Many licences are now issued in accordance with European standards and are equally valid and recognised throughout Europe. These are known as EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) licences and include the following:
Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL)
Available for aeroplanes and helicopters, the Private Pilot’s Licence is recognised worldwide and can be ‘built on’ with extra ratings and privileges.
Light Aircraft Pilot’s Licence (LAPL)
Available for aeroplanes, helicopters, balloons and gliders, the concept behind the LAPL was to create a simplified licence with a shorter training course and less onerous medical standards. In the case of aeroplanes and helicopters it is limited to a maximum take-off weight of two tonnes and no more than three passengers. With some extra training it can be upgraded to the PPL.
Sailplane Pilot’s Licence (SPL)
The primary licence for glider flying (this licence can be extended to include Touring Motorgliders).
Balloon Pilot’s Licence (BPL)
For flight in hot air balloons.
Some aircraft are still regulated by individual national authorities who issue National or ‘non-EASA‘ licences. These include:
National Private Pilot’s Licence (Microlights)
The licence for microlight aircraft. Microlights generally come in two types, ‘flex wing’ and three-axis. ‘Flex wing’ are generally open cockpit and have a single wing which moves around a pivot to control the direction of travel. ‘Three-axis’ are much closer to traditional light aeroplanes but fall below the weight category to be considered one.
National Private Pilot’s Licence (SSEA)
Since 8th April 2015 this licence can only be used to fly a small number of vintage light aircraft such as the Tiger Moth, along with what are known as ‘permit to fly’ and kit-built aircraft. Unless you wish to train and then be limited to these aircraft, the LAPL(A) or PPL(A) might be more suitable.