31.1.20 – Please see the latest information regarding the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union here.

The UK CAA have advised us at that there may be issues for pilots in training in the event of a hard Brexit. In the worst case the UK will cease to be an EASA member State and the UK CAA will no longer be the ‘Competent Authority’ for the UK, as defined by EASA.

Following the UK CAA advice now published at we want to make sure that pilots studying for theoretical exams are aware of the options open to them. Ultimately you must decide what course of action is better for you, and this will reflect your own opinions on whether continuing UK membership of EASA is likely or unlikely and also your own personal circumstances.

The particular concerns for pilots under training are (i) that, where the records are currently held by the UK CAA, if and when, the day the UK leave after a hard Brexit; it may not be possible to transfer licences or training records from the UK to another EASA State and (ii) there is a requirement that all theoretical exams be completed in one State, although that need not be the State under which theory training was completed. The risk here is that exams part completed with the UK CAA will not be able to be either completed or transferred to another Authority.

Recommendations for BGS students (if you take the worst-case view):

  1. Students who have yet to take exams are advised to
    1. start their exams under another Competent Authority and also
    2. to transfer their licences before the date of a hard Brexit to another Authority.
  2. Students who are within sight of finishing are advised to
    1. complete their exams under the UK CAA as soon as possible and
    2. to transfer their licences before the the date of a hard Brexit to another Competent Authority. We do not accept EASA’s advice quoted on the CAA website that transferring to ‘another ATO located in the EU’ will be sufficient as we have no confidence that, in the event of a hard Brexit, the UK CAA (then operating outside EASA) will be able to transfer the records or licences of candidates in training to another EASA State according to current EASA procedures.
  3. Students who fall into neither category will have to choose between:
    1. Path 1 above, abandoning their earlier attempts
    2. Doing nothing in the hope that a satisfactory situation will emerge

Austro Control EASA exams at Bristol Groundschool

We are pleased to confirm Austro Control now offer EASA exams at Bristol Groundschool in addition to the UK CAA which already offer exams here. For information and details on how to book please visit our Austro Control booking page or our UK CAA exam page

The Austro Control exam option was set up by us to protect against any possible effects of Brexit and to provide students with a solution they wish to sit exams under the authority of another EASA State but still in the UK.

In addition, in the event that the UK leaves EASA and starts issuing its own professional pilot licences, the UK CAA have announced that they will recognise EASA examinations for a period. We understand this means that their solution protects the candidate whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

In the event of a ‘Hard Brexit’, Bristol Groundschool have put in place mechanisms to help ensure they continue to be an EASA approved ATO.

Transferring licences and training records
The UK CAA advise us that the process of licence transfer starts with the State you choose to hold your records. If you wish to transfer your licence/records, contact your EASA State of choice and follow their application process.

Hard Brexit preparation 

As discussed above, there is a possibility that, in the event of a hard Brexit, the UK will no longer be a member of EASA and that consequently Training Organisations holding UK CAA approvals will no longer be able to train for EASA licences.

The UK CAA have said, however, that they will be able to continue training for as-yet-undefined UK CAA licences and that the UK will continue to accept EASA certificates for issue of these UK-only licences up to two years.

As all Bristol Groundschool courses were purchased as EASA approved courses we consider we have an obligation to find a work around which will allow our customers to continue studying under EASA approvals. Consequently BGS has obtained Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) approval for the main company, Bristol Groundschool Europe, to oversee all BGS courses.

In the event of an impending hard Brexit, unless customers specifically ask us to keep them on a UK CAA approved course (in other words abandoning EASA approval), all training records will be transferred internally to IAA approval to allow our customers to continue their studies for an EASA licence uninterrupted. The conduct of the course, the course structure, the training location and the dates and bookings for accelerator weekends and revision courses will all be unaffected.

We cannot see any situation where staying with UK-only approval would be beneficial.

The decision to move the training to IAA oversight does not change your choice of authority under which you sit the exams, the two things are completely separate, no licences are transferred, no exams are transferred, it just means that in the case of a hard Brexit and possible EASA exit your training at least (not your exams or state of licence issue) will continue to be EASA approved.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to consider if I want an EASA licence?

Three entirely separate things…

1. The State Of Licence Issue (SOLI) will have to be an EASA State. If you have an EASA PPL or medical already the State under which you obtained those is almost certain to be your existing SOLI. If this is the UK, because the UK may not be an EASA State in the future, you may wish to transfer your SOLI to another EASA Authority.

2. Ensuring your course is approved by an EASA Authority. Because the UK CAA may not be an EASA Authority in the future BGS has obtained Irish (IAA) approval so that we can transfer students (if required) and continue their training under EASA approval.

3. Who you sit your exams with. Your exams will all need to be completed under the oversight of a single EASA Authority. At the moment this means that exams fully completed under the UK CAA before a possible hard exit will suffice. The Austro Control exam option allows new starters to start their exam sequences with an Authority that is not at risk of crashing out of EASA. Those who have only part completed their exam sequence with the UK CAA may have a problem if there is an EASA exit, they may change the rules as Brexit gets closer but currently this is the situation.

Obtaining IAA approval for BGS only solves item 2 above. It has no effect whatsoever on items 1 and 3.

Also note that,

If there is an orderly exit and continuing membership of EASA there is no problem. In the event of a ‘disorderly’ exit, if you only want a UK CAA issued licence there is no problem.

Does the possible use of IAA approval mean I have to do exams in Ireland?

No, it does not affect your choice of State for exams, it does not affect any passes you already have and you are neither required nor allowed to switch to another State in the middle of an exam sequence.

Does the possible use of IAA approval by BGS mean I will get an IAA issued licence?

No, it does not affect your SOLI in any way.

How do I change my SOLI?

Start by approaching the State that you wish to hold your records in future. Indications are that any request to change SOLI made before a hard Brexit will be completed after it. Recommended States are Austria and Ireland.

I am a UK Military Pilot, Does the possible use of IAA approval by BGS affect me?

The case of UK military pilots is slightly different. Your State of Licence Issue has to be the UK CAA and you are exempt approved training for the ATPLs. Because you are exempt approved training the fact that BGS may be operating under UK CAA or IAA approvals is irrelevant. You will continue to take exams with the UK CAA and the UK will issue your licence.

If you have any questions about this, or wish to stay under UK-only approval, please email