Recreational Certificate vs. RPL FAQs

What's the difference?

What else can I do with a RPL that I can't do with my RA-Aus Pilot Certificate?

Are the medical requirements different?

Are there any other hoops I need to jump through?

How do I get started?


So, what's the difference?

Recreational Aviation Australia Ltd. continues to issue Pilot Certificates under an exemption to the Civil Air Regulations. This has proven popular for purely recreational pilots who don't need the additional benefits and privileges of the PPL. With an RAAus issued certificate you can conduct similar flying but are restricted to 1 or 2 seat recreationally registered aircraft that have a total take-off weight limit of 600kgs.

You also can fly powered parachutes and Microlight weight shift trikes with the appropriate training and ratings which aren't covered by the RPL. The RPL allows you to carry additional passengers in suitable general aviation aircraft like some Cessnas, Pipers and Beech examples up to 1500kgs. One advantage of the RPL is that with additional training you can fly into or close to busy controlled aerodromes. Both options only allow flight in suitable visual flight conditions in daylight hours.

What else can I do with a RPL that I can't do with my RA-Aus. Pilot Certificate?

Other than controlled airspace and aerodrome access, you can add different endorsements such as aerobatics or specific design feature endorsements which may not be possible in recreational aircraft and fly some bigger faster aircraft, but really not that much more. To fly more than 25 nautical miles from your departing airport you still need to have additional navigation training as well.

Are the medical requirements different?

Yes. With an RPC issued by RAAus, you only need to maintain a medical standard equivalent to that required to drive a motor vehicle. This is confirmed by you as part of your initial membership declaration. However if you are over 75 years of age or have a known medical condition that's listed on our website, then a doctor needs to confirm your health standard with an annual examination and a written statement for RAAus records.

With the RPL, you need to hold as a minimum, a Recreational Aviation Medical known as a RAMP-C in order to be eligible for a CASA Licence. This can be completed by any general practitioner. There are ongoing examinations every 2 or 4 years depending on your age to ensure you continue to maintain these medical standards as well.

In either case, you as the pilot in command are responsible for ensuring you are fit to fly before every flight and maintain these standards. Use the IMSAFE checklist (Illness, Medication, Stress, Alcohol, Fatigue, Eating). You have an obligation to let the appropriate organisation know if you become unable to meet the health standard whether this is temporary or permanent. Certainly you should never fly if you aren't well!

Are there any other hoops I need to jump through?

Hmmm, glad you asked. With RAAus and getting your Pilot certificate-No; just do the training and pass the in house exams and a flight test. You will have to remain a member and pay a small annual renewal fee to continue to enjoy these privileges. Of course with either direction you take, you need to have a flight review conducted every 2 years to ensure you are still on top of your game when it comes to flying.

With the CASA RPL you need to do a few more things. You must be assessed for your English Language proficiency (AELP) by an approved examiner which relates specifically to aviation phraseology. You also need to have a special aviation security clearance conducted and be issued with a card known as an ASIC. Both these items have additional application costs and the ASIC must be maintained to keep your CASA licence.

Also because you will be entitled to carry more passengers you need to do additional training and examinations to confirm you understand how to load the aircraft safely. Also the aircraft systems in the larger aircraft are more complex and you will need to be competent on the additional systems before cleared to fly, this will normally be done throughout the training process.

So is all this going to cost more for the RPL?

Yes, clearly none of this is free, the additional costs are incurred by the applicant and the additional training as well as higher aircraft operating costs of bigger aircraft can add significantly greater costs to get in the air. Typically an RAAus Recreational certificate course will cost around $5-7K. The CASA RPL will be closer to $12-15K with higher ongoing costs as well.

OK- I'm sold how do I get started?

Great! You've already made the first step by being informed. RAAus has over 170 flight schools around Australia from you to choose from. Check out the Learn to Fly tab on this website and see the list of schools and clubs and get calling. One introductory flight and you'll be hooked!