I had heard and read about the deadlines involved when training for a PPL but never really understood the full implications of this.

The Two Year Rule…
The Eighteen Month Rule…

Although all the relevant information is available at the CAA Website, some of it can be a little difficult to interpret so I thought it would be an idea to mention it here in fine detail in case anyone else ends up in the same situation I have.

I have to say a big thanks to brilliant and clever folks at Sherburn Aero Club for helping me sift through all the info and the CFO Chris Stringer, who nailed it.


All seven written PPL exams must be completed within an 18 month period.
Think of this as an 18 month window on a calendar, place the end of the window on the last exam you passed. All exams must fit inside that window.
If one of the (earlier) exams is outside that period, it becomes in-valid and must be taken again until all exams fit inside that 18 month window again.


You have 2 years from the date of the last exam to complete the training, pass the Skills Test and – here is the important part – Get the PPL license application on the desk of the CAA.
So it’s another window that starts from the date of your last exam pass and finishes 2 years later. But the application must be in by the end of that 2 year period. Therefore the Skills Test must be passed in advance of the 2 year period in order to give you chance to fill in and send off the application and have it arrive at the CAA.
If the application is not on that desk before 2 years are up, then you need to take one (or some… or all) of the exams again in order to move that 2 year window.

Of course most people won’t take that long to complete the training and pass the skills test. So often this is irrelevant.

Sounds complicated? I have prepared a small graphic that may explain it better.

PPL Training & Exam Windows

PPL Training & Exam Windows

My situation:

I passed my Air Law exam on December 10th, 2008. I then had a long time “off”.
I passed my final exam (Aircraft General and Principles of Flight) on May 25th 2010.

So put that 18 month window on May 25th 2010 and look backwards 18 months. Takes us to November 25th 2008. So all my exams are within the 18 month window… Just!
Now I have 2 years to get the application on the CAA desk from the date of my last exam pass.
So take the date of the last exam passed (May 25th 2010) and look forwards 2 years. Brings us to May 24th 2012. My application must be on that desk by then. That gives me about 6 weeks (the time of writing), to get my QXC done and some revision and the all important Skills Test. And then get the application in.

It gets worse:

If I don’t make it by May 24th 2012, my 2 year window is over. But… Also it would be no good taking the first exam again, as the last exam would be more than 2 years ago. So I would have to re-sit all seven exams! I wish I had realised this earlier, although to be truthful, circumstances would not have permitted me to do much about it.

QXC Dual

I had done my Dual QXC – (Qualifying Cross Country – with instructor) – in late 2010. Unfortunately it is far too long for me to just go do the Solo QXC immediately. Also the route that we trained on has changed.

QXC: The trip must be a least 150nm and landing must be made at two airfields away from home.This is marked on a sheet by the controllers at each airport and is a vital part of the course.

So with that in mind we set off to do the new QXC route. For anyone flying from Sherburn route we took was roughly:

Sherburn – (Wombleton) – (Stokesly VRP) – Durham Teesside – (Wombleton) – (Elsham Wolds) – Humberside – Sherburn.

It went great. Lovely hot summery day. The greeting at Durham Teesside is rather flattering. A very helpful young woman comes to pick you up from the aircraft in a big plush mini van, takes you to the club house and makes you a cuppa. Wicked! I am really looking forward to doing it on my own as soon as weather permits.

instructor Phil Cook, had my iPad Sky Demon running as back up and said he was very impressed. It constantly kept him updated and shows a huge amount of relevant information.

So I recorded the track and here it is:

Altitude AMSL
Ground Speed

Six weeks to go and the now you can clearly see why the heat is on.

Thanks for reading.


Time Passes…



Well I tried, I really did.

I had the QXC (Qualifying Cross Country) booked in 5 times and was “weathered off” each time. There was simply no way the weather was going to allow me to complete the course in time. Very frustrating, especially when I could see the time running out week by week.

So that’s about it for now…

I have to consider when I will have time to revise and re-sit all 7 exams and of course there would also be a great deal of revision flying as well.

If nothing else, I hope that this may be a warning to anyone else taking the PPL course in England. Unless you have unlimited free time and can fly at the drop of a hat – Never count on the weather holding up for you.

Cheers for now.