BREXIT and UK PPL

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Although there is uncertainty about how BREXIT will affect private pilots in the UK, we can be reasonably certain of some outcomes, make an educated guess about others and be hopeful regarding the rest. So read below partly as a bit of crystal ball gazing and my best guess as much as hard fact. Sources include the CAA Brexit website and webinars, AOPA and discussions on various pilot forums.

Licences and PPL Flight Training

  • PPL and LAPL pilot training will continue much as before, in the short term following the EASA syllabus, skill test, revalidation/renewal criteria and licence structure. You’ll gain a UK issued Part-FCL Licence which is fully ICAO compliant and recognised worldwide, including for those starting CPL or ATPL training.
  • The recently introduced e-Exam system for PPL students will continue as before.
  • So-called EASA aircraft will now be known as Part 21 aircraft, for example PA28, Cessna 172 etc, and supervised by the CAA. Permit aircraft will continue to be supervised by the LAA. There are a few types which are EASA Permit that will be dealt with differently.
  • LAPL medical will be required during solo PPL training with a full Class 2 medical for IFR, flights abroad and for instructors. A Personal Medical Declaration will suffice for VFR flight (including in Part 21 aircraft) with LAPL privileges (max 3 pax, 2000kg MTOM) within the UK. If you have a PPL Licence then your SEP rating must be valid.
  • The CAA will continue to operate and issue Part-FCL licences alongside NPPL and so-called National PPL licences. Neither can currently be used to fly Part 21 aircraft but this is likely to change during 2021.

Foreign Aircraft and Foreign Licensed Instructors in the UK

  • You can continue to fly foreign registered aircraft within the UK using your UK licence. For example this includes receiving training on an N-Reg, but you can’t fly any other national registered aircraft outside the UK using a UK licence – it has to be G-Reg only.
  • For a period up to end 2022, pilots with non-UK EASA licences or who have SOLI’d (changed their State Of Licence Issue) to another European state will continue to be able to fly G-Reg aircraft in the UK. They must first download and carry a copy of the general validation published here. This includes instructors teaching towards UK licences and ratings.
  • Instructors who have SOLI’d may not be able to sign off your SEP renewal or instruct for the IMC Rating unless they also have a UK licence that permits them to do so.
  • Examiners who have SOLI’d may not be able to conduct IMC skills tests unless they also have a UK licence that permits them to do so.

Travelling to/from Europe (and Ireland)

  • Customs and Immigration procedures are likely to become more burdensome. Fortunately the online GAR system will continue, but possibly with longer advance notice periods. You can continue to fly to Europe from a grass strip, with the Border Force making individual agreements to allow this. A blanket dispensation has been granted to permit this while individual agreements with each airstrip are put in place.
  • Arrival/Departure into the EU will require both Immigration and Customs checks. UK Border Force agents are trained in both, but some European countries separate these functions. Aircraft importing merchandise/goods valued over £250 will require to depart/arrive from a Designated Airport such as Lydd, Southend, Shoreham etc. Pet passports are no longer valid.
  • Northern Ireland will be treated as if part of the EU for Customs purposes, and thus Customs checks may be required for visiting aircraft.
  • Ireland (and Isle of Man, Channel Islands) remain within the Common Travel Area, which have slightly different regulations. This include providing advance notice of travel to the UK Special Branch, normally done using the same GAR form procedure as for Border Force.

Commercial and Instrument Rating Training

  • Most commercial training organisations (ATOs) have arranged to become dual approved for both UK and EASA flight training. A list of 30 had pre-applied to EASA for 3rd country approval which was expected to be granted on 1st Jan 2021 (the earliest date permitted)
  • Flight Instructors and Examiners with UK licences can of course train towards UK licences. They can also apply to deliver EASA training and skill tests/proficiency checks. This does not require them to change their state of licence issue but must be done through an ATO. Many ATOs have pre-arranged for their instructors to be approved through FCL.900 and FCL.1000 from early 2021.
  • Students will have to choose between training towards a UK or an EASA licence/rating. The courses are almost identical. They should also consider whether they have the right to work elsewhere in Europe which will now require a work permit and/or work visa. Students based outside Europe may prefer to be trained in the UK, which has native English language and a good reputation.
  • For ATPL, CPL and IR theory students, the UK CAA will provide Part-FCL exams at approved test centres using their own question bank rather than the EASA one, which is not available to non-EASA members. The questions are based on the same learning objectives and will be very similar.
  • CPL and IR skill tests will continue as before for UK Part-FCL licences. All tests will be booked via UK CAA Flight Test Bookings, but from 1st Jan 2021 these must be made and paid for online through the UK CAA Portal (as has been the case for theory exams).
  • EASA CPL Skill Tests (i.e. towards an EASA Licence) can be conducted in the UK however EASA IR skill tests cannot. Students are likely to complete the final part of their IR training and IR skill test in an EASA country.

Aircraft Maintenance

  • Aircraft maintenance will continue using the same rules and regulations as before. EASA Part ML will apply to Part 21 aircraft.
  • It may become more difficult for owners of G-Reg aircraft to have them fully maintained abroad, since fewer mechanics/shops will have direct UK approval. Equally, owners of non- G-reg aircraft will find fewer EASA Part 145 mechanics to choose from in the UK although many of the larger businesses will obtain dual approvals.

RNP Instrument Approaches unaffected

  • RNP approaches down to LPV minima are unaffected, and access to the EGNOS satellite augmentation system continues. A temporary extension of the service is in place until 25 June 2021, during which time a more permanent arrangement should be negotiated.

3 comments

  1. Great summary. The big hope now is that CAA don’t attempt to try to insist on establishing their own STC process and instead take the opportunity to allow both EASA and FAA STC’s to be used on the lighter/Part 21 end of the G-reg fleet. If they take the former route it will stop dead the installation of equipment to improve flight safety or at best increase costs and restrict choice to one player.

    1. Very good point. Even a simple paperwork “rubber stamp” approval route would add delay, complexity and cost. Ideally, every FAA and EASA STC would automatically be approved, with the CAA having the option to disallow/block any individual one for exceptional cases. A good example is Garmin avionics software updates which typically incur a six month delay before gaining EASA approval – the same UK shop can install these immediately in N-Reg aircraft but have to wait months before updating G-Reg ones. Such a move would radically improve flight safety and reduce cost.

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