With effect from 1st January 2021, the UK left EASA. There is clearly an implication for pilots studying for their commercial licences. The purpose of this page is to advise on those implications. The advise is subtly different, depending on the likely date of issue of your CPL/IR. This is based on the advice from the CAA Brexit website
Was your licence issued before 1 January 2021?
If your EASA Licence was issued by the UK CAA before the end of 2020 the licence is now a UK licence, and you have lost EASA privileges.
If your licence was issued by another EASA State before the end of 2020 you retained EASA privileges after that date but you will be unable to operate UK registered aircraft. However, the UK will allow some EASA licence holders referred to as ‘recent UK-issued Part FCLs’ to have the equivalent UK licences issued in parallel to EASA licences, without additional training or testing, for a period of up to 2 years. We interpret ‘recent UK-issued Part FCLs’ as meaning ‘people who in the recent past held a UK licence issued under EASA Part FCL, such as for instance a PPL issued by the UK under EASA rules’.
The current position seems to be that the UK has hardened and only licences issued prior to 31 December 2020 will be convertible and only for a period of 2 years. This would suggest that British pilots, who do not have the right to live and work in the EU, should aim for a UK CAA issued licence rather than an EASA licence.
Have you started training, but were not issued a licence before the end of 2020?
In this case you will still need to decide whether to aim for an EASA licence or a UK licence. When making your decision consider, if you are British, how useful an EASA licence will be, as you are unlikely to have the right to live and work in the EU even if you do hold an EASA licence.
If you are training for an EASA licence your State Of Licence Issue (SOLI) must be an EASA Member State, and the UK is no longer a Member State as of 1 January 2021. You must therefore choose which other European State to have as your SOLI.
If you already have a UK PPL and did not change your EASA SOLI before 1 January 2021 you currently do not have an EASA SOLI. If you are aiming for a UK CPL you do not need to do anything. If you want an EASA CPL you must now get a new initial Class 1 in the EASA State of your choice. This State will then be your SOLI and hold your records.
If you are training for an EASA licence you can start the ATPL theory with any ICAO-compliant PPL. The subsequent professional courses must all be completed at Approved Training Organisations (ATOs) holding EASA approvals. This does not mean you necessarily need to go to Europe, although you can; Bristol Groundschool, the Wings Alliance and many UK-based ATOs have anticipated this rule by arranging for their EASA approvals to be retained either by working directly with EASA or by establishing a presence in an EASA Member State. Our recommendation is that you check with your ATO, if it is UK based, to ensure that they have an EASA approval in place so they can continue to provide EASA approved training. They will also need to have arrangements in place for EASA testing.
For theory testing this is straightforward, as you can train with an ATO in one country and test in another country. If you train with Bristol Groundschool, we recommend that you do your EASA ATPL exams with Austro Control, which you can sit at Clevedon, as Bristol Groundschool is an Austro Control examination centre.
For flight tests, you will need to check with UK based ATOs what their flight test arrangements are.
There is a potential complication if you have already started a series of ATPL exams with the UK CAA and, you are intending to get an EASA licence, but did not complete them before 31 December 2020. Any UK exams you passed before 31 December 2020 may be recognised by Austro Control and you may be able to complete the series with them, but this has not yet been confirmed in writing. If you fall into this category, we would recommend you contact Austro Control about your individual circumstances by emailing email@example.com.
If you are aiming for a UK licence then take your Class 1 medical in the UK. All your subsequent training should be with an ATO operating under UK CAA approvals or, during the transition period to 31 December 2022, with an EASA ATO that had its approval certificate issued before 31 December 2020. Many UK ATOs, including Bristol Groundschool, have maintained UK Approvals alongside EASA approvals.
State of License Issue (SOLI)
Under EASA regulations your SOLI is the competent authority which holds your medical records. It follows that is the authority you do your initial and renewal medicals with unless you apply to change your SOLI.
If the UK was your EASA SOLI and you want an EASA licence, you would have needed to apply to an EASA member state to change your SOLI and that process be complete by midnight on 31 December 2020. If you did not apply, or the process was not complete in time, you can still get an EASA licence; you will, however, need to do an initial (not renewal) medical with that state.
Each state has its own processes for applying for medicals and you will need to look at the website of the state you wish to become your SOLI to find out what to do. If you need an English speaking SOLI, Ireland is a natural choice; their medical information page
If you want a UK National Licence and currently don’t have a UK medical, you may either do an initial medical with the UK CAA or, if your EASA certificate was valid on 31st December 2020 and is still valid at the time you apply for your licence, the UK CAA have said they will accept it for the purposes of license issue.
The UK CAA now have a process for EASA licence holders looking to achieve a UK issued licence, there is more information available here
Summary of the UK leaving EASA
- PPL training is unaffected
- Bristol Groundschool, Wings Alliance and many UK-based ATOs have EASA approvals so will continue to offer EASA training alongside UK CAA training.
- If you wish to do your EASA CPL/ME/IR in the UK, check with your ATO that they have an EASA approval and flight testing arrangements
- For an EASA licence – do your ATPL theory exams with Austro Control or another EASA member state
- For a UK licence do your exams with the UK CAA and practical training with a UK CAA approved ATO.
Brexit – Frequently Asked Questions
I am a British citizen. Should I aim for an EASA or UK CAA CPL/IR?
Few British citizens have the right to live and work in the EU, so even if you obtain an EASA CPL/IR it is unlikely that you will be able to gain employment with an EU-based airline. Therefore, an EASA licence may be of no use to you. Whereas it appeared earlier in the BREXIT process that conversion on an EASA license to a UK CAA licence would be straightforward, currently there is a mechanism for doing so only for EASA licenses issued prior to 31st December 2020. It follows that you may be better aiming for a UK CAA CPL/IR.
I am aiming for a UK CAA CPL/IR. Do I have to train in the UK?
The UK CAA have said that they will recognise training delivered by EASA ATOs up until 31st December 2022 for the purposes of issue of a UK CAA licence as long as that ATO’s approval certificate was issued prior to 31st December 2020. So, for example, if you transferred from Bristol Groundschool (UK) to Bristol Groundschool (Europe) before 31st December 2020 and subsequently decide that you want a UK CAA licence, there is no need to transfer back if you complete your theory training by 31st December 2022.
Similarly, you could do your CPL/IR training with a school like Diamond Flight Academy in Sweden before 31st December 2022.
There are caveats to this advice:
- Any theory exams taken after 31st December 2020 must be examined by the UK CAA, who will recognise EASA theory exams taken prior to 31st December 2020.
- Any flight tests taken after 31st December 2020 must be conducted by a Flight Examiner authorised by the UK CAA; schools such as Diamond Flight Academy do have such arrangements in place, but you should reassure yourself that they will continue to do so before selecting an ATO for your training.
- The arrangements after 31st December 2022 are currently unclear; if your training is likely to continue after this date you should reassure yourself that the training you are offered will be accepted for the purposes of issue of a UK CAA licence.
- If the ATO uses Flight Simulation Training Devices (FSTDs) to deliver any part of the training, they must be approved by the UK CAA; existing EASA certificates valid on 31st December 2020 will be accepted by the UK CAA but, when they expire, a UK CAA approval will be required. You should therefore reassure yourself that the FSTDs have appropriate approval.
I missed the opportunity to transfer my SOLI from the UK to another EASA member state. What can I do?
The initial SOLI is the state which does your initial EASA medical. If that was the UK, at midnight on 31st December 2020 you ceased to have an EASA medical or an EASA SOLI, so may apply to any EASA member state to conduct an initial Class 1 or 2 medical; that state will become your EASA SOLI.
I’m sitting EASA theory exams with Austro Control but UK CAA was my EASA SOLI, what do I need to do?
See answer to above answer.
I have already started my training; how does BREXIT affect me?
If you have already started training and are aiming for an EASA licence you must complete your training with an EASA-approved ATO. That could be a UK ATO if it has direct EASA approvals (e.g. Wings Alliance) or if it has established a presence in an EU country and gained approval from that country’s EASA regulator (e.g. Bristol Groundschool).
Can a UK CAA PPL holder continue with Austro and achieve an EASA licence?
The pre-requisite to commence EASA CPL or ATPL theory training is an ICAO issued PPL licence; there is no need to transfer the licence to EASA. A UK National full PPL or a UK issued EASA PPL issued before 31st December 2020 is an ICAO PPL. It follows that if you hold one of these licences you may do your theory training with an EASA Approved ATO like Bristol Groundschool Europe Ltd and exams with Austro Control or another EASA regulator.
I have a UK PPL and Class 2 and have not taken any exams yet. What should I do?
You have 2 choices:
- Stay with the UK CAA approval, take UK CAA exams, get a UK issued licence.
- Leave your PPL in the UK. Get an EASA Class 1 medical from the EASA State you wish to be your SOLI. Take EASA exams, take flight tests at an EASA approved ATO, get an EASA licence issued.