Licensing for General Aviation

Licencing for GA Pilots and Mechanics

Getting your pilot licence:

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

The most basic pilot licence is the light aircraft pilot licence (LAPL). It is available for aeroplanes, helicopters, sailplanes and balloons and can be used only in Europe on non-commercial flights. For example, the privileges of an LAPL for aeroplanes are limited to single-engine piston aeroplanes up to 2,000kg, carrying up to 4 persons on board (including yourself– the pilot). You can only fly in good weather conditions (visual flight rules (VFR)). To get this licence you will need around 100 hours of theory lessons and 30 hours of flight instruction. Also, a Class 2 medical certificate or an LAPL medical certificate in accordance with Annex IV (Part-MED) to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 is needed. You can use this licence as credit towards getting the more advanced private pilot licence (PPL). For LAPLs for other types of aircraft, please check Subpart B of Annex I (Part-FCL) to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011.

With the private pilot licence for aeroplanes (PPL(A)) and helicopters (PPL(H)) as well as with the sailplane pilot licence (SPL) and the balloon pilot licence (BPL), you can exercise your pilot privileges also outside the EU. All flights must be done in good weather conditions (otherwise you need an instrument rating, see below). Like LAPL holders, PPL(A) and PPL(H) holders are restricted to non-commercial flights – SPL and BPL holders can add commercial privileges to their licences when complying with additional requirements. As regards training, for example, to get the PPL(A) you will need around 100 hours of theory and 45 hours of flight instruction. If you already have an LAPL(A), you get full credit for the theory and benefit from reduced flight instruction requirements (see point FCL.210.A(b) and Appendix 1 to Part-FCL).

You are already a pilot:

If you have one of the licences mentioned above, you can extend your privileges by getting a night rating which allows you to fly at night in good weather conditions (VFR) or an instrument rating (IR) which allows to fly in low visibility conditions (instrument meteorological conditions (IMC)).

For the night rating, you need theoretical knowledge instruction and 5 hours of flight training.

For the IR, requirements are different for single-engine and multi-engine aircraft. With an IR you can fly under IMC during take-off, en-route and landing. You will need to complete 150 hours of theory and at least 50 hours (single-engine aeroplanes or helicopters) or 55 hours (multi-engine aeroplanes or helicopters) of flight training.

The en-route instrument rating allows you to fly in IMC only during the en-route phase of the flight. Weather conditions must be good (VFR) both at the departure and the arrival aerodrome. 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 IR.

The competency-based training route towards an IR allows pilots to take a competency-based approach. By completing 80 hours of theoretical knowledge instruction as well as at least 40 hours (single-engine aeroplanes) or 45 hours (multi-engine aeroplanes) of flight instruction (parts of which can take place outside a training organisation), an IR can be obtained, with the limitation that the IR privileges cannot be exercised on high-performance aircraft. Pilots who already hold an IR issued outside Europe (e.g. by the FAA) benefit from a full credit towards the training course and only need to complete the IR skill test during which theoretical knowledge in three subjects (air law, meteorology and flight performance and planning) need to be demonstrated. 

You have a non-European licence:

If you hold an ICAO-compliant private pilot licence issued outside Europe, you can convert it to a European PPL. In order to do this, you will need to pass theory exams on air law and human performance as well as a skill test. Additionally, you need to have at least 100 hours as a pilot in the relevant aircraft category, hold a European medical certificate and have demonstrated language proficiency in the language to be used for radio communication.

Licences for mechanics in General Aviation:

EASA has been working towards the creation of simpler Part-66 ls for GA aircraft mechanics (‘B2L’ and ‘L’ licences)
The rules for these licences have been introduced in the continuing airworthiness regulation in September 2018 by amending Regulation (EU) 2018/1142. The EU competent authorities will start issuing ‘B2L’ licences from 5 March 2019 and ‘L’ licences from 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, less experience is needed as well to qualify for it. The topics covered are similar as the 'B2' licence but the complex systems typical of commercial air transport aircraft are excluded (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. 
The ‘B2L’ licence holder can also apply for extending his licence to a ‘B2’ licence after passing the examinations for the differences between the two licences and having one year of practical maintenance experience in operating aircraft relevant to the ‘B2’ licence.

‘L’ licence:

The 'L' licence is intended for sailplanes, balloons, airships and ELA1 aeroplanes. Within the limits of the subcategory, it allows the holder to perform the following on 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 is required, just an examination. The examination does not need to be carried out in Part 147 approved organisations but as agreed by the authority (for example, at a manufacturer, aeroclub, association, etc). Persons having maintenance privileges under the national systems will apply to the competent authority to convert them as an 'L' licence and keep the same privileges. From 1 October 2019 onwards, the competent authorities will start issuing 'L' licences and the national qualifications will no longer be issued. As of 1 October 2020, the national qualifications will no longer be valid and for exercising maintenance privileges on these aircraft, an ‘L’ licence will be required.

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 the installation of antennas. More information about CS-STAN can be found in: easa.europa.eu/cs

Other developments?

  • Rulemaking task (RMT) RMT.0188 (former task ‘FCL.002’), which is the review of Part-FCL addressing miscellaneous issues already identified during the current implementation phase;
  • RMT.0678, (former task ‘FCL.016’), which will revise Part-FCL in order to ensure simpler, lighter and better requirements FCL requirements for general aviation.

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)).
  • Maintaining and updating the European Central Question Bank (maintenance – new questions, supporting the MS) which contains all the questions for the theoretical knowledge examinations for the IR 
  • Provide feedback on safety recommendations and rulemaking proposals;
  • Develop recommendations on requests in accordance with Article 71 of Regulation (EU) 2018/1139;
  • Provide assistance to the European Commission with regard to FCL-related questions and projects.

Licencing FAQs:

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

‘Aircrew’ is the common term for the domains ‘Flight Crew’ and ‘Cabin Crew’, both of which are covered by Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to civil aviation aircrew (the ‘Aircrew Regulation’). 

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: 20/03/2019

How can a national pilot licence be converted into 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, following the conditions set out in a conversion report that is established by the Member State in consultation with EASA. In order to convert your national licence into a Part-FCL licence, please contact your competent authority for more information.

Last updated: 20/03/2019

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 as well as Annex III to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011. With regard to private pilot licences for aeroplanes or helicopters as well as sailplane and balloon pilot licences, a simple conversion (meaning: without undergoing further training) is possible if the pilot completes additional theoretical examinations as well as the relevant skill test, holds a European class 2 medical certificate, demonstrates sufficient language proficiency and has completed at least 100 hours of flight time as a pilot in the relevant aircraft category. Please refer to Annex III Section B of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 for further information and also further options for the acceptance of third-country licences in special cases.  

Another possibility to obtain a Part-FCL licence with credits for a third-country licence already held is to undergo Part-FCL training at which the course duration, the number of lessons and specific training hours may be reduced, based on the recommendation from an approved training organisation.

In this context, it needs to be highlighted that Member States may decide to allow pilots holding a licence and associated medical certificate issued by a third country to continue to fly on non-commercial flights until 20 June 2020 (see Article 12(4) of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011). Please contact the competent authority of the relevant Member State for more information.

To find a list of the national aviation authorities, please consult our listing on the website.

Last updated: 20/03/2019

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