Late last year there was a flurry of legislative activity regarding Licensing and Ratings. If you’re not clear about the difference between these terms talk to a friendly FI before going any further! These notes are all about Licenses. 2012 is the year that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) take over Flight Crew Licensing with a view to harmonising it throughout Europe. Virtually all light aircraft pilots, including yourself, will be affected. To this end the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have produced a guide to what they think will be the result of the new rules, and it can be read on their website where they admit that the situation is still not clear. I offer a summary of what I believe the article says!
If you were granted a pilot’s license in recent years and it is of the type which needs renewing every 5 years it will automatically become an EASA license. If it needs renewing before 1st July 2012 (not 8th April as originally planned) then a JAR-FCL license will be reissued which will entitle the holder, if current on class, to fly any EASA aircraft (i.e .one which has an EASA certificate of airworthiness e.g. all the School aircraft). It will need renewal after 5 years. After 1st July, any JAR renewal will be issued with an EASA license which is non-expiring.
For those more senior figures who were issued with a non expiring PPL in the days before JAR, in spite of the words “shall remain in force for the holders lifetime” it will need replacing by an EASA license if you wish to fly “EASA aircraft” and this can be applied for after 1st July. There is no requirement to first convert it to a JAR license as has been suggested, but there is an obligation to demonstrate competence at using radio navigation aids. It’s not clear to me how this should be done but I anticipate it will simply require a statement from your friendly Flight Instructor. After 8th April 2014 the CAA license becomes invalid, so don’t leave it to the last minute! If, however, the CAA PPL holder confines flights to permit aircraft (amateur built/ex-military/vintage etc.) conversion to an EASA license will not be needed. (The holder of an EASA license will also be valid to pilot these “non-EASA” aircraft.)
Details for converting this to a JAR (and thence to an EASA) license are unchanged and to be found on the NPPL website. It is relatively straight forward, but involves obtaining a Class 2 medical. Alternatively the NPPL (SSEA) can be converted to a Light Aircraft Pilot License (LAPL). Details of this are somewhat lacking. It appears the privileges will be close to those of the NPPL but will be Europe wide. There will be a change in the medical certification, as yet undecided, though a formal Class 2 examination has been ruled out. The cut-off date for conversion will be 1st April 2015.
Ratings under EASA
There will be some changes, the most important of which concerns the Instrument Metrological Conditions Rating (IMCR). I’ll deal with this next month – there is still a lot of uncertainty. I believe that, at worst, the point at which “grandfather rights “ could cease (if they are ever granted!) is 1st July this year, and at best April 2014.
Although the name will change, the requirements for Class 1 and Class 2 remain the same. The NPPL medical declaration will disappear but the exact format of its replacement has not been formulated. But it will not be ICAO compliant and therefore will not be valid outside Europe.
Flight Radio-Telephony Operator’s License
This will be administered by CAA so no changes are anticipated.
And finally…These comments are my interpretation of current information. If there’s any aspect which is critical to you personally, I’d advise you to read the several documents yourself! Good luck!