Skip to main content
Ground School Flight Training


When researching various pilot flight training academies’ websites, looking to select a top rated flight training school it is important to understand what they offer in terms of world-class pilot training. The information below will help you understand every detail of initial pilot training so you can make an informed decision.

Lanseria Flight Centre has made a list of the initial courses including the abbreviations and phrases. We are a world-class flight training school in Johannesburg, South Africa that has international students from India, UK, EU, Asia, Middle East, Africa including Zimbabwe, Botswana and many other countries.

This outline will help you understand which pilot licence course you want to pursue, what ratings you need to acquire, what flights you must perform and much more info. So here is the key information…

1. ATPL Modular (Airline Transport Pilot License)

The highest ranked licence which is required by all pilots who are planning to fly large passenger or cargo airplanes weighing 5700 kg or above. ATPL modular licence course is an intense, almost two-year program, and at the end, students acquire a “Frozen ATPL” (CPL (A)/IR/ME + ATPL theory) licence.
“Frozen ATPL” licence means that individual has a Commercial Pilot Licence, multi Instrument rating, successfully completed ATPL theory exam, and a minimum of 200 flight hours.

This licence is “unfrozen” when the individual logs 1500 flight hours and (at least 500 hours of which has to be in multi-pilot aircraft for UK and EASA licences). 

Just because the pilot licence has a word “frozen” next to it, it does not mean that student pilot cannot go on and acquire type rating licence, apply for a job, build hours on his/her own or gain employment as a professional pilot. All options are available.        

2. PPL (A) (Private Pilot Licence)

This licence permits a pilot to fly airplanes for a hobby, for personal transport and pleasure.

The Private Pilot Licence is the most basic course and first step in acquiring a pilot licence embarking on a professional pilot career. This takes about two months to complete on a full-time basis.

Even though this licence does not allow the pilot to be remunerated for flying, the individual can add-on different ratings (i.e. instrument, retractable gear rating, variable pitch rating, night ratings and type ratings) which then opens numerous opportunities to fly in different time of the day.

Just like many occupations – there is always a way to advance and learn.

3. CPL Modular (Commercial Pilot Licence)

This is a licence which permits an individual to fly an aeroplane for compensation (hire and reward), while building up the required hours for an Airline transport pilots licence ATPL.

The CPL Modular course is designed in modules which mean that individual can break down the commercial syllabus into certain sections (modules) whether it be a financial or personal decision.

The individual may choose to do one or more of the modules in another country for example, gaining experience and taking advantage of what that country may offer that others don’t.

The course is especially practical for those who are not quite sure whether they want to become commercial pilots, the commercial modules will enhance their private pilots licence abilities and safety but allows them to halt their training if they wish without loosing those hours and training.
So the way CPL (A) Modular course works is that person goes through PPL theory training, passes exams and acquires a Private Pilot Licence. Then, if the individual decides to continue, the next module is CPL theory course.

After that comes various ratings, like night rating multi-engine or instrument rating, each one being a modules and progressing towards the CPL and eventually the ATPL licence.

To make it clear – your commercial pilot licence and allows you to fly as a professional and be remunerated for your effort, while building up the experience required for the ATPL.

4. ATPL Modular (Airline Transport Pilot Licence)

On completing the CPL course you may want to do the ATPL theoretical examinations while the CPL theory is still current and fresh in your mind, on completing these examinations you will be issued a Frozen ATPL.

To issue the ATPL it reqires certain experience and the accumulation of 1500 flying hours.

When you have achieved this you will be required to undergo ATPL test preparation and a flight test, when you pass this test you will be issued with a ATPL licence.

5. Aviation English

English language is the official language of aviation. This means that every pilot must possess a certain level of English language skills and knowledge in order to safely and efficiently work in the cockpit.

This of course means that pilots go through the English language training and testing until they achieve the required ICAO Level 4 English language proficiency.

You will hear about this level a lot, but one thing is certain – if you want to do anything related to flying aircraft, you have to be fluent in English.

6. Class 1 Medical Certificate

Everyone who aspires to become a professional pilot must pass certain medical requirements as per the regulations.

Pilots must stay physically fit and healthy in order to safely operate an aircraft. The medical takes about two days to complete and anyone who is planning to fly professionally must acquire a Class 1 Medical Certificate.

The aviation medicals are stringent, however there are tolerances allowed. It is advisable to undergo the medical prior to starting your flight training to be sure that there are no underlining problems that may come up later and prevent you attaining your licence.

7. SEP (Single Engine Piston)

This is a class rating which allows individual to fly a certain type of aircraft. Also, aircraft that students learn to fly in the very beginning are classified as single engine piston aircraft.

8. IFR (Instrument Flight Rules)

Flying by the sole reference of the aircraft instrumentation. This type of flying is conducted when a flight using visual cues is too difficult (loss of sight of the ground, cloudy, dark, reduced visibility).

The pilot must control aircraft only using the information that is provided by the flight instruments. IFR is one of the ratings that must be periodically renewed in order to operate an aircraft.

9. VFR (Visual Flight Rules)

This allows a pilot to fly an aircraft using visual references, normally the horizon, in generally clear and good weather conditions which permit pilot to see where the aircraft is going.

Under these flight rules, pilot is controlling an aircraft by looking outside it to evaluate the altitude, navigate, and avoid any other obstacles and other aircraft.

10. NVFR (Night Visual Flight Rules)

This allows the pilot to fly at night using the same visual references that he would during the day.

In many countries visual flying at night is not permitted, that is when pilot must have Instrument Rating to be able to fly at night.

This rating is particularly important when pilot is out for a long cross-country flight and the setting sun can suddenly cut the trip short.

11. MEP (ME) (Multi-engine piston)

this rating allows pilots to operate aircraft with more than one engine. This rating must be periodically renewed.

A multi engine rating is required if you would like to become a commercial or airline transport pilot, a professional pilot.

12. FNPT (Flight Navigation and Procedures Trainer)

This is a basic entry level simulator and a great tool that is available for students to use and practice flying skills safely on the ground before getting into the real aircraft.

It consists of a two-seat cabin with the copy of the entire aircraft instrument panel…and a view in front created by three projectors.

Procedures trainer may be used to maintain currency and or perfect certain manoeuvres important for initial pilot training, so that students don’t lose recently acquired skills and continue building correct flight procedure habits.

13. CAA Examination (Civil Aviation Administration)

This is the country’s regulatory body which controls everything that is connected to aviation.

Every student should know where it is located as you will be visiting it regularly throughout your training. there throughout the studies. 

After each subject that is being taught at the aviation academy, the student must pass the aviation academy’s final exam.

Only when the academy’s final subject exam is passed can the student take the exam at CAA.

The examinations will be recorded and when they have all been written and passed will you be allowed to conduct your flight test in order to issue you with a pilots licence. So get ready for a lot of exams!

14. Hour building

Acquiring hours towards a higher grade licence, building hours and logging them into the pilot logbook is one of the most important things for pilots.

Hour building is usually needed when student wants to perfect certain skills or needs to gain experience to acquire another licence type and needs certain number of hours flown in order to be eligible.

Hour building therefore that is the primary source of skill, knowledge and experience required by the regulators to issue a licence.

15. UPRT ( Upset prevention and recovery training)

UPRT is the combination of theoretical knowledge and flight training with the aim of providing flight crew with the required competencies to both preventing and recover from situations in which an aeroplane unintentionally exceeds the parameters of normal flight.

Lanseria Flight Centre is available via email or whatsApp +27828560398 to answer any queries you may have. We ensure you choose the best possible route for your flying career.

ATPL, CPL, learn to fly, PPL, Student Pilot