Regulations that govern the granting of a private pilot's licence differ from country to country. Although all regulations are determined by the International Civil Aviation Authority, the stringency with which they are applied is left to the discretion of the governing bodies of individual countries. PPL training must, however, conform to international standards regarding the specific type of craft to be piloted and, to a lesser degree, the age at which a candidate may commence training and obtain a private pilot's licence.
The United Kingdom adheres to regulations set down by its Civil Aviation Authority, which operates under the auspices of the European Aviation Safety Agency. The level of licence granted determines the type of flying that a pilot may perform; the type of aircraft they may fly; under what conditions they may fly and whether or not any commercial enterprises may be undertaken. A private pilot's licence prohibits the pilot from providing a paid service to others. PPL training will be specific to the type of aircraft permitted to be flown and the instrumentation of such an aircraft. Current UK PPL training requires trainee pilots to complete a minimum of 45 hours of flight time of which 25 hours must be accompanied by an instructor and 10 flown solo. Exams will need to be successfully undertaken in various subjects. An examiner will also administer a flight test to determine the flying skills of a candidate. A solo cross-country flight will then have to be completed with a minimum of 10 hours of cumulative solo flying time being logged. To commence training for the JAR-FCL PPL students must be 14 years of age and the minimum age for obtaining a licence is 17. Spain operates under the same conditions, but USA regulations differ slightly.
The USA issues a private pilot certificate, which entitles the holder to pilot an aircraft without remuneration of any kind. A candidate is able to apply for such certificate after only 40 hours of flying time, although, in practice, 60-70 hours are usually required by most for training to be completed. No age restrictions are placed on when persons may commence PPL training, but obvious height requirements are necessary in order for a learner to reach the rudder pedals. The USA requires 20 hours of instructed flight time, which must include 5 hours of night instruction.
The level of proficiency required for a private pilot's licence is not as high as that of a commercial airline pilot and the necessary medical examinations are not as rigorous. PPL training will commence with an introduction to controls and then general handling. After an initial aerodrome circuit the first solo exercise will be undertaken. Navigational skills will also be taught with the student assuming more responsibility for flight management. When an instructor is confident of a student's flying abilities, a solo cross-country flight will occur. Instruction will culminate with a skills test during a final cross-country flight. Success earns the right to pilot a light aircraft within UK airspace.