How much does a private pilots license cost?

The cost of a private pilot’s license can vary depending on the type of school, the type of aircraft you plan to fly, and how dedicated you are to the commitment of your flight training goal. Most student pilots learn to fly at a local flying club or flight school. There, you will rent an airplane and hire a flight instructor.

The FAA has a minimum requirement of 40 hours of flight time for anyone who wishes to become a licensed pilot, but most student pilots require an average of around 60 hours. This means you will need to rent an aircraft for these hours and pay the instructor's hourly rate. Some of your flight time will be practicing solo flying and will not require the instructor, but you will only fly solo later in your training. You will also need some classroom work called ground school. You have the option of paying your instructor for this or studying the course at home. There will also be some miscellaneous fees involved with your pilot training, including a headset, books, exam fees, charts, and aircraft manuals.

Most students rent a small single engine aircraft like a Cessna 172 for their training, and the average hourly cost of a Cessna 172 can be in the range of $100-$150 per hour. The average hourly rate of a flight instructor is around $50-$80 per hour. Here is an hourly cost breakdown of the typical private pilot course.

Aircraft rental 60 hours at $125: $7,500
Flight instructor 40 hours at $65: $2,600
Pilot supplies/gear: $700
Total:    $10,800

Remember, this breakdown is merely an estimated average. The cost to learn how to fly could be higher or lower depending on a number of factors. If you are a very motivated student pilot, rent a cheaper aircraft, or live in a part of the country that has a lower cost of living, then it would be possible to acquire your private license at a lower cost.

Nathan Kaludy is a Certified Flight Instructor and holds an Airline Transport Pilot Certificate. He has a wide range of flying experience including flight instruction and corporate flight, and flew as a captain on an Embraer 175 jet for a regional airline. Nathan has always enjoyed flight instruction and sharing his experience with new student pilots. He also has earned his Instrument and Multi-engine flight instructor ratings.