What is the issue?

The License of a pilot is a vital document for any pilot. While for decades the rules governing these licenses were determined within the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), the European Union has transposed the JAR-FCL rules into EU-wide provisions. In 2008 the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) acquired a new mandate to create such rules. These "EASA Part-FCL" rules have a direct impact on the way pilots licenses are governed in Europe. Whereas JAR-FCL was an "operational" text, easily understood by aviation professionals such as pilots, the new EASA Part-FCL is more legalistic language, more difficult to read and more difficult to apply. The new Regulation on Aircrew, covering pilot training and checking, medical aspects, initial training and requirements for authorities and organisations is applicable since 8 April 2012. However, it provides EASA Member States the flexibility to defer the date when the new Regulation applies, via derogations.

How is ECA involved?

ECA has been active in this domain since its establishment, first in the framework of the JAA and now within EASA. In the former JAA days, ECA pilots worked to ensure that JAR FCL reflected the pilots’ requirements. During the development of the new FCL rules, the Agency invited a selection of ECA pilots to participate in working groups to effectively transpose JAR-FCL. The EASA Part-FCL entered into force on 8 April 2012 as Commission Regulation 1178/2011.There were possibilities for opt-outs on several parts of the legislation and most Member States have taken this option. Under the new rules, EASA Member States continue to issue licences, ratings and certificates, and it is the national authorities that should be addressed with questions regarding  licences, ratings and certificates.

ECA, though its pilot representatives, continues to shape the future technical rules (IR, GMs or AMCs) covering aircrew requirements, licenses and ratings, i.e. via participation in the Combined Aircrew Technical Body and Flight Standards Stakeholder Technical Body.

Why is the issue important to ECA?

Obtaining a license is a big responsibility. ECA's aim is to ensure that the standard of initial and recurrent training are always sufficient to ensure the safety and the security of the flights. This is particularly true for some developments, such as the Multi-crew Pilot License (MPL) which, if not properly implemented and monitored, risks undermining flight safety.

Pilot Training Compass
Pilot Training Compass

In 2013 ECA published the “Pilot training compass: Back to the future”, gathering the expertise and insights of pilot training experts from all across the globe. The report is an open invitation to all stakeholders to discuss with pilots on what “learning to fly” really entails. The publication touches upon the overall scope of the pilot’s profession and training programs, including the selection principles and competencies necessary for airline pilots. Among the most important conclusions of the report is that pilots needs to be able to develop and seamlessly shift between different skills sets (flight deck management skills and basic flying skills). Yet, these core and basic skills, such as performing a hand-flown approach, still lie at the basis of pilot professionalism and are the key to ensure a safe, sustainable lifetime performance by pilots.

Who is responsible?

Executive Board Director: Tanja Harter

Staff member: Paulina Marcickiewicz

Working Group: Training, Licensing and Operations (TLO WG)

Chairman: Javier Martin-Chico


External links

EASA Aircrew Section

EASA Aircrew Information - FAQ

Consolidated version of the Aircrew Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 and a quick reference guide for pilots’ licences and ratings

Reference guide to the implementing rules of Annex I (Part-FCL) to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 on licensing requirements for aircrew