How to Obtain a Private Pilot License in Cambodia

Gareth Johnson

While previously the domain of the super-rich and not possible within the Kingdom, getting a private pilot’s license, owning a plane in full, and storing it is now very much possible within Cambodia, thanks to Novation Academy.

Novation Academy has been spending a lot of time getting itself prepared as an aviation school. This has involved the purchase of equipment, such as a state-of-the-art flight simulator, the future purchase of a Magnus Fusion plane, as well as letting everyone know they exist.

Read more: Novation Academy aims to turn Cambodia into flight training hub

So, far this year the marketing has paid off heavily, with them getting inquiries from people wanting to get their pilots license, be it private, or commercial – two very different things.

Difference between a Private Pilots License and a Commercial License

This was an area where Kirill Bratchenko Managing Director of Novation Academy was keen to point out the difference, both from a commercial and a logistical point of view: “Our core business is training the future generation of commercial flight pilots as this is not only a huge growth industry, but we want to turn Cambodia into a hub for training”.

The majority of requests though at least so far had come from people wishing to get their private license, a slightly easier and indeed cheaper proposition, with Krill adding: “When you go for a commercial license it takes 1 -2 years to get and costs anywhere from $80,000. A private license, on the other hand, can take as little as 40 hours over 2-3 months”.

Read more: Explainer on the Cambodian Airlines

It should though be noted though that a private pilot license in Cambodia and a commercial pilots license, are two very different beasts, with a private pilot license allowing for the ability to fly your own small plane, while the later allows for a potentially lucrative career as an actual airline pilot – something we will duly cover in a later article.

It was with the latter, for now at least that the majority of inquiries received by Novation Academy were getting, with many people shocked at just how cheaply a private pilots license could be obtained in Cambodia.

Who is looking for a Private Pilot License in Cambodia

With such a low entry point the kind of people enquiring and indeed signing up covered an extremely broad spectrum, with Chief Training Officer Captain Eugene Zakharankau explaining: “We have had inquiries from all walks of life, from doctors to lawyers, bankers and of course business owners and CEO’s”.

And why such interest in getting a private pilot license in Cambodia? While reasons differ from individual to individual, a primary concern for most was principally time and convenience, with Captain Eugene telling us: “Cambodia is a small country, but despite things like the new expressway often lacks the infrastructure for road travel, as well as infrequent domestic flights, so people are interested in flying privately, be it via them flying, or purchasing their own jet”.

Kirill Bratchenko Managing Director of Novation Academy.

In addition, size wise this does make complete sense, with Captain Eugene adding that no destination within Cambodia was more than 154 nautical miles from another, a drop in the ocean for planes, meaning that even flying from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville, which could take 8 plus hours by car, would be just 1 hour and 20 minutes away by private plane and with the luxury of deciding exactly when you want to go. The second issue though is having a plane.

How to get a private plane in Cambodia

Buying a private plane in Cambodia is not all that dissimilar in Cambodia to many other countries, with the main moniker being if you have the money you can buy a plane. The industry as a whole though is still in its infancy in Cambodia though, with buying, renting, and indeed co-owning a plane all areas that would see growth.

This is something Krill was keen to expand upon, telling us: “Cambodia has lots of space to store planes, as well as slightly more relaxed laws than some of our neighbors when it comes to flying them. Once people buy planes, which is something we can help with, the trend is that more people will buy planes, which means more private planes that can be rented, or chartered”.

Read more: Yugo Cambodia’s ‘Uber of the skies’ takes off

There was also the notion of fractional ownership of planes, something common in other countries, but yet to take a foothold in Cambodia. In essence, it works like a time-share, with multiple owners of the same private plane, or jet, who essentially share its use and of course cost. Again another way to make it affordable for people that far from falling into the super-rich category.

It was with all these factors that Novation Academy was in essence a one-stop-shop for private pilots, with Captain Eugene finally adding: “We can help with everything from getting the license to buying a plane, be it in full or fractional, as well as an equally as important storage”.

So, when it comes to storage capacity how does Cambodia fare when compared to other countries? Very well according to the Captain: “Cambodia has many airports, not just the international ones we all know of, but also regional ones as well as new ones being built. This means there is not only an excess of hanger space available, but it is relatively cheap by not just global, but also regional standards”.

As the Kingdom moves to become middle-income by 2030 a lot of things are getting cheaper and easier, and getting a private pilot license in Cambodia is just one of them.

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