10 March 2017

How to be a Pilot in Canada



Getting Started as a Pilot in Canada

Love flying in Canada? Do you always anticipate the rush that every take-off and landing feels like that you often daydream about getting front seats driving that heavy metal? Then it sounds like it’s the best time to pursue that dream and become a pilot!

There are different ways you can be a pilot depending on your intent. There are general rules that apply worldwide while certain rules are followed in different parts of the world. For this update, we will be discussing how to be a pilot in Canada.

Picking A License in Canada

Do you want to fly and get paid as a Canadian pilot? Or do you just want to do it as a hobby, travel faster instead of be stuck in traffic, invite friends to an airplane picnic, use it as your means of transportation if you’re living on a lake, take your date to a whole new different level,  or get your very own plane and park it beside your house?

There are different licenses to fly a plane as a Canadian pilot. You first need to figure out what type of license you want to apply for. The same way with a regular driver’s license, there are different types that you can get depending on your intent to fly. You can choose between the following:
  • Recreational Canadian Pilot Permit
  • Private Canadian Pilot License
  • Commercial Canadian Pilot License
The Canadian aviation community is a leading member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Licensing for pilots are issued by Transport Canada. The minimum age for pilot license applications in Canada is between the age of 16-18 depending on the type of license you want to get. Below are the general avaiation rules in Canada when applying for a pilot license.

Recreational Canadian Pilot Permit


The recreational Candian pilot permit is the most affordable option among the four categories as there are less requirements to submit than the others. It also has more limitations as it only focuses on recreational flying. Below are more details on earning a Recreational Pilot Permit in Canada:
  • Cost: an average of $3000-$5000 CAD, varies by flight school and is half the cost of the private Canadian pilot license
  • Completion: half the time needed for a private Canadian pilot license,  25 hours of flying time required and 40 hours of ground-school classes
  • Exam: combined written and flight exams where you need to meet a minimum grade of 60% on the written exam and a passing evaluation for the flight exam
  • Age: You must be at least 16 years old to qualify for the Recreational Canadian Pilot Permit
  • Medical Certificate: You must possess at least a Class 4 Canada Aviation Medical Certificate
  • Ground School Requirements: To pass, you must achieve a grade of at least 60% in the written exam
  • Flying Requirements: You must be able to complete a minimum of 25 flight hours, training under a certified flight instructor. You must pass the flight test within 12 months from the date of your application
Once you earn your Recreational Canadian Pilot Permit, you can start exploring the sky above with you as the official pilot-in-command. Although this is the easiest and most affordable way to be a Canadian pilot, take note of the restrictions that your permit allows you.

Permit Restrictions

  • You must only fly within 50 nautical miles from your departure airport in Canada
  • You must only fly in zones that require Canada air-traffic control communication
  • You are only allowed 1 passenger besides yourself
  • You can only fly during the day and in good weather conditions
  • You are only allowed to fly up to 10,000 feet above sea level, unless it is necessary to fly higher to avoid collision from any terrain or object instructing your flight
  • Helicopter permits not available at this time in Canada


Private Canadian Pilot License 


If you think flying restrictions are boring and you’d rather fly around the world to use your pilot skills, a private Canadian pilot license is the way to go. This type allows you to fly around the world with single-engine piston aircrafts as it is valid worldwide.

With the private Canadian pilot license, you could fly as the pilot-in command or be a co-pilot with your rented or owned aircraft. This is a fun way to travel with friends and family without the required duties of a commercial Canadian pilot. Below are more details on earning a Private Pilot License:
  • Cost: an average of $8000-$10,000 CAD, varies by flight school and how long you are able to meet the requirements
  • Completion: twice the time needed for a Recreational Canadian Pilot Permit,  45 hours of flight training required and 40 hours of ground-school classes, the average student completes this in 65-85 hours of training
  • Exam: combined written and flight exams where you need to meet a minimum grade of 60% on the written exam and a passing evaluation for the flight exam
  • Age: You must be at least 17 years old to qualify for the Private Pilot License in Canada
  • Medical Certificate: You must possess at least a Class 3 Canada Aviation Medical Certificate
  • Ground School Requirements: To pass, you must achieve a grade of at least 60% in the written exam
  • Flying Requirements: You must be able to complete a minimum of 45 flight hours, training under a certified flight instructor. You must pass the flight test within 12 months from the date of your application

Private Canadian Pilot License Restrictions

The only difference between a private Canadian pilot license and a commercial Canadian license is your ability to earn from it. You cannot earn or be paid as a pilot if you only have a private pilot license. This type of license is limited to personal use only. 


Commercial Canadian Pilot License


A regular driver’s license permits private car owners to drive smaller cars or trucks for non-professional licenses and bigger, commercial vans and trucks are driven by drivers with professional licenses. The same logic applies to a commercial Canadian pilot license. 

When you have always dreamt of flying that big plane that takes people to their business meetings or vacations, and wear that crispy pilot uniform with wings and stripes then aim for a commercial pilot license in Canada. This means that if you want to be paid flying and traveling around Canada and the globe, this is your best bet! Below are details on earning a Commercial Pilot License in Canada:
  • Cost: triple the amount of getting a private Canadian pilot license which runs between $30,000-$40,000 CAD, varies by flight school and depends on how long it takes you to finish the training
  • Completion: You must earn a private Canadian pilot license first before you can apply for the commercial license. On top of that, you have to complete 200 hours of flying time and 80 hrs of ground-school classes
  • Exam: combined written and flight exams where you need to meet a minimum grade of 60% on the written exam and a passing evaluation for the flight exam
  • Age: You must be at least 18 years old to qualify for the Commercial Pilot License in Canada
  • Medical Certificate: You must possess a Class 1 Canada Aviation Medical Certificate intended for a commercial pilot license
  • Ground School Requirements: To pass, you must achieve a grade of at least 60% in the written exam
  • Flying Requirements: You must be able to complete a minimum of 200 flight hours, training under a certified flight instructor. You must pass the flight test within 12 months from the date of your application

Commercial Canadian Pilot License Restrictions

The commercial Canadian pilot license covers most of the general rules in aviation. The only limitation it has are for helicopter pilots where helicopter travel times are restricted to daylight unless endorsed for night flying in and around Canada. 


Other Canadian Pilot Licenses you can get in Canada:


  • Gyroplane Canadian pilot permit - allows you to fly a gyroplane with or without a passenger, limitations depend on your aircraft’s model
  • Ultra-light Canadian pilot permit - passengers should carry an endorsement or permit to fly, limited to day VFR with only ultra-light aircrafts 
  • Glider Canadian pilot license - you may carry passengers o your glider once you have completed a minimum of three solo flights 
  • Airline transport Canadian pilot license - you are restricted to aerial work when the night and instrument flight time requirements are not met, only for commercial flying without commercial passengers
  • Balloon Canadian pilot license - allows you to pilot or co-pilot a balloon, limited to day flying 

Still thinking about which license to get? While you're at it, trying out simulators first would be a good move to get your foot in the door. There's a lot of apps with Canadian VFR Charts that you can try out. You can also check out this really cool infographic on 13 Training Tips for Student Pilots.


to discover more about the Flight planning application Air Navigation Pro iOS, 
you can also visit our website at 
and check the manual for additional details on how to use the new features. 


Blue Skies,
The Air Navigation Pro Team


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