The effect of the UK leaving EASA
The UK Government has announced that, with effect from 31st December 2020, the UK will be leaving EASA. There is clearly an implication for pilots studying for their commercial licences. The purpose of this blog is to advise on those implications. The advice is subtly different, depending on the likely date of issue of your CPL/IR.
Is your licence being issued in 2020?
If you are likely to be ready for licence issue during 2020, you have a choice of whether to have your EASA license issued by the UK CAA or another EASA member state.
Non-UK Issued EASA Licence
Current advice from the UK CAA is that the UK will continue to recognise EASA licences and / or allow them to be converted, without additional training or testing, to UK CAA licences for a period of at least 2 years. It is quite possible that this advice will change during 2020 as negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and EU develop. However, for now that means that if you aim for a non-UK issued EASA licence, you should be in a position to be able to work either in the UK or the EU after 2020 as it should be possible, if necessary, to change the State Of Licence Issue (SOLI) to meet an employer’s requirements.
UK Issued EASA Licence
Unfortunately, EASA has currently not promised to recognise UK-Issued EASA licences after 2020. However, it will be possible to change your SOLI to another EASA member state before 31st December 2020. To guarantee time to do this, we recommend that you start this process by the summer of 2020 at the latest as, if you miss the deadline, you may find it to be impossible.
For example, if you get a UK issued CPL/IR and then a job with an EU airline who require you to have, say, an Irish issued license, then you may change your SOLI to Ireland whether the current SOLI is the UK, Poland or any EASA member state but you should consider starting this process by summer 2020.
Have you started training, but won’t be issued a licence in 2020?
Although the UK CAA have said that they will allow the conversion of non-UK issued EASA licences to UK CAA licences without any further training or testing for a period of at least 2 years following the UK’s departure from EASA, EASA have not reciprocated. This means that it is logical to aim for an EASA licence.
Bristol Groundschool, the Wings Alliance and many UK-based ATOs have anticipated this by arranging for non-UK EASA approvals. Our recommendation is that you check with your ATO, if it is UK based, to ensure that they have a non-UK EASA approval in place, so will continue to be able to provide EASA approved training after 2020. They will also need to have arrangements in place for EASA testing.
For theory testing this is straightforward, as you can train with an ATO in one country and test in another country. If you train with Bristol Groundschool, we recommend that you do your EASA ATPL exams with Austro Control, which you can sit at Clevedon, as Bristol Groundschool is an Austro Control examination centre.
For flight tests, you will need to check with UK based ATOs what their flight test arrangements are.
There is a potential complication if you have started a series of ATPL examinations with the UK CAA but may not complete them before 31st December 2020. We understand that the exams you sit before 31st December 2020 may still be recognised by EASA and that you may apply to transfer them to another EASA member state to complete the series, but this has not yet been confirmed in writing and the process for doing so is unclear, so our advice, if you have not already started your examinations, is to do them with Austro Control or another non-UK EASA member state and avoid this potential pitfall.
Planning to start training in 2021 or later?
Until the future arrangements are clear, it is prudent to aim for an EASA rather than UK CAA licence, even if you intend to work in the UK. However, it is quite likely that you can still plan to train in the UK. UK CAA PPLs are still valid, as the requirement is to have a PPL issued by an ICAO member state rather than EASA member state, and the UK is a member of ICAO.
If you do your ATPL theory training with Bristol Groundschool, the ATO is approved by the Irish Aviation authority and so your training will be EASA approved. You can do your EASA exams through Bristol Groundschool as described above.
If you wish to do your CPL/MEIR course with a UK ATO, check that is has an EASA approval and arrangements for EASA flight tests. Finally, the Wings Alliance has an EASA approval so your APS MCC course will be acceptable to EASA.
Summary of the UK leaving EASA
- PPL training is unaffected
- Aim for a non-UK EASA CPL/IR licence as, if you need a UK licence after 2020, conversion will be inexpensive and straightforward
- Bristol Groundschool, Wings Alliance and many UK-based ATOs have non-UK EASA approvals so will continue to offer EASA training
- If you wish to do your CPL/ME/IR in the UK, check with your ATO that they have non-UK EASA approvals and flight testing arrangements
- It is a good idea to do your ATPL theory exams with Austro Control or another non-UK EASA member state