How Do Autopilot Systems Work On A Plane?

Let’s cover the basics and FAQs on how autopilot systems work on a plane.

What is Autopilot?

Autopilot systems on a plane involve computerised control inputs into the aircraft, reducing the workload on the pilot(s). Autopilot uses software to combine sensing elements, command elements and output elements. These monitor the aircraft and apply automated control for flight.

Software installed on an integrated computer designed to oversee and stabilise the altitude, speed, pitch and heading for the aircraft. By reducing the need for pilots to continuously fly the aircraft, it is less exhausting and intensive. The plane can often fly more efficiently – particularly over longer distances.

Autopilot systems on a plane can either maintain and hold their settings, such as straight and level. Alternatively, they can perform a cruise descent or a pre-programmed flight plan. Once a flight plane is entered, the autopilot software will oversee the multi-waypoint routes with integrated turns, climbs, descents and speeds.

When Do We Use Autopilot?

In commercial aircraft, it’s common to engage autopilot once the aircraft exceeds 500 to 1,000 feet above ground level. In general aviation (GA) and visual flight rules (VFR), pilots often turn autopilot on for navigational purposes.

Despite autopilot capabilities, pilots must retain full control of the aircraft through take-off and landing. That being said, modern autopilot systems are capable of allowing automated landings. Autopilot is also capable of disengaging and signalling to a pilot to take control of the aircraft.

How Does Autopilot Work?

In an aircraft fitted with autopilot, there are three categories of components that allow for software to oversee flight control. Central to this system is an autopilot computer to host software and a flight controller module for the pilot. Together, the computer and flight controller module form the command elements (plus radio and/or GPS navigation, if fitted).

The software monitors the aircraft’s sensing elements. This includes the directional and turn-and-bank indicator gyros, altitude indicator and altitude control. The software monitors aircraft positional indicators, heading and attitude. By monitoring the sensing elements, the control elements can then provide commands to the output elements. Any control inputs are sent to the output elements via electric signals to apply the appropriate corrective action.

 In 3-axis autopilot, the output elements include three servo actuators that control the ailerons, rudder and elevators. These motorised features can be controlled by the computer in the context of GPS and sensing elements. For example, if the wings are not level, the system receives a signal from the plane’s various indicators to apply corrective action. These then provide feedback to the computer so that the software can continuously monitor the aircraft.

Autopilot provides an aircraft with a system that oversees the flight components such as airspeed indication, accelerometers and navigation technology. When a pilot enters flight route information, the computer monitors the altitude and speed requirements along the route. This is using single-axis, two- or three-axis systems to control ailerons, rudders and elevators.

Is Putting the Plane on Autopilot Safe?

Aircraft should include a backup system in case autopilot fails. A pilot should always be on standby to take control of the aircraft if or when it is necessary. The safest combination for flight is a pilot who knows both the capabilities and limitations of the fitted autopilot system.

Autopilot is highly capable of detecting abnormal operations and analysing conditions and the required solutions. By making the necessary adjustments, the autopilot can reduce human error and ensure flight safety. Similarly, at any point, the pilot is capable of overriding the autopilot system and taking manual control of the aircraft.

Is Putting the Plane on Autopilot Safe?

Although autopilot makes an aircraft quite capable of automated flight, it requires human/pilot oversight for safety and best performance. This means its role in an aircraft is being a tool to assist the pilot’s workload management and control efficiencies. Similarly, a pilot can arguably fly better with autopilot. This makes a combination of pilot and autopilot safe for flight.

We hope this helps you understand how autopilot systems work on a plane!

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Aviation English: 10 Basic Aviation Terms Every Pilot Should Know

Brushing up on your aviation English? We’ve compiled 10 basic aviation terms that every pilot should know. Aviation English is the international language used by members of civil aviation across the world. If you aim to communicate effectively, you’ll need to use clear, concise language to coordinate with controllers and other pilots.

1. The ICAO Alphabet/International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet

The first on our Aviation English list is the alphabet itself. You can use this internationally-used phonetic alphabet to communicate efficiently and avoid misunderstandings between pilots and tower operators.

Let’s improve your Aviation English right now. The ICAO phonetic alphabet includes code words assigned to the entire 26 letters of the alphabet. Here’s the list so that you can practice:

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

2. Air Traffic Control

Air Traffic Control is a vital team of aviation specialists who monitor and manage aviation traffic. This includes all active aviation traffic – ground, inbound and departure. Air traffic controllers have a primary role in managing safe and orderly traffic flow inside and between airports.

There are three categories of air traffic controllers who work cooperatively to achieve this: tower controllers, terminal controllers and en route controllers. To help them do their job, it’s vital that pilots have clear, concise and confident communication skills in Aviation English.

3. Circuit

A circuit refers to the arrival and departure procedures of an airport or aerodrome. The circuit itself includes a take-off leg, a crosswind leg (perpendicular to the runway), a downwind leg (parallel to the runway), a base leg and then the final leg. The En Route Supplement Australia (ERSA), developed by Airservices Australia, is a primary source of information on airport procedures in circuits (or ‘in pattern’). Upon arrival, departure or inside the circuit, clear aviation English is paramount to safe and efficient flying.

4. Approach

The approach of an aircraft is the process and patterns within which the pilot manoeuvres the aircraft in anticipation of landing at its destination. An aircraft’s approach can be achieved through Visual Flight Rules (VFR) or Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). On approach, you follow a series of predetermined waypoints and altitudes to oversee the safe arrival on the destination runway.

5. Final Approach

A final approach is the last ‘leg’ of flight, generally before landing on the designated runway. The final approach may be a ‘straight in’ approach from a multi-waypoint inbound flight, or it may be a final approach as a continuation of the base leg in the circuit.

6. Controlled Airspace

Australian airspace architecture works on a system of classes. Classes A, C, D and E are all forms of controlled airspace. These classes are actively monitored and managed by Air Traffic Control (ATC).

As per Airservices Australia:

Class A: A high-level en route controlled airspace is used predominately by commercial and passenger jets. Only  IFR flights are permitted, and they require an ATC clearance. These flights are provided with an air traffic control service and are positively separated from each other.

Class C: This is the controlled airspace surrounding major airports. Both IFR and VFR flights are permitted and must communicate with air traffic control. IFR aircraft are positively separated from both IFR and VFR aircraft. VFR aircraft are provided traffic information on other VFR aircraft.

Class D:  This is the controlled airspace that surrounds general aviation and regional airports equipped with a control tower. All flights require ATC clearance.

Class E: This mid-level en route controlled airspace is open to both IFR and VFR aircraft. IFR flights are required to communicate with ATC and must request ATC clearance.

Class G: This airspace is uncontrolled. Both IFR and VFR aircraft are permitted, and neither requires ATC clearance.

Note: At towered airports, the class of airspace may change subject to the time of day.

7. Go-Around (Go Round)

A go-around is the abortion of an aircraft landing due to unfavourable circumstances. These circumstances could be the result of wind and weather conditions, visibility, aircraft performance or even as a result of an unserviceable runway. Upon closely approaching the runway for landing, a pilot performs a ‘go-around’ by applying power and cancelling the landing by continuing to fly another circuit for another attempt.

8. Visual Flight Rules (VFR)

Visual Flight Rules (VFR) include flights in conditions where the pilot uses visual references as a primary navigation and control technique for managing the aircraft. These Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) change, subject to the airspace. The Visual Flight Rules Guide by CASA is a useful tool for pilots who are preparing for VFR flights.

9. Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)

When VFR conditions are not met, Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) apply to the pilot and aircraft. Under IFR conditions, the aircraft must be adequately equipped for IFR conditions (Instrument Meteorological Conditions, IMC), and the pilot must have appropriate training and endorsements.

10. Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH)

The Pilot’s Operating Handbook (POH) is the pilot’s manual for the aircraft and operation. For a pilot looking to maintain skills and knowledge whilst operating the aircraft, the POH is fundamental. It’s a document developed by the aircraft manufacturer with all information considered important for the safe and effective operation of that aircraft.

At a minimum, a typical POH for aircraft will include the following:

  • – General information: An introduction to the POH, definitions and summary of performance specifications (gross weight, top speed, cruise, range, rate of climb, stall speeds, total fuel capacity, total unusable fuel, fuel types and engine power.
  • – Operational Limits: Airspeed limitations, ceiling, flight load factors, prohibited manoeuvres, passenger weight limitations, powerplant limitations, indicator markings etc.
  • – Emergency Procedures: Recommended procedures for fire, electrical failure, voltage regulator failure, malfunctions, emergency landings and unusual flight conditions.
  • – Normal Procedures: Preflight inspection, engine start, taxiing, take-off (normal, obstacle, soft field), climb, cruise, descent and approach, landing (normal, obstacle, balked), shutdown.
  • – Flight Performance: Airspeed calibration, stall speeds, take-off and climb performance, landing performance, cruise performance.
  • – Weight and Balance Equipment List: Operating weights and loading, installed equipment list, sample loading problems, loading graphics, flight envelope.
  • – Description of Aircraft and Systems: Powerplant summary, aircraft specifications, aircraft three view, instrument panel, electrical system, fuel system.
  • – Aircraft Group Handling and Servicing: Torques, fuel, oil, coolant, spark plugs, exhaust, tyres and tubes, wing removal/installation, towing, tie-down, cleaning and care.
  • – Supplements: Additional information, such as a flight training supplement.

The POH will also include contact information for the manufacturer and support, compliance standards (design, construction, airworthiness, POH standard) and a revision summary for the POH.

Every pilot should aim to develop and expand their vocabulary to include commonly-used terminology in the industry and profession.

That’s a wrap! We hope these ’10 basic aviation terms every pilot should know’ are useful in improving your aviation English!

Did you know that we have free flight training videos available on our YouTube channel? Check out the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe, so you get notified when new videos go live! 👇

FAQs About Obtaining Your Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

These Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) FAQs are the perfect place for any pilot to start. Imagine getting up and heading to work, knowing that flying will be on the agenda today. Imagine replacing the everyday drone of keyboards and office phones with the rumble of an aircraft engine starting up. Look out your window next time you’re at work – wouldn’t the view be better from 5,000, 10,000 or 30,000 feet?

They say to do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life, so if you’re looking to turn your love for aviation into a career, it’s time to get your Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL). Let’s answer some FAQs.  

What does obtaining my CPL allow me to do?

The biggest Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) FAQ! Obtaining a Commercial Pilot Licence allows you to fly professionally, meaning you can get paid to fly. It allows you to explore the wide range of different career paths a pilot might take. From flying scenic charters to doing mail runs to remote outback communities, from crop-dusting in the agricultural industry to captaining flights on the world’s biggest airlines, all of these exciting careers begin in the same place; obtaining your CPL.

What does getting my CPL involve?

To begin your CPL, you must have already completed your Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) and your Private Pilot Licence (PPL). These licence programs will teach you how to fly a plane and how to navigate between two locations efficiently and safely. Once you have these qualifications, you’re ready to start your CPL training.

What practical and theoretical training do I have to do?

The first step in obtaining your CPL is to complete the theory component. There are 7 CPL theory exams that you must pass to move onto the flight training component, covering important areas of knowledge for a career in aviation.

Your CPL theory syllabus will include:

  • – Aircraft General Knowledge
  • – Meteorology
  • – Flight Rules & Air Law
  • – Navigation
  • – Human Factors
  • – Aerodynamics
  • – Performance
  • With your theory completed, it’s time for the fun stuff; flight training. Here you’ll get into the cockpit of the Diamond DA40 (and the AL42 Flight Simulator) for a number of training elements, including navigational exercises and a refresher on instrument flying. You’ll also have to build your hours up both with an instructor and solo. You’ll need to log at least 150 flying hours in total before your flight test, 70 of which need to be flown solo as a Pilot in Command (PIC).

With your hours logged, you’re almost there! Your instructor will take you for one final navigational flight to ensure you’re ready for the CPL flight test. The final flight test will require you to demonstrate all the skills you’ve learned and is completed with the CASA testing officer. Upon completion of this final step, you’ll be awarded your Commercial Pilot Licence – your first step into a career in aviation!

Can I Study CPL in Australia if I’m From Overseas?

Absolutely you can! Learn to Fly offers a Diploma of Aviation qualification, through which international students can apply for a student visa to study in Australia.

The pilot training industry in Australia is widely regarded as being of world-class standard, with pilots coming from around the world to study here. What’s more, the uncrowded skies and predominantly sunny weather make Australia an ideal spot for you to do your training!

Do I Need to Study the Bachelor of Aviation?

No. In fact, we don’t recommend you begin your flight training by doing a Bachelor of Aviation – it’s usually far more expensive and will take you longer to achieve your goals.

If you’re looking to begin a career in aviation, especially in the airline industry, we strongly suggest you take the following pathway:

  1. 1. Study & obtain your Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)
  2. 2. Study & obtain your Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating (MECIR)
  3. 3. Study & obtain your Flight Instructor Rating (FIR)
    1. This will allow you to work as a flight instructor, a fantastic addition to your resume
  4. 4. Once you’ve obtained the above qualifications, you can now undertake the Bachelor of Aviation while accumulating flying hours at the same time.

By following this pathway, at the end of 4 years, you will not only have a CPL, MECIR & Bachelor’s Degree, but also an FIR and a few hundred flying hours to your name. You’ll be ready to apply to airlines immediately.

Do You Offer Any Finance Options?

We sure do! We offer VET Student Loans for all our Diploma programs to enable financial assistance to prospective pilots.

VET Student Loans (VSL) is an Australian Commonwealth Government loan program that provides eligible, full-fee-paying students with assistance in paying their tuition fees for approved courses of study. This allows students to obtain qualifications and then gradually repay the loan over time whilst working in their chosen career.

Learn to Fly is a proud VSL-approved course provider. You can read more information here.

I’ve completed my CPL. What Next?

Need more than the above Commercial Pilot Licence FAQs? Well, like any job, building your skills will make your resumé more appealing to aviation employers. More ratings and endorsements mean you’re a more appealing candidate. There is a wide range of ratings and endorsements you can pursue to boost your employability – all while learning important new skills.

Some of our most popular endorsements include:

These should answer the most commonly asked Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) FAQs! There is a wide range of incredible training options on offer at Learn to Fly. Whether you’re looking to jumpstart your aviation career or take it in a new direction – we’ve got the solution for you.

Did you know that we have a free pilot licence and flying lesson videos available on our YouTube channel? Check out the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe, so you get notified when new videos go live! 👇

Top 5 Tips for Flying Into Moorabbin Airport with LTF Instructor Summer Russell

Our very own LTF Grade 2 Instructor Summer Russell has been featured in the latest Victorian edition of the Australian Women Pilots’ Association (AWPA) newsletter. In her article, she shares her top 5 tips for flying into Moorabbin Airport.

On the AWPA, Summer says:

“I first connected with the AWPA Victorian Branch in 2017 when I was looking for guidance as I begun flight training. With no connections in the industry at the time, they were a huge support for me and have continued to guide and support me to this day. It is such a great network of women – for anybody interested in connecting I could not recommend them more”

Fantastic work Summer! Original AWPA article below:

Summer Russell is a Grade 2 Instructor at Learn to Fly Melbourne. In this issue she runs through some simple, effective tips for flying into Moorabbin Airport.

Moorabbin Airport’s reputation precedes itself. With over 700 aircraft operating out of the aerodrome each day, it is one of Australia’s busiest airports. For those flying into Moorabbin for the first time it can be a daunting experience. But with the right preparation it doesn’t need to be.

Moorabbin is unique in many ways, from its parallel runways, inbound/outbound procedures and circuit operations, to its complex taxi clearances. Taking a pragmatic approach to your preparation is key. As a Flight Instructor working out of the airport, I see these operations daily. After years of experience, there are 5 top tips I have found most useful for those unfamiliar with the aerodrome.

1. Read up

As for any new aerodrome one of the most important pre flight components is to read the airports ERSA page. Due to a multitude of unique operations it is easy to miss crucial information regarding wingspan limitations, noise abatement procedures, inbound points, circuit operations and many more. Reading the ERSA carefully will give you confidence on arrival into Moorabbin.

In addition to the ERSA entry there is also a Melbourne Basin Guide published by CASA which gives a more in-depth discussion of the arrival, departure and circuit procedures.

2. Avoid arriving on the eastern side

Due to the use of parallel runways, aerodrome operations are separated to arrivals and departures east and west. While it is not stated specifically in the ERSA, VFR circuit training is done on the eastern side of the airport. This means there will often be 6 aircraft practicing circuits in addition to other inbound and outbound aircraft.

I suggest, instead of trying to navigate these busy operations, flying for an inbound point on the western side, or requesting an overfly (of which procedures are in line with overfly procedures at most Class D aerodromes) is a much easier alternative.

3. Start listening to YMMB tower prior to arrival at your inbound point

This is something I teach all my students, especially those new to Moorabbin. If you have dual comms available don’t be afraid to monitor the appropriate tower frequency a few minutes prior to your arrival. The frequencies tend to be busy, so it will allow you to gain situational awareness of other inbound and outbound aircraft. In addition, you will know what clearance to expect.

4. Say “unfamiliar” on arrival

This seems like a simple tip. However, it is rare that I hear a pilot state that they are unfamiliar when making initial contact with Moorabbin Tower. No matter how prepared you are for your arrival it is always a good idea to let the tower know that this is your first time at the aerodrome. This allows the controllers to direct you clearly throughout your approach and taxi clearances.

5. If you are unsure, ask!

Too often at Moorabbin pilots will falsely assume they have their traffic in sight, are aligned with the correct runway, or are crossing a taxiway when it is in fact another runway. These mistakes are common, and happen to even the most competent pilots, especially at complex aerodromes such as Moorabbin.

An easy fix for this is to simply ask. If you don’t understand your instructions, don’t see your traffic, or can’t find your runway communicate this to the tower as best you can and they will be there to assist. It is important to remember that Moorabbin is a training airport. Therefore, the controllers are used to pilots who aren’t 100% confident. They are more than happy to help you if you need it.

Our social media offers free flight training videos and much more – so, give us a follow at https://linktr.ee/learntoflymelbourne


FAQs About Obtaining Your Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL)

Always wanted to fly recreationally, but not sure how to take steps and make it a reality? The Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) is your first pilot licence, and where every pilot’s aviation training journey begins.

During a recreational pilot training course you will learn the fundamentals of how to taxi, take off, fly, and safely land an aircraft. The course consists of both practical and theoretical training, eventually flying solo, and finally completing the RPL flight test.

Once you have your RPL, you can continue with further training if you want. The next licence is the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and then, if you want to fly professionally, you can continue on to Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) training.

The following frequently asked questions give you some more insight into the RPL process and requirements.

What are the general requirements for being able to obtain a Recreational Pilot Licence?

To obtain a Recreational Pilot Licence, you need to:

– Be at least 16 years old
– Have a current CASA issued medical certificate
– Build 20 hours in flight training with a flight instructor and 5 hours solo flying
– Pass an aeronautical theory exam and a flight test in a CASA approved aircraft in the presence of a CASA approved flight examiner.

Whilst you must be 16 years old to obtain the licence, you can actually start the training earlier than that. You must be at least 15 years old to fly solo (without an instructor).

How long is the training process?

The time it takes pilots to complete the RPL varies. Generally, if you decide to complete full time recreational pilot training (meaning flying and studying 4-5 days per week) you could be finished with your training within 4-6 weeks. Part time training will depend on exactly how much time you have available, but flying 1-2 days per week you will likely be finished in approximately 4-6 months.

What does a Recreational Pilot Licence allow me to do?

A Recreational Pilot Licence allows you to fly a single-engine aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of 1500kgs up to 25nm from your departure aerodrome, in Visual Flight Rules (VFR) conditions. You can carry up to three passengers, as long as you hold at least a Class II medical certificate.

If you are looking to fly further or carry more passengers, you will need to continue on to Private Pilot Licence training.

What theoretical training do I have to do?

You will need to complete the Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) Theory course, which is broken in to the following subject areas:

– Aerodynamics
– General Aircraft Knowledge
– Human Factors
– Meteorology
– Air Law
– Navigation
– Flight Planning and Performance

You don’t have to complete the theory and practical syllabus at the same time. It’s possible to complete the RPL theory as a standalone course and then organise to complete the practical RPL flight training components separately.

We offer our standalone RPL theory course in a range of delivery methods including face to face or online. Completing the theory course online often works well for overseas pilots, as they can study theory in their home country and then only have to come to Australia to complete the practical flight training.

How do I maintain my licence?

After being approved for your licence, you are required to have a flight review with an Instructor every 2 years. If you are planning on flying with a passenger, you must have completed 3 take-offs and landings in the last 90 days.

It is of course recommended that you fly regularly (at least one hour per month). This is so you can ensure your general handling skills and emergency procedures are maintained. It’s essential that you keep your flight skills fresh to make sure you are safe in the air.

Are there any medical requirements?

There are some medical requirements for recreational pilots, but less than what is required to be a professional pilot. CASA requires that you obtain a medical certificate, but there are options.

You can fly on what is known as a Basic Class 2 medical certificate. This must be issued by an appropriate medical practitioner. The standards for this are similar to those required to drive a motor vehicle commercially. A Basic Class 2 medical certificate does have some operational restrictions though. To avoid this you require a standard Class 2 medical certificate, which must be issued by a Designated Aviation Medical Examiner (DAME).

There may be further medical requirements you need to meet if you have pre-existing health conditions or are over the age of 75.

For more information on recreational pilot training, get in touch with one of our Learn to Fly Flight Training Specialists. We can help to find the best way to get your flight training journey started.

Did you know that we have free Recreational and Private Pilot Licence flying lesson videos available on our YouTube channel? Check out the video below and don’t forget to subscribe so you get notified when new videos go live! 👇

What Qualifications Do I Need to Become a Pilot?

There are many pathways to becoming a fully qualified pilot. There are also plenty of different types of pilots. Therefore, the qualification you choose to pursue — be it a Recreational Pilot Licence or a Diploma of Aviation — really comes down to what your long-term aviation goals are and the amount of time you have to dedicate to your dreams.

Here at Learn to Fly, we think there’s no better job than that of a pilot. Imagine getting paid to explore the skies. Your office is the clouds, your desk chair is the cockpit, not to mention your office view! Now, let’s find out about what qualifications different pilot types need.

Types of pilots

Not all pilots are qualified to control all types of aircraft. Several classifications dictate the type of plane you can fly, how far you can venture from your departure point, and the conditions you are able to fly in.

Firstly, let’s look at the simplest pathway to earning the title of ‘pilot.’

A Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) is the first step in the journey for any pilot. If your main goal is to just get up into the air and experience the sensation of being in control of a small light plane, the Recreational Pilot Licence is for you. This licence is the most basic licence, and RPL holders must stay within 25 nautical miles of their departure aerodrome.

Next in the progression of pilot classifications, we have the Private Pilot Licence (PPL). The PPL builds on skills learned during RPL training, and then adds navigation. The PPL qualification enables you to both plan and conduct flights anywhere in Australia.

Finally, there is the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), ideal for those who dream of becoming a professional pilot. Having obtained your CPL, you will be able to pursue a number of different pilot career paths. These include airline pilot, cargo pilot, agricultural pilot, flight instructor, as well as many others.

I want to become a full-time pilot: what do I need to do?

To fly professionally you will need a CPL. One of the best ways to get your CPL and fulfil your dream of becoming a full-time pilot is with a Diploma of Aviation course.

The AVI50219 Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Aeroplane) course follows CASA’s Commercial Pilot Licence syllabus, with the added bonus of additional subjects to help best prepare you for the competitive aviation industry. Upon completion of the course, students will receive both a Commercial Pilot Licence and a Diploma certification.

The course is run at Moorabbin Airport in Melbourne and takes approximately 60 weeks of full-time study. This includes flight training hours, hours in our state-of-the-art full cockpit flight simulators, and onsite theory classes. Students must be at least 18 years old, meet English language standards, and have passed an aviation medical exam.

Learn To Fly Australia is proud to be a VET Student Loans approved course provider (RTO 45684) for the AVI50219 Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Aeroplane) course.

Wherever you’re from and whatever your background, the Diploma of Aviation is an excellent option to consider. It provides a fantastic pathway to those looking to pursue their passion and enjoy a full-time aviation career. We also offer the AVI50519 Diploma of Aviation (Instrument Rating) course, which is highly recommended as an additional step before starting your career – as well as an articulation pathway towards achieving the Bachelor of Aviation with Griffith University.

Why Learn to Fly?

Learn to Fly is one of Australia’s leading flight schools. We offer a broad range of courses to meet the needs of every type of aviation student. We are passionate about making flight training affordable and accessible with modern aircraft, state-of-the-art facilities, and highly experienced flight instructors.

Our instructors train everyone from hobbyists to professional pilots:

– Flexible course options to ensure everyone can achieve their aviation aspirations
– Realistic pathways allowing students to achieve their flying goals.
– Diverse international student base
– Student accommodation facilities located just 15 minutes from our Moorabbin Airport training base

For more information about our Diploma of Aviation courses as well as information on how to enrol, contact our Learn to Fly flight training specialists today.

Thinking of Learning to Fly? Here’s What You Need to Know!

Are you thinking of learning to fly? Regardless of your final goal, it’s important to do your research before you start. There are questions you should ask yourself before looking at flying schools. And then, when you are looking at flying schools, it’s important to know what to look for. In this blog, we’ve put together some handy information to make doing your research easier. Here’s what you need to know.

What is my reason for wanting to learn to fly?

If you are thinking of learning to fly, the first thing to consider is why you are doing it. What is your goal? Are you wanting to simply experience flying, or maybe experience solo flight? Do you want to fly for a career, or fly for fun? If you are flying for fun, how far do you want to fly?

The answer to these questions will help you choose the right course pathway. Also, it will help you choose between flying schools.

If you want to fly for fun but aren’t 100% sure if you’ll like it, you can look at a beginner course. Our beginner courses include the Learn To Fly Starter Set and Learn To Fly First Solo Flight Course. Beginner courses introduce you to flying, without the commitment of a full pilot licence course. Any training you do in a beginner course will be counted if you do decide to continue your training.

If you are ready to commit to a licence, a Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) teaches you the basics and allows you to fly up to 25nm from your departure aerodrome. A Private Pilot Licence (PPL) adds navigation and allows you to fly anywhere in Australia. If you want to fly for a career, you’ll need a Commercial Pilot License / Licence (CPL).

Want to get a taste of flying first before committing to any of the courses? Start with a TIF (Trial Instructional Flight, also known as a Trial Introductory Flight).

A TIF (Trial Instructional Flight or Trial Introductory Flight) is a great way to start learning to fly!

Should I do a TIF (Trial Instructional Flight) first?

Regardless of your ultimate goal in learning to fly, a TIF (Trial Instructional Flight) is a great first step. A TIF is a short flying experience, often 30 or 60mins in duration. It allows you to take the controls of an aircraft under the guidance of an instructor.

This is great for people wanting to know what it feels like to control an aircraft. You can then decide if you want to continue your training with a beginner or pilot licence course. It can also be handy for pilots that might have already flown, but want to see what flying a different aircraft type is like.

How do I choose between flying schools?

There are many flying schools out there, especially in a large city like Melbourne. Choosing the right one is very important, and could be the difference between your failure and success as a pilot. It will also impact how much you enjoy your flying lessons.

So, how do you choose? Here are some key things to look for when considering flying schools:

1. Convenient location
2. Wide range of courses
3. A range of aircraft to choose from
4. Experienced instructors, including Grade 1 instructors
5. Good facilities, including simulators
6. Flexible training options (on-site and distance/online learning)
7. A range of payment options

We tick all of these boxes above – click here to check out our blog on why you should choose to fly with us.

Our YouTube channel offers a great variety of free online training content, including RPL/PPL flying lessons!

What aircraft should I choose to fly?

There are a few things to consider when choosing which aircraft to fly. There are traditional aircraft like the Cessna 172 or more modern aircraft like the Sling 2 LSA or Diamond DA40.

Traditional aircraft are generally older and have analogue controls/avionics. Modern aircraft are usually fitted out with glass cockpit avionics, which means they include an electronic flight system like the Garmin G1000.

Aircraft availability is worth considering when learning to fly, both during your training and after your training is complete. The aircraft cost is also a factor, as the overall pilot course cost will depend on the cost of the aircraft.

Click here to check out our aircraft fleet.

How much does pilot training cost?

The answer to “how much does pilot training cost” obviously depends on the course you are doing. However, there are other factors to consider as well.

The pilot course cost is generally dictated by the length of the course and therefore how many flying lesson hours there are. Also though, different aircraft cost different amounts to fly and maintain. So, the aircraft you choose will also have an impact on the pilot course cost.

A good flight school will offer payment options. The majority of our courses offer the option to purchase a course package or “pay as you fly”. A course package covers the entire course and has most of your required expenses included. The pay as you fly option is as it sounds – you pay for each flying lesson, theory lesson or exam as you progress.

Many of our course packages can be paid for in interest free instalments via SplitIt. This allows you to split the pilot course cost over monthly payments. Click here to read more about SplitIt.

What are the pilot prerequisites for learning to fly?

Before you start learning to fly, there are pilot prerequisites that you need to meet. These depend on what course you are doing. For example, a pilot licence course will require that you get an Aviation Reference Number (ARN), complete an aviation medical check and meet English proficiency standards.

Age is another consideration. Whilst technically there is no minimum age to attend a flying lesson, you must be at least 15 to fly solo. You must be at least 15 to obtain a Recreational Pilot Certificate (RPC), 16 to obtain your Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL), 17 to obtain a Private Pilot Licence (PPL), and 18 to obtain a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL).

There are no set pilot prerequisites for a TIF (Trial Instructional Flight or Trial Introductory Flight), but there are recommendations to consider, such as your general health.

Are there differences in pilot licences in Australia to pilot licences overseas?

The structure of pilot licences overseas compared to Australia is quite similar. You may however find some differences in the exact names or the terminology. This is something to keep an eye out for when researching about learning to fly in Australia.

The USA, for example, has both a Sport Pilot and Recreational Pilot Certificate or License, and these are comparable to Australia’s Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL), but with some differences. The USA also has the Private Pilot License and Commercial Pilot License which are again very similar to their Australian PPL and CPL. You may find that overseas licences are called “Certificates” in some countries.

Another note on terminology. Pilot licences in Australia are spelt with a “c” rather than “s” like overseas. For example, Commercial Pilot License in the USA, and Commercial Pilot Licence in Australia.

Want to find out more about learning to fly? Get in touch by email to [email protected] or schedule a meeting and school tour at https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting today! Don’t forget to click the button below and subscribe to our YouTube channel where we have a great range of flight training content, as well as free RPL/PPL flying lesson videos!


Top Tips to Prepare You for Solo Flight Training

Your first solo flight training experience is an incredibly exciting moment. It can also be quite nerve-wracking though. It’s natural that you might feel a little anxious about what’s about to happen. After all, you’ll be the one in complete control of the cockpit. If anything unexpected happens, it will be your skills and cool, calm head that needs to find a solution.

However, most people find that once they’re safely up in the air, that anxiety turns to complete exhilaration. You’ve been training for this moment for a while now. You know what you are doing, and you’ve finally achieved your dream of flying an aircraft solo!

Here at Learn to Fly, we’ve provided countless students with the skills and confidence they need to safely take to the skies in a solo capacity. In fact, we’ve built a whole course around it — our very popular Learn to Fly First Solo Flight Course. As part of your training, our experienced team will provide you with several strategies you can implement to make solo flight training as enjoyable as possible. Here are some of the top tips:

Be patient

Depending on your age, skills, background, and experience, getting to the point where you feel comfortable undertaking solo flight training may take some time. This is completely understandable; remember how strange it felt getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time without an instructor? And your feet were firmly planted on the ground!

Be patient with yourself and your instructor when preparing for your first solo flight. Flying is a difficult skill. It requires physical finesse and a certain level of theoretical knowledge. Building this skillset takes time. With patience though, along with passion, dedication, and support from the right flying school, you’ve got the best chance of getting there.

Ask questions

Learn to Fly’s First Solo Flight Course is specifically designed to develop your skills to the point where your instructor feels comfortable letting you take to the skies on your own. It involves 15 flight training hours, and these will be flown with an instructor by your side until you are ready.

You should aim to ask as many questions as possible about the plane you’re in, the role and responsibilities of a pilot, and how to handle unexpected, emergency situations. There is no such thing as a silly question. In fact, you’ll be left feeling pretty silly if you don’t ask something and are later left still wondering when you’re in control of the aircraft.

Learn to Fly’s team of experienced and dedicated instructors are as passionate about teaching as they are about flying. They’ll be more than happy to answer any and all of your questions, so ask away!

Don’t rush

Mistakes are usually made because we don’t give ourselves enough time to fully think through a situation. This is true in all contexts but is particularly important regarding solo flight training.

Your flight instructor will only okay you to fly solo if they truly believe you are ready. Once you’ve got that tick of approval, you can be confident that your skills and knowledge are up to the task of being in command of the cockpit.

The trick is to not let nerves get the better of you. Your instructor has confidence in you, so you should have confidence in yourself. Don’t allow anxiety to dictate how quickly you move through your pre-flight checklist. And don’t let nerves tell you that you’re going to have difficulty making the landing. Trust in your training and knowledge, and everything will go smoothly.

If you find yourself rushing, take a moment to look out the window, enjoy the view, and acknowledge that you’re a solo pilot. Not many people can say they’ve had that experience!

Enjoy yourself!

Finally, remember to enjoy yourself. You’ve put in a lot of time, effort, and study to get to this point. Maybe this is the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. Or perhaps it’s only the first step in going on to obtain your Recreational Pilot Licence, Private Pilot Licence, or Commercial Pilot Licence. Maybe one day you’ll be piloting a jet airliner, and you will look back and remember that very first time you took to the skies on your own!

Here at Learn to Fly, we are passionate about helping our students fulfil their dreams. We know that flying can be both exciting and overwhelming, which is why we recommend our First Solo Flight Course for those looking to commence solo flight training. The course is designed to provide you with all the practical and theoretical skills required to safely take-off, handle the aircraft in the air, and then safely touch down again. Our students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are equally as passionate as you about achieving their aviation goals.

Solo Flight Training Student Pilot

Contact our friendly team today to find out more about our course options and programs.


Frequently Asked Questions About Flight Training

If you’ve never flown a plane before, the idea of being the person in control of the cockpit might seem like a far off dream. Pilots are cool, calm, and collected — it can seem like they were born to take to the skies. In reality, they’ve just spent a lot of time training and have the confidence, skills, and knowledge to take on any and all situations. Anybody new to flying will have a lot questions about flight training.

Before even signing up to flight training in Australia, it pays to do your research. The pathway to achieving your goal can be quite different depending on what that goal is. Here at Learn to Fly, we’ve helped countless people with a range of different goals fulfil their dream of taking to the skies.

For some, a Trial Introductory Flight (TIF) is all they need to tick an item off their bucket list. For others, their goal of flying for fun might see them looking towards a Private Pilot Licence. If you want to fly professionally one day, a Commercial Pilot Licence or Diploma of Aviation is your pathway to success.

Whatever your aviation aspirations are, Learn to Fly is here to help. Here, we answer some of the most common questions about flight training. If, after reading this article, you still have any questions, you can always get in touch with one of our flight training specialists.

How old do I have to be to fly?

This is by far one of the most common questions that people ask. Here at Learn to Fly, we’re proud to offer a full range of flight packages and experiences designed to help people of all ages achieve their dreams.

As per regulations set out by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), you must be at least 15 to fly an aircraft solo. You can commence flight training prior to this, but until you are 15 you will always need to fly with an instructor. You need to be 16 to obtain a Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL), 17 to obtain a Private Pilot Licence (PPL), and 18 to obtain a Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL).

If you are younger than 15, our Trial Introductory Flight (TIF) is the perfect opportunity to experience what it is like to fly a plane before deciding on whether you want to commit to further training. We also offer a range of simulation packages, which provide an enjoyable, realistic experience for all ages.

What are the steps to becoming a professional pilot?

This is one of the most common questions about flight training. To fly professionally, you will need to obtain your CPL. To start on CPL training you must first have completed and obtained your RPL and PPL.

For pilots who are yet to start any training, a great option is the AVI50219 Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot Licence – Aeroplane) course. This course includes RPL, PPL and CPL training as well as additional learning aimed at better preparing pilots for entering the industry once they graduate. This course is also approved for VET Student Loans (VSL) for eligible students. This means that you can train now, and only need to start paying back your course fees once you are earning money.

Once you have obtained your CPL, you are able to work professionally as a pilot. Depending on what kind of pilot role you want to work in, it may be of benefit to complete further training, like an Instrument Rating for example.

Learn To Fly has a range of additional Rating and Endorsement courses that allow you to upskill and give yourself the best chance at landing your dream pilot job.

Are there any prerequisites I must meet to fly?

As mentioned, CASA has a minimum age limit on who can undertake solo flights. There are a number of other prerequisites that must be met before completing flight training in Australia. These include a medical check, security clearance, Aviation English Language Proficiency (AELP) test, and registering for an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) with CASA.

You can contact Learn to Fly if you have any questions about how to meet the requirements to fly.

What aviation careers are available to me?

Many people become pilots with the dream of flying for an international airline, but that is not the only option. In reality, there are actually a wide range of career paths that pilots can choose from. You might choose to ferry cargo from one airport to another. Perhaps you’re interested in pursuing a career in the medical aviation industry, which is a very worthy endeavour. There are also always openings for agricultural pilots.

One of the best pilot career options is to become a Flight Instructor. Becoming a Flight Instructor is a rewarding career path on its own. In addition, it can be a fantastic stepping stone to another role, as it allows you to build flying hours and experience while you earn money.

Learn to Fly is passionate about helping all our students achieve their dreams, while also opening up doors that you may not have previously considered.

How much does flight training cost?

The answer to this question depends on a number of different factors. The cost of a course will depend largely on the number of flying hours it requires. Aircraft choice is another factor in determining how much training will cost.

If you are an international student, you will need to factor in the cost of your student visa plus living in Australia on top of your course fees.

Learn To Fly offers a range of payment options on our courses. We offer inclusive flight packages to give you a better indication of the overall cost upfront, and many of these can be split into interest-free monthly instalments. There is also the option to “pay as you fly”. Our Diploma courses have been approved for VET Student Loans (VSL) for eligible students.

We are dedicated to making flight training in Australia accessible to as many people as possible. We strive to make flight training more affordable, making it easier to achieve your dreams. Flying is a wonderful experience, and regardless of what your flying goals are, we look forward to welcoming you to our school. If you have any questions about flight training, don’t hesitate to get in touch!


Learn To Fly Student Life: Starting Flight Training in Melbourne

So you’ve made the decision to learn how to fly! It’s a decision you won’t ever regret. Flying is a wonderful experience, and knowing how to pilot an aircraft is an amazing skill. But the learning journey itself is something that you should enjoy, and choosing the right flying school makes all the difference. Our students love flying with us, and so we thought we would give you some insight into Learn To Fly student life.

This blog looks at your first day, when you arrive at our Learn To Fly Melbourne training base.

Arriving at Learn To Fly Melbourne

Do you remember your first day at school, or at a new job? New place, new people, feeling a little unsure? As you get older, ‘first days’ get a little easier, but they can still be daunting.

On your first day when you arrive, you’ll be greeted by our HR team who will welcome you and take you through our enrolment procedures. They’ll show you around our state-of-the-art facilities and give you a bit of information about Moorabbin Airport and the surrounding area.

We’re lucky to have a lot of great retail, food and transport options available nearby. This makes things a lot easier, especially if you are new to Melbourne. We have a lot of international students, and many of them have only just recently arrived in Australia. Having some local knowledge really helps, and this is your opportunity to ask about anything you need to know.

You’ll be spending a lot of time at LTF’s training facility while you become a pilot, so we want you to feel like this is home. Learn To Fly student life starts the moment you step through the door!

Meeting Your Flight Instructor

Having the right flight instructor is so important. The right instructor will bring out the best in you, and make your flight training journey enjoyable right from the start. Flight instructors are as much a part of Learn To Fly student life as the students themselves.

Our LTF instructor team has a huge amount of flying experience, from diverse backgrounds around the world. We have Grade 1 instructors through to Grade 3, as well as instructors with specific skill and knowledge areas such as IFR training, multi-engine training – even down to aerobatics and formation flying.

Just as important as flying knowledge and experience is an instructor’s ability to connect with you. Everybody has different learning styles, so you need an instructor that you can connect with. At LTF you will be allocated a primary instructor and a secondary instructor to look after you and your training progress. But if it turns out that there’s another instructor that may be better suited, our large team means that you’ll have the opportunity to change.

On your first day you will meet your primary instructor, and they’ll have a chat to you about your flight training journey. They’ll show you through the features of our online student portal, and how our training model works – including our huge range of online training options.

Moorabbin Airport and the LTF Flight Training Fleet

There’s a lot to learn about the airport you will be training at, and Moorabbin Airport is quite complex. With a complex taxiway and runway layout, high aircraft movements, and ATC tower, there’s definitely more to learn here than at many other aerodromes.

Whilst this may seem daunting at first, it’s actually going to be a huge benefit to your learning. And don’t worry, your flight instructor has got your back! On your first day they’ll spend time going over the layout and procedures with you. Of course, you’ll learn more in your first lesson.

The LTF flight training fleet has a great range of modern and traditional aircraft. This means you can choose between learning on analogue instruments or in a glass cockpit aircraft with advanced Garmin avionics and screens. If you are beginning your Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) training, you can choose between the sporty Sling 2, the modern Diamond DA40, or the classic Cessna 172. We also have the A22LS Foxbat for RA-Aus RPC training.

It’s likely that you will have already chosen which aircraft you are going to fly before you start, but it’s good to know that you can always change throughout your training.

The Moorabbin Airport layout is complex, but a fantastic place to learn.

Your First Flying Lesson

Do you want to know what the BEST part of Learn To Fly student life is…? That’s really easy. It’s FLYING!

When you start flight training, your first lesson will be Effects of Controls and Straight and Level Flying. Your instructor will brief you in one of our briefing rooms, before showing you how to pre-flight check your aircraft. And then it’s time to head towards the runway, and begin your love affair with the sky!

Student Culture at Learn To Fly

One of the things that we are really serious about – other than safety of course – is ensuring that we create an inclusive learning environment, and a just culture. What that means is that we engage in open and honest conversations at all levels, from our students all the way up to our CEO and Chief Flying Instructors.

Our students and our flight training team support each other, and we have seen many fantastic friendships form over the years. Learn To Fly student life is a lot of fun, and we can’t wait for you to be a part of it!

Learn To Fly student life is fun!

If you are interested in finding out more about our learning to fly with us, email [email protected] or visit https://drift.me/learntofly/meeting to book a meeting and school tour.