supply at Moorabbin or from various online stores.

2. Navigation Workbook by Bob Tait.

3. The Navigation Flight Training Manual, which is our in-house study supplement for navigation training up to a CPL level.

4. Navigation equipment, including:

– A Jeppesen CR-3 aviation computer

– A kneeboard

– A navigation ruler

– An ATC square protractor

– A A5 clear display booklet

– A valid En-route Supplement Australia (ERSA)

– An aeronautical information package (AIP) book

For CPL training:

1. Theory textbooks for each of the seven CPL subjects. We recommend Bob Tait-authored books, which can be viewed here.

2. Each of the CPL theory exams have a list of permitted materials. You can find them on the CASA website.

There are no study prerequisites for flight training.

If you are certain you want to work as a pilot after school, studying math and/or physics will certainly help. All the aviation-related concepts you need will be taught either by your instructor during training or in your textbooks during your study between lessons.

If you have a specific job in mind, we always recommend checking those specific requirements as well to get a full picture of what is expected.

We recommend three hours of study for every one hour of flight.

This does vary depending on the person, though, so be prepared to study more if it takes you a bit longer to pick up concepts.

One of our private students has written about his study experience, which you can read it here.

A private student is simply someone who isn’t undertaking one of our nationally accredited courses.

Private students have more flexibility about when they come in for lessons, and, to a certain extent, what aircraft they fly.

This is generally a cheaper option overall, because more of the study can be done yourself.

Diploma students have more assignments than private students. This is because they need to meet both CASA licencing requirements and ASQA certification requirements.

Private students cannot access the VET Student Loans program, however, as VET loans are only available to eligible students undertaking our nationally accredited courses.

If you want to complete one of our diplomas, you will need to apply for our next start date. Start dates are fixed, so you can’t start any time. We have four intakes each year. Please visit our Nationally Accredited Training page for more information.

If you don’t need a diploma – for example, if you just want to fly for fun with an RPL or PPL – you can start any time we can fit you into our schedule.  Give us a call to book in.

“An integrated training course is an intensive program that combines ground theory training with practical flight training in a structured way, and is designed to be completed within a condensed period of time.”

TVSA Pilot Training is a Part 142 approved training organisation. This means we can offer training towards both PPLs and CPLs with reduced hour experience requirements.

For more information about integrated training, please visit the CASA website here or our blog post about integrated CPL training here.

A trial flight is the perfect way to get a taste of what it is like to be a pilot. This flight is a condensed version of every pilot’s first lesson – Effects of Controls. Under the guidance of an experienced instructor, you will learn the basics of the aircraft while getting a hands-on introduction to pilot training.


Regardless of whether you are wanting to become a career pilot or just fly for fun, this is a flight we recommend every student complete.


Our standard TIF is half an hour long and conducted in our Cessna 152 aircraft. These are our smaller, two-seater aircraft, so there are some height and weight restrictions. For a small fee, we can upgrade you to one of our four-seater PA28 aircraft.

Allow about an hour for your full experience as there will be a short pre-flight briefing and some post-flight discussion. If you are interested in flight training, you can ask questions of your instructor at any time during the experience.

As this is regarded as a training flight, this is for one person only. We love organising TIFs for more than one though – being up at the same time in different aircraft is a fun experience in itself! Just give us a call and let us know how many you’d like to book for at the same time.

Eligible students can access funding for some of our courses through the federal government’s VET Student Loan scheme.

Our currently approved courses are:

  1. AVI50222 Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Aeroplane) Full-Time
  2. AVI50519 Diploma of Aviation (Instrument Rating) CPL Entry
  3. AVI50419 Diploma of Aviation (Flight Instructor)


We can’t offer training towards RAAus qualifications – we only have GA-registered aircraft!

We can help with converting RAAus licences to GA licences, though, so have a look at our blog post for what’s involved.

We have a fleet of new and upgraded Piper aircraft, as well as a couple of Cessna 152s. We also have two Redbird Simulators.

You can find out more about our fleet here.

We have a brand-new, purpose-built accommodation building on site. Rooms are twin share, and access to laundry and kitchen facilities is included. We also have a recreational room for students to come together and unwind at the end of a long day in the classroom or cockpit.

We have options for single-night stays, week-long stays, and full-course stays. Our diploma students can even access discounted rates once enrolled.

You can find out more about our accommodation facilities and rates here.

We currently base all our flying and in-person training out of Bacchus Marsh Airport. You will need to be able to get to us to pursue flight training with us.

We do have on-site accommodation to make flight training with us easier for people who live further away.

Flight Lessons

The more frequently you fly, the better – but it really depends on your schedule and budget.

Like anything, if you take long breaks between practicing your skills, they will slip.

We find students that can fly once a week or once a fortnight make the most steady progress. It does depend on the student, though, so you may want to be prepared to adjust your flying schedule.

We highly encourage booking one to two months in advance so you can secure your preferred timeslot and instructor each week/fortnight.

Ab initio lessons (from zero up to RPL standard) are generally an hour in the aircraft. You will also have a half hour pre-flight briefing for each lesson and up to half an hour after the flight to debrief. So, allow at least two hours for each lesson in this phase.

Navigation flights are longer, for good reason – you’re going further away!

These start from one and a half to two hours in the aircraft, but can be up to three and a half hours long. Your long solo will be around four hours. You’ll need a longer pre-flight time for these flights as well; we generally allow an hour on the ground with the instructor, but you are welcome to come in earlier if you need more time to get yourself ready.

You can book double lessons for ab initio flights, but we don’t always recommend it. Two flights in a day can be a lot to absorb.

We typically book double lessons with enough space for the instructor to fly with someone else in between.  This allows you get a couple of hours’ break between flights to process what you learned in the first lesson and go over what you’ll be practising in the next one.

Your instructor can help you decide if this is something that’s right for your training.

We do what we can to make sure you have the best time every time you fly, but unfortunately we just can’t control the weather!

It will depend on where you are in your training as to what impact the weather has on your flight booking.

One thing to remember is that we don’t go by the average forecasts you see on the news. Our decisions are made based on aviation-specific forecasts and what we can see at the airport – which means we don’t make the decision to cancel until the day of the flight.

If you are booked for a TIF or a flight early in your training, we will call you if we think the weather will be unsafe or unsuitable for your stage of training.

Once you get to navigation training, you will usually come in regardless of the forecast so that you can go over your flight plan and the weather forecast with your instructor. Even if you can’t fly, it’s good practice!

In later stages of your training, your instructor may ask you to make the decision. This is about testing your knowledge of conditions and making sure you can identify your own personal limits.

For safety and legal reasons, flight lessons are strictly for the student and instructor only.

If you are up to your solo navigation flights, you can take passengers if you have an appropriate licence (an RPL with a navigation endorsement or a PPL). For these types of flights, TVSA implements a sign-out procedure to ensure you have properly prepared for passengers.

Unlicensed students cannot take passengers on any solo flights.

Talk to your instructor! Always make your intentions and aims clear, so they can work with you to ensure you achieve your flying goal in the timeframe you want. Flight training is a very collaborative exercise – you need to put in work to learn and understand the concepts, and your instructor will work with you to help you get them.

If you have any concerns about how your training is progressing, we always welcome discussions with students about your goals, budget, personal situation, and training progress.

A few general warning signs that you can look out for include:

  1. Constant rescheduling or cancellation of lessons not due to weather
  2. Failure to provide proper briefings
  3. Constant changes of instructor
  4. Limited or no time with senior pilots
  5. No proper debriefing
  6. Poor paperwork

After each lesson, TVSA requires students to check and sign digital training records. These records allow the instructor to record how the lesson went, and the student must check that they agree with the record. Any concerns should be raised immediately with your instructor or team leader.

At TVSA, we try to keep you with the same instructor for the majority of your time with us. This helps you to get more comfortable with flying, have consistency in your training, and better allows the instructor to identify your weaker areas.

At regular intervals, you will need to fly with a different instructor. This happens at key points in your training to check your progress and make sure the same standard is maintained across the company.

For example, you will generally do your pre-licence flight with a different instructor to your usual instructor. This gets a fresh pair of eyes on you to make sure you are up to testing standard – and gives you the experience of flying with someone new (as you will for your flight test) without the pressure of an actual flight test!

Occasionally, this may not work for operational reasons, but we will always be upfront with you about required instructor changes.

Licencing and further training

The time required to obtain your licence depends on the licence in question and your commitment. Each licence has minimum hour experience requirements. Additionally, it is important to remember that flight training is competency-based.  This means that your instructor will not move you on to the next lesson until they are satisfied you have understood your current lesson. It is possible to complete a licence without repeating any flights, but certainly not normal.

How quickly you complete your licence will depend on how often you fly, how effectively you study, and how well organised you are. For example, each licence has theory exams that will need to be passed before you can attempt the flight test. If you leave your exams too late in your training, you may extend the time passing takes if you need to re-sit the exam or if you take a long time to complete your knowledge deficiency reports.

As a rough guide:

1. An RPL can reasonably be done in 3-6 months.

2. A PPL can be done in 6-9 months.

3. A CPL can be done in 12-24 months. If you want to complete your CPL on our integrated course, please keep in mind that it must be done within 18 months to qualify.

You must be at least 16 years old to get your RPL.

You also need to do the following:

1.Complete an ab initio flight training syllabus.

2. Pass the RPL theory exam.

3. Meet the minimum aeronautical experience requirements.

4. Hold a minimum of a class 2 or basic class 2 aviation medical certificate.

5. Pass an RPL flight test.

You can find more information about RPL requirements and licence limitations on the CASA website here.

You must be at least 17 years old to get your PPL.

You also need to do the following for the category rating you want to get with your PPL:

1.Hold an RPL or complete an ab initio training course.

2. Pass the PPL theory exam.

3. Meet the minimum aeronautical experience requirements.

4. Hold a minimum of a Class 2 or Basic Class 2 aviation medical certificate.

5. Pass a PPL flight test.

You can find more information about PPL requirements and licence limitations on the CASA website here.

You must be at least 18 years old to get your CPL.

You also need to do the following for the category rating you want to get with your CPL:

1.Complete flight training to CPL standard.

2. Pass all seven CPL theory exams.

3. Meet the minimum aeronautical experience requirements.

4. Hold a Class 1 aviation medical certificate.

5. Pass a CPL flight test.

We have two main options for CPL training: private and diploma.

The AVI50222 Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Aeroplane) is designed to be the start of your journey towards a career in aviation. It takes you from having no experience through to having 150 hours of flight training experience and the theoretical knowledge you need to sit your commercial pilot licence test.

This course can be done full time over 47 weeks or part time over 76 weeks.

Please visit our Nationally Accredited Training page for more information about our diploma courses.

Private training just means you gain your CPL without completing a diploma. This gives you more schedule flexibility, as private training can be done on a more casual basis than a diploma.

You can pay for a package upfront, or pay for lessons as you go as per our rates sheet.

You can start private training whenever we have space in our schedule (we advise looking to book in at least two weeks in advance to secure a day/time that suits you).

For more information about the difference between integrated and non-integrated training, please read our blog post about CPL training.

You must be at least 21 years old to get your ATPL.

You also need to do the following for the category rating you want to get with your ATPL:

1.Hold a commercial pilot licence or multi-crew pilot licence with the same aircraft category rating

2. Complete the relevant flight training.

3. Learn the theory and pass the ATPL theory exams for the category rating.

4. Complete an approved course of multi-crew cooperation training.

5. Pass an ATPL flight test.

6. Meet the minimum aeronautical experience requirements.

We don’t currently offer ATPL specific training at TVSA. You can find out more about ATPL requirements on the CASA website here.

An instrument rating allows you to pilot aircraft in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) with reference to the aircraft’s instruments. You can also fly at night if you have an instrument rating.

To gain your instrument rating, you need to hold a PPL or higher licence, study the aeronautical knowledge syllabus, and pass the instrument rating examination (IREX).

You also need to complete flight training at a Part 141 flight training operator for:

– an aircraft instrument endorsement (the category must be the same as the aircraft used in the flight test); and

– at minimum, a 2D instrument endorsement (you can include the 3D endorsement as well).

In addition, you need to have the following aeronautical experience in aircraft of the same category that the flight test is to be conducted in:

– 50 hours of cross-country flight time as pilot-in-command

– 40 hours of instrument time, including at least 10 hours of dual instrument time, and 20 hours of instrument flight time or 10 hours of instrument flight time if the training is done in a flight simulator

You can find out more about instrument ratings on the CASA website.

We have two main options for instrument rating training: private and diploma.

The AVI50519 Diploma of Aviation (Instrument Rating) is designed for qualified pilots to further their education with an instrument rating and multi-engine class rating, making it perfect for PPL holders looking for a challenge or CPL holders looking for the next step in their career! Please visit our Nationally Accredited Training page for more information about our diploma courses.

Private training just means you gain your CPL without completing a diploma. This gives you more schedule flexibility, as private training can be done on a more casual basis than a diploma.
You can pay for a course upfront, or pay for lessons as you go as per our rates sheet.
You can start private training whenever we have space in our schedule (we advise looking to book in at least two weeks in advance to secure a day/time that suits you).

We offer courses for:

– Flight instructor ratings

– Tailwheel endorsements

– Aerobatics endorsements

– Manual propeller pitch control endorsements (MPPC)

– Retractable undercarriage endorsements (RU)

– Multi-engine class ratings

– Spin endorsements

– Navigation endorsements for RPLs

– CTA/CTR endorsements for RPLs

– Flight radio endorsements for RPLs

– Night VFR ratings

Please contact us for more information about what you’d like to pursue next.

Working as a Pilot/CPL Questions

At a minimum, you will need a commercial pilot licence (CPL) to work as a pilot in Australia.

From there, requirements will depend on what type of work you want to do.  Some jobs will require specific endorsements or ratings, or experience with specific aircraft types.  There are also minimum hour experience requirements – if you are aiming for airline captain, or example, you may need to start working for a smaller charter company first while you build experience. They don’t put just anyone in charge of flying hundreds of people around!

It’s a good idea to thoroughly research the requirements for the pilot career you ultimately want, so you can plan what steps to take from the start.

Age is not necessarily a barrier to working as a pilot, but, after a certain age, you may find certain career paths more difficult than others.

Consider the retirement age for airline pilots. While Australia doesn’t have a legislated upper age limit, airlines need to comply with age restrictions in the countries they fly to – so older airline pilots are basically restricted to domestic operations.

Another thing to consider is that ICAO rules state airline transport pilot licence (ATPL) holders aged 60+ years need to undergo medical checks every six months.

You will also need to think about required experience, which will vary depending on the role in question. Consider your current commitments and whether you can spend the time working on getting your new career started.

The main thing to consider is: how much do you want it? It’s never too late to learn a new skill!

Some of our instructors have come to aviation as a second career. You can read a couple of their stories in our blogs posts here and here.

No, you can get a CPL through either private lessons or a diploma course.

The main difference between a Diploma of Aviation and a Bachelor of Aviation is the tertiary qualification achieved and the time taken to complete your study.

A vast majority of airlines do not require pilots to hold university degrees, or any level of tertiary study for that matter.

The flight training included in some Bachelor of Aviation courses includes commercial pilot licence (CPL) training as well as training towards a further piloting qualification (normally either a multi-engine instrument rating or a flight instructor rating). Bachelor of Aviation courses generally run over three years.

The AVI50222 Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Aeroplane) only includes training towards your CPL and runs over 47 weeks full time or 76 weeks part time.

You can achieve your multi-engine instrument rating by completing another of our courses, the AVI50519 Diploma of Aviation (Instrument Rating) over 16 weeks.

We also offer the AVI50419 Diploma of Aviation (Flight Instructor), which is 25 weeks part time.

Visit our Nationally Accredited Training page for more information about our Diploma of Aviation courses.

Pay for pilots will vary depending on the specific job, the company, the hours of experience or additional training required, and the aircraft type.

Most pilots in Australia will be paid according to the Air Pilots Award.

You can view the 2022 award here.

If you want to obtain an RPL and/or PPL on your way to a CPL, you will need to pass the relevant theory exam for each licence.

You will need to pass seven theory exams to obtain your actual CPL. You can find more information about them here.

TVSA regularly run classes for each CPL theory subject. You can find out more about those here.

Requirements will vary by airline, so check with your favourites what their entry level requirements are.

Airlines require you to have, at minimum, a CPL; some may also require theory credits for ATPL.  Instrument ratings and multi-engine class ratings will also put you in a more favourable position for airline roles. Some airlines will require proficiency checks for ratings, so you will need to have held your ratings for a few years.

You will need a current Class 1 medical certificate.

For any position that requires multi-crew operation, you will need multi-crew cooperation (MCC) training for any position that requires multi-crew operation.

Hour requirements will depend on the airline, and there may be multiple requirements for different aircraft types.

There will also be an application process that may include psychometric testing, simulator testing, and medical testing on top of standard interview processes.

Qantas lists their entry requirements for different roles here and Virgin has a similar list here.

Medical Questions

Aviation medical certificates certify your fitness to fly.  There are different classes of medical certificate, and the class you need will depend on the licence type you are aiming for.

A Class 2 medical certificate is required for recreational pilot licences and private pilot licences. A Basic Class 2 may be easier to get, but comes with additional restrictions, so you will need to decide which certificate is best for you.

A Class 1 medical certificate is required for commercial pilot licences.

Please note that we are not involved in the issuing of aviation medical certificates, so we cannot offer advice about specific conditions. For professional advice, visit a designated aviation medical examiner (DAME).

You can ask your instructor if they know of one near you, or you can visit the CASA website for a tool to search by suburb.

As soon as possible! You don’t want to spend money on flight training and then find out you won’t be able to use it for what you want.

The medical process takes time, and you don’t want to be held up in your training because you are waiting for paperwork. You won’t be able to fly solo without it, and that can be as little as 10 hours into your training. If you are on our full-time CPL course, that means you could be solo about four weeks into your course.

Even if all your testing is satisfactory, it can take two to three weeks for CASA to process your medical certificate.  If additional testing is required, that can add weeks to the processing.

Some medical conditions can impact your ability to get a medical. Please visit the CASA website for more information.

You will need to undergo testing as part of obtaining your aviation medical certificate. CASA uses a three-stage testing model, which you can read more about here.

According to a recent update from CASA, a pass at any stage will mean an unrestricted medical is issued. If you fail all three, a medical may still be issued with restrictions.

If you’re unsure about your vision, your best option is to complete the relevant Aviation Medical before you start training.

As long as your vision can be corrected to 20/20 you should be able to get a Class 1 Medical. Like a driver’s licence, it will generally state conditions on it to the effect of you must be wearing your glasses/lenses when flying. You may also be required to carry a spare pair of glasses with you on your flights.

Your vision will be assessed as part of your Aviation Medical Examination, so you can discuss any concerns you have with your DAME.

After being issued an Aviation Medical, you will need to notify CASA if you experience any continuing condition for:

  1. Class 1 Medical Certificate holders – longer than 7 days
  2. Class 2 Medical Certificate holders – longer than 30 days
  3. Basic Class 2 Medical Certificate holders – longer than 30 days


This is to ensure you are safe and fit to return to flying after such an illness.

As always, if in doubt, speak to a DAME.

You can find more information about reportable conditions here and here.

In some cases, you will get used to flying and the air sickness will go away. Sometimes it won’t. It is something you will just need to try. We suggest flying regularly for a few weeks to see if your body gets used to the sensations. If it doesn’t, it’s up to you what is stronger – your desire to fly or your body’s reaction.

Even if you don’t get sick during your regular interstate or international flight, you may find that you do in a smaller aircraft. If you’ve never flown in a small aircraft, or if you’re not sure, we always recommend coming in for a Trial Introductory Flight to see how you go.

Diving Deeper

After completing a CASA exam, you will be given a report with areas where your knowledge of the subject is not sufficient – unless you get 100% of course!

These are your Knowledge Deficiency Reports. In order to get your licence, you need to demonstrate that you have a reasonable understanding of all these areas. You can do this by writing a response to the report, or your testing officer can ask you about them during the test.

To reduce flight test stress, we recommend the first option. You can read more about how to do them here.

A Flight Review is required every two years to renew a Class or Type Rating (for most GA pilots, this will be either your generic Single or Multi-Engine Class Rating), or an Operational Rating (for example, a NVFR Rating or Private Instrument Rating).

Although there are certain competencies that a pilot must demonstrate to meet the requirements of a Flight Review, it should also be seen as a learning experience, an opportunity to refresh your skills with a qualified instructor. It’s also a good chance to look at any changes in the industry that have been introduced since your last review.

It is also possible to fail a Flight Review. The instructor completing your Flight Review can deem you not competent in the skills required. Further training may be needed to improve your skills in order to meet the required standard. Flight Reviews can also be conducted over several flights if needed, for example, if you don’t meet the required standard on the first flight, or perhaps the weather is not suitable to complete all components on that day.

The Flight Review process at TVSA starts with a session of theory. The content is similar to the theory covered when conducting a flight test. As with the flying component of the Flight Review, it is designed to check your knowledge against certain competencies, but is ultimately a learning experience, not a test.

At TVSA, the flight component is catered to the rating or licence that you hold. If you hold a PPL/CPL, expect to do a short navigation exercise as well as the general handling/circuits expected at RPL level. The general handling component covers skills such as stalling, steep turns, instrument flying, and forced landings, and a mixture of circuits (normal, flapless, short-field, crosswind, glide/emergencies). Once again, you may be introduced to some new skills here – perhaps revision of VOR use, or the new GNSS equipment fitted to the aircraft.

You can read more in our blog post here, or visit the CASA website for more information about Flight Review requirements.

Yes and no.

Your CASA licence is recognized outside of Australia, but you can’t just jump in a plane in another country and go for it. There’s a conversion process you need to go through first.

The process varies depending on the regulations of the country, so you will need to check that country’s aviation governing body for their requirements. Usually, it involves a bit of studying the different rules, and some flights with an instructor there to check you understand them.

We sure can!

You will need to do a few paperwork items first. You’ll need to check the CASA website for what is required for your licence type. CASA will need to check that your licence has an Australian equivalent, and you will need to provide evidence of aviation English language proficiency and ability to operate a radio.

If you are converting an overseas licence to an Australian CPL, Multi-Crew Pilot Licence, or ATPL, you will need to pass the flight test theory and exams specified in the Part 61 MOS.

Once you have the paperwork done, we can help you with the flying. Give us a call to book a meeting with an instructor to discuss your specific case and requirements. They’ll work with you to create an appropriate training plan and book all the necessary flights.