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GA pilots told to stay legal as April licence deadline approaches

PUBLISHED: 16:27 23 February 2018 | UPDATED: 16:33 23 February 2018

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Private pilots planning to fly this spring and summer were urged today to check they have the correct licence

From 8 April this year, pilots flying any aircraft with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) airworthiness certification will need an EASA licence wherever they fly. ‘EASA aircraft’ include types such as PA28s, C172s and R22s. The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has made clear that any pilot who does not have a valid EASA PPL or LAPL will not be able to legally fly these aircraft after the April deadline, even in the UK.

The deadline is the culmination of a six-year process to switch all flight crew licences - commercial and private - from domestic versions issued by national regulators such as the CAA, to EU-wide equivalents issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Glider (Sailplane) and hot air balloon pilots are expected to have until April 2020 to obtain an EASA equivalent licence.

Although most private pilots have already converted to an EASA licence, the CAA believe there are still a large number who may need to go through the process. Pilots with a ‘national’ PPL, or an NPPL, will still be able to fly non-EASA or ‘Annex II’ aircraft (which includes microlights, ex-military, vintage and kit-built) after 8 April and within the UK – pilots who are only interested in flying these aircraft will not need to convert.

Pilots with an expired ‘JAR’ PPL however will lose all the privileges of their licence until they convert to an EASA version – although the licence itself will not be cancelled.

Generally, national PPLs were issued prior to the year 2000 and JAR licences between 2001 and 2012. From September 2012 EASA licences were issued to new applicants and automatically replaced JAR licences when submitted to the CAA for renewal (JAR PPLs have a five-year validity). Unlike JAR licences, the older national licences have a lifetime validity and are not automatically converted to an EASA PPL, the holder must proactively convert the licence.

To exercise aerobatic and towing privileges in an EASA certified aircraft pilots will need to hold the appropriate ratings on their Part FCL licence.

The CAA has pointed out that the conversion deadline will not be affected by the UK’s Brexit negotiations. For the foreseeable future, any pilot who wants to fly an EASA aircraft must have an EASA licence after 8 April 2018.

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