Irv Lee (Irvin Lee) Mentoring the UK Private Pilot and South African PPL

Irv Lee - Higherplane Aviation Training ltd

Mentoring the Private Pilot flying in the UK, FCL/Non-FCL Testing, Renewals & Validations, PPL Masterclasses, Radio Training & Testing, South African Vacation & Licensing advice, Consultancy and much more besides . . . . .

this page is undergoing constant and progressive update from Dec 31st for a few days, massive text changes to cater for leaving EASA
To learn much more, checkout the PPL Masterclasses, Online Radio Training, and the deconfuser for pilots, the Pre-Preflight Checklist, all to be found via the tabs on the left.
(Last Updated: Dec 2022)

WARNING - Update in Progress

Welcome to Irv Lee's Original Frequently Asked Questions page

(Q&A All answers, unless detailed otherwise in the answer assume the pilot posing the question:
  • is a General Aviation ('GA') pilot flying in the UK.
  • flies "S.E.P" (Land based) aircraft (the replacement / successor to the old 'Group A').
  • has a UK issued PPL with SEP rating with no extra ratings or privileges, unless indicated otherwise in the text.
PLEASE READ: 2021 and Leaving EASA:
It is important to realise that leaving EASA did not initially change ANYTHING at 2300Z on 31/12/2020 except for terms. ALL EASA regulations were copied en-masse into UK Law, all that changed at cut-over was that the CAA became responsible for everything, a UK EASA licence became a UK FCL licence, (hence a UK non-EASA licence became a UK non-FCL licence), and what WAS called an EASA Aircraft became a Part 21 Aircraft (hence what was a non-EASA Aircraft is not a non-Part 21 aircraft). Until exemptions are issued or UK law changed, nothing else changes.

Disclaimer: These answers have no legal authority and could be superceded or become wrong or redundant at any time. Use these answers only as a base starting point for checking with the relevant authorities.
NB: Air Law and regulations can change through a variety of means, the base itself is more than one source, before you even think about 'exemptions' that are often issues on topics (often found in the ORS4 section of the CAA website), you have to work with the Air Navigation Order (ANO), FCL (flight crew licensing), FCL Non-Commercial Operations (NCO) and of course Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA). So it only needs a little change in one, be aware that these answers may need to change. Also, there is now a FAQ page for specific EASA FAQs and another for the complicated rules of which combination of medicals and licences are legal- see menu on left.

The FAQs and Answers:

THE BIG QUESTION ZERO: Can I fly Part21 Aircraft (new name for EASA Aircraft) using an SSEA rating, or using a UK national (non-FCL) PPL?
YES- Since June 2021, UK Law was changed to allow NPPL-SSEAs and older (non FCL) PPLs with SEP ratings to fly what are now called Part 21 aircraft, providing they are G registered and flown in the UK. The sort of aircraft flown are limited to those that could be flown by a LAPL(A) pilot.

  1. How do I find a local Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) and how do I book?
    Finding is Easy, booking is not - search by town, region or partial postcode on this AME Search Site. These doctors can issue either full UK medicals or the UK LAPL medical certificate. Your G.P. could issue the LAPL medical certificate, if they wish to take part in the scheme, but it is less likely now that the CAA have introduced an online portal to handle medicals - it is such a pain to use it. Several UK AMEs have registered to issue EASA medicals too, for those pilots who changed their UK licences for another EASA State. Note: For UK licence holders with an EASA medical pre-2021, that is acceptable but you are recommended to print and carry CAP2086 if you fly outside UK airspace to explain that despite having the word EASA on it, it is legal under UK law with a UK licence in a G-reg aircraft.
    However in Spring 2021 it became much more difficult to get an appointment, as first, a pilot must register through a CAA online portal, and pay to ask for an appointment. The payment to 'book' is not much, the problem is the system itself, it takes about 2 weeks to register through it, and there are numerous problems reported with using it including ridiculous errors even with correct data entered. See CAP1902, registering for a medical. Once registered, you can ask to book a medical, and after doing so, contact an AME for an actual appointment. The same site can be used for Personal Medical Declarations.
    If you are a S.A. PPL holder looking for a S.A. approved AME, I maintain these contact details: S.A. AMEs in the UK. (If you know of any more, they can be added for free!).

  2. My Certificate of Experience (SEP Rating) expiry date has passed, and I have not met the requirements. What can I do?
    It's probably not as bad as you expect, you do need a test with a flight examiner, called a Proficiency Check, but if expired more than 3 years, any retraining must be within either an ATO or a DTO (basically, a proper training club/school) and certified by them. Due to FCL changes during late 2019, you can retrain for renewal outside such a club/school if your rating expired fewer than 3 years ago, but you still need to be certified as ready by a flight instructor to be able to fly the Proficiency Check with an examiner. There is a lot of discussion about this certification on the internet forums, with many insisting the certification is not necessary for an SEP rating in a UK non-FCL PPL, however, the CAA have always maintained, and have confirmed recently, that the examiner should not accept a candidate without such a certificate, no matter what sort of PPL the candidate has.
    The test (called a Proficiency Check) is however a pass/fail on the whole test. As long as SEP is mentioned in section XII of your licence, the rating can be signed up by the examiner if they have a UK licence, or, if they are still under the allowance conditions for EASA non UK examiners to do so, (which depends on a few complications), they can also do so.

  3. Can an Instructor sign the revalidation of my rating in my (UK CAA issued) licence when I want to revalidate by experience?
    If the instructor who completed your 'training hour' flight(s) as part of your 12 hour revalidation by experience has FCL.945 privileges mentioned in his/her UK issued licence, this instructor can sign your rating revalidation and process the paperwork to the CAA. With one further exeption for UK issued non-FCL licences, if he/she was not the instructor doing your hour's training flight, or does not have 'FCL.945' mentioned, or is a non-UK instructor, you must see a UK flight examiner for the revalidation signature. NB: Strangely, a UK licence needs a UK examiner to (or UK instructor with FCL.945) to sign a revalidation by experience. You cannot go to an examiner from another state for revalidation by experience, but you can for a proficiency check!
    The one exception mentioned is that for non-FCL licences (eg: NPPL, UK non-FCL PPL), there are people who have Ground Examiner or Rating Revalidation certificates, and they can sign rating revalidations in UK non-FCL licences (eg: UK non FCL PPL or NPPL).

  4. Can I fly UK (G Reg) aircraft in the UK on an FAA/NZ/Australian/South African PPL or must I convert to a UK licence?
    It depends on whether you want to fly a Part21 aircraft (e.g most certified aircraft, like a PA28, C172, etc) or a non- Part21 aircraft (e.g. kit aircraft, RV series, etc. If you want to fly a G reg FCL aircraft, you have to either convert to an FCL licence or get an FCL validation from the CAA. Things of course couldn't be as simple as that, so see the question below to see the complications.
    Whatever you want to fly, and whatever the complications, if you learned abroad, you probably need a UK instructor to brief you well on UK Air Law, and maybe to 'ride shotgun' for a couple of cross-country flights in the UK. It would be well worth looking at the Pre- Preflight Checklist which takes you through all the legalities and tips before making a flight in the UK, and many enjoy a PPL Masterclass not only for the tips and advice, but in meeting like minded GA pilots to perhaps team up with. If you want to convert to an FCL PPL, see Q&A 25 below.

  5. Can I fly "VFR on Top"?
    Well, VFR itself is an international agreement, so technically everywhere allows VFR above cloud unless it is locally banned in national legislation or your licence privileges stop you doing that. UK licences do not ban it, but remember, if you intend to be VFR above cloud above 3000' amsl, cloud separation rules apply - you need to be 1000' above the tops or 1000' below the base, as well as having 1500m horizontal separation. At 3000' or below, 140kts or below, the same applies, but in the UK (and other countries accepting this concession), you also have the option, providing you remain clear of cloud and in sight of the surface, of VFR flight down to ONLY 1500 metres visibility - that is not fun.

  6. What's the minimum horizontal visibility for flight for me in the UK? VFR tables show 1500 metres in "Class G" airspace (the "Open FIR"), but that seems very low.
    Class G, in the UK, and in other countries that include this option, that is correct, it is that low! (Assuming clear of cloud, sight of surface, 3000'amsl or below, 140kts or below). If you increase speed above 140kts, or enter controlled airspace, visibility minimum is 5km and 8km depending on whether you are FL100 (and below) or above it. It doesn't mean flying in those conditions as a basic PPL is fun or safe! It is potentially unsafe depending on your recency or experience. It is not just meeting other aircraft unexpectedly, there is the possibility of an unintentional spiral dive if you lose concentration and feed in slight control inputs whilst not checking instruments to maintain straight/level

  7. What is the '90 day passenger rule'?
    The best way to understand this is to regard your rating as permission to fly SOLO (ie: totally alone) for its 2 year validity. For non-solo flight, on the day you want to take passengers, you must have completed 3 take offs and 3 landings in an aircraft covered by that rating (in any loggable capacity, eg: P1 or under training, with or without passengers) in the previous 90 days. If your flight includes any flying at night, at least one take off and one landing of the 3 must have also been at night unless you have an Instrument Rating. Note that if you only fly a multi engined aircraft every day for 90 days, all those take offs and landings and experience counts for nothing for taking passengers in a single engine aircraft under this rule.
    There are some recent 'work arounds' including taking a qualified non-handling pilot as the sole passenger if you have a UK non-FCL licence in a UK g-reg non-Part21 aircraft - the requirements for this are in the first few paragraphs of Schedule 8 of the ANO, worth reading. Key points: the accompanying non-handling, non-logging pilot MUST have been fully legally capable of being the pilot in command in your place for the actual flight that you are making, and must be made fully aware that he or she is merely a passenger and the pilot in command on this flight fails normal 90 day passenger rules, and they are a non-logging non-handling passenger under the allowance to be so given by Schedule 8 of the Air Navigation Order. And to repeat - only non-Part21 aircraft and flying with a non-FCL licence.
    (See also Q19 and Q26)

  8. What happens when a syndicate member needs checking out but also fails the 90 day rule?
    This is usually a syndicate rule issue, not a legal one (but in saying that, it is probably a sensible rule!). A member, fully legal in both medical and rating terms, lapsed on the 90 day rule, fails syndicate rules by not flying for a while, and needs a checkout before flying the syndicate aircraft. There are now extra complications depending on whether the licence and pilot in question is flying a non Part21 aircraft with a non FCL licence. See the answer above about allowance given for non FCL licences in non Part21 aircraft in Schedule 8 of the Air Navigation Order. Under syndicate rules the member needs a syndicate checkout, but unless the previously mentioned Scheduled 8 allowance for non FCL licences and non Part21 aircraft applies, the 'failed' member cannot fly the aircraft legally with a passenger, due to the 90 day rule, so cannot take the 'syndicate checker'(unless the checker is an instructor, FI or CRI.)
    Remember, legally, whatever the licence, unless there are insurance restrictions, the member can fly the aircraft solo - it is only syndicate-decided rules which stop it. So here are suggestions - choose one of these - it's not up to me to choose for you as I don't know your syndicate rules or what you require. I strongly recommend Option 2, as it is the only clear, minimum risk option with no doubt about it. Option 1 may well be risky to the health of both aircraft and pilot in certain circumstances, so I would not normally recommend it, but if for example the pilot has been flying light multi-engined aircraft regularly, there may not be a problem - it's entirely a matter for the syndicate, the pilot, and perhaps the insurance company!
    • Change syndicate rules (inform your insurance company first in case they have based a premium on the fact that anyone flying the aircraft has met previously established criteria).
    • The syndicate member should fly with an instructor and get fully current, both in skill terms and for the 90 day passenger rule - it is the member who has failed syndicate rules, so it should be the member who goes to the trouble of getting out of the problem.
    • in the case of non Part21 aircraft and non FCL licence, see the allowance given by Schedule 8 of the ANO mentioned in the previous question to take a pilot who would be legal as pilot in command for the same flight as a non handling non logging passenger.

  9. I don't want to undergo a test - how do I revalidate my 2 year S.E.P. rating on my Certificate of Experience?
    Well if you don't want a test called a Proficiency Check (which is little more than a club checkout plus short VFR nav), you look in your licence at the Certificate of Experience and in the final year of the two year validity, you must complete 12 hours personal flying in S.E.P. aircraft, but changes 2016 to 2020 (depending on the licence) means 3-axis microlight hours can count in, but in potantially different ways depending on whether you have the SEP in an FCL PPL or in a UK non-FCL PPL. In the former, (FCL PPL), 3 axis microlight p1 be used towards the 'pilot in command' part for SEP revalidation in FCL licences, (but not any training in microlights), whereas in the latter, (a UK non-FCL PPL), 3 axis microlight hours (p1 or pu/t) can contribute partially or fully to satify the revalidation flying requirements.
    Note if you have both a valid TMG rating AND a valid SEP rating, you can mix and match hours between the two, or use one of them exclusively to validate the other (for example, all could be in TMG in that case.)
    The 12 hours MUST include:
    • at least 6 hours pilot in command (P1). The rest could be more P1 or training eg: hours for a night rating, circuits with an instructor for currency or passenger carrying reasons, etc.
    • one hour must be with an Flight Instructor or Class Rating Instructor (can be EASA ones until end of 2022), logged as training (P u/t) (get it signed!). For FCL PPLs, this cannot be in a microlight. The instructor must be qualified to be pilot in command on the aircraft. (e.g. if it is in your tailwheel aircraft, the instructor must have tail wheel sign off). (Note that in the final year, if you pass a flying test with an examiner for another aircraft class or type eg: a Multi-Engine (re-)Test, whilst the 12 hours are still needed for your rating revalidation, no training flights are mandatory within the 12 hours, even if the test lasted less than an hour - this is because the passed test of whatever duration takes out any need for any training flight at all for your rating requirements, but still, up to 6 of the 12 could be training. Since FCL rules came in, the hour training can be made up from separate flights, so for example, totalling a couple of aero training flights in a Pitts that needed to break for weather or refuel could count if they totalled an hour or more, or even be on different days in different aircraft.
    • 12 take offs and 12 landings. (See also Q26.)
    Unlike revalidating by flight test, the Signature to extend your rating by "revalidation by experience"on the Certificate of Experience must now be done by a UK flight examiner (non-UK flight examiner cannot sign revalidations by experience) or a UK licensed instructor holding FCL.945 privileges in their licence IF they personally completed the hour's training which forms part of the revalidation by experience. This signature is part of the process - if you do not get this signed by a UK examiner or the UK FCL.945 intructor who completed the training flight BEFORE it expires, you have wasted doing the 12 hours - you will need a renewal test (a proficiency check) just because you let the form expire without getting it signed in advance- even though you met all the other (flying) requirements!
    The best thing to do is if you are using the '12 hour by experience' route detailed above, once all flying requirements are met in the final 12 months, ask a UK flight examiner or your UK FCL.945 instructor for a rating revalidation signature - don't wait for the last day as you may have problems finding an examiner. Despite popular bar room wisdom, when using the 12 hour route, this final signature can now (since 2012) be done at any time in the final year of validity, and it extends the rating not only by 2 years beyond the current expiry date, but also to the end of that month.

  10. Should I leave my revalidation biennial instructor flight until the last minute so I do not 'waste' any of the current 2 year life?
    NO - you lose nothing doing it at any time in the second year, and meeting the requirements in any order. If you wait, you'll find weather or maintenance issues conspire against you and you won't get it done. When you have met all the requirements for revalidation, even if your rating still has months to run, you can get signed up in advance so that your expiry date is extended by another 2 years beyond that original date, thereby wasting nothing. (See previous question if you want to know who can sign you up for another 2 years). So if you had an SEP rating and in month 15 of its 24 month validity you found you had done all the flying revalidation by experience requirements in months 13 to 15 to qualify for another 2 year revalidation, you can ask for it anytime before expiry, even in month 15, and your current expiry date would be extended by two years after its expiry - you lose nothing.
    Your rating is always signed up to the 'end of month' of the date 2 years further on from current expiry. The only time it is not extended 2 years beyond the current expiry is the special case when revalidate by proficiency check with a flight examiner before the final 3 months of the rating. Don't be confused, if you revalidate via experience, you can do it anytime in the final year and maintain the same expiry month but 2 years hence, but if you chose to revalidate by test (proficiency check) with a flight examiner instead, it matters whether you are in the final 3 months or not. If you are in the final 3 months, the current expiry date is extended by 2 years, if you are flying the test earlier than the final 3 months, you get two years from the date of test (but still uses end of month).

  11. I fly all sorts of Single Engine aircraft including simple ones (like a Cessna 150) and 'variants' like tailwheel, retractable undercarriage, constant speed props, etc, which now need instructor checks before flying them for the first time. Do I have to do 12 hours on each variant sort in the second year to keep current on them all?
    NO - if these different aircraft are all in the Single Engine Piston (land) class, then you add together any experience on any of them - they are all 'the same thing' as far as the 2 year class rating is concerned, unless they have a specific type rating like the Piper Malibu. You don't even have to do a single flight in any particular one of these 'variants' - if you did all your '12 hours' requirements in a simple Cessna 150, getting your S.E.P. rating signed off again covers you for all your S.E.P. aircraft for another 2 years, whatever their propellors or wheels do, your sign off for variants (eg: tailwheel) last for life if on single engine aircraft. Equally, if your 12 hours consisted of some sort of 'mix', eg: 4 hours on a Cessna 150, 6 hours in a Cub (taildragger), 2 hours in a 'retractable' Piper, there's no difference (other than the fun factor), this mix also meets the 12 hour requirements for S.E.P (land) Class. Same applies for the 90 day passenger rule - all experiences within a single class add up together.

  12. For various reasons I can't fly 12 hours in one year. How do I revalidate my 2 year S.E.P. rating on my Certificate of Experience?
    Revalidate means to extend before expiry. Look at your 'expiry date' on the certificate of experience in your licence. One way to revalidate without losing any 'date' is to wait until you have under 3 months to go, and then have a proficiency checkflight with a flight examiner - a sort of mini-GFT similar to a good rental checkout but since Oct 2004 this has included a navigation leg too. Your original expiry date would then be extended by the 2 years. You can actually do this proficiency check with an examiner at any time, but if it is not flown in the final 3 months before expiry, your rating's new date will be calculated from the date of test, not the date of original expiry (but date will always be 'end of month'). One thing to note is that if you abandon the 12 hour route to take this test and FAIL, you cannot fly again as pilot in command until you have passed a re-test, so the 12 hour route effectively disappears if you take the test and fail.
    Amazingly, since 2016, a revalidation proficiency check for SEP in a UK non-FCL PPL can be in a 3 axis microlight.

  13. How do I become a Flying Instructor (fixed wing)?
    You have to undergo a special Flight Instructor Course ("FIC") with an FIC Instructor, to become a restricted flight instructor, teaching under the supervision of an unrestricted one. You can now charge for tuition with just a PPL and Class 2 medical as long as you have the instructor rating. (If you have not passed CPL or ATPL ground exams, your teaching of ab-initio pupils is confined to LAPL students). The FIC (instructor) course involves 30 hours flying (some simulator possible, talk to the chosen school) plus 125 hours groundschool (some of that is "directed self tuition"). The test is gruelling - maybe 90 minutes in the air and about 3 to 4 hours being grilled on the ground.
    There are pre-requisites to the course, namely:
    • 200 hours total flight time (150 'P1' if PPL holder, only 100 'P1' if CPL/ATPL). Within this, 20 hours must be P1 cross-country time.
    • You must pass a pre-entry flight test to assess your ability to start the course. If you pass, you must start the course within 6 months or do it again.
    • 30 hours of the 200 total must have been on Single Engine Piston, and 5 of these 30 must have been in the 6 months prior to the pre-entry test mentioned above.
    • You need to have had 10 hours instrument instruction (of which up to 5 could be on an approved simulator)
    • You must meet the 'knowledge requirements for CPL(A)'. (i.e.: This currently means actually pass the CPL or ATPL ground examinations)

  14. When I fly in or out of airports in Class D Airspace like Bournemouth or Southampton and visibility is not perfect, is it safer to ask for a Special VFR Clearance rather than a VFR one?
    If you did ask for SVFR, for whatever reason, you force the controller to separate you from other SVFR or IFR traffic by a certain distance. This sounds like a great idea, but often isn't, as the controller will NOT provide any separation at all from other VFR traffic, and as often they have IFR traffic arriving and departing, guaranteeing this separation for you might involve delaying you (a lot) or if you are already inside controlled airspace on your clearance, it can delay other traffic either arriving or departing. This does not happen if you are on a VFR clearance.
    For a SVFR departure, the controller may well keep keep you on the ground when any IFR or SVFR traffic is arriving or departing, or make you orbit at VRPs if you are arriving, whilst separation is maintained from IFR or SVFR traffic that may be approaching or departing.
    If visibility is less than 5km, the only way to fly inside Class D (without instrument qualifications to be IFR) is Special VFR, and, it is only available in a CTR (the volume of airspace which touches the ground) - so you could not be SVFR in a CTA or TMA for example. If you ask for a VFR clearance, even in a CTR, when visibility is less than 5km, you will be told VFR is not available - they should not suggest SVFR to you, as this is always by pilot request.
    A low cloud ceiling also means VFR might not be available even in perfect visibility. What is cloud ceiling? is it the same as cloud base? (NO! See next question). So if you wanted to fly in Class D, and you asked for a normal VFR clearance, and either the visibility was less than 5km or the cloud ceiling (see next question) is below height 1500', you might be told 'VFR not available' - it is not common for 'but SVFR is available' to be added, you normally have to (know to) ask for it, if you want it.

  15. When Should I ask for a Special VFR Clearance rather than a VFR one?
    Well, it is much easier for everyone, you, controller, other IFR/SVFR traffic, if you are VFR. If you cannot remember any of the limits where VFR is not possible, ask for VFR, and if VFR is not available, you will be told. You could then ask for a Special VFR.
    VFR clearances are not given in a Class D CTR:
    • When the visibility at an airfield you will use (or enter its ATZ inside Class D whilst in transit) falls below 5km.
    • When the cloud ceiling falls below 1500' height. If you are arriving or departing an airfield in a Class D CTR, a cloud ceiling below height 1500' forces 'no VFR' - therefore Special VFR is needed for the basic PPL pilot. But what is a 'ceiling'? It is a cloud base that is reported to be 'broken' or 'overcast' (in other words, 5 to 8 eights of the sky covered with cloud at a cetain height). So a cloud reported as broken or overcast at height 1300' in Class D would stop VFR inbounds and outbounds and force Special VFR. However, cloud reported as few 800', scattered 1100', scattered 1300' would still allow VFR as there is no layer of broken or overcast.
    A SVFR clearance does allow you to be exempt from the 1000' rule over built up areas, (was 1500' once!) but should not be requested for that purpose, and you would still have to obey the 'sufficient height to glide clear' and the 500 foot rules. According to the latest (mid 2021) out of the CAA, landings on a Special VFR clearance need to be a licensed or Govt airfields, posing a problem for farm strip users inside a CTR for their return when 'no VFR' due cloud or visibility reasons. Remember that in many circumstances, for example if never entering the ATZ of the UK airport measuring cloudbase or visibility, then the pilot, if told VFR not available, is able to say state the conditions for his/her route are suitable for a VFR clearance, and request one. (Still need to have one!)

  16. I have an IR-Restricted (UK FCL lience version of the IMC rating) - can I make IFR instrument approaches in real IMC in Class D Airspace?
    Yes, subject to:
    • the aircraft being approved for IFR (eg: whilst some 'permit' aircraft are approved for IFR, most are not)
    • the instrumentation being sufficient for the intended and agreed task. (eg; you would always need a radio, an altimeter, various gyro indicators, etc, but if you were NOT using the ILS, you don't need a serviceable ILS instrument unless the airfield was notified as always requiring it.) A transponder is always needed and nowadays, if a transponder is capable of ALT (Mode C), then ALT must be used in any airspace. (List will be expanded later)
    • the runway visual range being above minima for that particular runway and at least 1500m.
    • you being 'in current practice' or setting a suitable higher descent minimum based on recent practice.

  17. I only have a basic UK PPL. What do I need to fly IFR in the UK?
    Since the ANO changes of 2016, a type of instrument qualification is required - for example, the IMC rating or I/R (restricted) depending on the sort of licence you have. Note that IMC ratings, which can still exist in non-FCL UK PPLs can no longer be used in Part21 aircraft, as the non-FCL licences themselves are not legal in Part21 aircraft. A non-FCL UK PPL with IMC rating can be used in non-EASA aircraft if the aircraft itself is approved for IFR. An FCL licence with an I/R (restricted) is the equivalent of the old IMC and can be used in G reg Part21 aircraft in UK airspace .

  18. I have seen 'colour codes' on METARS from Military fields. Where is the definition of what they mean?
    They relate solely to visibility and 'lowest level of cloud desginated "Scattered" or worse'. As they are designed for military pilots they concentrate at the 'difficult end' to help distinguish between different conditions for instrument approaches. G.A. pilots should be wary of GREEN (which sounds good!) as it is not brilliant and could even be illegal for VFR in the Class "D" airspace around some military bases such as Brize Norton (5km is the minimum for VFR in Class D). My graphic showing the definition is here, but note nowadays Amber is split into Amber 1 and Amber 2, as they are low visibility of cloudbase, my graphic combines them: Military METAR Colour Codes. White and Blue are the ones to interest general hobby flying, but remember they do not cover 'winds' in any way, and do not appear on forecasts (TAFs) although they might be quoted verbally in forecast context.

  19. I have had a night rating for a while. How do I keep it current?
    If you have a night rating then you can legally fly solo at night for the whole of the validity of your normal rating - so if you have a Single Engine Piston (Land) rating valid for 2 years and a night rating, then that is valid at night too for all that time for solo flight. The only snag comes when you want to take passengers. The 90 day rule applies, (see item 7 above) and you must have done 3 take offs and 3 landings in the previous 90 days to take passengers, and for night flight, at least one of each of those must have been at night (unless you have an instrument rating). So you might have to do a quick solo circuit before taking passengers unless you meet the 90 day rule.

  20. What is "Differences Training" in relation to features such as Constant Speed Props and Retractable Undercarriage, etc?
    There were 5 features in JAR which make an SEP aircraft a 'complex variant', there are now 7 in Part21, and there are 6 for the equivalent in the UK NPPL. The first time you fly an aircraft with one or more of the following, you need signed-off successful training for that feature from an Instructor.
    • Tailwheel (or nosewheel if you only fly tailwheel)
    • Retractable Undercarriage
    • Constant Speed Prop (Variable Pitch Prop)
    • Cabin Pressurisation
    • Super/Turbo Charging
    • Glass Cockpit (not yet NPPL)
    • Single Power Lever (not yet NPPL)
    • for NPPL 'SSEA': Normal Cruise speed over 140kts.
    The content of the training is not defined - it just has to be relevant and sufficient to satisfy the instructor. So if you were trying to fly a tailwheel aircraft for the first time, you might expect a few hours, but if it were just a retractable undercarriage, then nothing like that amount of time - a little groundwork looking at speeds and emergency procedures, mainly circuit work in the air, and a little time outside to demo 'warning horns' and a surprise PFL to see if you remembered the wheels, then some induced distraction as you rejoin just to see if you remember again in the circuit - anything relevant.
    If you have flown a complex feature a long time ago, legally you still can without any re-training - do you want to? For retractable gear, maybe, maybe not - for tailwheel, I think you might need some refreshing with an instructor!
    SEE ALSO Q12 - these hours in any SEP Variant all add together towards your SEP hours for revalidation or the 90 day passenger rule.

  21. It always takes me time to work out the "overhead join". Is there a simple way to work it out?
    Overhead joins, given a high enough cloudbase, are the best way to join the circuit at a non-controlled field. If traffic joins at other points (crosswind, downwind, base, even final approach), then there are multiple points of potential conflict. By everyone joining overhead, this reduces to one place.

    The basic rule is:

    • Overfly the landing threshold 2000 feet above it, at 90 degrees to the runway, with your back to the circuit side of the airfield. If you can get a word in, call 'overhead for deadside descent'.
    • As an extra check that you've got it correct, as you fly over the landing point perpendicular to the runway, you should find the runway stretches out away from the aircraft in the same 'direction' as the circuit direction - in other words, at this point, if it is a left hand circuit, the runway will stretch out to the left of the aircraft and it will stay on the left of the aircraft from now on - if it is a right hand circuit the runway will be visibile stretching away through the right window, and it will stay on the right side from now on,
    • At this point start a descent with a gentle 'U' turn - which way?- the same way as the circuit direction - in other words if the circuit is 'left hand', all your turns will be to the left, if the circuit is 'right hand' then all turns will to the right. Keep a lookout all round, but observe the other traffic movements in the circuit and on the runway. If you were unable to make an overhead radio call, you can now make it as 'deadside descending'.
    • Your aim is to cross the non-landing end of the runway (the upwind end) at circuit height, in a very tight-in crosswind position. Any traffic on the runway taking off into the circuit should pass under you in the climb out.
    • When, looking back, your tailplane is level with the runway, turn downind and make the downwind call. If you have observed any other traffic already in the circuit and there is any conflict, try and fit in behind them.

  22. I'm an "ex-pat" living abroad but still flying on the basis of my UK licence. How do I revalidate my S.E.P. rating every two years?
    Well, the 12 hours and take-offs and landings should be no trouble, but your hour long instructor flight needs to be with an instructor from the UK or until the end of 2022, an EASA State. This is bound to cause a lot of problems for people in places like Canada, the USA away from the usual UK and European schools.
    It's not even quite as simple as getting a UK instructor (or EASA one until the end of 2022) who is passing by to give you the hour's flight. As he or she will be 'p1', not you, he or she will have to comply with whatever the local country wants to be allowed to be 'p1' in a local aircraft.
    If you manage to get all your 'by experience' revalidation done, you can only use a UK CAA approved examiner or FCL.945 instructor to get the final signature in your licence to extend the expiry date by two years.
    You may need to send the paperwork off to the CAA at Gatwick to get your rating revalidated on the ratings form in your licence unless you can find a UK examiner or complete your hour's training flight with a UK FCL.945 instructor. An EASA examiner from another state cannot sign UK revalidation by experience.
    However, until the end of 2022, any EASA flight examiner could fly an SEP Proficiency Check for revalidation with you before you expire, and you wouldn't need the 'revalidation by experience' route at all. The best time to do this is in the final 3 months of the rating, as your current expiry date is then extended for two years without changing the end month. If you do it early, the two years is based on month of proficiency check. (All ratings expire 'end of month', so for an SEP expiring 31/12/2020, a proficiency check in October 2020 would get you a new expiry date of 31/12/2022 as it within 3 months before expiry, whereas if the proficiency check were flown in September 2020, the new expiry date would be 30/09/2022 as it is early than 3 months before expiry.)

  23. I have a UK FCL Commercial licence and a Class 1 Medical but I only instruct for PPL - do I need the Class 1 medical?
    Nowadays, no, you can instruct at PPL level on a Class 2 medical with either a commercial licence or a PPL. (You cannot use a LAPL medical for instructing for the PPL.)

  24. When I fly right-seat with a friend, (a PPL flying P1), I navigate and handle the radio calls. Can I log anything eg: P2?
    No, there's no official designation you could use in this case, you are merely a passenger. If you just want to record the flight for posterity for some reason, you could put it in your logbook and designate it PASSENGER rather than P1 or P2 but you mustn't put any time at all into the columns which 'total up'.
    Before any flight, it must be clear who is pilot in command. This pilot logs the time as P1. It is permissible for the role to be swapped sometime in the flight, but you can never double log the P1 time. eg: An 80 minute flight normally ends up being all 80 minutes P1 to one person, but by agreement it could be (say) 50 to one and 30 to the other. You decide between you, as long as you both know who is in command at any moment, sharing the time is ok as long as it is not double logged. If two qualified pilots are both sitting with controls, not only discuss who is P1 but also who will deal with emergencies such as EFATO. Without the discussion, it is very easy to get confusion at the very moment when there is no time for discussion. Logging P2 is reserved for flights on aircraft which are designated as requiring two pilots at all times, so any p2 logging on normal GA SEP aircraft is a nonesense.
    The other confusion which is very widespread is the logging of P1 (Pi/c) and P1/s (or Pic/us) for rental or syndicate checkouts. Many instructors log P1 to themselves and tell the pilot being checked out to log p1/s just for a rental checkout. This is SO endemic in the hours-building world, no-one bothers to read up on it. If you want to read up on it, try CAP804, the 'bible' for interpretting regulations. In there you will find a large table of 'when to log what' but don't read it before looking a the footnotes. You'll find out from the footnote that of all the cases listed for P1/s (Pic/us), the only one approved for use by PPLs is logging by a PPL is the 'successful test with an examiner', or specific flights pre-authorised by the CAA.

  25. How do I convert my 'foreign' ICAO (eg: FAA, SA, etc etc) PPL to a UK FCL PPL?
    There are huge amounts of unnecessary Gold Plating applied to this since EASA came into play in 2012. See question 14 on the EASA Questions page

  26. Can the take offs and landings required for the 90 day passenger rule and the SEP revalidation 'by personal experience' route be 'touches and goes' or do only 'fullstops' count?
    Assuming this is not just a bounce, but you brought the aircraft under control to well under the flying speed before opening the throttle and taking off, just think - after such a 'touch and go', ask yourself if you landed the aircraft? How can the answer not be "yes"? Then ask yourself if you took off again? How can the answer not be "yes" again? (Also, can you imagine trying to convince a local council planning authority that had put a maximum limit on aircraft movements that a 'touch and go' was NOT a landing followed by a take off?)
    A touch and go is definitely one landing followed by one take off for 90 day or SEP/TMG revalidation purposes. If you are told otherwise, it was probably either by the person charging you for aircraft rental (full stops take longer) or it was someone confusing this issue with the night rating training (prior-, not post-issue). Where either FCL or the law wants full stop landings, this is specifically stated in the regulation. There is no requirement to 'full stop' in the 90 day or revalidation requirements.

  27. What does an IMC rating (in an IFR approved non FCL aicraft) or I/r restricted in an FCL licence allow me to do that I can't do with a PPL?
    • In UK Airspace EXCEPT for Class A, to fly IFR down to zero visibility, providing the aircraft is 'legal' for it, in or out of sight of the surface.

  28. Where can I find information on the NPPL?
    You might want to look at the official NPPL site

  29. When flying with a transponder, when should it be set to ALT?
    As you are lining up on the runway, if not before, and used for the whole flight unless a controller tells you to "Stop Squawk Altitude" - use of ALT is now a legal requirement if you have the feature, unless there are electrical load problems.

  30. Do I need to fly complexity features in aircraft every 2 years to keep using them?
    Aircraft with complexity features (tailwheel, retractable, constant speed props, pressurisation, turbo/supercharged, Single Level Power Control, EFIS) were originally meant to be flown every 2 years to keep the ability to fly them in future, BUT this is not the case once differences training had been signed off on Single Engine Single Pilot aircraft (eg: SEP). You remain qualified for life.

  31. I have an SEP rating in my PPL - Can I legally fly UK microlights (if checked out)?
    Yes, subject to differences training for microlights signed off in the log book by a microlight qualified instructor. If you have a UK non-FCL PPL with SEP rating, any such hours (p1 or dual) in 3-axis microlights can be used to revalidations by experience for SEP ratings! And soon, it is hoped that a similar idea (but of course had to be different) will apply to SEP ratings in FCL licences - the difference being that, once it is approved, for an FCL licence SEP rating, only the p1 hours in microlights could count, the training hour will have to be in an SEP aircraft - but remember this is not yet "in", just expected.

  32. If I have a Class 2 medical for PPL use, issued when I was still 49 years old but almost 50, does it run for the full 2 years (until I am nearly 52) or does it stop on my 51st birthday, seeing medical are only valid for one year for pilots in their 50s?
    An full medical's validity period is based on the age you were when it was issued, not the age you are at the time of using it! Therefore you would get a full 2 years if it was issued just before your 50th birthday. However, for some reason this does not apply to pilots getting 5 year medicals coming up to their 40th Birthdays - their '5' year period will not be allowed to go beyond their 42nd birthday.

  33. What documents do I have to take on a flight abroad in my G-reg aircraft?
    This list is being reviewed in the light of recent SERA changes: Generally you need:
    1- Documents specified by the ANO as you are in a G-reg aircraft (see below)
    2- Documents otherwise needed - even if you weren't in an aircraft. eg: Passport
    3- Documents a foreign country may want in addition to our ANO requirements. eg: VAT receipt, insurance, log book, or maintenance Release to Service.
    The ANO requirements are (for private flights, in addition to those required for internal flights):
    • Certificate of Airworthiness
    • Radio Licence (installation licence)
    • Crew Licences (I would take medical, R/T licence and ratings in addition to actual PPL)
    • Cert of Registration
    • Interception Signal list (more likely to be needed now after 9-11, apparently!)
    and if you are in a 'permit' aircraft, (take the 'permit') or perhaps you are flying on an ICAO licence from a 3rd country, do not go unless you are sure you have permission from the foreign authority, whether that permission is specific or 'blanket' (as it is from time to time for taking G-reg permit aircraft to France). You might be used to the French 'blanket' permission for PFA permit home-builds, but did you know, until fairly recently, Belgium wanted to be asked about permit aircraft each time, and also wants a pre-paid fee for permission? (This has changed now)

  34. If I use an FCL PPL, SEP rating, and a LAPL medical, what happens to revalidation/validity?
    If you decide to use a LAPL medical but have a PPL-SEP combination, this does not change your SEP revalidation requirements at all. You are merely flying using the PPL-SEP combination with less than a full icao medical, you do NOT have a LAPL licence, so you do not follow LAPL validity rules.

  35. If I train towards a foreign (ICAO-compliant: eg: FAA, South African, etc) PPL but don't complete to get the licence, will the training count in the UK towards an FCL PPL?
    No, I would advise going to the LAA and asking for credit towards an NPPL-SSEA

  36. How do I claim back fuel duty for flights abroad?
    You fill in the HO60 form, attach fuel receipts for fuel loaded in the UK prior to your flight. Use the online site HMRC Fuel Drawback to get the forms or submit online

  37. Where can I find the UK self declare medical?
    Self declare process. or if that link changes, try Googling "CAA Self Declare Portal"

  38. If I do not complete the 12 hour route to revalidate my SEP rating, what is the content of the test which replaces it?
    If you don't revalidate via the '12 hour route' (which include an hour with an instructor and the paperwork/signature from an examiner before expiry), you have to do a test with an examiner, which is "fail-able". It is called a proficiency check. After expiry, you will need a certificate from a club or school (an ATO or a DTO in FCL language) to say you are ready for test before the test itself, IF your rating has expired by more than three years. If fewer than 3 years, an FCL instructor can ALSO declare you as ready for test, even outside an ATO or DTO.
    A proficiency check for revalidation or renewal used to be a "good club checkout" - a general handling test, but since Oct 28th 2004, these tests must also contain navigation. The length of the nav leg is up to the examiner.
    Here is the Proficiency Check in pdf form - see page 3 for the content. This is the examiner check sheet, but you can ignore sections 3b and 6 for SEP revalidations or renewals. It contains some things you may not expect - "abandoned take off" for example.

  39. I had a JAA PPL which has expired at the end of its 5 years, can I get an FCL PPL?
    Yes, at the moment, a JAA PPL even when expired is legally an FCL PPL that needs renewing - it is done with the CAA conversion form, srg1104. It is better to renew any ratings (eg: SEP) that you want to use in the foreseeable future with suitable proficiency checks and send all the paperwork (renewal and conversion) in togther, otherwise, you would have to pay the CAA to add renewed ratings to your new FCL PPL when you pass the renewal checks later.

  40. How can I find information on Danger Area activity and inactivity so I can plan a route through/over/round one?
    Try the danger area link on this NATS page which also has the backups for NOTAM lists when the main notam checking site is down.

  41. I can never find the right CAA form for licence purposes. Where is the index?
    Try this for the index

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