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PPL annual flying hours question

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PPL annual flying hours question

Old 2nd Apr 2011, 20:48
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PPL annual flying hours question

Planning ahead to possibly taking up PPL flying training, I have a question about the number of flying hours PPL's in the UK clock up.

I am aware of the CAA minimums for flying in order to keep a licence valid, but wonder what might be a "typical" number of flying hours that PPL pilots fly annually, once qualified. Is there an "average"?
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Old 2nd Apr 2011, 20:55
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I passed my PPL in June last year and have done 70 hours post licence issue if thats any help. More important than the 'number of hours' is the quality of the flying IMHO. I do alot of cross country flights to different places, not much point in just doing 'burger runs' for the sake of logging an hour or doing laps of a circut.

Try and challenge yourself to get the most out of your licence as well as fulfilling your potential as a pilot. You will also learn to 'trust' your aircraft, it is alot more capable than most people believe!
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Old 2nd Apr 2011, 21:36
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You need to ask YOURSELF, "how much can I affords to spend on flying?" and, if not your own aircraft, "how often is the aircraft available?"

Only YOU can determine how many hours YOU will fly per year.

MFC
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Old 2nd Apr 2011, 23:17
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I asked this question at my club of several PPLs who own their own aircraft, most said they, and those they know, do around 50hrs per year and considered that 'good going' when considering weather etc. This was a mix of people who fly aerobatics, tour or just bimble about on nice days.

It really is just a finance/time what you want out of thing though? For sure some clock up more hours, others just barely keep current. When it came to my last SEP renewal I had no choice but to do it by test, I had far less than the required 12hrs that year.
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Old 2nd Apr 2011, 23:55
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Disregarding the legal aspect, personally I think that anybody doing less than 30 hours in a year is (a) probably dangerous, and (b) should be questioning whether they should really be doing this - or at-least, doing it the way they are.

G
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 00:16
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Disregarding the legal aspect, personally I think that anybody doing less than 30 hours in a year is (a) probably dangerous, and (b) should be questioning whether they should really be doing this - or at-least, doing it the way they are.
Bollox. Surely 100 hours a year would be safer still. If they meet the requirements and pass the LPC /club check outs/ revalidation flights etc then let 'em fly. GA is being regulated out of existence as it is never mind sanctimonious pontification from those who can afford to fly more than others.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 01:12
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Originally Posted by flybymike View Post
Bollox. Surely 100 hours a year would be safer still. If they meet the requirements and pass the LPC /club check outs/ revalidation flights etc then let 'em fly. GA is being regulated out of existence as it is never mind sanctimonious pontification from those who can afford to fly more than others.
It's a viewpoint.

However, for many years I've flown in cheap syndicates at around 30-40/hr, and I am not proposing a rule, just explaining my personal view. 1000/year will buy you 8 hours in a rental PA28, or 30 hours in a syndicate microlight - I'd always take the latter if that's my only choice, and I'd much rather share the circuit with somebody who flies more hours in a cheaper flying machine.

I've also been regularly disturbed by just how close to the edge of killing themselves and/or somebody else some of these 10hrs/yr pilots are, when I encounter them in the circuit, or am asked to assess them as possible syndicate members.

I'm also quite clear in my mind, as an above averagely experienced pilot, that if I'm flying less than a couple of hours per month, I'm getting dangerous. If with 1200 hours I'm like that, I'm unconvinced that a 150hr pilot is better off than I am. Worse, they often lack the judgment, which to be fair comes with experience, to realise how dangerous they are.

G
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 03:06
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I've got to agree with Genghis on this one. I onced asked my insurer, how few hours would I fly before you really worried I was not maintaining my proficiancy. The answer came back "With 6000 hours, we're fine with you flying ten hours a year, but less would concern us. For a less experienced pilot, less than 25 a year is concerning". If an inexperienced pilot is flying once a month, the first 15 minutes of each flight is probably dusting off cobwebs, so the gaining skill is not starting until after that in each flight.

You will find after hundreds of hours in the same class of aircraft, it will become second nature, but then complacency creeps in quickly, and I think that's worse! That's what I'm trying to ward off these days, and it's incideous!

Budget 25 hours a year for your first few hundred hours. If you miss some flights 'cause of weather, that's okay. If you plan to fly consistanty less, you should think carefully about how you will maintain and grow your skills.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 03:15
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I can't disagree on the economics, permit tailwheel or 3 axis microlight share on the cards for me ASAP. It took me a while to figure this as most who got their licence when I did went for shares in CofA aircraft similar to those they trained in.

I did the maths and couldn't see any advantage over rental of buying these shares unless doing 50 hrs+ a year. You can see now why I was asking everyone at the club how many hours a year they were actually doing, as most said I would be lucky to do 50 hrs it didn't add up to go for one of these shares. So I kept on renting and struggling with currency.

As is for me the financial strain is about to lift, but I do feel for those I know who strive to get in 30 minutes a month to keep the whole thing going, I know all too well what it feels like and would much rather see them carry on doing that, than for them to drop out of flying completely.


Anyway I hope the above isn't too much thread drift and is some use to the OP. It's generally easy I think to get the momentum to get through the PPL, it's afterwards that things get more complicated.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 06:39
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Disregarding the legal aspect, personally I think that anybody doing less than 30 hours in a year is (a) probably dangerous, and (b) should be questioning whether they should really be doing this - or at-least, doing it the way they are.
Flying is a perishable skill, no doubt. The hardest part of flying, of course, is paying for it. From a private pilot perspective, especially post-checkride, it's hard to justify the cost of flying. Most students working toward their private have a solid goal; they can justify the cost of the rental or partnership and hourly expense because it's part of their effort to get their private pilot certificate or license.

Once the certificate is obtained, that justification is gone. A lot of students quit once they get their initial certification. The motivation has disappeared, and it's very hard to justify the expense.

Just as I always encouraged a student to fly at least once a week, more if able, I always encourage a private pilot to fly at least once a week. If that's not possible, once a month. Students are given to understand that the less the fly, the more review they will need, and the same applies to flying privately after certification. Proficiency fades, and the less someone flies, the more they should consider getting review with an instructor or another experienced pilot.

I found that I couldn't afford to fly privately, so I put myself in a position to get other people to pay me to fly. Flying once a week can get expensive. It's hard to justify, especially if someone is doing it for a hobby. This is the reason that I always encourage individuals to seek higher training. It's so much easier to justify flying and training when one is working toward a goal. Begin training toward an instrument rating, for example, or toward a commercial certificate, and there's some motivation. One doesn't need to be training every minute; one can go do hood-work or safety-pilot work with another private pilot. One can be practicing landings, chandelles, lazy-eights, approaches, stalls, steep turns, or any number of other proficiency building exercises, to justify the cost.

I've known individuals who built their own airplane or bought a homebuilt which used very little fuel, didn't cost much to maintain, and which was inexpensive to operate, in order to fly more, pay less, and stay more proficient. That's always an option.

Personally, I have a hard time staying proficient if I'm flying less than 300 hours a year. Generally I fly 600 hours or more a year, but someone else is paying me to fly. I certainly couldn't do that on my own, and I dont' think I'd try. If I go several weeks without flying, I feel the effects the next time I get in the cockpit. I have several decades of flying experience, and more than a few hours, and it doesn't immunize me from the effects of not flying. I need regular instrument flight, regular landings, regular exposure to what I do, or I feel the effects. Time away from a conventional gear airplanes will be evident, and I've been flying them since I was a teen.

One should never make any assumption regarding proficiency. People tend to overestimate themselves. The notion that it's just like riding a bicycle isn't true. One can get on a bicycle and go after a long time away from the handlebars, but there's a big difference between staying upright on a bicycle, and being a proficient pilot.

I should add that there are a lot of ways to keep your mind in the game between flights. Participating on sites such as this is one. Reading as much as you can about flying and flying topics is another. Not simply stories about people who fly, but by digesting material such as the Barry Schiff series of "The Proficient Pilot," or any number of flight manuals, is a good way to keep your mind constantly working about aerodynamics, situational awareness, navigation, performance, safety, and so forth. Studying accident reports to learn from the mistakes of others, reading the maintenance manual for the airplane you fly, studying the aircraft flight manual, etc, are all all good ways to keep your mind on flying. That's important to keeping you proficient, just as getting in the airplane is important.

Some find the use of various computer simulations or games, to be helpful. I can't speak to those as I don't play them or use them, but I've had good reports from a number of individuals who felt that it helped them.

Visualization is also important. There's a lot to be gained from sitting in a chair with one's eyes closed and visualizing one's way around the traffic pattern, or going to the airport and sitting in the airplane on the ramp and doing the same thing. I always encourage students to do that; pick a weather day when flying isn't an option, and go sit in the airplane and fly the trip in your mind, reaching for the controls, feeling the airplane, imagining the trip. You might be surprised what it can do for you, and in a world where it's extremely expensive to start the motor, it's one more way to keep yourself tuned up to the flying you'd like to be doing.

Recognize that if you can't fly much, your proficiency will slip more than you will realize. Recognizing the fact is a key to knowing in advance and acting accordingly. You're not a sharp as you think especially if you're not flying regularly. Tailor the flying you do, then to take this into account. That may mean flying with an instructor, or it may mean dedicating your one hour for the month to doing landings, rather than sight seeing. It may mean putting together a flight card before you arrive at the airport: you're scheduling exactly what will be done on the flight to get the most out of your money and your time. Three stalls, four normal landings, Five minutes of slow flight, two soft field landings, etc. Some concrete target ideas of what you're going to do will help you make the most of the time you've got.

Once a week really ought to be the minimum, but it's hard to do, and hard to justify, especially in this economic climate, and with the cost of flying today. If you can't fly once a week, shoot for once every two weeks, and do everything you can to maximize on that flying. If you can't do that, then shoot for once a month. If you can't do that, you'll be best spending your flying with an instructor to stay proficient, because you won't be flying enough to keep up your own level of proficiency. If you have very little flight experience to begin with, then you don't have much of an experience base to fall back upon, but don't forget that no matter how experienced you are, flight proficiency and skill begins to fade with disuse very quickly. Recognize it, and plan accordingly. Fly as much as you can afford, and make up the difference in enthusiasm, interest, and effort.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 08:04
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The analogy with bike riding is both true and not true.

As someone who took his license when I was very young and then couldn't afford to fly for 15 years, I can tell you that some things don't go away, like the basic ability to fly. What does go away is procedure. Stalls and unusual flying, radio work, regulations - that sort of stuff. I could still land a 152 on the first try as good/bad as I did when I was 20 and had a newly minted PPL A.

Incidentally, I quite recently went up for 2 hrs in helicopter for the first time since 1995 and I could still hover albeit perhaps not as smoothly as at the height of my training. Point is, the physical act of coordinated muscle movement in order to fly is non-perishable, but the rest might be.

This, I think, holds true for all flying, no matter what type.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 08:10
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I usually manage 2-3 times a month however feel just as comfortable flying once a month.

Last edited by Rugbyears; 3rd Apr 2011 at 08:26.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 08:21
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Again, riding a bike is about being able to stay upright. Not exactly the halmark of proficiency. One tends to overestimate one's self; it's human nature.

Simply because fifteen years later one can still remain upright doesn't mean one has remained proficient. Or that one has retained anything of significance.

I spent two years away from the cockpit, and before I took that hiatus, I was very connected to my flying. I thought, the airplane did. It was an extension of me. When I returned, I thought one thing, the airplane did another.

Even muscle memory fades. The ability to judge height in a flare fades. Airspeed control fades. It may be easier to bring back for some, than others, but it definitely fades.

We see a number of individuals who want to upgrade from the flight engineer seat to the right seat, who don't make the upgrade. They have to meet minimum company upgrade requirements in terms of flying experience, and many of them will go rent a simulator for a few hours before coming to class. Even though they may have thousands of hours in type as a flight engineer, they're often our of practice as pilots. For those that are flying privately on the side, it's still a big leap. I've seen a number of them wash out, and it's not because they're not bright, sharp individuals; they are. It's not because they don't know the airplane like the back of their hand. They do. It's because the longer they've spent manning the panel, the lower their proficiency has become, and it shows up when they get in the simulator and have to fly. Even after spending twelve hundred dollars an hour to rent a sim to try to get up to speed before hand, I've seen them wash out because they couldn't fly the airplane.

We've had a number of individuals who did make the leap, of course, but regardless I think every one of them will agree that the level of proficiency drops substantially when not flying, or when not flying enough.

The dangerous ones are those who don't recognize this important truth.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 10:36
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I think with both flying, and riding a bike, the handling skills do stay with you.

But the ability to simultaneously handle, navigate, communicate, monitor what the aeroplane's doing, follow checks, and maintain situational awareness - all at once, that's what goes. So, stuff gets missed - and that I think is what tends to make a less-current pilot relatively dangerous. Mostly, they can still take-off and land okay.

Much the same with a bicycle - when I was a student who went everywhere by bike, I was quite safe and comfortable cycling places on a busy main road in all weather - my handling skills and SA were sharp enough that I made it to 25! Now, I'd be lucky to survive the experience intact and my very occasional cycle rides I constrain to quiet country roads.

G
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 13:32
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As a relatively low hrs PPL having now taken two large breaks from flying - I was actually surprised how easy it was to fly the plane still, not easy as in complacency, just that it wasn't actually hard work (as I remembered it) to fly circuits but really enjoyable. If anything I was more precise than I was before (letting the plane do the work more) and better at judging landings. I can't explain that but that is how it seems. Almost like the neurons in my thick head had continued to sort out flying mode even when I wasn't doing any.


It's definitely the procedural stuff that I'm more worried about.

Sims helped me a lot for SEP renewal and club currency. I don't 'play' sims as such, what I get from computer sims is like flying, it directly relates to what I put in and how it is approached. There are a couple of good books on how pilots can use say FSX, it's not always a case of 'playing' it, it can be just going through checklists, thinking out radio calls etc to keep some level of currency on procedure, right through to bashing circuits or doing PFLs and instrument flight. In all it's keeping familiarity, I do things like forgetting to call final on the sim. I bet I would have gone on to do it in the air if I hadn't picked up on it first on the sim. Doing that several times during a club checkout would guarantee needing to book another hour at my club.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 17:06
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Disregarding the legal aspect, personally I think that anybody doing less than 30 hours in a year is (a) probably dangerous, and (b) should be questioning whether they should really be doing this - or at-least, doing it the way they are.
There wouldn't be any private flying in the UK then. The number of people who are that rich has got to be too small to support the infrastructure.
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 17:33
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Originally Posted by Gertrude the Wombat View Post
There wouldn't be any private flying in the UK then. The number of people who are that rich has got to be too small to support the infrastructure.
No, we'd all be in syndicates on permit aeroplanes flown on MOGAS rather than paying horrendous club rental rates inflated by all the regulatory hoops that they have to jump through and the cost of running Lycontinentals on Avgas.

Those who are currently on syndicated permit aeroplanes flown on MOGAS of-course are mostly paying under 60/hr for their flying, so can afford to do a bit more.

G
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 21:35
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Many of those that say it's too expensive, probably haven't made the time commitment that is involved to seek out more economical flying. It can take ages to research and join a group or meet people to share your flying with- It's taken me 5 months! [Club-renting is a convenient and accessible way to fly but that justifies the premium]
For new/low hour private pilots [like me] that haven't really established a strong pilot network with which to share flying experiences, there are ways to get air-time: the 'Spare seats' thread, hanging around a flying club- empty seats/lonely pilots that don't use PPRuNe. Reading/discussing around anything that you think you need to improve on so that you accomplish more in the air. Lots of software out there these days too, its worth using things like RANT and FSX and the many apps that are available online.
I like the notion of having targets on specific flights- it can really stretch your time out usefully check-lists of tasks and challenges to work through. I keep a type of expanded log book/diary where I write up every thought and peculiarity of the flight.
When I was flying in the winter months, I could only manage about an hour/month!... In spite of it being with an expert instructor, it still took me about 5 hours of self-briefing and visualising to feel 'maybe I wont make myself look like a jackass in front of him this time'
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Old 3rd Apr 2011, 22:16
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Gertrude,you are so right.
The pomposity and self belief on this forum sometimes goes beyond belief.
Maybe that's why I don't look on here so often.
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Old 4th Apr 2011, 11:53
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I'm afraid that in my family that would just be too expensive.

If I buy a plane she promises she'll buy a horse. And she said a couple of days ago, when I was remarking how much cheaper planes had become recently, that she would put the horse out to livery in NZ, where she would visit it whenever there was some rugby on.

Cheaper by far if I just carry on renting.
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