How much does it cost to get a private pilot license (PPL) in 2023

What is the current price tag for acquiring a Private Pilot’s Licence in 2023? The answer to this question can be as complex as asking the length of a string. The total cost depends on many factors, making it challenging to present an average figure.

On a positive note, acquiring your PPL(A) in the UK for under £10,000 is feasible. The less favourable news: unless you’re an extraordinarily fast learner, chances are you won’t manage to keep your expenditure under £10,000. A more realistic budget would hover around £15,000.

PPL Cost

Let’s deconstruct the expenses involved in a PPL(A), which comprise:

Flight training forms the largest part of your budget. You need a minimum of 45 hours of flight training, including at least 25 hours of dual instruction and 10 hours of supervised solo flight time, as stipulated by the CAA.

But is 45 hours a realistic figure? Probably not…

Therefore, multiplying 45 hours by the cost of flight training per hour will give you the total cost, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

The reality is that a small fraction of pilots manage to achieve their licence in just 45 hours; the average in the UK tends to fall between 55 and 60 hours.

This indicates that the attractively priced PPL packages, typically based on just 45 hours of flight training, may not reflect the actual amount you’ll spend if you need an additional 10, 20 or even 30 hours to be ready for your skills test. This is why; even if you opt for such a package, it is prudent also to consider the flight school’s hourly rate.

How much does an hour of flight training set you back?

The cost of an hour of flight training can range widely from £150 to £300. The final cost depends on several factors, including the flight school and the type, age, and fuel consumption of the aircraft used for training. For instance, training in a Cessna 152 will be more economical than using a Piper PA-28 or a Robin R3000.

The price differences can accumulate over time: a two-seater Cessna 150 may be ‘just’ £20 cheaper per hour than a four-seater Cessna 172, but over the course of 50 hours of PPL training, this could result in a saving of £1,000, merely by opting for a different aircraft.

Remember to scrutinize what is encompassed in the hourly training rate – and when the clock starts running. Does it start as soon as the propeller begins to spin, or at take-off? Is the duration from when the brakes are released to when they’re applied considered an hour? Is the charge based on the tachometer time? Are you billed for the taxiing time? What about pre- and post-flight briefings? Verifying these aspects is particularly important with flight schools that separate their flight training fees into aircraft rental charges and instructional costs.

Private Pilot License

Let’s consider additional expenses: landing and touch-and-go fees

Have you figured out the hourly rate? Next, consider other potential training costs, such as landing and touch-and-go fees. Some flight schools incorporate these fees into the overall flight training cost or club membership. However, in other cases, they might be charged separately.

Landing and touch-and-go fees can differ based on the airport.

At Humberside (£8.80), Carlisle (£10), and Blackpool (£14.50), you pay the same amount whether for landing or a touch-and-go. At Cambridge Airport, landing fees are £21.22, and touch-and-go costs £10.61.

At Shoreham, the price is £26.50 per landing (£29.50 in a PA28) and £12 per circuit. At Liverpool John Lennon Airport, landing costs £31.30, and touch-and-go costs £14.40. London Biggin Hill Airport prices are £48 (landing) and £40 (circuit).

Considering you may execute around 50 landings and 100 touch-and-goes during your PPL training, these charges can accumulate quickly. Note that even if all landings at your chosen airfield are included, you may still have to perform some away landings during cross-country flying that may incur a fee.

Fuel surcharges

Owing to the recent increase in fuel prices, some flight schools have begun to add a separate fuel surcharge to their rates. The school and aircraft determine this charge, and is generally levied per hour. For instance, Clacton Aero Club offers lessons in a Cessna 152 for £169 plus a fuel surcharge of £9.60 and in a Cessna 172 for £185 plus a fuel surcharge of £14.40.

As these charges are dependent on fuel prices, they can fluctuate. Some flight schools, instead of adding a fuel surcharge, have simply bumped up their hourly rates to compensate.

Membership dues

Most flight training institutions necessitate membership for training. Membership fees are typically annual and can vary significantly.

The majority of memberships offer access to club facilities and insurance coverage. Certain flying clubs provide their members with lower aircraft rental costs or discounted training rates. Occasionally, membership might include pilot equipment; for instance, at Freedom Aviation, membership includes a current UK Southern England chart.

To summarise: when inquiring about the cost of flight training, ensure you know precisely what is and isn’t included in the quoted hourly rate.

In the UK, the rates for flight training usually include VAT and are often ‘wet rates’ (fuel inclusive), but once you have your PPL and are renting an aircraft, be sure to confirm whether the rental rate is a ‘wet’ one or a ‘dry rate’ (fuel exclusive).

Private Pilot License Cost

Ground examinations

To secure your PPL, you’ll need to successfully pass nine theoretical exams (Air Law, Aircraft General Knowledge, Communications, Flight Performance and Planning, Human Performance and Limitations, Meteorology, Navigation, Operational Procedures, and Principles of Flight) with a minimum pass mark of 75%. These are official CAA exams, but that doesn’t imply that every flight school has identical charges.

Some flight schools include these exams as part of their PPL package, while others levy separate charges, with prices typically between £25 at Ulster Flying Club and £49 at Fenland Flying School per exam. When the ground exams are included in the PPL package, it generally means only the first attempt at each exam is covered.

Study materials

The cost of preparing for these exams varies, depending on your method of studying the PPL theory – whether it’s through self-study or attending a ground school. Self-study at home is the most cost-effective option, particularly if you can get hold of textbooks second-hand or borrow them from your flight school.

Additionally, material is abundant online that can aid your preparation for the exams, including eBooks, training software with question banks, and mock exams. Some self-study courses charge a one-off fee, while others operate with monthly online subscriptions.

The expenses associated with preparing for the exam independently can range from absolutely nothing (if you can borrow all necessary materials) to over £400 for comprehensive distance learning packages.

Ground School

Several flight schools provide on-site ground school instruction, where you study in a classroom-like environment under the guidance of an instructor. This is either included in the PPL package or charged separately.

The cost of ground school can vary significantly. Some schools charge an hourly fee for one-on-one instruction, like ANT, which charges £30 per hour. Others, such as ACS Flight Training, offer a multi-day course, including all exams, for £695.


To acquire a PPL(A), you’ll need a Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL), certifying your radio communication knowledge. Some flight schools include this in the PPL package, while others charge for the FRTOL exam separately.

If the FRTOL exam is not part of a package, prices range from £100 for members of the Perranporth Flying Club to £180 at ANT Flight Training and even £240 at Almat Flying Academy. Typically, though, it’s around £150.

It’s crucial to apply for your FRTOL at the same time as your PPL. If you don’t, the CAA will charge you £79 for the initial issue of the FRTOL (refer to the Licence application section).

Skills Test The skills test cost comprises the examiner’s fee and aircraft rental. The examiner’s fee varies depending on the CAA examiner but usually falls within the range of £200.

The cost of aircraft hire depends on your flying school’s hourly rental rate and the time you need the aircraft. Generally, the flying portion of the skills test takes about 90 minutes.

Medical Examination

For a PPL(A), you must have a Class 2 Medical certificate issued by a CAA Aero Medical Examiner (AME). Each AME determines their own fee, so the cost of this examination depends on the doctor you choose. Typically, it falls between £150 and £250.

Pilot Medical Certificate

Licence Application Cost

The CAA charges a fee of £202 for the initial issuance of a pilot licence. It’s essential to apply for your FRTOL concurrently with your PPL, as in this case, the FRTOL application is free. If you don’t, the CAA will charge an additional £79 for the initial issuance of the FRTOL.

Necessary Equipment

What are the necessary supplies during your PPL training? A logbook, headset, watch, iPad, knee pad, sunglasses, flight bag, high visibility jacket, protractor, nautical mile scale map ruler, flight computer (also known as a Whizz Wheel), a current chart, a few apps, and pilot log pads. These are the basics for a private pilot.

The cost of this equipment varies. A good-quality headset could set you back £150, but you could also opt to spend over £1,000 for a high-end one. This price variance applies to the rest of the gear as well.

There are specialized pilot starter packs that include most or all of the items mentioned above. Sometimes, club membership comes with a logbook, and if you sign up for ground school, this usually includes all the materials you’ll need for navigation.

To minimize expenses on equipment, purchase only those supplies essential for your flight training and consider buying second-hand. Some flight schools may allow you to borrow (part of) their equipment during your training.

Why is it so costly? Acquiring your PPL is a significant financial commitment, regardless of where you pursue it. Some flight schools are pricier than others due to factors such as their fleet type and the airport’s landing fees.

Cheaper training options are sometimes available through not-for-profit flying clubs, where all profits are returned to their members – including you, as a trainee.

Is it worthwhile to compare options at different flight schools to save money? Absolutely! But don’t allow a small difference in the total cost to dictate your choice of school – instead, choose the school that feels most comfortable to you and the instructor you connect with. Your enjoyment of your flight training is far more critical than the cost.

What are costs like overseas?

The UK is not the only or the cheapest place to earn your PPL. The United States was once a popular destination for British citizens seeking their PPL due to lower costs and more favourable weather conditions. However, our repeated inquiries to U.S. flight schools suggest they are less accommodating these days.

Despite Brexit, several flight schools in Europe are welcoming to international students.

Getting your PPL abroad will involve additional costs for travel and accommodation, so it’s important to factor these into your overall budget. It’s also crucial to check the current exchange rate to ensure you’re still getting good value.

Across Europe, the average PPL(A) cost ranges between €10,000 and €13,000. Countries like Poland and the Czech Republic are generally cheaper than the UK, while Switzerland is likely to be more expensive.

For instance, One Air in Spain offers a PPL package for €10,500 (about £9,250, depending on the exchange rate). This package includes all necessary materials (theory course, aviation kit, etc.), landing fees, processing fees, and 40 flight hours (35 in a Diamond DA20 and 5 in a Diamond DA40), five hours in an FNPT II certified Alsim ALX Simulator and six hours in other simulators.

Extra flying hours in the DA20 cost €220 per hour. So, in the ‘real life’ example mentioned above (assuming a total of 55 training hours needed), the total cost would be €12,700 (approximately £11,190).

How to save money on a PPL? Consistent, Regular Training

One of the most effective ways to reduce the cost of your PPL training is to fly consistently and regularly. This will help you retain newly acquired skills better, reducing the need to repeat lessons.

If you only fly once a month, you’ll likely need to repeat parts of your previous lesson each time due to skill fade. On the other hand, if you fly several times a week, you’ll have a much better chance of retaining what you’ve learned and progressing more quickly.

In other words, the less time you spend relearning, the fewer hours you’ll need to complete your training, which translates into lower costs.

Ideally, you should aim to complete your PPL training over a relatively short period of time. To do this, you must ensure that you’ve set aside sufficient time for training and have chosen a time of year when bad weather is less likely to cause cancellations.

Also, consider your instructor’s availability. If your instructor is not available frequently enough to match your own availability, progress may be slower, leading to more lessons and higher costs. So, finding an instructor whose schedule aligns with yours can be another way to keep costs down.

Remember, the most cost-effective flight training is continuous and consistent. The more often you fly, the more quickly you will master the necessary skills and the less you will spend overall.

Ready to take to the sky?

Ground School

PPL and LAPL Ground School in London

Read More
LAPL to PPL Conversion Course

LAPL to PPL Conversion Course in London

Read More
Flight Training

Private Pilot Licence (PPL) in London

Read More
Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL)

Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) in London

Read More
Instrument Rating

Instrument Rating (Restricted) (IR(R)) in London

Read More
Night Rating

Night Rating in London

Read More
Copyright 2024 Masson Aviaiton | Sitemap

Get 20% Off Your First Lesson

Enter your details and we'll email you a code for 20% discount on your first booking.