Microlight takeoff
Learn To Fly Guide

How much does a microlight PPL cost?

How much does it cost to obtain your national Microlight Pilot’s Licence – also known as the National Private Pilots Licence? Spoiler alert: a lot less than a full PPL(A)!

First things first: what exactly is a Microlight Pilot’s Licence? It’s actually a National Private Pilot’s Licence, or NPPL for short, with a Microlight Class Rating. The NPPL is a National Private Pilot Licence available for microlights and other non-part 21 aircraft, such as vintage aircraft, permit-to-fly aircraft and kit-built aircraft. It dates back to 2002 and is what’s known as a sub-ICAO licence. 

In other words, it sits below the level of a full international PPL and does not automatically entitle you to fly in foreign countries. However, many countries do accept the NPPL. To fly a microlight, you have to add a class rating to the NPPL via the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA)

Good news: If you already have a UK CAA PPL with a valid Single Engine Piston rating, you only have to undertake control type differences training on the microlight type you intend to fly (i.e. flexwing or fixed-wing) with a microlight instructor. When the instructor is satisfied, they will sign off the training in your logbook. This will then give you the privileges to fly the microlight type on your SEP rating, for as long as the SEP remains current. 

More good news: Three-axis microlight flight time is now acceptable towards revalidation of SEP/TMG/SLMG Class Ratings included in national UK and Part-FCL pilot licences.

Nothing like a flex-wing microlight for views and visibility. Photo: Geoff Hall

Two levels

There are two levels of microlight class ratings:

  1. With operational limitations, meaning you can only fly without passengers, with a cloud base of more than 1,000m above ground level or more than 10km visibility and maximum 8nm from take-off) 
  2. Without operational limitations. 

Let’s, for this article, assume you want to obtain an NPPL with a Microlight Class Rating Without Operational Limitations. So what’s it going to cost if starting from scratch? The NPPL is way more affordable than the full fat PPL. Budget between £7,000 and £9,500 until you’re able to fly a microlight as a qualified pilot.

Let’s break it down step by step. Costs of an NPPL can be divided into:

  • Flight training
  • Ground exams 
  • FRTOL (radio)
  • Skills test
  • Licence application
  • Equipment 

Flight training

This is where most of your money goes. To obtain an NPPL with a Microlight Class Rating Without Operational Limitations, you’ll need at least 25 hours of flight training, including at least 10 hours of supervised solo time. Those are the minimum requirements set by the CAA.

Is 25 a realistic amount? Jim Greenshields of Somerset Microlights explains: “It’s extremely unlikely that anyone will complete the NPPL (Microlight) in 25 hours; 35 to 45 is more realistic, but everyone is different.”

What also makes a difference, is whether you’re learning to fly a flexwing or a fixed-wing microlight. Usually, it takes longer to learn on a fixed-wing as they have more complex systems with more controls, whereas flexwings have a simpler set-up.

The BMAA has calculated how many hours an average student needs to get their NPPL. Aaron Bliss, BMAA Pilot Licensing, Instruction and Examinations Administrator, reveals: “As of the end of 2022, the average hours to complete an ab initio microlight course is 57 hours 19 minutes.” 

In other words, that 25 hours microlight package you’ve found that looks pretty affordable… Well, count on at least doubling it if you’re an average student. There are still flying schools that offer so-called ‘full NPPL training packages’, but most recognise that 25 hours isn’t realistic and just offer microlight training per hour.

Duncan McDougall of Purple Aviation
Duncan McDougall is a qualified pilot who took differences training to fly a microlight, in this case a Eurostar EV-97. Photo: Purple Aviation

What does an hour of flight training cost?

So what’s the price of an hour of microlight flight training? Prices range between £110 at West Lancashire Microlight School for dual tuition in either a P&M Quik GT450 or an Ikarus C42) and £164 at Flight Sport Aviation for dual tuition in the Ikarus. Some more examples: an hour’s flight training in an Ikarus costs £125 at Gower Flight Centre and £139 per hour at Sportair Microlights.

At Purple Aviation it’s £135 per hour in either the EV97 Eurostar or the Ikarus. At Airways AirSports, it’s £145 per hour lesson in either the flexwing Quantum or the fixed-wing C42, and at Cornwall Microlights, you have the choice between the P&M Quik GT450 or the Ikarus C42, both also at £145 per hour’s lesson.

As you can see, there’s not much difference in price between a flexwing or a fixed-wing microlight. Usually, hourly lesson prices are the same, no matter what type of microlight. An exception is Exodus Airsports, which offers training in the flexwing at £152 and in the Eurostar at £157.50 per hour’s lesson. Most flying schools offer a discount if you book blocks of five or ten hours.

Don’t forget to double-check what exactly is included in the hourly training rate – and when the clock starts ticking. Are times taken from the Hobbs meter (which starts when the engine is fired up)? Is it when the prop is spinning? Or at take-off? Is it an hour from brakes off to brakes on? Do you pay for taxi time? What about the pre- and post-flight briefing? This is especially worth checking with schools that divide their flight training into a price for rental and a price for instruction.

Pilot's view forwards in a flex-wing microlight. Photo: Geoff Hall

Landing fees

Got your hourly rate all clear? Then let’s see what else you might need to pay during training, such as landing and/or touch-and-go fees. At most flight schools, these fees are already included in the costs of flight training or in the club membership. However, in other cases they’re charged separately. Landing and touch-and-go fees vary, depending on the airport.

At Dunkeswell Aerodrome, the landing fee is £7.50 and the cost of a touch-and-go is £6. At Farway Common Airfield the landing fee is £10, at Wellesbourne Airfield it’s £12, and at Sleap Airfield it’s £15. Strathaven Airfield charges £5 for training flights. At Bicester Aerodrome, landing fee is £11.20. Sywell Aerodrome charges £13.20 per landing and £6.75 per touch-and-go. At Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport, prices are £10 per landing and £9 per touch-and-go.

Seeing as you’ll probably do between 30 and 50 landings over the course of your NPPL training, these fees add up rather quickly. Do realise that even if all landings are included at your chosen airfield, you’ll still have to do some land aways for your cross-country flying that might incur a fee.

Fuel surcharges

Because of the volatility of fuel prices in the last few years, some flight schools are adding a separate fuel surcharge to their rates. This depends on the school and aircraft and is usually done per hour. Elevation Airsports, for example, currently has a fuel surcharge of £8 per hour. Since they depend on the fuel prices, fuel surcharges are reviewed regularly and subjected to change. Instead of adding a fuel surcharge, some flight schools have just increased their hourly rates to make the numbers work.

Ikarus C42
The Ikarus C42 is a popular aircraft for microlight fixed wing training. Photo: Elevation Airsports

Membership fees

A lot of flying schools require you to become a member to train there. Sometimes this is included in the cost of flight training, sometimes it’s a separate fee. Membership fee is usually charged per annum and varies greatly, ranging from £60 per year at Exodus Airsports to £140 per year at Perranporth Flying Club

At some clubs you pay per part of the year, for example at Cambridgeshire Microlights, where club fees are £25 per quarter, and at Sportair Microlights, where the monthly membership fee is £45.

Most memberships include access to club facilities and insurance. Some flying clubs have cheaper aircraft rental or reduced training rates for their members. Sometimes membership gets you the use of pilot equipment.

Long story short: When asking for the price of microlight flight training, check exactly what is and what isn’t included in the hourly price you’re quoted. Pay special attention to insurance: are you insured to fly solo in the flying school’s microlight, or do you need to take out a special insurance for this?

In the UK, rates for flight training almost always include VAT and so-called ‘wet rates’ (including fuel), but once you’ve got your NPPL and are renting an aircraft, don’t forget to check if the rental rate is indeed a wet one, and not a ‘dry rate’ (excluding fuel).

Microlight over Scotland Graeme Ritchie photo
Photo: Graeme Ritchie, East of Scotland Microlights

Pilot Medical Declaration

There’s no need to have a medical examination to obtain your NPPL. You just have to fill in a self-declaration form, called the Pilot Medical Declaration (PMD). If you’re fit to drive a car, you’re fit to fly. If you’re in any way unsure about your fitness to fly, ask an Aeronautical Medical Examiner (AME) for advice (and/or play it safe and get a Class 2 Medical).

Make your self-declaration application via the CELLMA Medical Records online system (this can be accessed by registering for the CAA Portal). There are no costs involved and once you’ve submitted your PMD, it’s valid until the age of 70 (after that, you have to submit a new one every three years). Be aware: if you haven’t made a medical declaration, your NPPL is invalid.

Ground exams 

To obtain your NPPL, you’ll need to pass five theoretical exams (Air Law, Human Factors, Meteorology, Navigation, and Aircraft Technical) with at least a 75% pass mark. These are official CAA exams, however, this doesn’t mean each flight school charges the same.

Prices usually range between £30 at Cornwall Microlights and £60 at Voliamo Flying School per exam. Some more examples: exams are £35 each at Airways AirSports, £40 at West Lancashire Microlight School and Exodus Airsports, and £50 at Flight Sport Aviation.

Study materials

How much does it cost getting ready for these exams? That depends on how you learn the NPPL theory: through self-study or groundschool. Self-studying at home is the cheapest option, but it doesn’t suit everyone.

There’s also a lot of material available online to help you prepare for the exams, ranging from e-books to training software with question banks and mock exams. Some self-directed study courses charge a one-time fee, others work with monthly online subscriptions. Costs of getting exam-ready by yourself range from absolutely zero (if you can borrow all the material you need) to more than £400 for fancy distance learning packages.


Many flight schools offer in-person ground school tuition where you study in a classroom-like environment with an instructor.

Prices of this groundschool vary. Some examples: £30 per hour at Airways Air Sports, £35 per hour at Cambridgeshire Microlights, £40 per hour at West Lancashire Microlight School, and £50 per hour at Flight Sport Aviation.

Eurostar EV-97
A popular fixed-wing microlight, the Eurostar EV-97. Photo: Geoff Hall

Radio licence

You aren’t legally required to have a Flight Radio Telephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) to obtain your NPPL. However, you do need a radio licence if you’re planning to use the radio in the aircraft, for example if you’re flying in controlled airspace. 

Since the FRTOL exam isn’t part of the microlight syllabus, not all microlight schools offer this. If your chosen flight school doesn’t offer it, another training organisation at a nearby airfield will. Price of the FRTOL exam depends on the training organisation. It’s usually around £150.

Make sure you apply for your FRTOL at the same time as your NPPL. If not, the CAA will charge you £79 for the initial issue of the FRTOL. 

General Skills Test

The cost of the general Skills Test is made up by the examiner’s fee and the aircraft hire. The examiner’s fee varies from CAA examiner to CAA examiner, but is usually somewhere in the range of £100. The aircraft hire depends on the hourly rental rate of your flying school and the time you need the aircraft for. Usually, the flying part of the Skills Test takes around one hour.

Licence application

The fee for the initial issue of an NPPL with a Microlight Class Rating is £191 (£170 if a member of the BMAA). Important: Applying for this licence must be done through the BMAA, not through the CAA. 


What supplies do you need during your NPPL training? That depends if you’re flying a flexwing or a fixed-wing. When flying a flexwing microlight, which has an open cockpit and no heater, make sure to also buy a warm flying suit, helmet with goggles, and a pair of gloves.

For the rest: a logbook, headset, timepiece, iPad, knee pad, sunglasses, flight bag, high vis jacket, protractor, nautical miles (nm) map ruler, flight computer (aka Whizz Wheel), an up-to-date chart, some apps and pilot log pads. That’s about the basics. 

How much does this equipment cost? You can buy a decent headset for £150, but you can also splurge and spend £1,500 – or even more – on a superb one. Same goes for the rest of the gear.

To save money on equipment, buy only the supplies that are necessary for your flight training and/or buy second-hand. Some flight schools will let you borrow (part of) their equipment for the duration of your training. 

Planning to own a microlight? When buying a second-hand microlight, often you get quite a lot of kit thrown in with the aircraft. This can save you having to buy an intercom, helmet or flying suit separately. 

Ikarus C42
Ilarus C42 from Gower Flight Centre over Tenby Sands in Pembrokeshire. Photo: Gower Flight Centre

Why is it so expensive?

Obtaining your NPPL is a significant financial investment wherever you do it. Because of inflation, the price has gone up in recent years. Still, some flying schools are more expensive than others. This mainly depends on their location. 

Tom Hay, CFI at Elevation Airsports says: “Reasons for the NPPL going up in cost over the last few years, include inflation, rising fuel costs, increasing hangarage cost, increases in airport fees, the overall purchase price of aircraft increasing or increased leasing cost, and an increase in insurance premiums.” 

Apart from these rising costs, where the microlight school is based makes a lot of difference. Hays explains: “Generally, operating from Gloucester is more expensive as we’re operating out of a fully licenced ATC airport with full facilities. This does come with a general increased cost compared to the majority of microlight school operations that are based out of smaller airfields and grass strips.”

Ian MacAdam from Popham’s Learn to Fly agrees that the location plays a big role: “There’s also a big variation in where you’re based. Different airfields have different costs. Previously I was based at a big airfield on the south coast, where my operating costs were higher. Now, based at Popham, there’s less overhead.” 

Is it worth comparing the options at different flying schools to save money? Definitely! But don’t let £50 difference in the grand total decide where you’re going… instead, aim for the school that feels right for you and the instructor you’ve got a click with. More important than the price, is that you enjoy your microlight flight training.

What does an NPPL cost for real? Five examples

Let’s assume you need 45 hours for your entire NPPL course, including your skills test. During this training, you do 50 landings and 50 touch-and-goes at the airfield your flying school is located and spend £50 on away landings.

You choose to self-study and pay £100 for learning materials. You pass all exams on the first attempt. You plan on using the radio, so you want a FRTOL, which costs you £150.

You want to have your own headset and flying suit and manage to get some decent equipment together for £350. The examiner fee is £100 (unless this is priced differently at the flight school). It takes you a year until you ask the BMAA to issue your NPPL. 

What does this cost at different flying schools? Prices correct 1 May 2023.

1. Learn to Fly (Popham Airfield) 

45 x £135 per hour in either a GT450 or a PulsR: £6075
1 year membership of Popham airfield: £150
Landing fees: 0
Touch & go fees: 0
Fuel surcharge: 0
Away landings: £50
Learning materials: £100
Ground exams: £150
FRTOL: £150
Skills test examiner fee: £250
Licence application: £191
Equipment: £350

Total cost: £7,466

2. Somerset Microlights (Dunkeswell Airfield)

45 x £158 per hour in an Ikarus: £7110
Membership fees: –
Landing fees: 0
Touch & go fees: 0
Fuel surcharge: 0
Away landings: £50
Learning materials: £100
Ground exams: £150
FRTOL: £150
Skills test examiner fee: £105
Licence application: £191
Equipment: £350

Total cost: £8,206

Lulworth Cove
Know where this is? Bet you've never seen it from this angle before! Photo: Geoff Hall

3. Exodus Airsports (Plaistows Airfield)
Full Course Fee (includes 25 hours tuition in a flexwing, five exams, GFT, one year club membership, and 10 hours ground schooling): £4,340
Extra hours: 2 x £1,470 for 10 hours in a flexwing: £2,940
Membership fees: 0
Landing fees: 0
Touch & go fees: 0
Fuel surcharge: 0
Away landings: £50
Learning materials: £100
Ground exams:
FRTOL: £150
Skills test examiner fee: 0
Licence application: £191
Equipment: £350

Total cost: £8,121

4. Elevation Airsports (Gloucestershire Airport)

45 x £176 per hour in an Ikarus: £7,920
Membership fees: 0
Landing fees: 0
Touch-and-go fees, 50 x £5.50 £275
Fuel surcharge, 45 x £8 per hour £360
Away landings: £50
Learning materials: £100
Ground exams: £175
FRTOL: £150
Skills test examiner fee: £190
Licence application: £191
Equipment: £350 

Total cost: £9,761

Microlight flying lesson
A lesson for one student in C42 with Tom Hay at Elevation Airsports. Photo: Elevation Airsports

5. Voliamo Flying School (Bradleys Lawn Airfield) 

45 x £170 per hour in a Pipistrel Alpha Trainer: £7,650
Membership fees: 0
Landing fees: 0
Touch & go fees: 0
Fuel surcharge: 0
Away landings: £50
Learning materials: £100
Ground exams: £300
FRTOL: £150
Skills test examiner fee: £150

The Skyranger, another type of fixed-wing microlight

Want to do it on the cheap? Five tips to reduce the cost of your NPPL

 1. Fly regularly so you don’t need to repeat lessons

Newly learned skills fade quickly and since flight training makes for a huge part of the total cost of your NPPL, this is where you can save some serious money. Do you only fly once a month? In that case, every month you’ll need to repeat at least part of the previous lesson. Flying several times a week? Not so much. 

You’ll spend less if you can do all your NPPL training in a short time. How? By setting enough time aside (also check the instructor’s availability) and choosing the right season so lessons aren’t cancelled because of bad weather.

2. Buy smart

Pay-as-you-go or buy-in-bulk? That depends on your situation and personal preference. Many flying schools offer discounts if you buy five, 10 or more training hours at the same time – ask for package deals or block hours pricing.

While some people love this option, others either don’t have the savings or don’t like the idea of paying upfront for flight training. Paying after each lesson leaves you the option to switch flying schools if things don’t work out.

3. Buy (a part of) your own microlight

Contrary to GA, where it’s often the case pilots rent a club aircraft, in microlighting, after getting their licence pilots generally go on to buy their own aircraft or a share in one. If you do this when learning, you’ll save money on your flight training.

Using your own aircraft for lessons will save you between £35 and £65 per hour, depending on the flying school. To save even more, join a syndicate and buy a share in a microlight. This way you can pay owner rates for your flight training while only being a part-owner.

4. Go somewhere else

Is your local flying school very expensive? Check if it’s cheaper to do your NPPL in another place. Before committing elsewhere though, add up all your expenses. The flying club at the other end of the country might be £50 cheaper per lesson, but is it still better value when you take all the travel time and petrol and/or accommodation costs into account?

5. Get a scholarship

Don’t see any way at all of paying for your NPPL after reading this article? Don’t give up just yet. Check the scholarships of the The Honourable Company of Air Pilots. Also the Royal Aero Club Trust has several bursaries, for those aged 14-24.

For women, there’s the possibility of getting a scholarship from the British Women Pilots’ Association (BWPA). Already have your NPPL but want to continue and become a flexwing instructor?

This year, the BMAA has eight bursaries of up to £1000 each for a flexwing instructor course. Read more: here


microlight beach
Does flying get any better? Photo: Geoff Hall

1 comment

  • Mz Hedy says:

    Good article, but

    Minor point – the lower cloudbase for flying on a licence wih operatioinal limitations is 1000 feet, not metres.

    Also – important point – passengers can be carried by a pilot licensed with operational limitations once they have “completed at least 25 hours of total flying in microlights and at least 10 hours solo flying in microlights” and have their logbook endorsed to that effect by a microlight flight examiner.

    For microlight pilots who are only interested in ‘just being up there’ a restricted licence can be a viable option. The other restrictions can be removed one the pilot has complete the required navigation training and solo cross-country flights.

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