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Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL)

You're on your way

The Recreational Pilot Licence or RPL is the first pilot licence that you can get. It is gained either as a stand-alone licence or on your way to a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and beyond.

RPL Requirements

You need to be a minimum of 16 years of age to hold an RPL. Once you have passed the RPL flight test you are authorised to carry passengers within 25nm of the departure aerodrome.

Before you undertaking an RPL Flight Test you are required to achieve a pass in the Recreational Pilot Licence theory examination along with meeting certain training standards which can all be completed here at the NQAC. We have instructors, study material and lots of helpful advice at the to get you to your RPL.


RPL Flight Test

The RPL Flight Test will be conducted by an authorised Flight Examiner. You must be able to demonstrate your ability to competently manage the aircraft in all the basic phases of flight.

Here at the NQAC our Chief Flying Instructor is also our in house examiner, holding the appropriate CASA approval for flight testing. This means in most cases RPL Flight Tests will be conducted by the NQAC.

Students who successfully complete the RPL are permitted to privately hire NQAC aircraft and fly with instructor authorisation, within a 25 nautical mile range from the departure aerodrome, with passengers, by day only and in appropriate weather conditions.

The steps to achieving

Step 1: Trial Introductory Flight. Your first experience in the pilot’s seat and the start of your aviation career.

Step 2: Ab-Initio training. Your initial lessons will cover the basics, including operation of the aircraft and its controls, flying straight and level, climbing, descending, turning, stalling, and take-offs and landings.

Step 3: First Solo Flight. Once you have mastered the basics, you will be sent off for your first solo flight! This usually occurs at about the 15-20 hour mark for the average student, but will differ depending on your individual abilities. A first solo usually consists of a single circuit flown around the airport before landing again.

Step 4: Area Solo Training. You go back to the training area and learn more advanced techniques to ensure you are 100% competent to take passengers around the local area. More solo flying follows.

Step 5: RPL Flight Test. Once you have met the prerequisites you are eligible to sit the RPL flight test and earn your Recreational Pilot Licence. You will complete the RPL flight test with our in house examiner. Upon successful completion of the flight test, you will hold your Recreational Pilot Licence.


Hours & Cost

Recreational Pilot Licence


*involves 35 hours of flying in a Cessna 172. Hour requirements may differ subject to student competency.

Medicals and Theory Exams

To hold the RPL and fly solo, you will first need to pass an aviation medical from a Designated Aviation Medical Examiner (DAME). You will also need to complete the RPL theory exam and some smaller pre-solo theory examinations. We will give you guidance on when to sit these exams and what you need to study. If you put your mind to it, it’s easy!

RPL Endorsements

Do you hold a Recreational Pilot Licence that you want to upgrade with some endorsements? The NQAC can help you with that too.

We provide training for all of the RPL endorsements, we are conveniently located close to both the Cairns International Airport for controlled airspace training and within easy flying distance of a large number of rural aerodromes for navigational training. You can also sit the Navigational Theory examinations at the NQAC.

Pricing will depend upon your personal level of experience. Contact us for more information on adding an endorsement to your RPL.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How quick can I finish my RPL?

This depends very much on the weather and how kind or otherwise it is during your training. If you book well ahead, already have a medical and get reasonable weather, an RPL can be done in a few weeks, full time.

Your aviation career is cleared for takeoff

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