Opinion 01/2019 (A) & (B)

Easier access for GA pilots to IFR flying & Revision of the balloon and sailplane licensing requirements

This Opinion delivers the results of three rulemaking tasks (RMTs): RMT.0677 ‘Easier access for general aviation pilots to instrument flight rules flying’ and the combined RMT.0654 ‘Revision of the balloon licensing requirements’/RMT.0701 ‘Revision of the sailplane licensing requirements’. The detailed structure of this Opinion and the reason for combining these RMTs into one opinion are given in Section 1.1.

The objective of this Opinion regarding RMT.0677 is to establish a simpler, lighter and better regulatory framework for general aviation (GA) pilots regarding flights under instrument flight rules (IFR).

Part (A) of this Opinion proposes a more proportionate set of requirements for GA pilots and a competency-based approach to gain an IFR flying qualification. This is one of the key initiatives for meeting the EASA and the GA community’s objectives in this area.

With Part (A) of this Opinion, EASA addresses the objective established by the GA Road Map, which is to work towards simpler, lighter and better rules for GA. With better and easier access to IFR flying, GA pilots would be able to plan A-B flights with more confidence of safe completion. They would be less vulnerable to changing weather conditions and the associated risk of continuous visual flight rules (VFR) flights into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). As well as increasing the safety and resilience of GA flying, better and easier access to IFR flying will also reduce the complexity of longer flights, which often require extensive planning and contingency provisions to be executed under VFR. IFR flight planning for longer A-B flights is often more straightforward — thus encouraging pilots to conduct flights that they might otherwise have not attempted. This will bring safety and economic benefits.

The objective of this Opinion regarding RMT.0654/RMT.0701 is to establish a simpler, lighter and better regulatory framework for flight crew licensing (FCL) related to balloons and sailplanes.

For this purpose, Part (B) of Opinion No 01/2019 proposes to extract all balloon and sailplane FCL provisions of Annex I (Part-FCL) to Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 and to revise and reintroduce them as new Annex III ‘Part-BFCL — Balloon flight crew licensing’ into Regulation (EU) 2018/395 and as Annex III ‘Part-SFCL — Sailplane flight crew licensing’ into Regulation (EU) 2018/1976, in order to complete the ‘balloon and sailplane rulebooks’.

At the same time, the requirements in other annexes to Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 on the acceptance of third-country licences (Annex III), medical requirements for pilots (Annex IV ‘Part-MED’), authority requirements (Annex VI ‘Part-ARA’) and requirements for training organisations (Annex VII ‘Part-ORA’; Annex VIII ‘Part-DTO’) should remain applicable and be revised, as necessary, in order to reflect the migration of the balloon and sailplane FCL requirements from Part-FCL to the new Part-BFCL and Part-SFCL.

The proposed Part-BFCL and Part-SFCL contain numerous alleviations and simplifications, compared to the current balloon and sailplane FCL provisions in Part-FCL. Enhanced flexibility and a more performance-based approach in several areas avoid overregulation while still keeping a regulatory level that is needed in order not to compromise safety.

The proposed amendments are expected to maintain safety while reducing the regulatory burden for both pilots and training organisations of balloons and sailplanes as well as competent authorities.