How to Become a Pilot in South Africa


While growing up, most South African children dream about becoming a doctor, engineer, and pilot. Let us learn how to become a pilot in South Africa once you grew up and if your dream is still the same. The question is are there enough aviation schools in South Africa to gain the important knowledge and practice your flights? Is it a complicated task or not?

The aviation industry is a very profitable one because of the high volume of air traffic every day. $8 billion dollars worth of goods is transported by air every day. This does not exclude how much they profit from passengers. So pilots are well paid. Do you want to become a pilot in South Africa? This article will show you the process and requirements of becoming a pilot.

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If you need a Pilot license to fly around with friends, then you need a PPL (Private Pilot Licence).
If you want to earn money with your flying, then you need a CPL(Commercial Pilot Licence)
Or maybe you want to fly the big boys, the Airliners, then you will need an ATPL(Airline Transport Pilot Licence).

How to Become a Pilot in South Africa

Private Pilot Licences (PPL)

The PPL is a globally recognized pilot’s license that enables one to fly an aircraft for pleasure, with friends or family. You may however not fly at night or for remuneration. You will share the same air spaces as all the airliners and other aviators, with all the same responsibilities.

Requirements for Private Pilot Licences (PPL)

Before you can obtain a Private Pilot Licence (PPL), one first needs to obtain a Student Pilot Licence (SPL).

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The requirements for this include:

  • Must be at least 16 years of age.
  • Hold a class 1 or 2 medical certificates.
  • Hold an ICAO language proficiency certificate (if required).
  • Completed an aircraft technical.
  • Completed an Airlaw exam.
  • 2 passport photos.

Once you have received your PPL you may only fly during the day with good weather conditions and may not be paid for flying passengers. This takes between 6 to 12 months – depending on completion of exams, finances and time availability.

In addition, the following requirements must be met:

  • Must be at least 17 years old.
  • Valid Student Pilot Licence.
  • Hold a restricted or general radiotelephony certificate.
  • Completed 8 online PPL exams.
  • Accumulate 45 hours total flight time by the end of the course, the 45 hours must include:
    ≥ 25 dual hours with an instructor.
    ≥ 15 solo hours as PIC.
    ≥ 5 hours cross country PIC.

Cost of Private Pilot Licences (PPL)

Costs are based on the minimum requirements and do not factor in the student’s performance or any additional costs to service providers.

Cost Amount
25 Dual hours on PA28-161 @ R2 050 per hour R51 250
15 Solo hours on PA28-161 @ R1 750 per hour R26 250
5 Dual hours on FNPT II @ R960 per hour R4 800
15 Hours @ R414.00 (minimum by law) R5 250
3 Dual hours on PA28-161 @ R2 050 R6 150
2 Hours @ R350 – Ground Evaluation/Test R700
PPL Kit including all PPL notes (without Headsets) R6 544
Exams (7 x R190) with Radio exam  R1 830
Total amount  R102 774

Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

This is a pilot license that enables one to fly for remuneration i.e you will get paid for flying. You would have completed your full instrument rating which would enable you to fly the aircraft with reference to the instruments only. The training duration is typically 12 to 18 months, depending on the completion of exams.

Requirements for Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

The requirements are:

  • Must be 18 years or older.
  • Hold a valid class 1 medical certificate.
  • Hold a valid general certificate of proficiency in radio-telephony.
  • Hold a valid Private Pilot Licence.
  • Hold a Night Rating.
  • Show proof of English Language Proficiency.
  • A minimum of 200 hours total flight time, this includes:
    ≥ 100 hours PIC flight time.
    ≥ 5 hours PIC by night.
    ≥ 50 hours of cross country flying as PIC.
    ≥ 40 hours dual instrument time (20 hours may be done in an approved FSTD).
    ≥ 5 hours dual in an aircraft with adjustable flaps, retractable undercarriage, and variable pitch propeller or turbojet engine.

Cost of Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL)

Costs are based on the minimum requirements and do not factor-in the student’s performance or any additional costs to service providers.

Hour Building

Cost Amount
30 Hours PIC by day on PA28-161 @ R1 725  per hour R 51 750
5 Hours PIC by night on PA28-161 @ R1 725 per hour R 8 625
50 Cross country PIC hours on PA28-161 @ R1 725 per hour  R 86 250
Total R146 625

Instrument flight rating

Cost Amount
20 Hours on FNPT II for SE IF @ R945 per hour. R18 900
20 Hours dual on PA28-161 IF @ R2 025 per hour (15 hours actual) R40 500
3 Hours on FNPT II for Multi-Engine IF @ R1 045 per hour R3 135
3 Dual hours on AC50 for IF Actual @ R3 950 per hour (2 hours actual) R11 850
27 Briefings @ R350 per briefing R9 450
Total R83 835

Multi-engine class rating

Cost Amount
4 Dual hours on AC50 for Multi-Engine Class @ R3 950 per hour R 15 800
3 Hours on FNPT II for Multi-Engine Class @ R1 045 per hour R 3 135
7 Briefings @ R350 per briefing R 2 450
1.5 Dual hours on AC50 for DFE test flight R 5 925
Sub-Total R27 310
Grand Total R257 770

Top Flight Schools in South Africa

Having to choose the “best” flight school may not be that easy. Listed below are the top-rated flight schools in South Africa.

  • AAA 4 Pilots
  • 43 Air School
     Port Alfred
  • Avcon Jet Africa
  • Progress Flight Academy
     Port Elizabeth
  • Aeronav Academy (Pty) Ltd
     Gauteng (Johannesburg)



Time Required to complete your training:

PPL full time – approx 12 to 16 weeks

PPL part time – approx 6 to 9 months

Commercial full time – approx 15 to 18 months

Commercial part time – approx 24 to 30 months




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