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.

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.

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.

Completion Requirements

Commercial Pilot candidates must complete their written examination for the licence before they can be recommended to attempt their flight tests. Also, Commercial Pilot students must be timely in completing their flight test--the results of the written examinations are valid for only 24 months—i.e., successful qualification for the licence (both written examination and flight test) must be accomplished within two year of writing the written examination, and the flight test results are only valid for one year.

Examination Administration

If a persons 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 Commercial Pilot written examination is 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.

Night Rating

The holder of a license endorsed with a Night Rating1 may exercise the privileges of a Private Pilot license in night VFR conditions.


  • 20 hours flight experience in same aircraft category.
  • 10 hours night-flight experience, including no less than 5 hours dual flight time which must include a 2 hour cross-country, and 5 hours solo flight time which must include 10 circuits.
  • 10 hours dual instrument time.

VFR Over-the-Top Rating

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


  • 20 hours flight experience in same aircraft category.
  • 15 hours dual instrument time.

Commercial Pilot License

The holder of a Commercial Pilot License 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—e.g., air taxi-or the privileges of co-pilot (Second-in-command) of any aircraft type that is endorsed on his or her license.

Commercial Pilots receive a Blanket Aircraft Type Rating2 for “all single pilot, non-high performance single engine land aeroplanes;” however, they can fly any aeroplane other than the blanket type provided they have received an Individual Aircraft Type Rating (discussed below), which may require additional ratings, examinations, and flight examinations.


  • Minimum Age of 18 years.
  • Category 1 Medical Certificate.
  • Training conducted as per Transport Canada requirements.
  • 80 hours Groundschool on subjects specified by Transport Canada.
  • 60% on the Transport Canada written examination (Air Law, Navigation, Meteorology, Aeronautics—General Knowledge).3
  • 200 hours flight-time experience, including 100 as Pilot-in-command, and 20 hours cross-country Pilot-in-Command.
  • 65 hours flight training in the aircraft category aeroplane, gyroplane, or helicopter), including no less than 35 dual with a flight instructor, and 30 hours solo.
  • Of the 35 hours of dual flight, 5 must be night (including a 2-hour night cross-country), and 20 hours must be instrument time (reference only to flight instruments).
  • Of the 30 hours solo flight time emphasising improvement in flying skills, there must be a cross-country flight to a point not less than 300 nautical miles from the point of departure, with 3 full-stop landings.   The 30 solo hours must also include 5 hours by night and completion of 10 circuits.4
  • Successful completion of flight test.

Instrument Rating

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


  • 70% on the Transport Canada written examination (Air Regulations, Instrument Flight Rules and Procedures, Meteorology, Instruments, Radio and Radar Systems, and Navigation).
  • 50 hours cross-country experience.
  • 40 hours instrument 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.

Instrument Ratings are issued on the basis of Groups.  A Group 1 Instrument Rating applies specific 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.

Multi-engine Class Rating

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


  • Successful completion of flight test.

Multi-engine training generally revolves around managing engine failures—engine failure during takeoff, engine failure in departure, engine failure in cruise, engine failure during a steep turn, engine failure during a stall, and single engine approach and landings.  It is not uncommon for the flight test to be less than an hour.

Seaplane Class Rating

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


Must receive a minimum of 7 hours training including a minimum of 5 takeoffs and landings as the sole occupant of the aeroplane, as well as the following exercises: taxiing, sailing, docking, takeoffs and landings, and, as conditions exist, operation on glassy water, rough water and in crosswind conditions.

Airline Transport Pilot License

The holder of a Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL)—the most senior license 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.5


  • An applicant for the ATPL must hold a Group 1 Instrument Rating.
  • 70% on the Transport Canada written examinations—two must be written.   The first examination (although order of writing is not important) is entitled SAMRA, and it 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.6
  • 1500 hours flight experience,7 of which 250 hours must be Pilot-in-command (100 of the 250 hours may be as Pilot-in-command under supervision [CAR 421.11]), including 100 hours cross-country flight time (which must include 25 night hours).
  • 100 hours night flight time as Pilot-in-command or co-pilot.
  • 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.
  • 75 hours instrument flight time of which a maximum of 25 hours may be acquired in an approved instrument ground trainer.

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 license.


  • 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 License 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 Check8 on the aeroplane type within 24 months preceding the application for the rating.

Pilot Personal Logs

Every holder of a flight crew permit, license or rating must maintain a personal log for the purpose of documenting experience and recency.9

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

  • the date of the flight;
  • the type of aircraft and its registration mark
  • the flight crew position in which the holder acts;
  • the flight conditions with respect to day, night, VFR and IFR;
  • in the case of aeroplanes, the place of departure and the place of arrival;
  • all of the intermediate takeoffs and landings;
  • the flight time.

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

Recency Requirements

Five-year Recency

Those who hold a flight crew permit, license, or rating can only exercise the privileges of their permit, license, 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:

  • 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, license, or rating (CAR 421.05); and
  • successfully completes the PSTAR examination.

Recurrent Training Program

The holder of a flight crew permit, license, or rating can only exercise the privileges of their permit, license, 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:

  • completion of a flight review with a Flight Instructor;
  • attendance of a safety seminar conducted by Transport Canada Aviation;
  • 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;
  • 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 license holder;
  • completion of the requirements for the issue or renewal of a pilot permit, license or rating, including night rating, VFR OTT, instrument rating, multi-engine rating, flight instructor rating or landplane or seaplane rating; or
  • completion of the written examination for a permit, license, or rating.

Medical Certificates

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.10  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 a 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.

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.11

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

a)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

b)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 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.

Pilots flying with Category 4 Medical Certificate shall complete the renewal form 60 days before the expiry date of their Medical Certificate.

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.  The Category 3 certificate requires an ECG every 5 years after the age of 40.  Category 4 certificates simply require a Medical Declaration unless clinically indicated otherwise.

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.

Pregnant female pilots may fly up to and including their 30th week provided the pregnancy is without complications; after the 30th week, pilots are considered temporarily unfit in view of the possibility of pre-term delivery.  Medical fitness must be re-certified after delivery.




1 Night privileges are automatic with a Commercial Pilot License; the same applies to the VFR OTT Rating.  The Night Rating is typically the first portion of Commercial Pilot air instruction, beginning with the 5 hours required for the Night Rating.

2 The Blanket Type Rating is identical to the Blanket Type Rating that you currently hold as a Private Pilot.

3 With regard to the earliest time at which you can write the Commercial Pilot written examination.  CAS 421.13(4) requires that 50% of the total flight experience required for a license be completed prior to the candidate writing the written examinations required for a license; therefore, since the total flight experience required for the CPL is 200 hours, you require a minimum of 100 hours.  Note that the result of any Transport Canada written examination are valid for only 24 months; you must fully qualify for the CPL before this time limit.

4 Special attention should be directed to ensure that these 30 hours are properly documented in your Pilot Log Book.  You must be able to demonstrate that you were in fact improving your flying skills by way of practice (exercises flown, for example, must be recorded).  Also, Transport Canada will strictly apply the letter of the law in regard to the long cross-country flight—be sure your planned route qualifies prior to investing the resources in the actual flight.

5 Note that the ATPL is not required with respect to the Co-pilot duties.

6 The question will arise as to when a Commercial Pilot can write the ATPL written examinations.  Two factors to consider here, the first is the minimum flight experience requirements—in this case, CAS 421.13(4) requires that 50% of the total flight experience required for a license be completed prior to the candidate writing the written examinations required for a license.  In the case of the ATPL, the total flight experience required is 1500 hours; therefore, you required a minimum total flight experience of 750 hours.  The second consideration is the validity period of written examinations—in all cases, 24 months.  Therefore, to write the ATPL, you need only 750 hours, but you must complete all requirements for the ATPL within the subsequent 24 months, or the written examination results become invalid.

7 The ground trainer time cannot be applied toward the 1500-hour flight experience requirement.

8 A Pilot Proficiency Check (PPC) is basically a flight test examination, conducted by a Transport Canada inspector.  The ride includes speciality 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.

9 All commercial pilot students should take note that their pilot log books will be audited by Transport Canada when they apply for the Commercial Pilot License, and also when they apply for their Airline Transport Pilot License.  One of the problem areas which Transport Canada pays particular attention to is the practice of  “double-dipping” instrument training and night flying; specifically, if a commercial student is obtaining instrument training at night, and the flight lasts .8 air time and 1.0 flight time, for example, 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.  Also, care and attention when making entries is therefore important.  Many professional pilots maintain two sets of duplicate log books, the first being a rough copy, to be carried during operations, and the second being a neat copy kept in a secure place.

10 CAR 404.04.

11 CAR 404.04 (7)