UK Pilot License Switchover, The Countdown Begins


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UK Pilot License Switchover, The Countdown Begins

By Daniel Baxter

June 15, 2011 - The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has started contacting all UK pilots with details of the EU legislation that will usher in a new Europe-wide flight crew licensing regime in April 2012.  

The move will see the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) become responsible for standardizing pilot licensing across the EU. National authorities, such as the CAA, will still issue licenses to pilots but in accordance with the new European rules.  

Most pilots, private and commercial, will be affected by the switchover and will have to obtain new EASA licenses in order to enable them to continue to fly aircraft that have EASA airworthiness certificates.  

However, some pilots, such as those flying micro-lights, ex-military and kit built aircraft, will be able to continue to use their existing licenses. This is because EASA does not regulate these categories of aircraft. Joint Aviation Authorities (JAR) licenses will automatically become EASA licenses on 8 April 2012, but pilots will not receive a new physical license until they submit their JAR license for renewal. Holders of non-JAR, national, licenses will have to apply for EASA licenses within specified transitional periods; (by 8th April 2014 for any flight for commercial purposes). The new EASA licenses will be valid for the owner?s lifetime.  

Ray Elgy, Head of the CAA?s Licensing and Training Standards Department, said: ?This will be the biggest licensing change in European aviation for over a decade. We are in the process of writing to all 55,000 license holders in the UK to notify them that these changes are going to take place and where to find further information.  

The countries in which the new European rules apply include many more countries than the membership of the European Union. The new European legislation for pilot licensing is legally binding on all Members of the European Union.  The European former JAA Member States that are not EU members have decided to sign agreements with the European Commission / EASA that will bind them to comply with and administer the European rules for pilot licensing as if they were members of the EU.  

It follows that the new rules will apply to the same countries as JAR-FCL currently does. The full set of participating States (EU and non EU) is sometimes referred to as the "EASA Member States". One important change will be that EU Member States that had not achieved "mutual recognition" status under JARFCL will have the new licenses that they issue under Part-FCL recognized by the other States. All States will be audited by EASA "standardization" teams.


A JAA or JAR-FCL license means a license marked "Joint Aviation Authorities" that has been issued by a mutually recognized JAA member in accordance with JAR-FCL, and is not restricted to aircraft registered in any particular State. 

The term "United Kingdom license" as used by the CAA and in the Air Navigation Order means a license issued by the CAA that is not a JAA/JAR-FCL license and is not a National Private Pilots License (NPPL). When the European regulations are fully implemented, United Kingdom licenses will not be valid for the piloting of EASA aircraft. 

The UK National Private Pilots License (NPPL) is a license issued by the CAA that is valid in UK airspace for the piloting of UK registered aircraft only. (The NPPL may only be used in another country with the permission of the relevant authorities of that country). Depending upon the class ratings included in the NPPL it may be used to fly microlight aeroplanes, Self-Launching Motor Gliders (SLMG5), and/or Simple Single Engine Aeroplanes (SSEA). When the European regulations are fully implemented, NPPLs will not be valid for the piloting of EASA aircraft. 

National license, in European regulations and associated materials, a "national license" is any license issued under national law rather than European regulations. This means any license that is not issued in accordance with the new Part-FCL is a national license.  

Under the proposed legislation, JAR-FCL licenses issued fully in accordance with JARFCL by mutually recognized JAA States will be deemed to have been issued under the new Part-FCL, and so will be European licenses. In the UK context, this means that "United Kingdom" licenses, NPPLs, and UK-issued JAA licenses that are marked "Valid for United Kingdom registered aircraft" (because the holders did not fully comply with JAR-FCL) are national licenses. 


The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holiday makers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy from an economic standpoint.

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