Licensing for General Aviation

Licensing for GA Pilots and Mechanics

Getting your pilot licence:

EASA does not issue licences. In every member country the respective national aviation authority issues licences, according to the standards set by the EASA. Just like with a car driving licence, you can get your licence in any member country, irrespective of your citizenship. There are different licences depending on the aircraft you want to fly and its size.

The most basic pilot licence is the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL). You can only use this licence in Europe. For aeroplanes, this licence is limited to single engine piston up to 2,000kg carrying up to 4 persons on board (including yourself– the pilot). You can only fly in good weather conditions (VFR visual flight rules). For other types of aircraft please check (Part-FCL, Subpart B). To get this licence you will need around 100 of theory and 25 hours of flight instruction. Also, a medical Class 2 or LAPL medical as described in Part-MED (MED.A.030) is needed. You can use this licence as credit towards getting the more advanced Private Pilot Licence.

With the Private Pilot Licence (PPL), you are only limited by the category of aircraft you are licenced to fly (A:aeroplane, B: balloon, H: helicopters or S: sailplanes). You can fly with this licence in an aircraft anywhere in the world. All flights must be done in good weather conditions (otherwise you need an instrument rating, see below). The restriction is that the purpose should be non-commercial (i.e. non-remuneration or hire). To get the PPL you will need around 100 hours of theory and 45 hours of flight instruction. If you already have a LAPL: You get credit for the theory which can reduce the hours of theory to as low as no training and examination at all ( see Appendix 1 to Part-FCL).

You are already a pilot:

If you have one of the licences above, you can extend your capabilities by getting a night rating which allows to fly at night in good weather conditions (i.e. VFR) or an Instrument rating which allows to fly in low visibility conditions (i.e. IFR instrument flight rules).

For the Night Rating you need 5 hours of theory and 5 hours of flight training.

For the Instrument Rating requirements are different for single engine and multi-engine aircraft. With an IR you can fly under IFR conditions during take-off, en-route and landing. You will need to complete 200 hours of theory and at least 50 hours (single engine) or 55 hours (multi-engine) flight training.

En-route instrument rating: This rating allows you to fly in instrument meteorological conditions only en-route to your destinations. Weather conditions must be good at departure and arrival airport. This rating can be useful for example in cases where en-route the weather conditions give limited visibility or the route might take you above the cloud base. This is a rating that will give you the opportunity to fly even if the weather is bad. It will also give you a good initial understanding of flying under IFR and may at a later stage be used to upgrade to a full Instrument Rating (IR).

Competence Based Instrument Rating (CB-IR): This rating is for those who already have an Instrument Rating issued outside Europe (e.g. FAA). This reduces the requirements of obtaining an Instrument Rating to at least 80 hours of theory and 40 hours of instrument time, 25 hours of which must be training.

You have a non-European Licence:

If you hold a Private Pilot Licence obtained outside Europe or not according to the relevant EASA licensing regulations, you can convert it to a European one. In order to do this you will need to pass an exam on Air Law and another exam on Human Performance. You also need to undertake a skill test and have at least 100 hours as a pilot in the relevant aircraft category.

Licences for mechanics in General Aviation:

EASA has been working towards the creation of simpler Part-66 licenses for GA aircraft mechanics (B2L and L licences)

Expected to be adopted during summer 2018. Authorities will start issuing B2L licences 6 months later and L licences on 1 October 2019.

B2L avionics licence:

Similar privileges (avionics and electrical systems) as a 'B2' licence but only for non-complex aircraft. It requires less training, examination and less experience is needed to qualify for it. The topics covered are similar as the 'B2' licence but excluded are those complex systems typical of commercial air transport aircraft (easier exams). The 'B2L' is based on systems ratings. This means that, for example, as soon as the licence holder gets knowledge and experience in “Communication and Navigation” systems, the 'B2L' licence can be endorsed with this rating and the person can start certifying maintenance on those systems. The licence holder can increase the privileges by adding new system ratings at any time.

L licence:

The 'L' is a licence for sailplanes, balloons, airships and ELA1 aeroplanes. Allows the holder to do the following on any EU registered aircraft:

  • Release of maintenance, including the incorporation of CS-STAN repairs and modifications (see Note below).
  • Perform airworthiness reviews and issue the ARC.

Very simplified requirements:

No training required. Examination can be performed anywhere agreed by the authority (for example, in a manufacturer, aeroclub, association, etc). Persons having maintenance privileges under the national systems will be converted to the 'L' licence and will keep the same privileges. After 1 October 2019 the national authorities will start issuing 'L' licences and cannot issue national qualifications anymore. After 1 October 2020 every mechanic must have the 'L' licence because the national qualifications will not be valid.

Note: CS-STAN is a Certification Specification describing standard changes and repairs which can be incorporated on the aircraft without seeking approval. For example, for installation of antennas.  More information about CS-STAN can be found in:

Other developments?

  • FCL.002, which is the review of Part-FCL addressing certain open tasks such as the Learning Objectives or the Examiner’s handbook, and problematic issues already identified during the current implementation phase;
  • FCL.013, which is dealing with the review of Part-ORA and Part-ARA. An update is in process;
  • FCL.014, which will develop additional AMC and GM related to Part-ORA for small non-complex training organisations in order to provide further support to these organisations;
  • FCL.016, which will develop additional ratings for Part-FCL licence holders (mountain rating for helicopter licence holders, seaplane extension for the LAPL).

In addition, the Agency is involved in several other GA-related projects, such as:

  • The Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) with the US, which aims at achieving a bilateral acceptance of each other’s licences, FSTD certificates and ATO certificates (the first phase will address PPL and instrument rating (IR)).
  • The European Central Question Bank (maintenance – new questions, supporting the MS) containing all the questions for the theoretical knowledge examinations for instrument ratings (in the future this will include the questions for the new En route Instrument Rating (EIR) and competency-based Implementing Rule) and for professional pilot licences as well;
  • Provide feedback on safety recommendations and rulemaking proposals;
  • Develop recommendations on Article 14 requests;
  • Provide assistance to the European Commission with regard to FCL-related questions and projects.

Licensing FAQs:

What is the difference between the terms ‘FCL (Flight Crew Licensing)’ and ‘Aircrew’?

‘Aircrew’ is the common term for ‘Flight Crew’ and ‘Cabin Crew’. The new Implementing Rules, which cover both flight crew and cabin crew, were published in Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to civil aviation aircrew and in its amending Regulations (Regulations (EU) Nos 290/2012, 70/2014 and 245/2014 (further information is available here).

Annex I to the above-mentioned Aircrew Regulation contains the Implementing Rules for Flight Crew (Part-FCL).

Annex V to the above-mentioned Aircrew Regulation contains the Implementing Rules for Cabin Crew (Part-CC).

Last updated: 03/04/2014

How can a national pilot licence be converted into an EASA pilot licence?

In accordance with Regulation (EC) No 216/2008, in the field of pilot licensing the Agency is not authorised to issue pilot licences and, therefore, there will not be any EASA pilot licence in the future.

According to Annex I (Part-FCL) to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 on Aircrew, the title of the new licence issued in accordance with this Annex is a Part-FCL licence.

National licences shall be converted into Part-FCL licences by the competent authority of the Member State that issued the national licence in accordance with Article 4 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 on Aircrew and its amending Commission Regulation (EU) No 290/2012.

It is the competent authorities of the Member States which will convert and issue Part-FCL licences, not the Agency.

Last updated: 03/04/2014

How can a third-country (non-EU) licence be converted into a Part-FCL licence?

Pilot licences issued by third countries will be accepted in accordance with Article 8 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 on Aircrew. According to paragraph 1 of Article 8, the Member State may accept a third-country licence, and the associated medical certificate, in accordance with the provisions of Annex III to that Regulation.

For the issue of a Part-FCL licence, the holder of at least an equivalent third-country licence issued in accordance with ICAO Annex 1 shall comply with all the relevant requirements of Annex I to that Regulation (Part-FCL), except that the requirements of course duration, number of lessons and specific training hours may be reduced.

As stated in Article 12 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 on Aircrew, the application date was 8 April 2012; nevertheless, by way of derogation from this paragraph according to Article 1(3) of Commission Regulation (EU) No 245/2014, Member States could decide not to apply the provisions of Annex I to pilots holding a licence and associated medical certificate issued by a third country involved in non-commercial flights until 8 April 2015.

The competent authority of the Member State to which an applicant applies will determine the conversion requirements, which can be reduced on the basis of a recommendation from an approved training organisation.

Therefore, the national aviation authority of the Member State where an applicant resides or wishes to work should be contacted for further information concerning the applicable acceptance requirements.

To find a list of the national aviation authorities, please click here.

Last updated: 03/04/2014

Is it correct that there are new requirements for instrument ratings and provisions to allow cloud flying for sailplane pilots published in the Aircrew Regulation?

Yes, this is correct.

The Agency initiated the rulemaking task RMT.0198 and RMT.0199 (former FCL.008) in order to review the existing requirements for Instrument Rating (IR) and to consider if, especially for private pilots, a more accessible IR should be developed.

A rulemaking group was established at the end of 2008. Based on the draft proposals of this group, the Agency published a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA 2011-16 ) in September 2011. After the 3-month public consultation period, the Agency published the related Comment-Response Document (CRD 2011-16) in October 2012. When the review period ended in December 2012, the Agency commenced with the drafting of the Opinion. Opinion 03/2013 was published in April 2013.

Commission Regulation (EU) No 245/2014, amending Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 of 3 November 2011, was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 14 March 2014 and is in force from 3 April 2014. It contains new rules developed for a competency-based instrument rating, an en route instrument rating (EIR) and a sailplane cloud flying rating. Decision 2014/022/R, complementing said Regulation with new and more accessible instrument ratings (IRs) focussed on General Aviation (GA) pilots, has been published on the Agency’s website on 1 April 2014. This is part of the Agency’s ongoing work to simplify and improve GA regulations. This Decision is expected to provide more flexibility with regard to obtaining such ratings, thereby allowing more pilots to operate safely in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), for example in low visibility.

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