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As an aspiring aviator, you need to acquire certifications to lawfully and safely operate an aircraft. The pilot lecenses or certifications are issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP). The ones you get can also vary depending on the aviation career you want to pursue. For example, if you want to earn as a pilot, you need to get a Commercial Pilot License and complete a type rating for the aircraft type you’ll be flying. But if you prefer to fly as a hobby or don’t plan to make it a professional career, having a Private Pilot License will do.

Whether you want to be a successful commercial airline pilot or want to fly leisurely, here are the six types of pilot licenses aspiring aviators need to know.

Student Pilot License

In the early stage of your pilot training, you need to apply for a Student Pilot License (SPL). It allows you to begin your flight training and comes with minimal requirements. You must be at least 16 years old and proficient in English at a level that the CAAP requires. What’s more, you don’t need a college degree to get an SPL so even if you’re still in senior high, you can start your pilot training.

Private Pilot Certificate

After you’ve completed your pilot training course, the next type of pilot license you need to get is the Private Pilot License (PPL). This certificate allows you to fly solo or with passengers. It also lets you transport cargo. However, you can’t fly and receive compensation. Essentially, this type of pilot license is akin to a driver’s license that lets you legally drive a vehicle and give your family and friends a ride but you can’t earn from it.

In terms of requirements, you must be at least 17 years old to get a PPL. Additionally, you must complete 40 hours of flight training, including 20 hours of dual flight instruction, 10 hours of solo flights, and another 10 hours of either dual or solo flight.

Commercial Pilot License

If you want to pursue a career as a pilot, you’ll need a Commercial Pilot License (CPL). It lets you fly an aircraft and get paid as a professional. To acquire this pilot license, you must be a PPL holder, obtain a Class One medical certificate, and complete a total of 150 flight hours. The flight hours include the 40 hours you’ve completed during the PPL training, while the remaining 110 hours consist of training in the CPL stage.

Once you’ve acquired your CPL license, you can start earning as a pilot. You can fly an aircraft with a limited number of passengers by companies or private individuals. You can also work for the government for specific purposes such as transporting cargo, doing sightseeing flights, or performing agricultural spraying.

A CPL license with other add-on ratings qualifies you to work as a First Officer in commercial airline companies. It’s also an entry-level role position and you’ll be working alongside a Captain.

Airline Transport Pilot License

The airline transport pilot license (ATPL) is the highest civilian license you can get to fly passenger airlines. But to obtain this certification, you must accumulate 1,500 flying hours. Typically, aspiring ATPL holders will work as flight instructors or make the most out of their CPL so they can gain the required flight hours while earning from it.

The main benefit of the ATPL is you can be in command of a large, multi-crew commercial aircraft. This means you can immediately work as Captain of the aircraft when hired.

Type Rating

Apart from the pilot certifications, you need additional ratings to work in a commercial airline carrier. In particular, a type rating lets you operate certain aircraft types but not all as different aircraft types have different operations and performances. For example, if you’re trained to fly an Airbus, it doesn’t always mean you’re qualified to fly a Boeing aircraft.

That said, you need additional training and obtain a type rating for the new type of aircraft. Typically, this training will involve classroom lectures and simulator time.

Instrument Rating

Instrument rating equips pilots with the knowledge and skills to handle an aircraft in low or zero visibility using cockpit instruments. It also lets you perform emergency operations, use a navigation system, and complete air traffic control procedures. Similar to type rating, instrument rating requires classroom training and simulation exercises. It can also be taken while training for your CPL or separately.

If your goal is to become a commercial airline pilot, you need both the type and instrument rating to qualify for the job.

The certifications for a pilot who plans to fly for leisure are different from the ones you need when you want to earn from the profession. It’s a good idea to do your research and understand the requirements. This way, you can better prepare for the aviation career you want.