With the recent developments in microlight aircraft more and more pilots are looking to convert their existing PPLs to the NPPL(M) or to fly fixed wing microlights on their existing licences.
The benefits of the modern fixed wing microlights are obvious. Not least the enormous cost savings with hire rates from £50 per hour wet and second hand fixed wing aircraft available from as little as £4000. The performance of the Ikarus C42 is comparable to a Cessna 152 with a fraction of the running costs. The aircraft are also more modern and offer more space and comfort than the bottom end Cessnas and other similar aircraft. Add to that the short field performance of these aircraft as well as their acceptance into the larger airfields and airports the scope is enormous. Of course you can enjoy the best of both worlds by adding an SSEA (Simple Single Engine Aircraft) rating to your NPPL with as little as 5 hours training, making the fixed wing microlight route a viable and cheaper way of obtaining your LAPL.
For most people some type-specific differences training will be required. This can take as little as an hour but of course will depend on previous experience and aptitude. For those who will require a General Skills Test you can expect further training to ensure you are up to speed on what will be required of you in the test.
You can either fly a microlight under the privileges offered by a valid JAR-FCL Pilot Licence or a UK PPL (A) or you can opt for an NPPL. The NPPL route will involve a GST and Ground Oral Exam but can offer benefits.
Why might I want to change my licence to an NPPL?:
The factors that will influence this decision are mainly what you want to do with your flying in the future. You cannot add an instrument rating to an NPPL and hours flown on an NPPL do not count towards hours for a commercial licence. However if your flying is VFR and you are flying the SSEA type of aircraft then an NPPL is a good option. You can maintain your hours for SSEA by flying microlights as long as you complete at least one hour on each type that you wish to keep valid.
You must have flown at least 12 hours in the last 24 months six of which must have been within the last 12 months. A minimum of 8hrs must be PIC and you must have flown a minimum of 1hr with an instructor. To maintain different type ratings you must have a minimum of one hour PIC on each type you wish to revalidate.
Assuming you want to take advantage of the cost saving benefits offered by the modern fixed wing microlight aircraft and the benefits of maintaining an NPPL(M) you are going to need to do a GST and ground oral exam. The amount of training required to do this will depend entirely upon personal ability and will typically range from four hours to ten hours with most current pilots passing their GST in somewhere around six hours.
You can exchange your JAR-FCL Pilot licence (Aeroplanes) or your UK PPL (A) for an NPPL (SSEA) however you will loose any additional ratings such as IMC or FI(A). To fly a microlight on an NPPL you will still need to complete a GST and Ground Oral exam.
There is a detailed break down of all the licence allowances for the NPPL on the NPPL web site Licence Allowances section.
If you have any questions or would like to know more then feel free to call the office or pop in to the office to discuss your options further.