COMMERCIAL PILOT'S LICENCE
Build a career as a Professional Commercial Pilot.
A Commercial Pilot’s Licence (CPL) is for pilots that want to make a career out of flying or earn money for piloting an aircraft. No pilot may act as pilot in command of a South African registered aircraft and receive award in any form unless he is the holder of a valid Commercial Pilot’s License (CPL) or an Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL). In South Africa it is compulsory for a person to have a PPL before applying for a CPL.
There are no educational requirements but the pilot in question must be the holder or have been the holder of a valid South African Private Pilot’s Licence in the previous 60 months to begin with CPL training. Always remember that enough does not always mean that you will be the first to be considered when applying for a job. The more you have to show, the better your chances are!
A Class I Medical Certificate is required for a CPL. It differs from a Class II Medical Certificate in that it must be renewed every year. Older pilots must renew their medical certificates more often or submit six-monthly medical reports to keep their medical certificates valid. Do not be misled by the old air force standards of medical evaluation. The standards are not as high in General Aviation. For example, people with bad eye sight are allowed to fly with corrective eye glasses and there are no height requirements. You can go to a certified Aviation Medical Examiner for an examination to see if you are fit to fly.
The CPL Syllabus
The CPL course consists of a well worked out syllabus consisting of 8 theoretical knowledge subjects and ±50 hours of flight lessons. It may also include a night- and instrument rating course. The night rating will allow you to pilot an aircraft at night time while the instrument rating allows you to pilot an aircraft in conditions where you don’t have visual reference to the ground (in bad visibility or above 19 000 feet). 100 hours of the required 150 hours can be flown as pilot in command without an instructor.
The 8 theoretical knowledge subjects are:
- Flight Performance and Planning
- General Navigation and Plotting
- Radio Aids and Communication
- Aircraft Technical and General
- Instruments and Electronics
- Aviation Meteorology
- Air Law and Procedures
- Human Performance and Limitations
It should be noted that the content of these subjects are not the same as those in the PPL and ATPL syllabus.
A General Radio Licence course exam must also be passed. The CPL flight skills test must be undertaken within 36 months after the theoretical knowledge examinations were passed.
The table below explains the hours and flight time that you have to log before you can apply for a CPL.
Dual Instruction Hours
Flight Simulator Hours
Total Flying Hours
150 + 45 (from PPL) hours
Most South African banks offer student loans for Commercial Pilot’s Licences. However, there are limits as to how much they loan. A CPL can cost as much as R 500 000. Taking out a loan that big will require a monthly payment of at least R 5 000! The entry level salary for most pilots is round about R 5 000 – R7 000 per month. You’ll have to plan very carefully if you decide to take out a student loan for flight training. The second option is to take out a second bond on your house. This will result in a lower monthly payment but will take much longer to pay off.
- You must be at least 18 years of age
- You must have a valid Class I Medical Certificate
- You must have a valid General Radio Licence
- You must have a valid Night Rating
- You must have written and passed the 8 theoretical knowledge examinations
- You must have a valid Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL) OR have or have held one of the following within the previous 60 months:
- A Pilot Licence issued by a foreign country or state
- South African Air Force Pilot qualification
- A Student Pilot’s Licence (SPL) in the case of an applicant having done an approved integrated training course
- You must fly and log the required hours as set out in the column above
- You must pass the CPL flight skills test when you adhere to all of the above requirements within 36 months after you have passed the last theoretical knowledge exam
- Your training must be done at an Aviation Training Organisation approved by the South African Civil Aviation Authority