The first step is the determination and drive and commitment, without these you will just become a number in a large system of pilots, you need to live the dream. You must be able to speak English clearly. From there obtain an Aviation Reference Number (ARN) from CASA, have an Aviation Medical (class 1 for Commercial, class 2 for Private), apply for an Aviation Security Identification Card (ASIC) from CASA. All of these forms are available on the CASA website www.casa.gov.au
You can begin flight training at any time, you don’t require the above, however it does make the process a little easier if you can. Flight lessons are then booked to progress on your journey towards the first stage which is the Recreation Pilot Licence (RPL), this involves a minimum of 20hrs flight time for those in an integrated course or 25hrs minimum for a non-integrated course. There a 4 theory exams along the way. The RPL allows you to carry passengers within a radius of 25nm from the airport of departure.
The next stage is the cross country component for the Private Licence (PPL), which comprises another 20hrs minimum flight time. There is 1 CASA theory exam for the PPL. There are also flight test for both the RPL and PPL. The PPL allows you to fly anywhere in Australia carrying passengers under visual flight rules (VFR) during the day.
The stage after obtaining the PPL is the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), which comprises 7 CASA theory exams and a further 110hrs of flight time, all in all of the 150hrs flight time required for the CPL integrated course there are 80hrs dual Instruction and 70hrs pilot in command time, based on minimum hours. All the experience gained in training and passes in the theory exams now prepares the candidate for a CPL flight test. Upon passing this you are granted your wings and are ready for work. This allows you to fly for an operator that employs you for general charter, such as scenic flights, freight flights, fare paying passenger charter flights, just to name a few. All the licences RPL/PPL/CPL are utilising a single engine aircraft.
After becoming a qualified Commercial Pilot there are various ratings required to become more employable on bigger aircraft, such as Night Rating (NVFR), Multi Engine Rating (MER), Command Instrument Rating (CIR) and the Airline Transport Pilot Licence Theory (ATPL) 7 theory subjects. In order to eventually apply for any Airline you will be required to have these theory exams passed and hold a MER and CIR as well as have the required CASA hours and qualifications. The Multi Engine Rating consists of 5-7hrs of flight training plus a flight test, and the CIR consists of simulator time, 20hrs and flight time of 20hrs minimum. In order to qualify for the CIR you will be required to have 5hrs in an aircraft at night, this is not a NVFR. A NVFR will consist of a minimum of 10hrs flight time at night and a theory exam plus a flight test. The NVFR can be incorporated into the CPL course, however it is weather dependent. All ratings require a flight test with an approved testing officer or flight examiner.
CASA will issue each licence as it is obtained and you cannot exercise the privilege of the licence until CASA has sent it to you.