Pilot Training and Licencing – FAQs

Where do I find out about learning to fly at BGA clubs?

Please refer to our ‘Training Organisation – Learning to Fly’ webpage.

Do I need a licence to fly a sailplane?

In the UK

No. Through exemption from European Law, there is currently no requirement in the UK to hold a sailplane pilot licence.

See ‘Pilot Licence Conversion’ for the latest news.

Outside the UK

Usually yes. Pilots need to comply with the licensing requirements in the country in which they are flying. All European countries recognise the EASA SPL and LAPL(S). Countries outside Europe will recognise an SPL. Note that the USA has verification requirements. And note that because the LAPL medical is not ICAO compliant, many non-European countries will not necessarily recognise a LAPL(S). Some countries recognise BGA pilot qualifications.  If in doubt, contact the CAA in the country in which you plan to fly.

Do I need a licence to fly a motor glider?

Yes. Either a UK PPL with SLMG privileges, or an EASA licence with self-launching privileges, or for TMGs, a TMG privilege.

See ‘Pilot Licence Conversion’ for the latest news.

Do I need a licence to fly microlight self-launching sailplanes?

Yes. Either an NPPL microlight or an SPL or LAPL(S) with self-launch privileges.

The following explanation may be helpful.

Non-EASA aircraft are flown in the UK under UK national requirements, ie the ANO 2016.

‘SLMG’ as referred to in the ANO 2016 includes both EASA and non-EASA examples of the same unless otherwise stated, and that when an aircraft meets the SLMG definition, it is an SLMG.

‘Sailplane’ as defined by EASA includes powered sailplanes.

A ‘glider’ is a ‘sailplane’.

In 2014, the CAA was asked to interpret the law and noted in an information notice (IN 2014/139 which following the publication of the ANO 2016 was removed. However, the interpretation remains valid) that an SLMG is ‘an aircraft with the characteristics of a non-power driven glider, which is fitted with one or more power units and is designed or intended to take off under its own power’.  An example noted by the CAA in 2014 is a self-launching microlight aircraft which meets the following criteria;

  • 3 axis primary flying controls
  • Wingspan of at least 11 metres
  • Wing mounted airbrakes or spoilers
  • Designed for soaring flight

An example is the Silent Electro.

The CAA noted in 2014 that a UK SLMG class rating is equivalent to a powered sailplane endorsement established under EU regulations. Therefore the LAPL(S) and SPL (with valid self-launch or TMG privileges) are valid for the equivalent UK SLMG. The CAA warned in 2014 that the LAPL(S) and SPL are not valid for microlight aircraft that are not SLMGs.

EASA FCL.035, which applies to the SPL and LAPL(S), notes that ‘unless otherwise specified  in  this  Part,  flight  time  to  be  credited  for  a  licence,  rating  or certificate shall have been flown in the same category of aircraft for which the licence, rating or certificate is sought’.

When considering recency, pilots are advised that a microlight self launching motor glider as described above is, by definition, a self-launching sailplane.

Do I need a towing rating to tow a sailplane with a powered aircraft?

EASA pilot licencing regulations require tug pilots operating EASA sailplane towing aircraft to hold a sailplane towing rating on their EASA aircraft licence.

See ‘Pilot Licence Conversion’ for the latest news.

A towing rating is not required to tow with a non-EASA aircraft; the minimum licence privilege requirement is an NPPL SSEA.