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UK Civil Aviation Regulations

These are published by the CAA on our UK Regulations pages. EU Regulations and EASA Access Guides published by EASA no longer apply in the UK. Our website and publications are being reviewed to update all references. Any references to EU law and EASA Access guides should be disregarded and where applicable the equivalent UK versions referred to instead.

Theoretical knowledge examination

As part of the application for a private pilot licence, you will need to take and pass exams in the following subject areas:

Common subjects

  • Air law
  • Human performance
  • Meteorology
  • Communications
  • Navigation

Exams specific to the aircraft category

  • Principles of flight
  • Operational procedures
  • Flight performance and planning
  • Aircraft general knowledge

Please note: Exams administered by the UK CAA are only available in English.

Although these exams are official CAA exams you will be able to take them at your training organisation. The exams are completed using a computer based online system. You will need to set up a CAA Customer Portal account to enable your flying school to book the exams for you and for you to access them when the time comes for you to sit them.

There are various text books produced which will cover the subject matter for each of the required examinations and these will be the core to your understanding of the subjects. The books are published by a variety of publishers and your flying school will almost certainly have a preference as to which you use, so it is worth talking to them before you invest in these.

It is not necessary to take all of the exams at the same time, often training organisations will suggest that you take them progressively throughout your training. There are other schools who specialise in teaching towards the Theoretical Knowledge exams and these will often provide a condensed course of training over much shorter period of time with the exams at the end of their training course. Whichever you choose, you must pass all of the examinations within 18 months, counted from the end of the calendar month in which you first attempted your first exam.

Before you may attempt any exams, you must have completed sufficient study in the subject(s) for the Head of Training of your Training Organisation to be satisfied that you are ready to attempt the relevant exam(s). The Head of Training must then record a recommendation for you to attempt the exams in your student training records.

A recommendation to take your exams from a Training Organisation will be valid for 12 months. After this time, if you have not taken at least one exam you will need another recommendation to take them.

To obtain this recommendation, further training may be required.

Validity of passed theoretical knowledge exams

The pass mark for all PPL examinations is 75%.

If you fail an exam you will need to undertake further training at your training organisation and how much re-training you will need will be at their discretion.

Once you have passed the Theoretical Knowledge (TK) exams, these are valid for 24 months from the date of the final pass for the initial issue of the PPL. Within these 24 months you must complete the flight training, pass the skill test and have your licence issued by the CAA, otherwise these exams will expire, and you will have to retake them.

Please see FCL.025 for more information related to exam validity.

Theoretical knowledge examination cross crediting

The theoretical knowledge exams for an Airline Transport Pilot Licence are the most comprehensive and therefore if you have passed these already they will be valid when applying for a LAPL, PPL or CPL in the relevant aircraft category.

ATPL (A) exams are also valid for the IR (A). However, the ATPL (H) exams do not include all the relevant material for instrument flying and you must take additional exams to obtain an IR (H).

All exam cross-credits are applicable as long as your passes are valid, as set out in the Validity of passed theoretical knowledge exams section above. You do not need to have obtained a licence in order for exam cross-crediting to apply.

Guidance on Professional Pilot Theoretical Knowledge Examinations

Related Information


All relevant European regulations such as Part- ARO, ORO, CAT, SPA, NCC, NCO, MED are available on the link shown below.

For Flight Crew Regulations please refer to the consolidated version Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011.

For other regulations such as Part-ORO, Part-ORA, please check the Air Operations regulations.

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