Sailplane Pilot Licence Conversion

The Sailplane Pilot Licence (SPL) is an internationally compliant licence (international compliance depends on the type of medical held by the pilot).

UK regulation identifies that the pilot of a Part-21 sailplane (effectively all other than certain vintage types) including powered sailplane is required to hold an SPL. Pilots of Part-21 sailplanes including powered sailplanes are currently exempt from the requirement to hold an SPL until the 30th September 2025 (as detailed in the Aviation Safety (Amendment) Regulations 2023). Meanwhile, BGA and national pilot certification/licensing rules continue to apply to pilots of Part-21 and non-Part 21 sailplanes.

The minimum BGA gliding qualification for conversion to SPL is the BGA Bronze and Cross Country Endorsements. There is an exception where a pilot has qualified for Silver distance prior to the BGA Cross Country being implemented in April 1996 (see application form for details).

To ensure that all pilots will have the correct sailplane licence, ratings and certificates, the BGA has a CAA-approved SPL conversion application and checking process that results in recommendations made to the CAA. The SPLs are issued by the CAA and checked by the BGA.

As at June 2024, over 2400 SPLs have been issued through the simple application process.

Anyone who has yet to apply to convert to an SPL should read this detail.