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How Much Does a Private Pilot License Cost in 2023?

17 views | By Hangar.Flights Contributor | Last updated on January 24, 2023

How often have you seen a small single-engine airplane buzzing overhead and wished you could learn to fly one? According to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), there were one hundred and sixty thousand people with private pilot licenses. A private pilot license (PPL) or certificate is a type of license that allows you to command an airplane either solo or with non-paying passengers legally. These can be small single or twin-reciprocating-engine planes or General Aviation aircraft. 

Aspiring commercial or airline pilots often jumpstart their careers by obtaining a private pilot license. Also, a private pilot license allows individuals making business or private trips to fly their planes into and out of airports without depending on scheduled commercial flights.

Knowing a private pilot’s license cost will be a good idea if you want to learn how to fly an airplane. This article examines the complete private pilot’s license cost, including a full breakdown of flight training expenses for single and twin-engine aircraft, how to save money during the process, and the funding options available. 

How Much Does a Private Pilot License Cost?

How much does a private pilot license cost? 

A private pilot’s license cost varies across the country, and it is influenced by your location, the flight school you choose, the training aircraft type, and the number of hours logged during the training process. However, we can determine the average private pilot’s license costs across the United States using the FAA 14 CFR part 61 (Certification: Pilots, Flight Instructors, and Ground Instructors) minimum hourly requirements for issuing a private pilot certificate and ratings. 

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The 14 CFR part 61 rules require student pilots to log at least 40 hours of flight time (minimum 20 hours from an authorized instructor and 10 hours of solo flight training in the appropriate areas of operation) before receiving a private pilot license. Private pilot certification in Part 61 and Part 141 flight schools requires between 35 and 40 minimum flight hours, costing between $9,000 to $15,000.

Although training hours may constitute the bulk of a private pilot’s licensing costs, additional fees, essential materials, and gear will increase your overall budget. 

Below is a summary of a private pilot’s license total cost.

Item  Cost 
Ground School Training  $350
FAA Private Pilot Test (Airman Knowledge Test) $175
FAA Medical Certificate  $125
Flight School Training $9,000 – $15,000
FAA Practical Test (Checkride) $650
Aviation Insurance (estimated annual cost)  $600
Total Cost  $10,900 – $16,900

How Much Does a Private Pilot License Cost?

Breakdown of a private pilot’s license cost

Now that you have an idea of how much a private pilot’s license costs, let’s examine each of the expenses involved. By now, you should know how much major expenses, like flight school training and the various FAA tests, will cost. But additional items like textbooks and a quality headset will be necessary to continue your training. To fit into your new role, you may be required to purchase minor non-essential expenses like a fur-trim flight jacket and a pair of cool aviation glasses.

Here is a breakdown of all the costs involved:

1. Ground school training

Ground school training occurs before strapping into an airplane seat for your flight training. Here, you will focus on theory-based lessons to help you pass the FAA written tests required for a private pilot license. These topics include various aviation-related topics like charts and navigation, aircraft instruments, aircraft performance, aerodynamics, airport environments, FARs, phraseology, communications, meteorology, and human factors. Most people pay an instructor around $40 an hour for in-person training sessions or opt for a $350 online training course. You could also buy textbooks for self-study to pass the FAA test.

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2. FAA airman knowledge test

The FAA airman knowledge test determines your knowledge of airplane flight systems, aviation rules, and other flight-related topics. This is when you know whether your hours of studying aviation rules and communication jargon are well spent. The examination fee is $175, and you prepare by taking ground school training.

Read more: Where, When and How to Take the FAA Private Pilot Knowledge Exam in 2023

3. Medical examination

Completing a medical examination is a requirement before you begin taking flight lessons. An Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) will examine you to determine your fitness state. The examination costs $125, and the FAA database of AMEs will help you find a qualified examiner close to you.

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4. Flight school training

Flight training is undoubtedly the most essential and expensive private pilot licensing stage. You develop the basic flying skills, knowledge, and instincts to become a good pilot. Students learn the feel and handling of an airborne airplane from a certified flight instructor, including how to land a plane solo, plan cross-country flights, and navigate an aircraft by instrument. Although the mandated minimum hours to obtain a private pilot license is 40 flight hours. The average individual generally needs 60 to 70 flight hours to earn their private pilot license. Additional flight hours increase private pilot licensing costs; you should prepare to pay for these.

5. FAA practical test

An FAA practical test, also known as checkride, is a mandatory in-flight examination required to receive a private pilot license (similar to your driving test) conducted by a designated pilot examiner. A check-ride consists of a multiple-choice computer-administered test, an oral examination before or during the check-ride, and the actual in-flight demonstration of flying skills competency required for earning a private pilot license.

How Much Does a Private Pilot License Cost?

6. Aviation Insurance

You wouldn’t drive a car on public roads without having insurance, right? Aviation insurance, also called renter insurance, works similarly. No-flight schools allow you to fly their airplanes without a renter’s insurance policy. Aviation insurance covered any liability resulting from damaging the flight schools’ aircraft. Having one may increase your private pilot license costs, but it offers peace of mind.

7. Resources and personal gear

Personal gear is the everyday supplies allowing you to complete the written and practical stages of your private pilot licensing training. These include textbooks and workbooks, pre-flight checklist, a logbook, plane manuals, a headset, iPad, writing materials like pens and a kneeboard, sunglasses, a flight bag, a fuel tester, a flashlight, etc.

To help you make a well-informed decision, we recommend checking out our detailed buying guides:

How Much Does a Private Pilot License Cost?

Private pilot license requirements

You should look up the FAA requirements to earn a private pilot license. These are mandatory guidelines indicating whether you qualify for a private pilot license.

Here is a list of things you need to know before training for a private pilot license:

  • Be 17 years old.
  • Read, speak, write and understand the English language.
  • Earn a U.S. student pilot certificate.
  • Complete flight training and receive a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor.
  • Complete the minimum 40-hour flight time FAA requirement for issuing a private pilot certificate and aircraft ratings which include;
    • 10 hours of solo time.
    • 5 hours of cross-country flight.
    • 3 hours of night flying.
    • 3 hours of instrument training.
  • Pass a practical FAA knowledge test for the aircraft rating sought.
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Multi-engine pilot license costs

You can earn a multi-engine rating after obtaining a private pilot license. A multi-engine aircraft rating allows you to fly multiple-engine airplanes, and it is a valuable addition to your private pilot license. You only need a valid medical certificate and a single-engine license to register for a multi-engine rating. You can earn a private pilot multi-engine rating in three days; average costs range from $3,500 to $6,000 depending on the location, flight school, and individual performance.

How Much Does a Private Pilot License Cost?

The training generally covers requirements for multi-engine aircraft certification in FAR 61.107(b)(2) and consists of the following:

  • 24-hour (ground and flight) training.
  • Nine to ten hours of aircraft rental.
  • Nine to ten hours of instruction.
  • Nine to ten hours of aircraft simulator.

Should you go for a multi-engine aircraft rating? A multi-engine rating offers improved flying skills and cognitive load. Flying a multi-engine aircraft is a significant upgrade from the cockpit environment of a single-engine airplane with higher speeds, performance, and climb rates. 

Sports pilot license cost

Earning a sports pilot license allows you to avoid the higher fee and costs of a private pilot license. However, a sports pilot license does not have the privileges of a private pilot license. You will be restricted to the Light-Sports-Aircraft (LSA) category and can only fly outside the central air traffic at low altitudes. These are ideal flying conditions for aviation hobbyists who enjoy airborne while avoiding busy airspace. The FAA minimum requirements for issuing a sports pilot license are less stringent than that of a private pilot. 

They are:

  • Complete a minimum of 20 hours of flight time which include;
    • 15 hours of flight time with a certified flight instructor.
    • 5 hours of solo time.

The cost of earning a sport license varies from $4,865 to $7,465 depending on your location, flight, school, training aircraft, and individual performance. Ground instructors charge an average of $35 per hour, and aircraft rentals are around $100 per hour. Although the FAA minimum flight time to issue a sports pilot license is 20 hours, it takes longer than in practice. It takes around 40 hours for an average person to complete flight time.

How Much Does a Private Pilot License Cost?

Here is a summary of a sport pilot’s license cost:

Item  No of Hours  Cost per Hour  Cost 
Ground School Training  30 $35 $1,050
FAA Written Test  $165
Aircraft Rental  20 – 40 $100 $2,000 – $4,000
Flight Instructor Cost  15 – 30 $40 $1,200
FAA Practical Test $650
Aviation Insurance  $400
Total Cost  $4,865 – $7,465

How to save money earning a private pilot license

Since it costs several thousands of dollars to earn a private pilot license, we have developed some helpful tips to help you save money and minimize your expenses and help you get more value.

  1. Rent older and more affordable aircraft to help you reduce flight school costs. Well-maintained older aircraft offer the same flying experience as newer models at reduced costs. The trick is to avoid poorly maintained older airplanes.
  2. You can join a flight club to receive reduced rates during flight training.
  3. It is a good idea to research the different flight schools in your area to compare prices. Also, ask for special deals or discounts on ground and flight training.
  4. Commit yourself to the course and entirely understand aviation terms, aircraft systems, airport procedures, flight control, and radio chatter.
  5. Apply for scholarships to pay the cost of your flight training.



Conclusion

Although earning a private pilot license can be relatively expensive, it allows you to command an airplane without a costly commercial pilot license. It is a good idea to seek professional training from a reputable flight school to develop excellent flying skills. A flight school membership can help reduce your private pilot’s license costs and allow you to command a diverse range of airplanes at reduced rates. Flying is a life-changing experience, and we encourage getting airborne as often as possible to experience the thrills of being in the sky.  

Read more about flight training and becoming a pilot here