When starting out in aviation one of the first questions asked is what license are you training for? The LAPL or PPL? 

First let's bust the myth, an LAPL does not make you a lesser pilot than PPL holder. Both licences allow you to fly most of the popular single engine aircraft out there, such as the Cessna 172, Piper Warrior or Arrow. They both allow you to take passengers on your flights, so you can make day trips with family and friends.

So how to choose which license to go for?

First ask yourself why do I want to fly? Is it the start of a new career? Is it for a hobby, to be able to fly to places for lunch on a beautiful day? Or do you want to fly an aircraft for business, to fly yourself to a business meeting? Your answers to these questions will help you make your decision.

So what are the differences between the two?

A PPL will allow you to fly aircraft registered in Europe around the world, with a LAPL you are limited to Europe. Where a PPL is an ICAO standard license, the LAPL was created by EASA to standardise all the different national recreational pilot's licenses. National licenses only allowed you to fly in the country of issue. For many pilots being able to fly in the country they live in is all they want to do.

With an LAPL and PPL you can fly single engine aircraft, with an LAPL this in enclosed within the license with an PPL it is added as a rating the SEP. This is an important difference, a LAPL is valid for life but a SEP is valid for 2 years. If you renew your SEP before it expires it can be done by flying 12 hours including 1 with an instructor or by a proficiency check with an examiner. If the SEP expires you have to do training to get you back to standard then a proficiency check with an examiner. With an LAPL it is easier even though it is valid for life, you have to have flown 12 hours in the last 24 months including 1 hour with an instructor. If you haven't you need to fly the 12 hours with an instructor or under their supervision, or do a proficiency check with an examiner. Either way you have to fly to keep it current but with an LAPL you do not need an examiner to sign it off to keep flying.

With a PPL you can add extra qualifications, so called ratings, such as an Instrument Rating, Night rating or Multi Engine rating. The only rating you can add to a LAPL is the Night Rating. Do you need to add rating or is flying a 4 seater single engine enough? Our experience is that most do not need to add ratings.


Both Licenses allow you to fly light aircraft, with a LAPL it is limited to a max take-off weight of 2000kg. Most light aircraft such as a C172, Piper Warrior and even more complex types such as a Piper Arrow or a Cirrus SR22 have max weight below 2000 kg. 

For both licenses you have to pass the same 9 theory exams, in that respect it doesn't matter what license you are going for.




ICAO License




PPL: Lifetime

SEP: 2 Years

LAPL: Lifetime



Class 2

Under 40: Valid 5 Years

Over 40: Valid 2 Years

Over 50: Valid 1 Year

LAPL Medical

Under 40: Valid 5 Years

Over 40:  Valid 2 Years

Additional Ratings

Multi Engine, Instrument Rating, IMC Rating, Night Rating

Night Rating

Minimum Training Hours

45 Total of which:

10 Hours Solo of which

5 Hours Solo Cross Country

Including 1 Cross Country of 150 NM


30 Hours of which

6 Hours Solo of which

3 Hours Cross Country

including 1 Cross Country of 80 NM

Aircraft Restrictions


Max Take-Off Weight: 2000 Kg

Max Passengers: 3


For many people the NPPL was enough as all they wanted to do was fly a small aircraft and at times take friends and family with them. The LAPL is replacing the NPPL. So if you just want to fly up to 4 seater aircraft within the UK a LAPL is enough and it potentially saves you up to 15 hours of flight training. 

We advise our students to go for a LAPL, unless they want go commercial or add extra ratings to their license. You can always upgrade your LAPL to a PPL with a bit of extra training. Also you don't immediately have to make a choice, you just have to decide before you do your skills test.


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