• Every pilot, whether they fly professionally or for pleasure, needs a pilot’s licence.

    Pilots are normally licensed by the country in which they live or fly from. They will have had to pass written and practical exams to ensure they have the necessary skills and will be subject to ongoing checks. To obtain and maintain their licence, they must pass medical examinations and be certificated. As the level of the licence gets higher the tests and checks become harder and the medical becomes more stringent.

    Pilots can also add extra privileges and ratings to their licence. For example an airline pilot will have an instrument rating allowing them to fly in cloud and low visibility. They will also have ratings for the individual types of aircraft they fly. This means they have a very high level of knowledge of the individual aircraft, its controls and systems.

    Most airline pilots will have worked their way through the various licences, starting with the private pilot’s licence. The flight tests to gain a licence are carried out with an independent examiner while day-to-day flight checks for an airline pilot are carried out by the airline.

    Find out more about learning to fly and the different types of licences are available