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Will never work as a pilot. Should I get the CPL?


I hold an EASA PPL with a MEP-L rating. I have decided to get the EASA IR.

The school I’m going to attend has cooperation with Bristol GS. However Bristol only offers ATPL theory, not the standalone IR.

Then I started to think, maybe I should just study for the ATPL and add in the CPL.


-- Is it much more fuzz to keep the papers afterwards if I include a CPL compared to an IR only?

-- How much more is the ATPL to study compared to the IR?

-- After the exam, how long time do I have to complete the IR and CPL?

-- Upsides that I can think of are lower insurance, better skills, fun learning. Are there any obvious down sides?

Hope someone care to enlighten me on the subject. Thanks


For the IR theory alone you take 7 theory-exams. For the ATPL theory you have to study double that. The CPL practical exam is not that different from your PPL exam. The new EASA IR theory exam will be only 1 exam instead of 7. I personally did not care about the ATPL/CPL part as I am sure I never want to fly commercially, so opted myself for the PPL/IR option.

EDLE, Netherlands

better skills, fun learning

I guess you don't know the EASA syllabus yet It's 80% useless stuff and loads of it. Doing the old IR now is already a bold decision.

The new EASA IR theory exam will be only 1 exam instead of 7.

Where did you get that information from? In NPA2011-16 they say 7 exams for the CBM IR and the EIR.

United Kingdom

I chose "IR only" path because of two reasons: a) will never work as a pilot b) classroom lessons are shorter

I don't know what's the situation in the rest of EASA-land but our agency is pretty strict on checking if you really have spent required amount time attending ground training which wasn't achievable for me due to busy schedule.

However, I sometimes regret because the effort of preparing for these 7 exams in not much different than preparing 14 for ATPL. The questions for both exams are extracted from the same database and these 7 are probably the tougher part of complete ATPL syllabus. Downside is when you choose to upgrade from PPL/IR to CPL/IR or ATPL you don't have to retake only 2 of these 7 exams - instead of doing only 7 in addition you have to retake 12 like these 5 are not the same.

On the other side I don't know what benefit I would have from CPL - sometimes I think of enagaging as instructor but I ditch that idea fast :) because I don't have time to dedicate myself to teaching even as part time job.

LDZA LDVA, Croatia

My take on this is that there is no point in acquiring bits of paper which one will not be likely to keep current. What matters most in flying is currency on type.

The basic problem is that in EASA-land a commercial license is almost useless unless you get a job for a business which has an AOC.

The things you can do are basically: ferrying, being a paid pilot for an aircraft owner (e.g. flying a TBM850 or a PC12; even with an N-reg one the pilot will need EASA papers, on current proposals, after April 2014 unless the "operator" is outside the EU), remunerated parachute dropping. Instructing used to need it but I believe that is changing and simple PPL instructing will just require the 14 ATPL exam passes (actually the 9 CPL exam passes will do for VFR stuff).

The JAA/EASA ATPL is not achievable for anybody with smaller means than John Travolta, because it needs 500hrs in a multi pilot plane. It's very different in FAA-land, of course...

So all you can get is a CPL/IR.

A single engine EASA CPL or CPL/IR is also not worth much. You can do some limited AOC work e.g. pleasure flights in a C172 etc. These will be in VFR conditions but with an IR you have some additional flexibility. And as we are regularly reminded here, you can earn large amounts of money as an instructor

So we get to the multi engine CPL/IR.

To maintain this - see this thread

If you don't own a twin, it's going to cost you quite a lot of money to keep a ME CPL/IR valid.

It's true that most "professional" schools are interested only in running the 14-exam ATPL sausage machine, but there are some that will do a PPL/IR. I wrote this very long report on when I was doing that.

The new EASA IR theory exam will be only 1 exam instead of 7.

Last I heard, nobody actually knew into how many sittings the CBM IR syllabus ("learning objectives" being the correct term, punishable by spending a year working the night shift at the expenses reimbursement desk at Cologne if you mis-name it, same as omitting the word "Part" before "FCL" ) will be condensed, but 2 or 3 is a reasonable expectation.

But if you want a CPL/IR, that is irrelevant. You have to do all 14 current ATPL exams. The CBM IR helps only with the flight training portion of the IR.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

-- Upsides that I can think of are lower insurance, better skills, fun learning. Are there any obvious down sides?

Is the insurance really lower for having a CPL instead of a PPL?

From memory, at least in Ireland, renewing a CPL is more expensive than renewing a PPL, but I suppose soon we won't have to worry about renewing them.


EIWT Weston, Ireland

If you have no intention of working as a pilot and by that we mean remunerated, then there is no point in getting a CPL. There is certainly no point studying for ATPL exams if you only want an IR. By waiting a bit, both the exams should be simpler and probably the flying requirements for the IR as well. The big problem is that making the IR exams simpler does not mean that any schools will offer a course of training for them. If you are running a groundschool you can't make a living out of the occasional PPL IR course. If you need it in the next 2 years then you really have to go down the current route using one of the providers offering IR exams rather than ATPL specialists.

I agree.

The exams are generally done by hammering the question bank, on an Ipad

And the QB is pretty well sorted now. With any new syllabus, it will take a while for the QB to be generated, and there are indications that EASA is hoping that they can block a QB totally. If anything happens to delay or block a QB, the exam study workload will be much higher than it is now.

For an ab initio IR (no FAA IR etc) there is some classroom attendance but this is only a few days. I am not sure if this will go away with the CBM IR; certainly it was widely predicted that it would.

And the present 7 IR exams will be good for the CBM IR too.

So if I was working towards getting an IR in the next year or two I would start on the current exams.

When you have the exams in the bag, which will take a while anyway due to the fixed CAA exam timetable, then you can take a view of the then current flight training options.

I don't think a CPL instantly reduces insurance premiums. Rather, the insurer will see it as a part of a "package" indicating a more diligent pilot. I think going past 500hrs TT reduces premiums quite a bit; more than any other single factor at the pilot papers side of things.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

The school I’m going to attend has cooperation with Bristol GS. However Bristol only offers ATPL theory, not the standalone IR.

That is strange; My School (Orbit Groundschool in the Netherlands) is a reseller of the Bristol GS material, and I am currently doing the IR theory.

It might be that your school don't want to offer the IR, because it's more a hassle for them: They make less money on it, and since you need to attend only half of the mandatory classroom sessions, it requires some planning. When attending the classroom sessions, I was the only person doing IR.

The course is basically the same stuff as what the ATPL students do, but they took out 7 subjects...

I use the iPad version which works quite well.

The key to pass the exams first try is to practice the question database. The online Bristol question database can be found here.

If you have no intention to fly commercially, I would not bother doing the full ATPL theory....

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