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Initial information about learning to fly!

Licencing Schemes

There are two licencing schemes in New Zealand.  The formal scheme, supervised at every level by the Civil Aviation Authority, is known as the general aviation (GA) or "Part 61" scheme.  A licence issued under Part 61 is a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) and entitles the holder to fly a single engine aircraft, by day in good weather with passengers but not for "hire or reward".  It is acceptable to cost share with passengers.  Further training allows the pilot to "work up" to the professional levels  and is the only scheme suitable for budding professional pilots.

The less formal scheme is supervised by a "part 149" organisation which issues Microlight Pilot Certificates and Permits to Fly for microlight aircraft.  A certificate issued under Part 149 entitles the holder to fly a single engine aircraft with a maximum weight of 600Kg, by day in good weather with ONE passenger but not for "hire or reward".  It is acceptable to cost share with a passenger.  It is not possible to credit more than a notional amount Part 149 experience towards a part 61 licence.  All part 61 experience can be credited towards a part 149 certificate.


If you have no intention of becoming a professional pilot, are happy being able to carry only one passenger by day in good weather seriously consider becoming a Microlight pilot. For anything else train for the PPL from the start.

What are the differences?

A summary of the major differences are shown in the table below:



Good weather by day flying



Good weather by night flying

Yes with additional training


Cloud flying

Yes with additional training


Maximum passengers

Limited by aircraft type


Maximum aircraft size

Limited by aircraft type

600Kg weight; max 2 seat

International privileges

Yes – but ask host country

No - but ask host country

General aviation instructor required



Career development path



CAA medical required


No – GP medical will do

External exams


No-exams supervised by instructor at your club

Flight test with examiner


No – flight test with instructor

Training on GA aircraft counts



Training on microlight aircraft counts

See below


Training on Light Sports Aircraft counts

Yes – with a GA instructor


Can I get a microlight certificate and later convert to a PPL?

"Half of the pilot in command time obtained in the 12 months prior to PPL issue up to a maximum of 10 hours count towards non specific training requirements". In practise you will need to fly 20 microlight hours whilst training for the PPL to get a maximum of 10 hours credit. Might it be better use of the money to fly the GA aircraft?

Can I fly a microlight if I have a PPL?

Yes. You will need a “type rating” in the same way as moving from a Piper to a Cessna. This is a relatively simple process. If you wish to get a microlight certificate, which is not a legal requirement, the microlight organisations have simple procedures to issue one to PPL holders.

What is a Light Sport Aircraft?

This is a GA aircraft for which the initial certification requirements have been relaxed to allow cheaper production costs and the use of more modern technology. Because of the relaxations they are limited to a maximum of 600KG weight and 2 seats and may not be used for cloud flying. LSA are ideal for Private and Commercial Pilot day /night training and for typical PPL use. A microlight pilot can fly them by day too.

Whilst the initial certification requirements are less than for a fully certified GA aircraft the maintenance requirements are similar.

Some aircraft are eligible to be registered as either a LSA or Microlight. If you decide to train for a PPL ensure the aircraft you use is not registered as a microlight and that the instructor holds a "part 61" general aviation instructor rating.

Want to talk?  John Nicholls   flyitnz@gmail.com or telephone Land line: +64 (0) 9 406 1974  mobile +64 (0) 27-359 4869 Skype:  Flyitnz
Willie Morton email: mitmete@actrix.co.nz  mobile: 021 0811 6612