Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) Changes

From 15 April 2016, changes to Part 61 Pilot Licences and Ratings mean applying for a Recreational Pilot Licence (RPL) aeroplane or helicopter can be done from the ‘ground up’.

Rather than gaining a pilot licence then transferring to an RPL –   perhaps because of an inability to gain a Class two medical – an RPL can now be obtained as a stand-alone process. The Fit and Proper Person Process still applies.

A pilot who already holds a PPL(A) or (H), can apply for an RPL, provided they have a current New Zealand Transport Agency medical certificate, called a DL9. This applies even if they hold a current class 1 or 2 medical certificate.

A CPL or ATPL may exercise the privileges of an RPL if they also hold a current New Zealand Transport Agency medical certificate, called a DL9.

Anyone beginning flight training from scratch, does not need a DL9 until they reach the point in their training where they go solo. To get a DL9, they need to contact a General Practitioner.

A copy of the DL9 is supplied to the CAA with the pilot’s initial application for an RPL.

Then, the DL9 must be renewed every five years, or every two years if the pilot is older than 40. A copy of the renewed DL9 should be supplied to the CAA within seven days of the date of issue.

View Part 61 Pilot Licences and Ratings

  • See Advisory Circular  AC61-20 (PDF) for more information.
  • Forms

Some RPL Holders Due Refunds

The CAA has recently reconsidered its view that the New Zealand Recreational Pilot Licence, and the ICAO-recognised licences – PPL, CPL, and ATPL – be treated as entirely separate types of aviation document.

As a consequence, the CAA intends to refund the fee charged for the issue of an RPL to existing holders of an Airline Transport Pilot Licence or a Commercial Pilot Licence.

Under rule 61.41 Use of lower pilot licence or rating, a pilot holding an ATPL or CPL can exercise the privileges of a lower licence, as long as they also hold a current medical certificate for that lower licence, and meet the other currency requirements.

In accordance with that rule therefore, anyone the CAA has identified as being incorrectly charged for their Recreational Pilot Licence will be refunded.

Additional Costs Incurred

Some participants have incurred an additional cost in obtaining the RPL, in the form of an LTSA (now the Transport Agency) report required for fit and proper person (FPP) purposes. The fee for that report came into place 01 Jun 2011. The CAA will be refunding the additional sum to affected RPL holders who obtained the report post 01 Jun 2011. Refunds will be processed equivalent to the previous refund made for the application fee.

The CAA has already been in contact with the pilots it believes should be refunded the fee charged.

If you believe you are also due a refund, but have not been contacted, please email:

Privileges of Holding a Recreational Pilot Licence

It is important to familiarise yourself with rule 61.357 Privileges and limitations as they apply to the Recreational Pilot Licence.

You may:

  • act as pilot-in-command of a single engine non-pressurised aeroplane of 2000 kg or less for which you hold a type rating
  • act as pilot-in-command of a single engine helicopter of 1500 kg or less for which you hold a type rating
  • carry one passenger, providing this person is informed that your medical was not issued under the Civil Aviation Act 1990
  • perform a glider tow operation, providing it is not for hire or reward.

You may not:

  • use an RPL to fly overseas
  • fly for remuneration
  • conduct an air operation
  • carry more than one passenger
  • fly at night
  • operate under IFR
  • fly into/out of a controlled aerodrome unless evidence of a successful colour vision test is accepted by the Director
  • fly over a congested area except for the purpose of taking off and landing
  • tow gliders for hire or reward
  • conduct parachute drops
  • conduct agricultural operations
  • perform aerobatic flight
  • conduct banner or drogue tows
  • conduct flight instruction
  • carry out sling loads.

Pilot Responsibilities

As an  RPL holder, under rule 61.35(b)(1), you are required to undertake medical assessments to ensure you meet the relevant NZTA medical fitness standards before exercising the privileges of your RPL.

The DL9 is your medical certificate and the original must be retained with your licence.
As provided for in rule 61.35(b)(2), you will need to comply with any conditions, restrictions or endorsements on your DL9.

It is in your personal interest, and the interest of safety, to ensure that any medical condition that has the potential to impact on safety is fully controlled. We recommend that you discuss this with the medical practitioner who issued your DL9, and obtain specialist advice if there is any uncertainty.

Should your medical condition change for any reason, please check with your medical practitioner, and refrain from exercising the privileges of your RPL until you again meet the required standard (NZTA Class 2 Licence with a Passenger endorsement). See rule 61.359.