Pilot Licence Conversion
Under European regulation, any pilot flying an EASA aircraft (including a glider, which under EASA is known as a sailplane) is required to hold an appropriate EASA licence and EASA medical certificate. Full details are contained in EASA’s ‘Aircrew Regulation’, which is interpreted by the CAA in CAP804. Separate licences are required for sailplanes, aeroplanes, helicopters and balloons.
However, there is a UK exemption published in the CAA’s Official Records Series 4 that describes how under an existing temporary opt-out from the EASA regulation, a pilot can choose to operate in the UK using national, BGA, or EASA licence privileges. For sailplanes and balloon pilots only, EASA is expected to extend the end of the opt-out from 8 Apr 2018 to 8 Apr 2020. To quote the UK CAA (source: CAA website Sep 2017);
To fly any EASA certified aircraft, from 8 April 2018 you will need to hold an EASA licence. There are two exceptions: the deadline for sailplane and balloon licences under EASA SPL, BPL, LAPL(s) or LAPL(B) is 8 April 2020 (mandatory conversion is not required prior to this date)..
Glider pilots, including those who have converted to hold an EASA licence, can choose to operate as they always have done, including using BGA medical requirements. Please note that if a pilot chooses to exercise his or her EASA licence privileges, he or she must of course comply with the relevant EASA licencing and medical requirements.
Pilots who fly EASA aeroplanes using UK NPPL or UK PPL privileges are advised to ensure they hold the correct licence and privileges (including sailplane towing rating) by 8 April 2018.
Pilots who fly motor gliders that EASA defines as Touring Motor Gliders should stay close to the latest BGA advice; the BGA and CAA are currently working to ensure glider pilots who fly what EASA defines as Touring Motor Gliders and would continue to do so using an SPL or LAPL(S), are included within any extended temporary exemption from the need to hold an EASA licence.
The pilot licence conversion process for glider and motor glider pilots is described below.
Supporting you through the licence conversion process
Glider and motor glider pilots 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 national Qualified Entity approval. Guidance is included in the BGA licence conversion application form and the BGA’s EASA licensing Frequently Asked Questions.EASA Licencing FAQ's
Aeroplane pilots who wish to convert their licence should refer to the CAA website. Touring motor gliders may be flown using a sailplane licence or an aeroplane licence where the TMG privilege is included. Guidance is included in the BGA’s EASA licensing Frequently Asked Questions.
Gliding licence conversion process – step by step
- Consider whether you need to obtain a medical or qualify further under the BGA system before converting.
- Decide what type of licence and additional qualifications you are going to apply for.
- Complete the application form using the guidance within the application form.
- Check that your application is complete, including certified and clearly readable copies of documents where required.
- Send your application to: BGA, 8 Merus Court, Meridian Business Park, Leicester, LE19 1RJ
Adding a privilege to an SPL or LAPL(S) after the licence has been issued
During the conversion period, ie until 8th April 2018, it is possible to add a privilege to a previously issued SPL or LAPL(S) using the conversion criteria. The step by step process is;
- Consider which Part-FCL privilege you believe you want to add based on BGA/National privileges or other additional training
- Complete the application form using the form completion guidance document
- Check that your application is complete, including certified and clearly readable copies of documents where required
- Send your application to; BGA 8 Merus Court, Meridian Business Park, Leicester, LE19 1RJ
Clearly the first port of call for any licence conversion queries is the information published on the website including the EASA licensing FAQs. Where that doesn’t provide the answer, the BGA office staff are always happy to help.
The BGA office deals with 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.