Instant Expert

Third country to Part-FCL licence conversion

The Department for Transport calls time on UK-based FAA licence holders

In August last year we reviewed the issue of UK residents flying under the privileges of ‘third country’ pilot licences, such as those issued by the American FAA. The deadline for UK residents to obtain a UK Part-FCL licence, to continue flying Part-21 (formerly EASA) aircraft types (regardless of registration) was 21 December 2021. This date has now passed without amendment, so if you are affected by this and still not sure how to obtain a Part-FCL licence, let’s recap.

It was around the mid-2000s that the European Commission and Member State representatives passed a law requiring pilots resident in an EU member state to hold an EASA licence, regardless of whether the aircraft being flown was registered in the EU. The date on which this requirement would actually apply was constantly pushed back (referred to as derogated), but as far the UK is concerned, no longer.

Considering it was the EU that brought in the requirement in the first place, it is with a touch of irony that the derogation has now expired for UK residents, while on the continent, member states may continue to derogate up until 20 June this year (not all have, it is at individual discretion).

Conversion v. validation

The requirements for obtaining a Part-FCL licence or validation on the basis of another ICAO licence are now in Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2020/723, as retained in UK law. This replaced Annex III to the EASA Aircrew Regulation in March 2020. The version as in force in the UK can be found along with the other retained law here.

There are essentially two options for complying with the UK Part-FCL requirement – either obtain a 12-month validation or obtain a permanent UK Part-FCL licence. The regulations refer to obtaining a Part-FCL licence as ‘conversion’, but this is perhaps a misnomer since you do not surrender the third country licence – you still need to hold a licence issued by the state in which the aircraft is registered.

I will focus on the process for obtaining a full Part-FCL licence. I would suggest that validation is not worth it for UK residents, since it is only valid for 12 months and still requires the licence skills test to be conducted. The validation requirements are similar to simply obtaining the Part-FCL licence, except you do not require a UK medical, and demonstration of theoretical knowledge can be oral, rather than taking the written exams.

For both conversion and validation, it is much more straightforward if you have 100 hours flight time in the relevant category of aircraft. If you do not, I would obtain this somehow beforehand, otherwise you do not really have any alleviation from the full Part-FCL training requirements.

Assuming you have that 100 hours, to obtain a UK Part-FCL PPL on the basis of another ICAO PPL you need to:

Have your licence verified to the CAA by the issuing state (see form SRG2142);
Pass the written exams in Air Law and Human Performance;
Obtain a UK Class 2 medical;
Pass the UK PPL skills test; and
Demonstrate English language proficiency, which can normally be done at the same time as the skill test.

In practice I would approach a suitable flying school to guide you through the process, the UK PPL skills test is similar to any other ICAO one, but every state has its own local flavour.

Foreign Instrument Ratings

For obtaining the UK Part-FCL Instrument Rating (Aeroplanes), you can use the 2014 conversion process for pilots with a third country IR and 50 hours PIC under IFR in aeroplanes (note that is IFR time, not necessarily time in IMC). You must do the UK skills test, during which you will be examined orally on UK air law, operational procedures, meteorology, flight planning and performance. There is no requirement for written exams or training prior to the test. 

In practice I would suggest you need a flying school that provides IR training to prepare you for the UK test. Like the experience requirement for converting at PPL level, if you do not have 50 hours PIC under IFR, I would find a way to obtain it, since otherwise the above option is not available.

Keeping Part-FCL ratings current

Towards the end of 2019 there was some modest good news for those who hold both EASA licences (and by extension, licences that have subsequently become UK Part-FCL), and third country ICAO licences – if you let your EASA or UK Part-FCL class / type or instrument rating lapse, you can go straight to a renewal test without mandatory refresher training, provided your equivalent ICAO rating is still valid.

Non-Part-21 aircraft

The Part-FCL licence requirement only applies to Part-21 types (formerly known as EASA types), so if you happen to be flying a foreign registered non-Part-21 aircraft (for example classified as vintage or historic) the Part-FCL requirement does not apply for private flights. Article 150 of the Air Navigation Order also allows any ICAO compliant licence to be used privately on a UK registered non-Part-21 aircraft.

More info:

PPL & CAA aircrew  

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