Overview of the PPL flight training syllabus

To gain a PPL you will need to acquire particular flying skills, complete a certain amount of flight time, pass theory exams and undergo a practical flight test. You must also have passed an aviation medical examination.


Lessons are generally 90 minutes long, and consist of:

pre-flight briefing (25 mins)
flying the exercise (45 mins average)
post flight de-briefing (15 mins)
As the instructors time can be limited you should arrive at the club in good time and prepared for the lesson.


The PPL syllabus is made up of a number of stages that you follow through in a logical sequence:

1. Basic flying skills

This phase consists of dual flights to the flying training areas near the airport, during which you will be taught the following exercises:

  • Introduction and orientation
  • Pre-flight inspection
  • Taxiing
  • Checklists in preparation for flight
  • Effects of controls
  • Straight and level flight
  • Climbing and descending
  • Turns
  • Stalls
  • You should undergo an aviation medical as soon as possible after you decided to work towards your PPL. The Aero Club has a list of approved medical examiners.

    2. Circuits and landings

    This phase consists of dual flights in the airport circuit (circuits and landings), preparing you for your first solo. During this time you will be taught to fly the aircraft correctly around the airport circuit pattern, mixing in with the range of traffic using Nelson airport. You’ll learn how to use the radio correctly, approach and land the aircraft, and handle emergencies in the circuit.

    The sequence of lessons during this phase is:

  • Circuits and landings
  • Powered approach landings
  • Glide approach landings
  • Landing with different flap settings
  • Take off and landing in different wind conditions (crosswind techniques)
  • Simulated engine failure on and after take off
  • Emergencies in the circuit.
  • You must have a current medical, and be at least 16 years old before you can make your first solo flight.

    3. First solo

    During the circuits and landings phase, once your instructor considers you have reached the required level of flying and radio proficiency, you will be authorised for your first solo flight which consist of one circuit and one landing.

    4. Solo consolidation

    This phase consists of more circuits and landings, both dual and solo until you have completed a total of 3 hours solo time. Each lesson will commence with a number of dual circuits, and depending on your proficiency in these circuits you will end the lesson with a number of solo circuits and landings.

    5. Advanced general flying

    This phase consists of dual and solo flights outside the circuit in order to improve your flying skills through the various exercises and emergency procedures. At the end of this phase your flying proficiency will be of a sufficient standard to pass the general flying test for the PPL. You will have accumulated at least another further 5 hours of solo time.

    The following exercises are included in this phase:

  • Short field take offs and landings
  • Forced landings without power
  • Precautionary landings
  • Steep turns
  • Compass turns
  • Instrument flying
  • Low flying
  • Advanced stalling
  • Ideally by the end of the advanced general flying phase you should have passed all the remaining theory exams as well.

    6. Navigation

    This phase consists of at least two dual and two solo cross-country navigation exercises, during which you will be taught the following:

  • Preparation of a navigation log
  • Preparation of fuel required and weight and balance calculations
  • How to prepare and file air traffic control flight plans
  • Map reading and dead reckoning navigation techniques
  • Use of navigation aids
  • Communication with various air traffic control units during the flight
  • Joining and landing at unfamiliar airports
  • How to deal with possible emergencies
  • At the end of this phase you should be proficient in the preparation and flying of a cross country flight.

    7. Final preparation and licence test

    This phase consists of dual and solo flights improving your proficiency to the standard required for the final test flight.

    Having reached the standard and gained the minimum flight time required (50 hours of which at least 15 hours are solo), you will be required to summarise and sign your logbook in the prescribed manner in preparation for your PPL flight test.

    The Flight test is with a CAA approved testing officer and will take about half a day to complete. The examiner will test you on knowledge of the aircraft, rules, regulations, and flying ability.

    Once you have passed the flight test and completed an application for the PPL you must submit this together with your logbook hours, test results and application fee to the Civil Aviation Authority. The licence application must be accompanied by a “fit and proper person questionnaire”. If all requirements are met, the CAA will issue the private pilot licence to you.

    Subject to certain conditions (which will be covered during the course of training), your privileges as a PPL holder will be to act, but not for remuneration (that is you can’t get paid), as pilot-in-command in weather conditions called visual meteorological conditions, (also known as VMC).


    The seven theory exams that are part of the syllabus are set at about the level of high school exams. A score of at least 70% is required for a pass in any subject. You can study for the exams on your own, using New Zealand text books.

    The exams are

  • Flight Radio Telephony
  • Aviation law
  • Aircraft Technical Knowledge
  • Human factors
  • Meteorology (weather)
  • Air navigation and flight planning
  • English Language Proficiency
  • PPL exams are held by Aviation Services Ltd (ASL). Once you register for each subject, exam papers are sent to a nominated exam centre for you to go and sit. See www.asltasman.com for further details.

    Any incorrect answers in the exams are noted as ‘knowledge deficiency reports’ (KDRs). Before you sit your flight test you must have demonstrated to a flying instructor that your knowledge of these aspects of the subject have improved.


    To qualify for a PPL pilots must pass a class 2 aviation medical conducted by a CAA authorised medical practitioner. You can see a current list authorised medical examiners (AMEs) at the CAA website (www.caa.govt.nz) under the section ‘medical’.

    Providing you continue to meet the legal medical requirements, there is no upper age limit for holding a PPL

    PPL Cost Estimate March 2017 - Click the link

    If your interested in taking the next step then give us a call on 04 902 6536 to discuss.. Or simply visit FLIGHT TRAINING PACKAGES PAGE! and get going today!


Make a Booking Request

Send us a message with your desired date and details of the flight, and we’ll contact you in no time.