Pilot Licence Conversion

Do I need a pilot licence?

Pilots of Part-21 sailplanes (formerly described as EASA sailplanes) including powered sailplanes including TMGs need to hold an Sailplane Pilot Licence (SPL) by 8 December 2021.

SFCL includes a number of helpful simplifications compared to the previous FCL sailplane licensing rules. For example among other simplifications:

– There is a single licence – described as the Sailplane Pilots Licence (SPL) – which can be used with either a class 2 medical certificate or a LAPL medical certificate.

– The Flight Instructor (sailplanes) certificate is non-expiring, subject to rolling recency requirements.

The Sailplane Flight Crew Licensing (SFCL) ‘easy access’ rules combining implementing rules, AMC and GM are available here.

Please note that any existing SPL or LAPL(S) that was issued under Part-FCL is now deemed to be an SFCL SPL and the privileges of the licence can be used with either a LAPL medical or a class 2 medical.

In the UK, the SFCL rules must be complied with by 8th December 2021. So pilots of Part-21 sailplanes, including powered sailplanes, can carry on operating under BGA pilot certification and pilots of EASA self-launching sailplanes and TMGs can carry on using a national SLMG class rating until December 2021.

All gliding instructing at BGA clubs continues under BGA requirements until December 2021 – therefore all gliding instructors even if they hold an FI(S) certificate must hold a valid BGA instructor rating.

Meanwhile, the BGA intends to support those pilots who choose to hold an SFCL Sailplane Pilots Licence. To do so we will continue to provide a licence conversion service.

Do I need a medical certificate?

For conversion from a BGA gliding certificate to an SPL (including all privileges eg instructing), one of the following is required;

CAA Pilot Medical Declaration, or

Class 2 medical certificate, or

LAPL medical certificate.

Sailplane pilot licence conversion

Sailplane pilots who choose to convert are directly supported through the conversion process by the BGA. To ensure that all pilots will eventually have the correct sailplane licence, ratings and certificates, the BGA has agreed with the CAA that the BGA will handle the application and checking process and make recommendations for licence issue to the CAA under a Qualified Entity approval. The process is described below.

Please note that an SPL issued by the CAA after 1 Jan 21 will be a UK SPL (rather than issued as an EU SPL, as is the case prior to 1 Jan 21). A CAA-issued EU SPL and a UK SPL have the same privileges in the UK and the EU.

Sailplane pilot licence conversion process – step by step

  1. Consider whether you need to obtain a medical or qualify further under the BGA system before converting.
  2. Decide what type of licence and additional qualifications you are going to apply for.
  3. Complete the application form using the attached guidance.
  4. Check that your application is complete, including certified and clearly readable copies of documents where required.
  5. Send your complete application including including certified and clearly readable copies of documents where required by post BGA, 8 Merus Court, Meridian Business Park, Leicester, LE19 1RJ, or email lizzie@gliding.co.uk

If I already hold a LAPL(S), do I need to exchange it for an SPL?

No. A Part-FCL LAPL(S) and a Part-FCL SPL are both automatically deemed to be an SFCL SPL with effect from 8 April 2020. When the CAA reissues a licence for administrative reasons or upon application by licence holders, the CAA will replace Part-FCL sailplane licence for an SFCL SPL.

Adding a privilege after the licence has been issued

During the conversion period it may be possible to add a privilege to a previously issued licence using the conversion criteria. The step by step process is;

  1. Consider which Part-SFCL privileges you believe you want to add based on BGA/National privileges.
  2. Refer to the SPL conversion guidance (‘Sailplane pilot licence conversion process – step by step’, step 3 above) to ensure that you meet the requirements.
  3. Complete this application form.
  4. Check that your application is complete, including certified or original and clearly readable copies of documents where required
  5. Send your application to; BGA 8 Merus Court, Meridian Business Park, Leicester, LE19 1RJ
  6. CAA should replace your existing licence with an SFCL SPL.

More Information

Clearly the first port of call for any licence conversion queries is the information published on this website. Where that doesn’t provide the answer, the BGA office staff are always happy to help.

The BGA office deals with sailplane pilot licence conversion applications as soon as they arrive. The entire process from receipt of application to CAA issue and delivery can take anything from a couple of weeks for a straightforward application, to somewhat longer where the applicant is an examiner, in which case it gets a bit complicated at the CAA end.