Opinion 03/2013

Qualifications for flying in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC)

Opinion of the European Aviation Safety Agency for a Regulation amending Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 of 3 November 2011 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to civil aviation aircrew pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council - Annex I, II and III.

This Opinion addresses a safety issue and a regulatory coordination issue. The safety issue relates to the continuation of VFR rated pilots in deteriorating weather conditions ending in flight in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) without holding an instrument rating (IR). The regulatory coordination issue relates to the conduct of sailplane flights in IMC. Across the EASA Members, different approaches to mitigate these flights exist. During the drafting phase, the Agency has taken into account the EASA Management Board General Aviation Safety Strategy Paper and the objectives identified by the General Aviation roadmap established by the European Commission and the Agency.

To address the safety issue, the Agency proposes a competency-based instrument rating (CB IR) and an en route instrument rating (EIR) for private (PPL(A)) and commercial pilot (CPL(A)) licence holders. The proposed changes are expected to increase safety with regard to the accident category of controlled flights into terrain (CFIT) by establishing a better accessible IR, thereby enabling more European General Aviation (GA) pilots to commence this type of training. The proposed new ratings will amend the training and checking requirements in Annex I to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 (Part-FCL). The associated decision will also amend AMC and GM to this Regulation and Annex VII to Commission Regulation (EU) No 290/2012 (Part-ORA). More specifically, the proposed CB IR course will contain a reduced theoretical knowledge (TK) syllabus appropriately reflected by a different level of TK examinations and a reduced amount of instrument flight instruction time when compared with the existing IR courses. The EIR requires less training, but nevertheless consists of more comprehensive flight training when compared with the basic instrument flight module of the existing IR. The EIR is considered an EASA MS only rating as it is below ICAO SARPS. As the EIR only provides en route IFR privileges, the Agency envisages that this rating will serve as a module to be credited towards the IR using the proposed competency-based route.

Both CB IR and EIR include provisions for crediting a certain amount of instrument flight time under instruction outside of an ATO or prior PIC instrument experience on aeroplanes. To evaluate this prior training and experience, a pre-course entry assessment will be required at an ATO. Moreover, as a result of consultation, the maximum amount of instrument ground time on an FNPT II for the CB IR was increased, the specific English language requirement for IR (and EIR) holders (FCL.055 (d)) was removed, an IFR-by-day restricted IR for PPL holders was enabled by making the night rating prerequisite flexible, and additional crediting provisions and reduced requirements were established for third-country IR holders.

To address the regulatory coordination issue, this Opinion proposes a Cloud Flying Rating for sailplane pilots. This rating allows holders to enter clouds whilst taking into account the airspace structure, the required minima in different airspace categories, and the relevant Air Traffic Control (ATC) procedures. As this rating replaces several similar national ratings already in place in some MS, it should improve harmonisation with regard to sailplane flights within clouds. Furthermore, as a result of consultation, dual flight instruction was reduced, crediting provisions for EIR and IR holders were included, a certain amount of dual training in a Touring Motor Glider (TMG) was allowed, and revalidation requirements were changed into only recency requirements.