Power Flying & Towing

This section of the BGA web site covers power flying, as it relates to mainstream gliding. Although designed primarily for news and other items affecting tug pilots, aerotowing operations and motor gliding, many of the items found here may be of interest to glider pilots in general.

Guidance on Operations rules, including EASA operations rules is available here.


  • ‘Aeroplanes’ are powered aircraft that are not gliders
  • ‘Aircraft’ includes both aeroplanes and gliders
  • ‘ANO’ is the Air Navigation Order as amended
  • ‘Self Launching Motor Glider’ is Self Launching Motor Glider, a UK description that ‘means an aircraft with the characteristics of a non-power driven glider, which is fitted with one or more power units and which is designed or intended to take off under its own power’


The Law

The legal requirements for glider towing are described in the ANO. The BGA requirements are described under Laws and Rules and supporting information. Aerotowing is not classed as aerial work or commercial operations providing it is taking place within a not for profit club environment (BGA clubs are not for profit). EASA NCO SPEC rules apply to sailplane towing with an EASA aeroplane or TMG. Refer to the Laws and Rules ‘Operations rules’ webpage for details. A BGA developed NCO SPEC sailplane towing generic risk assessment and checklist is available here.

The ANO does not require pilots to hold a towing rating. EASA regulation applicable in April 2018 will require tug pilots operating EASA aircraft to hold a sailplane towing rating on their EASA licence.


The BGA appoints a Senior Tug Pilot who can advise clubs on towing operations. He can be contacted through the BGA office. The BGA recommends that clubs and tug pilots refer to the published BGA ‘Aerotow guidance notes’.

Tug pilot coaching is carried out at clubs by appropriately experienced pilots. To assist those carrying out tug pilot coaching or training,  the BGA publishes a Recommended Syllabus for Sailplane Towing.

Guidance on licencing is available on the Licensing webpage. Aeroplane pilots are advised to refer to the CAA publication CAP 804.

All tug pilots should make themselves familiar with the Safe Aerotowing detail available here.

Motor Gliders

UK regulation describes any powered glider that can self-launch as a Self-Launching Motor Glider (SLMG). EASA describes sailplanes which can self-launch (eg DG400), and Touring Motor Gliders (eg Falke 2000) – both are deemed to be SLMG under UK regulation. The legal requirements for operating motor gliders are described in the ANO. Motor gliders are used at clubs both for powered flying and for teaching gliding exercises, including navigation and field landing selection.

The BGA appoints a Motor Glider Standards Manager who can advise clubs on motor glider operations. He can be contacted through the BGA office. The BGA recommends that clubs and motor glider pilots refer to the BGA Motor Glider Handbook. It is important that risks from co-located motor glider and winch operations are appropriately mitigated.

CAA SLMG Flight Instructor training can be provided by the BGA. Please refer to the BGA Courses page.

Guidance on licencing is available on the Pilot Licencing page and our NPPL webpage.

Guidance on instructor ratings is included in the BGA publication ‘Instructor Requirements‘.

Motor glider training is not classed as ‘aerial work’ or ‘commercial operations’ providing it is taking place within a not for profit club environment. Any club that has concerns can contact the BGA office for guidance.

Microlight Sailplanes

Some single seat microlights have the characteristics of an SLMG. Where these aircraft meet specific requirements, they can be categorised as SSDR. In other words, they are deregulated for airworthiness purposes. For details refer to CAA Information Notice 2014/101. For pilot licensing requirements, refer to CAA Information Notice 2014/139.