Most people who wish to make money being a pilot aim to earn their commercial pilot’s license, which means you can accept money for flight services. This includes passenger-free commercial services such as fire control pilots, border patrol, and search and rescue.
However, with a private pilot’s license, there are still a few ways to make some money for your aviator services. Let’s take a closer look.
What Is a Private Pilot License (PPL)?
Internationally referred to as a Private Pilot’s License, this type of license is commonly called a Private Pilot Certificate in the U.S. A PPL is a document that proves a pilot has met all of the FAA requirements to operate an aircraft in visual flight conditions without an instructor present.
These requirements are as follows:
- Must be 17 years old
- Must be able to read, speak, write, and understand English (the international aviation language)
- Obtain a third-class medical certificate
- Perform basic math relative to flight
- Complete ground school
- Pass the FAA written exam
- Complete 40 hours of flight training
- Complete a check-ride flight with an FAA examiner
For many, the private pilot certificate is just a step towards being a commercial pilot, but it does give pilots legal permission to do more than just fly themselves around.
How Does a Private Pilot License Work?
A private pilot’s license gives an individual the legal right to operate any aircraft they are qualified to fly. There are additional qualifications, known as ratings, that allow private pilots to do things like fly at night or operate larger aircraft, but even with all the ratings in the world, a PPL is still more-or-less a hobbyist licensure.
PPL holders may carry passengers, but not in a “for hire” setting, and not in any aircraft they are not rated to operate.
Can a Private Pilot Charge for Passenger?
Private pilots are allowed to carry the maximum number of passengers a given aircraft is rated for, but they are not allowed to charge those passengers any rates that result in the pilot landing with more money in their pocket than when he or she took off.
Pilots can, however, charge pilots a percent share of the flight costs such as fuel, aircraft rental, and any fees from the airports they use. It must be an even split, meaning the most a pilot can charge a passenger for these expenses is the same amount he or she will be spending on the same expenses.
4 Jobs You Can Get With a Private Pilot License
So, the easy answer to the question, “Can you get paid to fly with a PPL?” is no, but you can still make money off of the knowledge and abilities you’ve gained while being a private pilot. Here are a few examples!
Ground school is one of the first steps in becoming a private pilot, and PPL holders are qualified to teach ground school if they are 18 years old and pass examinations on instructing and aeronautical knowledge. PPL holders are qualified to teach those individuals looking to attain their sport licenses, recreation licenses, or fellow PPLs.
If a PPL holder has an additional rating such as IFR (instrument flight rules), they may also instruct PPL ground courses related to the ratings they hold. PPL holders can not give flight training.
There are more than 200,000 general aviation aircraft in the United States, and aircraft tend to stay in operation much longer than their automobile counterparts. All you need to sell these aircraft is a PPL, a high school diploma, and a minimum of 200 flight hours. As with any sales job, a deep knowledge of the aircraft you’ll be selling would certainly help, but a PPL proves that you have a solid baseline knowledge of aviation.
Gliders are non-powered aircraft that must be towed in order to become airborne. With additional qualifications, PPL pilots can accept money for towing gliders into flight. Those qualifications are:
- 100 hours of pilot-in-command flight on the glider type
- A logbook endorsement for glider training
- 3 actual or simulated tows in the 24 months preceding an actual tow
Money isn’t the only type of payment, right? PPL holders are also eligible to fly volunteer missions for things such as search and rescue, as well as offering their piloting skills to get individuals who need specialized health services to locations across the country they may not have otherwise afforded to get to.
Advantages of a Private Pilot License
Compared to a commercial pilot license, the primary advantage of a PPL is simply less time and money spent earning it. With a PPL, pilots can still take passengers with them and can even practice aerobatic flight maneuvers, and most restrictions are relevant to making money.
Disadvantages of a Private Pilot License
Flight can get expensive fast, as can training for your next licensure, and with that in mind, the major disadvantage of stopping at a PPL is not being able to make any of that money back with your new skill. If monetary compensation isn’t something you care about relative to being a pilot, a PPL should serve you just fine.
Private Pilot’s License vs Commercial Pilots License
A private pilot’s license is much easier to get than a commercial license. To get a PPL, a pilot must meet a number of requirements and have 40 hours of flight time.
The time to get a commercial pilot’s license is 250 hours of flight time in addition to stiffer requirements, including a stricter medical examination, 50 hours of a cross-country flight, and 10 hours of solo training.
The next step is an airline transport pilot (ATP) certification, which qualifies a pilot for major airlines, but this licensure requires 1,500 hours of logged flight time as well as a number of other requirements.
Is a PPL Enough?
Getting a PPL is a huge accomplishment, and for many people, the last license they’ll ever need. But if you want to have the option to be a pilot for hire, your options are very few with a PPL and you may want to consider taking aim at a commercial license.
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