There are many cases where individuals get their Private Pilot License (PPL), stop flying for a while, and then go back to try and fly again. Unfortunately, you can’t hop into a plane after 20 years of not flying and be ready to go.
There are a few things you have to do before you can jump back in any ole’ cockpit and fly.
Does your Private Pilot License Expire?
Luckily, your Private Pilot License never expires! Once you have your Private Pilot certificate, you never have to start your flight training all over again. You won’t have to renew your private pilot license. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have to worry about staying up to date.
This is due to the number of advancements in the aviation industry, which plays a huge factor in why the FAA won’t let you just fly with a long break in between. With the extent of improvements and technological advancements in avionics, the FAA requires you to maintain your PPL by keeping up with your medical certificate and your Biennial Flight Review (BFR).
Luckily, you would only need a third-class medical certificate, or basic med, to schedule a biennial flight review at Thrust Flight.
FAA Medical Certificate
Airman medical certificates are obtained after passing a physical examination with an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME). The AME will determine if you possess any conditions that might render you incapable of safely operating an airplane.
There are three types of FAA Medical Certificates and each type of certificate has different periods for when they elapse. Each certificate comes with its own perks, and a first-class certificate comes with more privileges as compared to a third-class certificate.
A first-class medical certificate lasts for 12 months for pilots under the age of 40. And 6 months for those over the age of 40.
A second-class certificate will last for 12 months for pilots of any age.
A third-class certificate will last for 60 months if you’re under the age of 40. And 24 months if you’re over the age of 40.
You could also use basic med, a program created by the FAA that allows pilots to visit their regular doctor instead of an AME.
Biennial Flight Review
A biennial flight review (BFR) is required by the FAA for all U.S. pilot certificate holders. Biennial means that it occurs every other year or every 24 months.
All pilots, whether they fly for leisure or as a career, are required to take a BFR. A BFR will consist of at least 1 hour of ground instruction and 1 hour in flight with a certified flight instructor.
Keep in mind, if you have taken a long break from flying, you may need more training than just the minimum 1hr ground and 1hr flight. The instructor you work with for the flight review will be able to give you an estimate of how many hours it will take based on your personal experience and situation.
Factors that affect how much training is needed include: Do you have prior experience in the type of airplane you are doing the BFR training? Are you familiar with the avionics system it is equipped with?
Are you transitioning into a new type of avionics? And the length of time you have taken off since your last flight, just to name a few.
How to Stay Current on Your License
You’ll never have to renew your private pilot license, but every pilot has to make sure they’re keeping up with their medical certificates and their BFR in order to exercise the privileges of having a PPL. Luckily, you’ll only need a third-class medical certificate in order to schedule a BFR with a flight instructor.
As long as you have your private pilot license, and your medical certificate and BFR aren’t expired, then you will be able to enjoy the benefits that the private pilot license has to offer.
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Liz Brassaw is a first officer for a regional airline and the former Chief Pilot and Chief Flight Operations Officer for Thrust Flight. She holds an ATP, CFI, CFII, MEI, AMEL, ASES with over 2,500 hours of flight instruction given. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the Utah Valley University School of Aviation Sciences. She’s passionate about flying and enjoys instilling that love in the instructors on her team and the new students she trains.