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1 Aviation Document Booklet

Aviation Document Booklet

Pilot authority is provided by Transport Canada through the issue of Aviation Document Booklets (ADB), which contain information on licence, permit, and rating privileges, the medical certificate, and English Language proficiency certification.  The one exception is the Student Pilot Permit, which is a stand-alone document.


The ADBs are colour coded based on the authority type.  Pilot Licences, including the Private Pilot Licence, Commercial Pilot Licence, and the Airline Transport Pilot Licence are blue in colour, Air Traffic Controller Licences are grey, while pilot permits, such as the Recreational Pilot Permit, are grey.


ADBs are valid for 60 months (5 years) from the date of issue, and expire on the 1st day of the 61st month.

2 Aviation Language Proficiency

Aviation Language Proficiency

In accordance with the standards established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), all pilots must be assessed and provided with respect to their language proficiency rating. English is the language of aviation according to ICAO standards, and all pilots must demonstrate an acceptable level of language proficiency.


There are three language proficiency ratings: expert, operational, and below operational.  An expert rating is provided to those who achieve level 6 on the language proficiency test, and this assessment provides that no further testing of the pilot is required. An operational rating is provided to those who score at level IV or five on the test, and English language proficiency must be re-tested every five years. An assessment of being below operational proficiency means that the candidate does not qualify for a Canadian pilot license or permit.

3 Categories and Classes

Aircraft Categories and Classes

There are six categories of aircraft for which flying privileges are provided: balloon, glider, aeroplane, ultra-light aeroplane, helicopter, and gyroplane.


There are four classes of aeroplanes for which privileges are further specified: single-engine land aeroplane, single-engine sea aeroplane, multi-engine land aeroplane, and multi-engine sea aeroplane.


Note the rather subtle difference between aeroplanes and ultra-light aeroplanes.  Basic ultralight airplanes are restricted to a maximum gross weight limit 544 kg, and except for the purpose of flight instruction, basic ultralight aeroplanes cannot carry passengers.  To make matter somewhat more complicated, if an ultralight airplane is certified as an advanced ultralight airplane in accordance with the Design Standards for Advanced Ultra-light Airplanes recognized by Transport Canada, a single passenger can be carried, provided that passenger is also a licensed pilot or permit holder.  For more information regarding ultra-light aircraft and the carrying of passengers, see Transport Canada’s General Aviation Policy Letter Number GA-97-15.

4 Student Pilot Permit

Student Pilot Permit

The minimum age for this permit is 14 years.


Prior to receiving a Student Pilot Permit, the holder shall have a Category 1, 3, or 4 Medical Certificate (discussed below).


Prior completion of the examination entitled the Student Pilot Permit or Private Pilot Licence for Foreign and Military Applicants, Air Regulations (“PSTAR” for short, as no one can ever remember such an exam name!) is required.  The PSTAR examination is administered on behalf of Transport Canada by most certified Flight Training Units—most schools administer their own PSTAR examination.  The passing grade for the PSTAR is 90% and it must be corrected to 100%.  The material contained in the Canadian Aviation
 section of this course, as well as the material related to Medical Factors in Flight Operations , are designed to prepare students generally for the PSTAR examination.


Once the age, medical, and PSTAR requirements are met, a student may be issued the Student Pilot Permit by an Authorized Person.


Before a student pilot can exercise the privileges of a Student Pilot Permit and act as Pilot-in-command—i.e., before they can fly an aircraft without a Flight Instructor on board—a Flight Instructor must certify in the student’s Pilot Training Record that the candidate has reached a satisfactory standard of experience and skill to complete solo flight.


For the purpose of receiving flight training or undertaking a flight test, the holder of a Student Pilot Permit may act as Pilot-in-command of any aircraft of the category to which the permit applies, provided the following requirements are met:


The minimum age for this permit is 16 years.


The holder of a Recreation Pilot Permit must hold a valid Category 4 Medical Certificate or higher.


Training for this permit must be conducted as per Transport Canada requirements.


The applicant must have completed a minimum of 40 hours groundschool on subjects specified by Transport Canada.


The applicant must obtain a minimum 60% on the Transport Canada examination (Air Law, Navigation, Meteorology, and Aeronautics-General Knowledge).


The applicant must have completed a minimum of 25 hours flight training in the aircraft category (aeroplane, gyroplane, and helicopter), including no less than 15 hours dual with a flight instructor and 5 hours solo.


Of the 15 hours of dual instruction, 2 hours must be cross-country time.


Successful completion of a flight test is required.


Recreational Pilots are licensed to fly any four-seat aircraft or smaller (including ultra-light, single-engine, and multi-engine aircraft) during the day in Canada.

5 Private Pilot Licence (day VFR)

Completion Requirements

Students must be timely on completing both the written examination and flight training requirements for their flight test examination.  The results of written examinations are valid for only 24 months.  In contrast, the results of a flight test are valid for only 12 months.  To obtain the licence, the successful completion of the flight test and the written examination must be simultaneously valid—the flight test must be completed during the validity period of the written examination, or the written examination must be completed during the validity period of the flight test, whichever the candidate decides to do first.


Transport Canada charges a licensing fee, and Designated Flight Test Examiners (appointed by Transport Canada) charge a flight test fee.


Examination Administration

If a person fails a written examination, there is a waiting period.  In the event of a first failure, the person must wait 14 days; with a second failure, the waiting period is 30 days; and in the case of third or subsequent failures, the person must wait 30 days plus an additional 30-day period for each failure in excess of two failures, up to a maximum of 180 days.


This waiting requirement does not apply to the PSTAR examination required for the Student Pilot Permit.


The Private Pilot and Recreational Pilot written examinations are composed of sections, and the waiting requirements do not apply if a person obtains a passing grade on the overall examination, but fails one or more sections.


Additionally, re-writing an examination only requires that you rewrite the failed sections.


Transport Canada charges an administration fee for examinations.

6 Completion Requirements
7 Examination Administration
8 Night Rating

Night Rating

The holder of a licence endorsed with a Night Rating may exercise the privileges of the licence in Night VFR conditions.


The applicant for the rating requires 20 hours flight experience in same aircraft category.


The applicant must have completed a minimum of 10 hours night-flight experience, including no less than 5 hours dual instruction (which must include a 2-hour cross-country), and 5 hours solo flight time, which must include 10 takeoffs and landings.


The applicant must also have completed 10 hours dual instrument time.


Transport Canada requires neither a flight test nor written examination for the Night Rating.

9 VFR Over-the-Top Rating

VFR Over-the-Top Rating

The holder of a licence endorsed with a VFR Over-the-Top (VFR OTT) Rating may exercise the privileges of the licence while flying VFR above a cloud ceiling.


This rating requires the applicant to have 20 hours flight experience in same aircraft category.


The applicant must have completed 15 hours dual instrument time.


Transport Canada requires neither a flight test nor written examination for the VFR OTT Rating.

10 Commercial Pilot Licence (day and night VFR and VFR OTT)

Commercial Pilot Licence (day and night VFR and VFR OTT)

The holder of a Commercial Pilot Licence may exercise the privileges of Pilot-in-command of any aircraft engaged in a commercial air service where the aircraft minimum flight crew document requires a minimum flight crew of one pilot—i.e., an air taxi operation—or the privileges of Co-pilot of any aircraft type that is endorsed on his or her licence.

Knowledge Requirements—Groundschool Instruction

An applicant shall have completed a minimum of 80 hours commercial pilot aeroplane groundsschool instruction including at least the following subjects:

  • Canadian Aviation Regulations,

  • Aerodynamics and Theory of Flight,

  • Meteorology,

  • Airframes, Engines and Systems,

  • Flight Instruments,

  • Radio and Electronic Theory,

  • Navigation,

  • Flight Operations,

  • Licensing Requirements, and

  • Human Factors, including pilot decision-making.

Knowledge Requirements—Written Examination

All applicants shall have obtained a minimum of 60% in each of the following four mandatory subjects areas as well as in the overall written examination Commercial Pilot Licence—Aeroplane (CPAER):

  1. Air Law—regulations, rules and orders, air traffic services, practices and procedures, and licensing requirements relevant to the licence,

  2. Navigation—navigation, radio aids and electronic theory,

  3. Meteorology, and

  4. Aeronautics—General Knowledge—airframes, engines and systems, theory of flight, flight instruments and flight operations.

To assist in preparation for the CPAER, Transport Canada publishes a Commercial Pilot Study and Reference Guide.

Students who achieve a passing grade of 60% or more, but fail one or move of the above sections, are assessed a partial pass and can write supplementary examinations on failed subjects rather than a complete re-write of CPAER.

Experience Requirements

An applicant for a Commercial Pilot Licence—aeroplane shall:

  1. have completed a minimum of 200 hours flight time in aeroplanes, of which a minimum of 100 hours shall be pilot-in-command time including 20 hours cross-country pilot-in-command flight time, and

  2. following the issuance of a private pilot licence—aeroplane by Canada or another contracting state, have completed 65 hours of commercial pilot flight training in aeroplanes consisting of a minimum of:

    1. 35 hours dual instruction flight time, under the direction and supervision of the holder of a Flight Instructor Rating — Aeroplane, including:

      1. 5 hours night, including a minimum of 2 hours of cross-country flight time;

      2. 5 hours cross-country; and

      3. 20 hours of instrument flight time—a maximum 10 hours of the 20 hours may be conducted on an approved aeroplane simulator or synthetic flight training device.

    2. 30 hours solo flight time including:

      1. 25 hours solo flight time emphasizing the improvement of general flying skills of the applicant which shall include a cross-country flight to a point of a minimum of 300 nautical mile radius from the point of departure and shall include a minimum of 3 landings at points other than that of departure; and

      2. 5 hours solo flight time by night during which a minimum of 10 takeoffs, circuits and landings were completed.


Skill Requirements

Within the 12 months preceding the date of application for the licence, an applicant for a commercial pilot licence — aeroplane shall successfully complete a flight test as pilot-in-command of an aeroplane, in accordance with the Commercial Pilot Flight Test Guide.

Additional Requirements

Students must hold a Category 1 Medical Certificate prior to attempting the Commercial Pilot flight test, or prior to attempting the qualifying Commercial Pilot written examination. 


To be eligible to write the qualifying written examination, Commercial Pilot students must complete 50% of their flight experience requirements (CAR 421.13(4)).

11 Instrument Rating

Instrument Rating

The holder of a licence endorsed with an Instrument Rating may exercise the privileges of the licence in IFR conditions—i.e., “instrument flight rules,” which is when the pilot can fly in cloud without visual reference to the ground.


The applicant must obtain 70% on Transport Canada examination, which assesses knowledge of Air Regulations, Instrument Flight Rules and Procedures, Meteorology, Instruments, Radio and Radar Systems, and Navigation.


The applicant must have 50 hours cross-country experience.


The applicant must have accumulated 40 hours instrument training time, including a cross-country flight in actual or simulated IFR conditions of not less than 100 nautical miles, and including instrument approaches to specified approach altitude minima at two locations.


Successful completion of a flight test is required for this rating.


Instrument Ratings are issued on the basis of Groups.  A Group 1 Instrument Rating applies specified instrument privileges to fly any conventional multi-engine or single-engine aircraft, while the Group 3 Instrument Rating applies specific instrument privileges to fly only single-engine aircraft.  The Group 2 Instrument Rating is restricted to centre-thrust multi-engine aircraft such as the Cessna 337.

12 Multi-engine Class Rating

Multi-engine Class Rating

The holder of a licence endorsed with a Multi-engine Rating may exercise the privileges of the licence in aircraft equipped with two or more engines.


This rating does not require the completion of a specified number of training hours.


The applicant must successfully complete a flight test.

13 Seaplane Rating

Seaplane Rating

The holder of a licence endorsed with a Seaplane Rating may exercise the privileges of the licence in aircraft equipped to land and takeoff on water.


The applicant must complete a minimum number of training hours, including a minimum of 5 takeoffs and landings as the sole occupant of the aeroplane.

14 Multi-crew Pilot Licence-Aeroplane

Multi-crew Pilot Licence—Aeroplane

This licence is in the planning phase.  It provides the licence holder to carry out the duties and responsibilities of a co-pilot operating a multi-engine, turbine powered, transport category aeroplane, which is certificated to be operated by two or more pilots. The holder is restricted to those aeroplanes for which that person holds a type rating on their licence, and is unable to fly outside of the restrictions imposed on the MPL privileges, unless that person additionally holds one of the traditional pilot licences, ratings, or permit.

15 Airline Transport Pilot Licence

Airline Transport Pilot Licence

The holder of an Airline Transport Pilot Licence—the most senior licence issue by Transport Canada—may exercise the privileges of Pilot-in-command or Co-pilot of any aircraft engaged in a commercial air service where the aircraft minimum flight crew document requires a minimum flight crew of two pilots—i.e., commuter or airline aircraft.


An applicant for the Airline Transport Pilot Licence must hold a Group 1 (Multi-engine) Instrument Rating.


The following is also required:


  1. 70% on Transport Canada examinations—two examinations must be written.  The first examination (although order of writing is not important) is entitled SAMRA, concerns the subjects of Meteorology, Radio Aids to Navigation, and Flight Planning.  The second examination is entitled SARON, which concerns Air Law, Aeroplane Operation and General Navigation.

  2. 1500 hours flight experience, of which 250 hours must be Pilot-in-command (100 of the 250 hours may be as Pilot-in-command under supervision),[1] including 100 hours cross-country flight time (which must include 25 night hours).

  3. 100 hours night flight time as Pilot-in-command or co-pilot.

  4. 200 hours cross-country time as co-pilot in a two-crew aeroplane, or an additional 100 hours cross-country time as Pilot-in-command in addition to the above specified.

  5. 75 hours instrument flight time of which a maximum of 25 hours may be acquired in an approved instrument ground trainer (the ground trainer time cannot be applied toward the 1500 hours required).

Type Ratings

There are two categories of type ratings (CAR 421.40), the first, as discussed above, is referred to as a Blanket Type Rating.  The second category of type ratings is referred to as Individual Type Ratings, which cover specific aircraft types not included in the Blanket Type Rating.  Individual Type Ratings are required to pilot any multi-crew aircraft (e.g., requiring a co-pilot), as well as any high performance aircraft.  A high performance aircraft, in turn, is defined as aircraft with a never exceed speed (Vne) of 250 KTS indicated airspeed (KIAS) and greater, or a stall speed in a landing configuration (Vso) of 80 KIAS and greater.  The rating is referred to as Individual Type as the high performance aircraft for which a pilot receives qualification is listed individually on his or her licence.

  • To obtain an Individual Type Rating on aeroplanes with a minimum flight crew requirement of at least two pilots, the applicant must:

  • Obtain a minimum of 70% on the Type Rating-Aeroplane examination (entitled IATRA), or the Airline Transport Pilot Licence written examinations (SAMRA and SARON) within the 24 months preceding the first endorsement of the rating;

  • Have completed 250 hours flight time;

  • Have passed a Pilot Proficiency Check on the aeroplane type within 24 months preceding the application for the rating.


A Pilot Proficiency Check (PPC) is basically a flight test examination, conducted by a pilot examiner.  The ride includes specialty takeoffs and landings, steep turns, stalls, and various emergencies.  In the case of multi-engine aircraft, emergencies requiring engine-shutdowns are typically examined, and in the case of an IFR PPL, holds and instrument approaches in simulated or actual IMC conditions are examined.

15B Type Ratings
16 Pilot Personal Logbooks

Pilot Personal Logbooks

Every holder of a flight crew permit, licence, or rating must maintain a personal log for the purpose of documenting experience and recency.


For each flight, this log must contain the following information:


  1. the date of the flight;

  2. the type of aircraft and its registration mark (four-letter identification that appears on the  fuselage or tail of the aircraft);

  3. the flight crew position in which the holder acts;

  4. the flight conditions with respect to day, night, VFR and IFR;

  5. in the case of aeroplanes, the place of departure and the place of arrival;

  6. all of the intermediate takeoffs and landings;

  7. the flight time.


A pilot’s personal log is audited when a licence or rating is achieved by the pilot, and for this reason it is crucial to make careful entries in the Pilot Log.  When a commercial licence or airline transport licence is applied for, for example, this audit of the Pilot Log is conducted by Transport Canada personnel.  In the event of commercial pilot training, it is important not to “double-dip” instrument training and night flying—that is, if a commercial student is obtaining instrument training at night, and the flight lasts .8 air time and 1.0 flight time, only a maximum of .8 can be accredited instrument time and this has to be allocated to the Pilot Log’s “day” flight time, while the remaining .2 (the difference between air and flight time) can be allocated to “night” flight time.  It sounds confusing, but is required by Transport Canada.


No person shall make an entry in a personal log unless the person is the holder of the log, or has been authorised to make the entry by the holder of the log.

17 Five-year Recency
Passenger Requirements
Recency Requirements
Recurrent Training Program

Recency Requirements

Five-year Recency

The holder of a flight crew permit, licence, or rating can only exercise the privileges of their permit, licence, or rating if they have acted as Pilot-in-command of an aircraft within the preceding five years (CAR 401.05.)  In the event that they have not acted as such within this time period, privileges can only be reinstated if they undertake the following:


  1. successfully completes a flight review with a Flight Instructor and the Flight Instructor certifies in the holder’s personal log that the person meets the skill requirements associated with the permit, licence, or rating (CAR 421.05.); and

  2. successfully completes the PSTAR examination.


Recurrent Training Program

The holder of a flight crew permit, licence, or rating can only exercise the privileges of their permit, licence, or rating if, within the preceding 24 months, they have completed a recurrent training program (CAR 421.05), which may take the form of any of the following:


  1. completion of a flight review with a Flight Instructor;

  2. attendance of a safety seminar conducted by Transport Canada Aviation;

  3. participation in an approved recurrent training program designed to update pilot knowledge of human factors, meteorology, flight planning and navigation, and aviation regulations, rules and procedures;

  4. completion of the self-paced study program produced annually in the Transport Canada Aviation Safety Newsletter, a copy of which shall be the most current published by date and must be retained by the licence holder;

  5. completion of the requirements for the issue or renewal of a pilot permit, licence or rating, including night rating, VFR OTT, instrument rating, multi-engine rating, flight instructor rating or landplane or seaplane rating; or

  6. completion of the written examination for a permit, licence, or rating.


Passenger Requirements

If a pilot wishes to fly with passengers, he or she can only fly an aircraft category, class, or type that is endorsed on his licence.


To fly with passengers, a pilot must have flown at least five takeoffs and landings in aircraft of the same category and class within the preceding six months; to fly with passengers at night, the required five takeoffs and landings must have been flown at night within the preceding six months [CAR 401.05 (2)(i)].

19 Medical Certificate
Validity Period Determination

Medical Certificate

Medical Certificates are issued based on the licence or permit held:


Category 1—Required for Commercial Pilots.

Category 2—Required for Air Traffic Controllers, Flight Navigators, and Engineers.

Category 3—Required for Private Pilots.

Category 4—Required for Recreational, Glider and Ultra-light Aeroplane Pilots, and is the minimum medical requirement for Student Pilots.


A Category 4 Medical Certificate is in fact a Civil Aviation Medical Declaration completed in the form of a medical questionnaire that must be countersigned by a family physician; Categories 1, 2, and 3 are done by Transport Canada Medical Examiners.


A pilot holding a Category 4 Medical Certificate may exercise the privileges of a permit or licence in Canadian airspace only.


The validity period of the Medical Certificate is based on the type of licence privileges exercised (CAR 404.04.).  The Medical Certificates for Private Pilots and Recreational Pilots are valid for 60 months (5 years) under the age of 40 years, but only 24 months if 40 years old or older.


The medical validity period for the holder of a Student Pilot Permit is 30 months (5 years) irrespective of age.


With regard to the validity period of a Medical Certificate for pilot engaged in commercial flying (i.e., acting as a flight crew member for hire or reward)—Commercial Pilot Licences, Multi-crew Pilot Licences, or Airline Transport Pilot Licences, when acting as a flight crew member for hire or reward, is 12 months.  If this person engaged in commercial flying is 40 years or older and engaged in a single-pilot air transport service carrying passengers, or if the person is over 60 years of age, the validity period is reduced to 6 months.

Validity Period Determination

An expired Medical Certificate invalidates licensing privileges, beginning on the first day of the month following the month in which re-validation was required.


If a Medical Certificate renewal examination is completed with 90 days before the end of the validity period, the validity period for the renewed certificate is calculated as if the renewal examination where conducted in the final month of the original validity period—i.e., a renewal examination can be done 90 days early without penalty [CAR 404.04 (7)].


The end of the validity period of a medical certificate that is renewed in accordance with subsection (1.1) is calculated from


  1. the day on which the preceding validity period ends if the medical examination for the renewal of the certificate is conducted within 90 days before the end of that validity period; or

  2. the first day of the month following the day on which the medical examination for the renewal of the certificate is conducted if the examination is conducted more than 90 days before the end of the preceding validity period.


The validity period of a medical certificate for a commercial pilot is 12 months [CAR 404.03 (6.1)].


However, 12-month validity period is reduced to 6 months if the commercial pilot is 60 years of age or older, or 40 years of age or older and engaged single-pilot operation with passengers on board [CAR 404.03 (6.2)].


The validity period of a Medical Certificate can be shortened by Transport Canada in those cases where such a recommendation is made by a physician. Similarly, Transport Canada extends the validity period of a Medical Certificate in special cases.


The Category 1 certificate requires an electrocardiogram (ECG) for the initial medical, and every two years between the ages of 30 and 40 years; after the age of 40, the ECG is required every year.  The Category 1 certificate also requires a hearing test for the initial medical, as well as the first medical examination after the age 55.  


Upon expiration of Medical Certificate, Licence privileges are suspended until a medical examination is again undertaken; privileges expire at midnight on the final day of the month in which the medical was required; in the event of a Category 1 Certificate expiring, commercial flying privileges are rolled back to private flying privileges for an additional 12 or 6 months, depending on age.


Prohibited Flying Privileges

A pilot is prohibited from exercising flying privileges if their ability to exercise flying privileges safely is impaired by illness, injury, or disability, the taking of a drug, or medical treatment received [CAR 404.06 (1), (a) and (b)].

It is Transport Canada policy that pilots and air traffic controller are prohibited  from consuming cannabis for at least 28 days before being on duty.


Also, a pilot cannot exercise flying privileges beyond the 29th week of pregnancy, or if the pilot has given birth in the preceding six weeks [CAR 404.06 (1), (c) and (d)].

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