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How much does it cost to learn to fly in Australia?

How much will it cost me to get a pilot licence?

How long will it take to complete flight training?

Two very common and very important questions. The answers might surprise you.

Learning to fly a plane might seem like a difficult, far-off dream – but it is achievable for many people.

A few things to know

You don’t need any specific school qualifications to become a pilot. A background in physics or math might help, but isn’t necessary. Likewise, if you have a background in mechanics or engineering you might pick things up a bit quicker.

Be prepared to study outside of your lesson times. Flight training is more ground based than you might think – you’ll need some textbooks and some time to study the theory.

There are different licences, but the training follows the same progression. You can get started and then decide later where you’d like to stop, but it will help if you know your ultimate goal so we can put you on the best path.

Most lessons during the first phase of training will be about an hour in the aircraft, plus another half hour either side of that on the ground with your instructor. If you are continuing into navigation phases for PPL/CPL, you can expect flights to be 2-3 hours long, plus another hour or two on the ground with your instructor.

We’ve put together some basic cost estimates based on starting from zero experience for each licence below.

Keep in mind that flight training is competency based, so we can’t guarantee that these numbers will represent a final cost for you.

cost estimates

For a basic set of materials, regardless of which licence you want, you can probably expect to budget $1-2,000. Prices for things like your aviation medical and headset can vary quite a bit, so haven’t been included in these estimates.

For these estimates, we’ve based the hours on what our experience has shown is reasonable. This is sometimes a bit more than the CASA minimum requirements. We think this sets up more realistic expectations, so the final cost is less likely to be a surprise. Some other providers may use the CASA minimums for their quotes, so be sure to check the full list of inclusions when making comparisons.

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Recreational Pilot Licence:

An RPL allows you to pilot a single-engine aircraft under 1500kg within 25nm of your home aerodrome.

23 hours dual – $6,877

5 hours solo – $1,100

TVSA Flight Training Manual – $160

Pre-Solo and Pre-Area Solo Exams – $60

RPL theory exam – $170

Logbook – $44

RPL theory course (optional) – $540

RPL flight test – test fee + 1.5 hours aircraft hire $892.50

= $9,963.50

Private Pilot Licence:

A PPL allows you to pilot an aircraft anywhere in Australia in the single-engine class with passengers.

43 hours dual – $14,777

10 hours solo – $2,970

2 simulator hours – $420

TVSA Flight Training Manuals – $260

Pre-Solo and Pre-Area Solo Exams – $60

PPL Theory Exam – $180

Navigation theory – $780

RPL theory course (optional) – $540

PPL flight test – test fee + 3.5 hours aircraft hire $1,700.50

= $21,308.50

Commercial Pilot Licence:

A CPL allows you to work as a pilot in Australia.

We have two training options – integrated and non-integrated. The costs below are for non-integrated training (200 hour syllabus).

75 hours dual – $24,187

120 hours solo – $26,775

5 simulator hours – $1,050

TVSA Flight Training Manuals – $260

Pre-Solo and Pre-Area Solo Exams – $60

RPL theory course (optional) – $540

RPL theory exam – $170

RPL flight test – test fee $562.50 + 1.5 hours aircraft hire $330

CPL theory exams (7 subjects) – $1,099.63

CPL flight test – test fee + 3.5 hours aircraft hire $2,070

= $57,958.13

  • optional CPL theory courses (7 subjects) – $900 each

OK but... how long does it take to get a pilot licence?

The time required to complete each licence is highly variable. As a guide, you could achieve your RPL in 3-6 months, your PPL in 6-9 months, and your CPL in 12-24 months.

Two main factors are: your schedule, and your finances.

The more frequently you can fly, the faster you will move through the lessons. For some people that is dependent on the money, for some it’s more about when they can find the time to come in.

A few other things that can impact this are:

  • how well you study between flights
  • how quickly you pick up the concepts – each student is different, and somethings may take a couple of reviews before they’re up to standard
  • the weather – some people get lucky, but you can expect at least a few cancellations due to poor weather during your training
  • the amount of flexibility in your schedule – for example, if you’re planning to fly once a week but the weather causes a cancellation, you might be able to reschedule that for later in the week if you’re available
  • maintenance – we do our best to minimise the impact of maintenance items for our students, but occasionally things pop up at the last minute

We generally recommend flying weekly or fortnightly to make consistent progress through your training. The longer the gaps between flights, the more likely it is that you will need to spend more time (and therefore money) on reviewing things rather than learning new ones.

It’s also important to note that the integrated courses for PPL and CPL come with additional requirements. Mainly, they must be completed in a condensed timeframe. For CPL, that means you need to complete the flight test no more than about 18 months after you started training.

The really good news, however, is that all your experience ultimately counts, no matter how long your training takes. Even if you start training, and then need to take a break for a few years, those hours can still be included in your overall experience totals. You might need to revisit a few things to get back into it, but there’s no expiration date on them.

Please note:

Additional costs on top of those given above include: textbooks, headset, maps, navigation equipment, CASA fees, appropriate CASA Medical certificate, additional flight training and tuition to meet the standard.

Our prices include things like fuel and landing fees, when comparing with other estimates be sure to check whether those do as well.

All costs assume the student opts for the Cessna 152 for ab initio and solo hour building.

Costs correct at time of writing. Subject to change.

Want to know more?

Give us a call on (03) 5369 5162, or book a call with our training advisor to discuss your options.