Commercial Pilot Licence – CPL(A)

The Commercial Pilot Licence (Aeroplane) – in short CPL(A)

Even with a private pilot’s licence (PPL), you are entitled to fly with passengers – but only if you are on private flights with family or friends, for example. As soon as you want to undertake commercial flights or work as a pilot, you need further qualifications in addition to the PPL and finally a commercial pilot’s licence, the CPL. With this licence in your pocket, you are then a professional pilot and are allowed to fly commercially with all machines that are certified for a pilot.

Requirements for the acquisition of a commercial pilot licence CPL or CPL(A)

Naturally, the requirements here are somewhat higher or more extensive than for the private pilot licence:

  • First you need a valid PPL, issued according to ICAO standards.
  • In addition, it makes sense to have at least a night flight rating, as otherwise you would have to complete this in parallel with your CPL training.
  • Furthermore, a Class I medical certificate from a recognised aviation physician is required. The general state of health, organ functions, eyesight or field of vision are assessed more strictly here than for prospective private pilots. Caution: The so-called medical must not be too old – a maximum of twelve months, and only six months after reaching the age of 60, just like for active commercial pilots over 40. Also required:
  • English radiotelephony certificate (BZF I)
  • flight experience of at least 150 hours
  • a clean criminal record (Germany) or criminal record (Austria)
  • no significant entries in the German central traffic register

If all these points are fulfilled, you can directly enter the theoretical part of the training for the commercial pilot licence. Training can begin before the age of 18, but the licence is only issued after the age of majority.

Commercial Pilot Training with CPL(A)

The theory of the training covers more or less the same topics as the private pilot training, but goes into much more depth. You will notice this when you look at the minimum amount of instruction. Here it is 250 hours compared to 100 for the PPL(A). You will learn these contents:

  • General aircraft knowledge from instruments to systems and engines to airframe
  • Aerodynamics
  • Flight planning, performance and flight operational procedures
  • Radio navigation and general navigation
  • Air law
  • Meteorology
  • human performance and
  • radiotelephony

Most of the time, you have the option of completing the majority of the hours in a distance learning course. Only about 50 to 60 hours are then spent in classroom training. You have a total of up to 18 months before the theoretical examination by the aviation authority.

Only after successfully passing the theory test may you begin the practical CPL training. The number of flying hours is manageable and ranges between 15 and 25 flying hours.

The amount of time depends on whether you already hold an instrument rating or not.

Important: In order to make your commercial pilot training as efficient as possible, you should start thinking about the later planned use of your CPL(A) at an early stage:

As a rule, as a professional pilot you always need the instrument rating. In addition, you will most likely not only fly single-engine aircraft, but also need the MEP – Multi Engine Piston for multi-engine aircraft. All this adds up to a CPL/IR MEP and can land you a few pilot jobs. Now you may

  • single-engine or multi-engine machines
  • with a maximum take-off mass of 12.5t
  • also fly at night or according to instruments,
  • if only one pilot is required (single pilot).

Conversely, this means that you are not allowed to fly a large Airbus or a Boeing. You don’t even get the rating for it, but you are still allowed to go on board as a First Officer (FO).

For better job opportunities – or if you are planning a path towards an airline transport pilot and airline transport pilot licence (ATPL) anyway – it can make sense to extend the CPL(A) training in a modular way. In this case, you will also complete the ATPL theory, which is only slightly more extensive, and also qualify for use in multi-person cockpits (MCC). This so-called “frozen ATPL” allows you a type rating for the large Airbus or Boeing aircraft and you can then also go into the cockpit there as a co-pilot.

With the necessary flying hours, the path to the commercial pilot licence is then only a very short one.