A pilot license is necessary for operating an aircraft in a national airspace. The license indicates that the holder meets the prescribed qualification and experience requirements. Pilot licenses are issued by a national aviation authority.
To get a pilot license, it is necessary to undergo pilot training at a flight school. Prospective pilots can train for a license for a specific pilot level and a specific aircraft category. The license privilege levels are student, private, commercial and airline transport.
Aircraft categories include ultralight, glider, rotorcraft and airplane. These are further classified into airships and balloons, single and multi engines, land and water crafts, helicopters, and turbo jet engine planes. Specific skill endorsements like instrument rating, night flight, formation flying, stock-mustering and instructor training can also be obtained.
Different countries may have different eligibility requirements for getting started in flight training. A high school diploma, with math and physics, may be required, and there is also a minimum age requirement. To train for a student and private pilot license, a person has to be at least 16 years of age.
For the commercial pilot license, the minimum age limit is 17 years. There also may be an upper age limit for a commercial license. People who have acquired a commercial pilot license can apply to train for the airline transport level.
Anyone going for pilot training is required to pass a medical test beforehand. The medical test is conducted by an aviation medical examiner. The test is to ensure that the prospective student has good eyesight and no physical problems that will affect flight training.
Once this test has been passed, give some careful thought to the kind of flight training and license to be acquired. A pilot is only qualified in the category and class of aircraft that he or she gives their pilot exam in. A pilot with a multi-engine commercial aircraft training, for instance, is not legally permitted to fly a single-engined airplane.
It is a good idea to research different types of pilot schools and find a reputed flight academy. Get information about their instructors, planes, pilot training schedules and fees. Keep in mind that flight training expenses can be quite considerable.
In the course of the pilot training, do not hesitate to present any training related doubts or questions to the instructor. It's better to get things clarified than to risk any accidents. If the instructor is not obliging, ask for another one.
Licenses are awarded based on proficiency tests, written and oral, and on the number of flight hours. A private pilot license can be obtained after a minimum of 30-40 hours of flight experience. For a commercial pilot license, the requirement is at least 250 hours and for an airline transport pilot the requirement is 1500 hours.
The standards for issuing licenses are different around the world. For this reason, national pilot qualifications may not be internationally valid. A pilot trained in one country may have to retrain to qualify for working in another.