This page gives the legal requirements you need to fulfil to obtain a Balloon Pilots licence.

Licence Requirements

A hot air balloon is a registered aircraft, the same as any fixed wing aircraft or helicopter. As such the person in command must hold a valid Private Pilot's Licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority specifically for ballooning; this is known as the PPL(B).


PPL requirements
To qualify for a PPL(B), an applicant must:

  • Have flying experience of at least 16 hours within the preceeding 24 months.
  • Have undertaken a minimum of 6 flights
  • Have made a minimum of 4 flights with a BBAC approved Instructor; the rest may be with any valid PPL(B) holder
  • Keep a flight log with flight training records completed by the instructing pilot.
  • Keep a BBAC training log; this is a requirement of the BBAC not the CAA.
  • Be recommended by a BBAC approved Instructor for a flight test.
  • Undertake a flight test examination with a CAA approved Examiner.
  • Perform a solo flight under the supervision of the Examiner or an instructor delegated by the Examiner.
  • Take written examination in Aviation Law, Navigation, Meteorology, Balloon Systems and Human Performance.
  • Medical declaration of fitness signed by your GP. Some GPs will require an examination.
  • Attend an approved Landowner Relations Seminar.
  • Complete the written examinations and flight test within a 24 month period.

Commercial Balloon Licences

There are two types of commercial balloon licences: CPL(B) Restricted and CPL(B) (Full).

The CPL(B) Restricted is required if you are undertaking work for a sponsor or being paid by an external agent to operate a balloon. You can fly a sponsored balloon with everything paid for with a PPL but as soon as the sponsor asks you to attend any event then you need a CPL(B) Restricted.

CPL(B) Restricted Licence requirements:

  • Declaration of Health signed by your Doctor
  • 35 hours flight time in balloons to include 15 hours of instruction as pilot of balloons, 4 free flights (one to above 5,000ft) and 2 tethered flights. 20 hours as P1, of which 16 must be free flights (one with the landing at least 20km from the launch point) and 2 tethered flights.
  • General Flight Test with a CAA recognised examiner
  • Ground examinations, conducted by the CAA at Gatwick, to be passed in Aviation law, Balloon Systems, Meteorology, Navigation and Human Performance.

The CPL(B) is required if you are flying passengers for money or even if your sponsor wants you to fly people for him. The balloon then needs a transport category C of A (certificate of air worthiness). If you are only flying sponsor's guests, and not charging money for flying other passengers, you are exempted from holding an AOC (air operator's certificate) though you do require a copy of it. For passenger flying the balloon also requires a maintenance log.

CPL(B) Licence requirements:

  • Class 2 medical certificate.
  • A minimum of 75 hours as pilot in balloons. This must include the minimum's identified for CPL(B) restricted in addition to not less than 60 hours as P1.
  • General Flight Test with a CAA recognised examiner
  • Ground examinationsas for CPL(B) restricted