Private pilot

A private pilot


Private pilots operate non-commercial airplanes for leisure with a limited amount of seats and engine horsepower. They also provide private transport for people.


The duties of a private pilot include, but are not limited to:

  • Maintaining physical and mental health in accordance with aviation regulations regarding drug use and medical certification
  • Performing pre-flight checks of aircraft systems to ensure that the plane is safe for flight
  • Reporting any mechanical problems with the aircraft to maintenance staff for repair
  • Observing federal regulations regarding flight operations, including hours of operation and minimum distance from clouds
  • Checking weather conditions to determine if they are suitable for flying based on national aviation authorities’ guidelines
  • Completing paperwork associated with each flight, including flight plans, logbooks, and reports on accidents or near misses
  • Acting as a flight instructor to train new pilots in basic skills or to refine their abilities
  • Familiarizing themselves with national aviation authorities’ regulations regarding air travel safety
  • Using navigation instruments such as compasses and GPS devices to track position and direction during a flight

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to private pilot:

light aircraft pilot
pilot of light aircraft
light aircraft charter pilot
light air craft charter pilot
private airplane pilot
private aircraft captain
pilot of light air-craft
pilot of private aeroplanes
non commercial flights pilot
pilot of private aircraft
air-taxi pilot
charter pilot
private aeroplane captain
private aeroplane pilot
corporate pilot
air taxi pilot
private airplane captain

Minimum qualifications

Private pilot licenses provide pilots with several privileges, like flying at night and with multiple passengers. Private pilots are not allowed to fly commercially for compensation, just like sport and recreational pilots. It’s common for pilots who fly privately owned planes commercially to be referred to as private pilots, but these pilots actually hold a higher license than a private pilot license. Private pilot licenses allow pilots to test planes with potential buyers, work charity and non-profit events and fly recreationally, as they’re not compensated for their flying.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Private pilot is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Private pilot career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to private pilot.

helicopter pilot
airline transport pilot
aircraft pilot
second officer

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of private pilot. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of private pilot with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

airspace manager
aviation surveillance and code coordination manager
aviation communications and frequency coordination manager
flight test engineer
air traffic manager

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of private pilot.

  • Visual flight rules: Types of flight rules which are a compilation of regulations that allow pilots to fly aircrafts in clear as well as unclear weather conditions whereby it is declared that outside visual reference to the ground and other obstructions are not safe.
  • Geographic areas: Know the geographic area in detail; know where different organisations carry out operations.
  • Aircraft flight control systems: Know the setting, features and operation of aircraft flight control systems. Manage flight control surfaces, cockpit controls, connections, and operating mechanisms required to control the flight direction of an aircraft. Operate aircraft engine controls in order to change aircraft speed.
  • Pre-flight procedures for ifr flights: Understand pre-flight duties while preparing an IFR flight; read and comprehend flight manual.
  • Air transport law: Know air transport laws and regulations. Due to the nature of aviation, knowledge of air transport laws partially overlaps with knowledge of international law.
  • Air traffic control operations: Understand the tasks performed by air traffic controllers, including Interaction and effective communication between aircraft and air traffic controllers; execution of follow-up activities, and ensuring smooth operations during flights.
  • Aviation meteorology: Understand aviation meteorology to deal with the impact of weather on air traffic management (ATM). Understand how thorough changes in pressure and temperature values at airports can create variations in head and tail-wind components, and may impose low visibility operating conditions. Knowledge of aviation meteorology can help to reduce negative impact on the ATM system by diminishing disruption and the consequent problems of disturbed flow rates, lost capacity and induced additional costs.
  • Civil aviation regulations: Know civil aviation regulations, rules and signals, including marshalling signals.
  • Common aviation safety regulations: The body of legislation and regulations that apply to the field of civil aviation at regional, national, European and International levels. Understand that regulations aimed at protecting citizens at all times in civil aviation; ensure that operators, citizens, and organisations comply with these rules.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of private pilot.

  • Operate radio equipment: Set up and operate radio devices and accessories, such as broadcast consoles, amplifiers, and microphones. Understand the basics of radio operator language and, when necessary, provide instruction in handling radio equipment correctly.
  • Ensure efficient communication in air traffic services: Ensure the implementation of an efficient communication exchange in air traffic services (ATS) involving airport movement areas. Follow procedures within the network.
  • Ensure ongoing compliance with regulations: Conduct tasks and procedures to ensure that aviation certificates maintain their validity; undertake safeguarding measures as appropriate.
  • Perform risk analysis: Identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the success of a project or threaten the organisation’s functioning. Implement procedures to avoid or minimise their impact.
  • Operate radio navigation instruments: Operate radio navigation instruments to determine the position of aircraft in the airspace.
  • Operate two-way radio systems: Use radios that can receive and transmit sound signals in order to communicate with similar radios on the same frequency such as mobile phones and walkie talkies.
  • Read maps: Read maps effectively.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Implement airside safety procedures: Apply a series of airfield safety rules and procedures to ensure a safe working environment for airport crew.
  • Have spatial awareness: Be aware of your position and the space around you. Understand the relationship of objects around you when there is a change of position.
  • Follow airport safety procedures: Comply with airport safety procedures, policies and legislation to ensure a safe working environment for all employees, and to ensure the safety of passengers.
  • Operate cockpit control panels: Operates control panels in the cockpit or flight deck according to the needs of the flight. Manage on-board electronic systems to ensure a smooth flight.
  • Perform flight manoeuvres: Perform flight manoeuvres in critical situations, and associated ‘upset’ manoeuvres, in order to avoid collision.
  • Read 3d displays: Read 3D-displays and understand the information they provide on positions, distances, and other parameters.
  • Apply signalling control procedures: Control train movements; operate railway signals and block systems to ensure that trains operate safely, on correct routes, and on time.
  • Comply with air traffic control operations: Act in compliance with instruction provided by air traffic controllers.
  • Perform take off and landing: Perform normal and cross-wind take-off and landing operations.
  • Identify airport safety hazards: Spot threats related to security at the airport and apply procedures to counteract them in a quick, safe, and efficient way.
  • Apply airport standards and regulations: Know and apply the accepted standards and regulations for European airports. Apply knowledge to enforce airport rules, regulations, and the Airport Safety Plan.
  • Ensure compliance with civil aviation regulations: Ensure best practice standards are adopted and all regulatory requirements met
  • Operate radar equipment: Operate radar screens and other radar equipment; ensure that aircraft fly at a safe distance from one another.
  • Undertake procedures to meet aircraft flight requirements: Ensure that operation certificates are valid, guarantee that take-off mass is a maximum of 3,175 kg, verify that the minimum crew is adequate according to regulations and needs, ensure that the configuration settings are correct, and check if engines are suitable for the flight.
  • Perform routine flight operations checks: Perform checks before and during flight: conduct pre-flight and in-flight inspections of aircraft performance, route and fuel usage, runway availability, airspace restrictions, etc.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of private pilot. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Use meteorological information: Use and interpret meteorological information for operations dependent on climatic conditions. Use this information to provide advise on safe operations in relation to weather conditions.
  • Work in an aviation team: Work confidently in a group in general aviation services, in which each individual operates in their own area of responsibility to reach a common goal, such as a good customer interaction, air safety, and aircraft maintenance.
  • Make independent operating decisions: Make immediate operating decisions as necessary without reference to others, taking into account the circumstances and any relevant procedures and legislation. Determine alone which option is the best for a particular situation.

ISCO group and title

3153 – Aircraft pilots and related associate professionals

  1. Private pilot – ESCO
  2. Private Pilot Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Private vs. Commercial Pilots: Salary, Duties and Differences |
  4. Featured image: Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels
Last updated on March 20, 2023