With effect from 1st January 2021, the UK left EASA. There is clearly an implication for pilots studying for their commercial licences. The purpose of this page is to advise on those implications. The advise is subtly different, depending on the likely date of issue of your CPL/IR. This is based on the advice from the CAA Brexit website
Was your licence issued before 1 January 2021?
If your EASA Licence was issued by the UK CAA before the end of 2020 the current advice from them is that it became a UK licence after that date, and you lost EASA privileges.
If your licence was issued by another EASA State before the end of 2020 you retained EASA privileges after that date but you will be unable to operate UK registered aircraft. However, the UK will allow some EASA licence holders referred to as ‘recent UK-issued Part FCLs’ to have the equivalent UK licences issued in parallel to EASA licences, without additional training or testing, for a period of up to 2 years. We interpret ‘recent UK-issued Part FCLs’ as meaning ‘people who in the recent past held a UK licence issued under EASA Part FCL, such as for instance a PPL issued by the UK under EASA rules’.
Although the UK CAA have previously said that they would allow the conversion of non-UK issued EASA licences to UK CAA licences without any further training, EASA have not reciprocated. The current position seems to be that the UK’s position has hardened and only licences issued prior to 31 December 2020 will be convertible and only for a period of 2 years. This would suggest that British pilots, who do not have the right to live and work in the EU, should aim for a UK CAA issued licence rather than an EASA licence.
Have you started training, but were not issued a licence before the end of 2020?
In this case you will still need to decide whether to aim for an EASA licence or a UK licence. When making your decision consider, if you are British, how useful an EASA licence will be, as you are unlikely to have the right to live and work in the EU even if you do hold an EASA licence.
If you are training for an EASA licence your State Of Licence Issue (SOLI) must be an EASA Member State, and the UK is no longer a Member State as of 1 January 2021. You must therefore choose which other European State to have as your SOLI.
If you already have a UK PPL and did not change your EASA SOLI before 1 January 2021 you currently do not have an EASA SOLI. If you are aiming for a UK CPL you do not need to do anything. If you want an EASA CPL you must now get a new initial Class 1 in the EASA State of your choice. This State will then be your SOLI and hold your records.
If you are training for an EASA licence you can start the ATPL theory with any ICAO-compliant PPL. The subsequent professional courses must all be completed at Approved Training Organisations (ATOs) holding EASA approvals. This does not mean you necessarily need to go to Europe, although you can; Bristol Groundschool, the Wings Alliance and many UK-based ATOs have anticipated this rule by arranging for their EASA approvals to be retained either by working directly with EASA or by establishing a presence in an EASA Member State. Our recommendation is that you check with your ATO, if it is UK based, to ensure that they have an EASA approval in place so they can continue to provide EASA approved training. 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 already started a series of ATPL examinations with the UK CAA intending to get an EASA licence but did not complete them before 31 December 2020. We understand that the UK exams you sit before 31 December 2020 will be recognised by Austro Control and that you may apply to them to complete the series, but this has not yet been confirmed in writing.
If you are aiming for a UK licence then take your Class 1 medical in the UK. All your subsequent training should be with an ATO operating under UK CAA approvals or, during the transition period to 31 December 2022, with an EASA ATO that had its approval certificate issued before 31 December 2020. Many UK ATOs, including Bristol Groundschool, have maintained UK Approvals alongside EASA approvals.
There is a potential complication if you started your ATPL exams with another EASA State, such as Austro Control, and did not complete the series before 31 December 2020. In this case the UK CAA have said you can complete the series taking UK CAA exams, and they will recognise the EASA passes prior to 31 December 2020 for issue of a UK licence until 31 December 2022 or the passes expire, whichever is the sooner.
State of License Issue (SOLI)
Under EASA regulations your SOLI is the competent authority which hold your medical records. It follows that is the authority you do your initial and renewal medicals with unless you apply to change your SOLI.
If the UK was your EASA SOLI and you want an EASA licence, you would have needed to apply to an EASA member state to change your SOLI and that process be complete by midnight on 31 December 2020. If you did not apply, or the process was not complete in time, you can still get an EASA licence; you will, however, need to do an initial (not renewal) medical with that state.
Each state has its own processes for applying for medicals and you will need to look at the website of the state you wish to become your SOLI to find out what to do. If you need an English speaking SOLI, Ireland is a natural choice; their medical information page
If you want a UK National Licence and currently don’t have a UK medical, you may either do an initial medical with the UK CAA or, if your EASA certificate was valid on 31st December 2020 and is still valid at the time you apply for your licence, the UK CAA have said they will accept it for the purposes of license issue.
UK CAA Approvals or EASA Approvals?
Summary of the UK leaving EASA
- PPL training is unaffected
- Bristol Groundschool, Wings Alliance and many UK-based ATOs have non-UK EASA approvals so will continue to offer EASA training alongside UK CAA training.
- If you wish to do your EASA CPL/ME/IR in the UK, check with your ATO that they have non-UK EASA approvals and flight testing arrangements
- For an EASA licence – do your ATPL theory exams with Austro Control or another non-UK EASA member state
- For a UK licence do your exams with the UK CAA.
For further information – please visit our web pages