Updated: Jul 23, 2021
You, the UK CAA and EASA after 31st December 2020
The following is provided on the strict understanding that, until the UK HM Government and the EU Commission make a final decision on the future trading agreements between the UK and EU, it is not known for certain what will actually be decided.
Furthermore, this is not meant to be advisory, as until such time as the respective regulatory authorities make final decisions, we cannot know for certain what measures, if any, will be put in place for the mutual recognition of training credits between the UK and EASA.
The purpose of this document is to provide you with some idea of what may or may not happen after the UK leaves EASA in the event of the UK leaving the EU with no trade agreement and/or bilateral aviation safety agreement (BASA) in place, and how your flight crew licensing requirements and privileges may be affected.
31st January 2020 – UK left the EU and entered into a transition phase during which the UK and EU would negotiate the arrangements for trade agreements following the transition phase.
31st December 2020 – Transition phase is due to end. UK is no longer subject to EASA rules.
30th June 2020 – Any extension to the transition phase was due by this date. No extension has been requested.
15th October 2020 – Final date for determination of EU/UK post-transition future trading rules; although, it has been stated this last week that this may be extended slightly.
The UK is due to leave EASA on 31st December 2020 and in the event that no trade agreement is reached it is possible that there may not be a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) in place. As such, with effect from 1st January 2021, the UK CAA will be the only regulatory authority having jurisdiction over civil aviation matters in the UK.
So far as aviation training is concerned, the critical factor is the enabling in law of a BASA. We are aware that the UK CAA has already put several options of necessary regulations in place, and merely need the instruction from central government as to which set of regulations to activate, dependent on the extent of agreements. We do not know to what extent EASA has prepared for the implementation of a BASA, or even no BASA, as the case may be.
How does this affect me?
With a BASA in place, it is expected that you may be able to train for UK and EASA CPL and MEIR on both UK and EASA aircraft, and that such training will be mutually recognised.
With no BASA in place:
A UK licence is required to operate UK registered (G-XXXX) aircraft.
An EASA licence is required to operate EASA registered aircraft
A validation issued by the UK CAA is required to operate UK registered aircraft with an EASA licence.
Unfortunately, if you have not already transferred your State of Licence Issue (SOLI) from the UK to another EASA member state, the cut-off date for applications was 1 October 2020. You have probably left it too late and will only be able to obtain a UK licence.
You will be able to train for a UK CAA CPL and MEIR on UK registered aircraft with an EASA (ICAO Annex 1) PPL, in exactly the same way that you can train when holding any other non-EASA/UK licence.
Please note that, if you transfer your UK CAA medical records to another EASA member state prior to 31 December 2020, you also transfer your licences and ratings.
To be able to operate UK registered aircraft on an EASA licence after 31 December 2020 you will require a validation from the UK CAA, which will be available on the UK CAA website.
Before the UK Leaves EASA
How do I obtain a UK national licence as well as my UK CAA issued EASA licence?
When applying for a PPL you had the option to apply for a UK national licence at the same time. Unfortunately, if you did not do this at the time, it is probably too late to do so now. The purpose of UK national licences was to allow UK national licence holders to fly Permit-To-Fly aircraft, which is not covered by EASA licences.
Up to 31st December 2020 any UK CAA issued licence is an EASA licence; but on 1st January 2021 this automatically becomes a UK only licence and ceases to be an EASA licence.
From 1st January 2021 the UK CAA will issue UK licences only. It appears that, licences being issued now no longer have the EASA logo.
How do I obtain an EASA licence?
If you want to obtain an EASA licence before the UK leaves EASA you need to convert your EU member State of Licence Issue (SOLI) from the UK to another EASA member state.
This is done by transferring your medical records to that member state, before 1 October 2020.
This is an administrative process and the costs and time taken varies between different states.
You will however no longer have any valid UK records; any subsequent application for a UK licence on the basis of an EASA licence may be subject to the process explained later.
Furthermore, in order to revalidate or renew your EASA Class 1 medical certificate you will need to visit an Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) who has retained EASA privileges.
When the UK Leaves EASA
I have been taking my exams under Austro-Control. What will happen after the UK leaves EASA?
If a BASA is NOT enacted, Austro-Control ceases to have permission to host exams in the UK from 1 January 2021. This has been discussed and verified with Austro-Control’s senior legal adviser.
If a BASA is enacted between the UK and EU it is possible that Austro-Control may be permitted to host EASA examinations in the UK for a transition period after 31st December 2020.
However, in the absence of a BASA between the UK and EU, there is a possibility that Austro-Control will not be permitted to continue to hold EASA ATPL exams in the UK after 31st December 2020. The permission for such is at the sole discretion of the UK and is not determined by EASA, which has no jurisdiction in the UK after 31st December 2020.
Any persons wishing to continue taking exams with Austro-Control may need to take them in an EASA member state hosting Austro-Control exams. Note, this does not apply to all member states and the permission to host Austro-Control exams in any member state is at the sole discretion of that member state. It is also possible that a UK passport holder may require a student visa to enter any EU member state for the purpose of taking exams after 31st December 2020. This will be at the discretion of individual member states and not EASA or any NAA.
However, even in the absence of a BASA, it is also possible that the UK government may unilaterally permit Austro-Control a period of time to host exams in the UK, to allow those candidates who are electing to take their exams under EASA and intend to apply for an EASA licence time to complete their examinations in the UK.
Will my Austro-Control exam passes be valid for UK licence issue?
A statement released by the UK CAA on 6th October 2020 states that:
Only EASA exams taken before 31st December 2020 will be acceptable for UK CAA licence issue;
After 31st December 2020 all exams for UK CAA licence issue need to be taken with the UK CAA;
After 31st December 2020 any exams taken under an EASA member state will not be valid for for UK CAA licence issue.
EASA exams taken before 31st December 2020 will only be acceptable for UK licence issue for a period of 2 years, until 31 December 2022.
The UK CAA stated on 7th October 2020 that they will accept mixed EASA and UK CAA exams for UK licence issue.
For example, a UK citizen intends to apply for a UK licence but has taken and passed 8 exams under Austro-Control prior to 31st December 2020 – provided the remaining exams are taken under the UK CAA these ‘mixed’ exams will be acceptable for UK licence issue until 31st December 2022.
If you take any EASA exams after 31 December 2020, your ATPL theory credits will not be valid for UK CAA licence issue. This may include any subsequent application for a UK CAA licence on the basis of a third country approval using your EASA licence. You may be required to retake the ATPL theory exams with the UK CAA, as required by any UK regulations in force at that time.
Therefore, you should consider whether you wish to hold an EASA licence or a UK CAA licence. If you want a UK CAA licence, all exams from 1st January 2021 onwards must be taken with the UK CAA.
Licence Conversion for Holders of CPL MEIR
How do I obtain a UK licence on the basis of an EASA licence?
After 31st December 2020, if you already hold an EASA issued (non-UK) CPL MEIR and you wish to apply for a UK CPL MEIR you need to:
Obtain a UK CAA Class 1 medical certificate,
Re-take UK CAA ATPL theoretical knowledge exams, as required (see below)
Apply for a UK CPL MEIR as a third country licence application.
EASA ATPL theoretical knowledge exams taken prior to 31 December 2020 are acceptable for UK licence issue for a period of 2 years from the date of leaving EASA, i.e. until 31st December 2022.
Any EASA ATPL theoretical knowledge exams taken after 31 December 2020 are not acceptable for UK licence issue.
It is not known at this time whether the UK CAA may award credits for EASA exams passed prior to 31 December 2020, when applying for a UK CAA licence as a third country application on the basis of an EASA licence.
After 31st December 2022, an applicant for a UK will need to have:
Passed the UK CAA ATPL theoretical knowledge exams, and may need to:
Undertake training as deemed necessary by a UK CAA Approved Training Organisation (ATO) approved for flight training.
Pass the UK CAA CPL and MEIR skill tests.
How do I obtain an EASA licence on the basis of a UK licence?
After 31st December 2020, if you already hold a UK CPL MEIR and you wish to apply for an EASA CPL MEIR, you may need to:
Obtain an EASA Class 1 medical certificate from your chosen EASA member SOLI
Pass any theoretical knowledge examinations, as required by the chosen EASA member state (see below)
Undertake training as required by an EASA ATO
Pass the required skill test(s)
Apply for an EASA CPL MEIR from that EASA member state as a third country licence application
At this moment in time, EC Regulation 2019/494 is believed to be still in force, Article 5 of which permits EASA member states to accept UK TK credits for EASA Part-FCL licence issue. How long this will stay in force is unknown at this time.
EASA has not made any further statements on the acceptance of UK TK and flight training / skill test credits for EASA licence issue.
What is the best-case scenario?
The best-case scenario is that a BASA will be enabled with effect from 1 January 2021 and that:
An open reciprocal agreement for the mutual acceptance of training credits between the UK and EASA exists and you are also able to be issued a UK licence on the basis of your EASA licence with no further examinations, tests or training
Licences and ratings are mutually recognised for operating UK and EASA aircraft
EU member states permit free movement for UK residents to work and reside in the EU
Persons holding both UK and EU passports will not be subject to any restrictions on free movement for tourism, work and study throughout the EU and the UK.
What is the worst-case scenario?
This is very difficult to state with any certainty as there are so many unknown scenarios.
The UK CAA has already issued a statement that EASA licenced commercial pilots will be able to operate UK registered aircraft with a validation issued by the UK and available from the CAA website from 1 January 2021, but with conditions (not known at this time).
The following ‘worst case’ scenario is unlikely but nevertheless possible:
You have transferred your SOLI to an EASA member state before the UK leaves EASA
You have passed EASA theoretical knowledge exams after 31 December 2020
There is no reciprocal agreement for the mutual acceptance of training credits between the UK and EASA
You need to do your CPL MEIR training on EASA aircraft with EASA instructors, which is deemed not permissible on UK registered aircraft in the UK.
You are subsequently issued an EASA CPL MEIR by an EASA member state, which is only valid for flying UK registered aircraft with a validation (with conditions)
However unlikely this may be, in this case, you may not be able to fly UK registered aircraft or EASA registered aircraft based in the UK without some form of restriction (the unknown conditions) and to obtain a UK licence you may (subject to the requirements of UK national law at the time) need to pass again all ATPL TK exams and UK CAA CPL and MEIR skill tests, following training as required by a UK ATO.
However, all is not lost. Even if you have already transferred your medical records and PPL to an EASA member state, and even without a BASA in place, with the potential restrictions that may ensue, you are still able to train for UK licence issue on UK registered aircraft with UK licenced instructors.
Alternatively, you will hold a valid EASA licence which may be used throughout the EU without restriction, and which may be recognised in other parts of the world.
Working for EU Airlines
Will I be able to work for an EU (EASA) airline after the UK leaves EASA?
Quite possibly but this will depend on the needs of the airline.
The right to work for an EU airline in the EU is nothing to do with UK CAA or EASA licencing, although, without a BASA, you will need an EASA licence to fly EASA registered aircraft, within the EU or UK.
Even if you hold both an EASA licence and a UK CAA licence, working for an EU airline in the EU is a matter of international law and not aviation law.
If you hold a passport for an EU member state you will have complete freedom of movement, including for residency and employment purposes, among all EU member states.
However, for those persons holding UK passports only, we do not know for certain what restrictions will be put in place by the EU member states on such persons from living, working, studying or even travelling in the EU. What has been previously stated by the European Commission is that such matters may be devolved to independent member states; therefore, while one state may place no restrictions another state may impose strict restrictions. It should be expected that, in order to work in any EU member state, you may require both a Work Permit and/or a Residency Permit and these may need to be sponsored by the employer. A further consideration is that an EU based employer may choose to employ EU citizens only, as employing non-EU citizens may create an unnecessary administrative burden.