Irv Lee (Irvin Lee) Mentoring the UK Private Pilot

Irv Lee Higherplane Aviation Training ltd

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


Welcome to Irv Lee's Original Frequently Asked Questions page


All answers, unless detailed otherwise in the answer (Q&A Last Updated: Sept 2nd 2016) 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 no extra ratings or privileges, unless indicated otherwise.
Disclaimer: These answers have no legal authority and could be superceded or become wrong or redundant at any time.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: These answers may well need to be amended slightly now that the ANO 2016, EASA FCL and EASA NCO are in force. Considered them to be "under review". 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:

  1. How do I find a local Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) for my EASA medical?
    Easy - search by town, region or partial postcode on this AME Search Site. These doctors can issue either full EASA medicals or the EASA LAPL medical certificate. Your G.P. could issue the LAPL medical certificate, if they wish to take part in the scheme. Note that under EASA, whichever State owns your medical records is the State that handles all your licence and rating paperwork. It is no good having an initial medical in (say) Austria and expecting the UK CAA to process your licence/rating paperwork, unless of course you transfer your medical records from the Austrian CAA to the UK CAA. If you have a medical (non-initial) abroad, you must make individual arrangements for the data and reports to be sent to the State which owns your medical records. ,br.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 an examiner, but any retraining must be within either an EASA ATO or what was a JAA Registered Facility which is now in a transition period to become at proper ATO by April 2018. You cannot retrain for renewal by independent instructors.
    The test is something like a good club rental checkout, but since late October 2004 has had to include a navigation secton too, This nav leg need not be as long as the initial PPL skills test's navigation leg. There is however a pass/fail on the whole test. Anything can be in the general handling parts, but expect the usual various Stalls, 45 degree steep turns, 'emergencies' (PFL, EFATO), and normal, glide and flapless circuits.
    As long as SEP is mentioned in section XII of your licence, the rating can be signed up by the examiner concerned.
    NB:An exemption allowing use of NPPL medicals or LAPL medical with an SEP rating in older CAA (pre-JAA) licences to give NPPL privileges. See Q&A 42

  3. Can an Instructor sign the revalidation of my rating in my licence?
    If the instructor who did your 'training hour'flight as part of your 12 hour revalidation by experience has FCL.945 privileges mentioned in his/her licence, this instructor can sign your revalidation and process the paperwork to the CAA. If he/she was not the instructor doing your hour's training flight, or does not have 'FCL.945' mentioned, you must see a flight examiner for the revalidation signature.

  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 or EASA licence?
    Until April 8th 2017, (was 2014 and subsequently 2016) providing you obey the restrictions of your licence, it is fully valid (eg: sign-offs, medical, etc), and UK Air Law and stick to a private VFR flight in UK Airspace, you do not need to convert your licence. From 8th April 2017 (was 2014 then 2016) you will be restricted to non-EASA aircraft (eg: Permit aircraft, or the small number of UK CAA CofA types) OR you could get a one-year formal validation, but that will be almost as much trouble as a conversion. Remember if you have a foreign licence (eg South African) where PPL holders must stick to their exact approved types without formal sign off by an instructor approved by that country, you must not assume that a UK instructor can alter the types you can legally fly. Usually, they cannot.
    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. If you want to convert to an EASA 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 or your licence stops you doing that. EASA and UK licences now allow it, but remember, if you intend to be VFR above cloud above 3000', cloud separation applies - you need to be 1000' above the tops as well as having 1500m horizontal separation. 3000', same applies, UNLESS you take the option of being clear of cloud and in sight of surface.

  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.
    Clas G, 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 104, or enter controlled airspace, visibility minimum is 5km and 8km depending on whether you are FL100 (and below) or above it.

  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 been the handling pilot during 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, 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 if you have a non-EASA 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 in question is an EASA licence of some sort. Under syndicate rules the member needs a syndicate checkout, but the 'failed' member cannot fly the aircraft legally with a passenger, due to the 90 day rule, so cannot take the 'checker' if they have an EASA licence... (unless the checker is an instructor.) Under new legislation applying to CAA licences and non EASA aircraft, it is possible to take another pilot as a passenger in specific circumstances. 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 go to a club and get fully current on another aircraft, 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.
    • there seems to be ways under EASA to designate a required crew member for certain reasons, who would not be the handling pilot, but this option has not been explored yet.

  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, 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 (or Touring Motor Gliders TMG if you happen to have a current TMG rating too). The 12 hours MUST include:
    • at least 6 hours pilot in command (P1). The rest could be P1 or training eg: for a night module, circuits with an instructor for currency, etc.
    • one hour must be with an EASA Flight Instructor or Class Rating Instructor, logged as training (P u/t) (get it signed!). 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, this 'instructor flight' is not needed, even if the other test you passed did not last an hour.) Since EASA rules came in the hour can be made up of 1, 2, or 3 separate flights providing all the flights counted to make up the hour are with the same instructor - so for example, totalling a couple of training flights with the same instructor in a Pitts that needed to break for weather or refuel could count if they totalled an hour.
    • 12 take offs and 12 landings. (See also Q26.)
    The Signature to extend your rating on the Certificate of Experience (form FCL 150 CJAR, as it was designated in early versions) must now be done by a UK flight examiner (non-UK flight examiner cannot sign revalidations by experience) or an instructor holding FCL.945 privileges in their licence IF they personally did 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 an examiner or the FCL.945 intructor who did the training flight BEFORE it expires, you have wasted doing the 12 hours - you will need a test 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, ask a UK flight examiner or your FCL.945 instructor for a rating revalidation signature - don't wait for the last day as you may have problems finding an examiner. When using the 12 hour route, this final signature can now extend the rating not only by 2 years, 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). With EASA, your rating could be signed up to the 'end of month' of the date 2 years further on.

  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. 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 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?
    Look at your 'expiry date' on the certificate of experience in your licence. One way to revalidate 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 one flight (the proficiency check with an examiner) at any time, but if it is not in the final 3 months before expiry, your rating will be renewed from the date of test, not the date of original expiry. 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.

  13. How do I become a JAA 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 could not charge for tuition until you have a Commercial Licence. (An old BCPL counts). The FIC 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 (including spinning) 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 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?
    In daytime, as a basic PPL, the circumstances where you would want a Special VFR Clearance for Class D or E Airspace are extremely rare - so rare you can almost forget Special VFR. In Class D or E it is almost just a procedural device to get around certain laws. For example, it allows an IMC rated pilot to fly in a VFR-like way when the visibility is less than the 5 km minimum for VFR (but at least 3km). There are reasons for a basic PPL to use Special VFR - see next question.
    Accepting that you hardly ever need it, if you did ask for it, either in ignorance or deliberately, you force the controller to separate you from other SVFR or IFR traffic by a certain distance. This sounds like a great idea, but isn't, as the controller will NOT provide any separation at all from other VFR traffic. It will also probably delay you considerably, as for your departure, the controller will keep you on the ground when any IFR or SVFR traffic is around, or make you orbit at VRPs if you are arriving, whilst separation is maintained from IFR or SVFR traffic around the airfield.
    For the normal PPL holder, VFR minimum visibility in Class D is 5 kilometres, but for Special VFR it is DOUBLE that - you need 10 kilometres minimum to remain legal, If you are a basic PPL, unless you really understand Special VFR, you should only ask for it in the circumstances detailed in the next question.

  15. When Should I ask for a Special VFR Clearance rather than a VFR one?
    Well, as a basic PPL, subject to a 10 kilometres or more visibility:
    • In rare procedural circumstances in Class D or E. You would normally only be interested in VFR in these classes, but if you were in transit through Class D and, due to a low cloud base, wanted to be exempt from the 1000' rule over built up areas, (was 1500' once!) then a Special VFR clearance exempts you from that rule but you would still have to obey the 'sufficient height to glide clear' and the 500 foot rules. As a basic PPL, you would need 10 km visibility.

  16. I do have an 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: not a 'permit' aircraft)
    • 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. (List will be expanded later)
    • the runway visual range being above minima for that particular runway and at least 1800m.
    • 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?
    Firstly, are you sure you understand the question? IFR is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts for UK pilots as the term IFR is used differently in the UK to other countries, but as you will see, it doesn't actually matter in practice. When JAR was in force before EASA, their changes have caused some confusion, as it appears that the committee who drafted JAR also didn't really understand how IFR is used in the UK. EASA or JAA PPL holders in the UK cannot fly IFR on a basic PPL!
    If you have a pre-JAA UK PPL, then 'IFR' in the UK meaning is possible in UK airspace. Your pre-JAA UK licence is a licence to fly - you won't find mention of VFR or IFR in it. On a simple PPL, the Air Navigation Order stops you flying IFR in classes "A through E" controlled airspace, leaving "F" and "G" ('the Open FIR' to use an old term). (Note for American pilots:- we have enormous expanses of Class "G" in the UK which is not 'topped' by Class "E" as it is in the USA). So, a UK PPL holder, or for that matter a student pilot can fly 'IFR' in Class F or G airspace in the UK. Surprised? Well, here's why:
    UK G.A. pilots often confuse 'IFR' with 'flying in IMC' (eg: in cloud), or sometimes, also wrongly, with "flying commercially" or "flying in airways". It's actually not any of those, IFR or VFR are just the rules you decide to adopt for the flight. Consider it is a completely clear blue sky day, and you are in an aircraft which is legally capable of IFR flight (altimeter, gyro instrument, non-permit operation) and you are in Class G airspace.
    • If you say you are flying "VFR" (which you probably do), you are BASICALLY just refusing to guarantee to anyone that your altimeter will be on a standard (1013) pressure setting, or how high you fly will in any way be influenced by the track you are flying, or that you will be 1000' above the highest point within 5 miles. You are basically a free spirit!
    • If you decide you are flying "IFR", you are effectively guaranteeing that you will set 1013 millibars (hectopascals) above 3000 feet amsl, and that you will obey the quadrantal rule of headings/track direction, and you will remain 1000 feet above the highest point within 5 miles except when taking off and landing.
    Notice there was nothing about being on a commercial flight, or being in poor visibility, or being under radar, or in airways, or even talking to anyone - in the UK it's just what you are (or are not) guaranteeing to others that you will do regarding altitudes and headings.
    As you will see from this, the misunderstanding that basic PPL holders cannot fly IFR in good weather in Class G means that the UK pilot always flies VFR by default, guaranteeing "nothing to no-one", so the misunderstanding spreads to the point where if you actually talked about flying IFR, fellow pilots would almost always assume you meant that you were "in IMC" - eg: in cloud.
    When visibility deteriorates to conditions where VFR is no longer allowed (ie: IMC), you would not have a choice, and would have to go 'IFR', EXCEPT THAT your basic licence does not cover you for flights in those conditions, (in fact, never below 3000 metres visibility or out of sight of the surface), so the question of IFR or VFR is meaningless.
    I don't recommend you suddenly start declaring you are flying IFR on a sunny blue day just because you suddenly realise you can. However, a daytime example of why you might want to fly IFR is to 'beat' the VFR cloud separation rules above 3000'. If you are in Class F or G, above 3000', and you cannot maintain the standard separation vertically (or horizontally) from cloud which VFR demands, but you are still clear of cloud and in sight of the surface, and in visibility of 3km or more, (both of which are requirements on a PPL holder imposed by the Air Navigation Order at all times), you can adopt Instrument Flight Rules pressure setting, headings and flight levels, and legally fly "IFR" providing you stay clear of cloud, in sight of surface, a minimum vis of 3km and stay outside controlled 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 in the Class "D" airspace around some military bases. My graphic showing the definition is here: 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. Do I still have to do 5 take offs and landings every 13 months to keep it current?
    No - if you have night qualifications 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 qualification, 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, one of each of those must have been at night. 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, 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. For NPPL, if you fly a tailwheel initially, you need differences training for 'nosewheel' should you change.
    • 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 a JAA aligned State. This is a fairly recent decision and is bound to cause a lot of problems for people in places like Canada, the USA away from the usual JAR schools.
    It's not even quite as simple as getting a JAA instructor 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 revalidation done, 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 (early version were called FCL 150CJAR).

  23. I have a Commercial JAA Class 1 Medical - can it be used as a Class 2 for private flying when it expires as a Class 1 but whilst still in the validity period for a Class 2 had it been originally issued as Class 2? (eg: Class One for a 45 year old lasts 1 year (6 months for single pilot commercial ops), Class Two lasts 2 years - could the Class one be used as a class two until 2 years are up?)
    Nowadays, YES. The CAA will provide a sticker for your medical to say so, should you need to show the medical to anyone who couldn't easily check (eg: to FAA authorities whilst flying in the US on vacation).

  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.
    If you have P1/s (or Pic u/s) in your log book and it was for a rental or syndicate checkout, not a test with an examiner, have a think about what made you decide to log it like that way. (Logging is your responsibility.) Was it you after reading CAP804, or was it because 'everyone does it' or you were told by someone who would benefit from taking the P1 time themselves? What happens if you log p1/s today and in 6 months time the CAA decides that p1/s hours on a rental (or maybe more likely, syndicate checks) is not what they meant by a test and tell examiners clearly that it should not count? (When I applied for Instructor Revalidation in 2001, my log book was checked that I was not including P1 hours on these pure rental checks as instructional training hours.)
    For rental checkouts, if the renter is fully legal to fly, I log nothing and the renter logs P1 for the whole of the checkout, but then I'm not hours building! We just have a pre flight agreement that Pilot In Command transfers to me should I need to say "I have control".

  25. How do I convert my 'foreign' ICAO (eg: FAA, SA, etc etc) PPL to an EASA PPLL?
    There are huge amounts of unnecessary Gold Plating applied to this since EASA came in. 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?
    Just think - after 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 qualification training (prior-, not post-issue). Where either JAR 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 allow me to do that I can't do with a PPL?
    Valid in the UK (and Channel Islands):
    • In Classes F and G, to fly VFR in visibility less than 3km (down to 1500m, but 1800m for runway use)
    • In Classes D, E, F and G, to fly IFR down to zero visibility, providing the aircraft is 'legal' for it, in or out of sight of the surface.
    • For Controlled Airspace, (including Class A designated as a CTR), to fly Special VFR down to 3km visibility.
    No privileges are conferred for Class A CTAs or Airways.

  28. Where can I find information on the new NPPL?
    You might want to look at the official NPPL site , but also, as the page you are looking at now assumes you have a JAR PPL with SEP rating, I have created similar FAQ page for the NPPL - click on this: NPPL-FAQ

  29. Do I need FM-Immune Nav and Comm Equipment to fly IFR?
    Obviously if you spend a fortune and kit out with the latest fm-immune everything, then you can't go wrong (just broke). If you don't upgrade at all, my reading is that for normal light aircraft, Comms do not enter the argument. For IFR I believe it is clear - if you depend on VOR or ILS localisers, your equipment must be FM-immune. For VFR operation they do not need to be. Here's my background (less intelligible) reason for why I come to that conclusion.
    Assuming your aircraft is OK for IFR (eg: non-permit, the correct equipment for the airspace) and your aircraft is 5700kg or below in mtow, then there are conditions where you can fly under either set of flight rules with non fm-immune equipment. FM immunity rules theoretically only affect COMMS (VHF), VOR and ILS localisers. (In practice my personal opinion is that it doesn't affect anything!).
    There are (at least) two documents worth looking at, and I have drawn my conclusion from these:
    CAA AIC on FM Immunity AIC 87/2000 PINK 7.
    CAA Airworthiness Directive issued autumn 2000 - see bookmark 84.

    Reading these, it is fairly obvious that
    - the CAA are not worried about COMMS but reserve the right to change their minds.
    - VFR flight is permitted using non-FM immune NAV-COMMS (providing it is known not to be FM immune through a placard).

    As for IFR flight, well firstly make sure you know what you mean by that (See FAQ17 above). There's no real point in thinking about this until you know the real meaning of VFR and IFR.
    Outside Controlled Airspace, for UK IFR flight, there is no actual requirement to have or to use VORs, ILSs or Comms, so whether you are flying IFR in IMC or IFR in VMC, then obviously some IFR flight without fm-immune Nav equipment is quite possible. I see the use of non-fm immune NAV equipment outside Controlled Airspace in the same way I see GPS usage - if it's switched on and I am not depending on it, then it can be used as a secondary aid. (If my 'primary aid' outside Controlled Airspace on a particular flight is 'dead reckoning', and my 'dead reckoning' happens to take me straight along a VOR radial, then that is my business!)
    Inside controlled airspace the situation changes. Comms are again not a problem, but IFR (and therefore IFR approaches) using non-fm immune VOR or ILS localiser equipment is not allowed.
    I don't see any problem IMC training in any airspace where it is allowed with non-fm immune nav equipment providing you stick to VMC and VFR, carrying out the same approach as you would under IFR in IMC. However, it is clear from the two references that real life approaches (IFR in IMC) cannot be made in Controlled Airspace if they depend on non fm-immune Nav kit. That leaves such things as SRA, PARs, NDB/DME, etc. for IFR in Controlled Airspace. Looking elsewhere in the Air Navigation Order, IFR in controlled airspace requires a certain kit fit, (which includes VORs etc) but the ANO gives provision for Air Traffic to approve certain approaches for aircraft with less than the full list but sufficient for the approach in question.
    Personal opinion: It is totally ridiculous that my friends with a syndicate at Southampton (Class D) have to come back and do SRAs and NDB/DME approaches in IMC to remain 'legal', when these approaches are far less accurate and less safe than those use perfectly performing (non-immune) ILS and VOR indicators!

  30. Do I need to fly complex aircraft every 2 years to keep 'grandfather rights' on them?
    Complex aircraft (tailwheel, retractable, constant speed props, pressurisation, turbo/supercharged) were originally meant to be flown every 2 years to keep the ability to fly them in future, and I believe the AIC on this says so. However, soon after the AIC came across, a JAR NPA (I think it was NPA 7) decided that for SEP aircraft, once you were complex qualified, you remained qualified on SEP aircraft even if you didn't fly the complexity every 2 years. Therefore, once 'retractable qualified', you remain so on SEP aircraft whilst you have an SEP rating. (The NPA was incorporated into the JAR which the Air Navigation Order 'points' at.)

  31. I have a JAR SEP rating in my PPL - Can I legally fly microlights (if checked out)?
    According to the AIC 3/2004 (white 92) issued January 8th 2004 it seems that a JAR SEP rating can be used on microlights and SLMGs after signed off differences training. This is contrary to advice the CAA used to give out, that a GFT is needed. The AIC can be found at your flying club or on the AIS Online Website.

  32. If I have a JAR 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?
    A JAR 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. Validity periods are currently in this CAA document, note the '*' footnote on the '40 year' old case

  33. What documents do I have to take on a flight abroad in my G-reg aircraft?
    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 Belgium wants to be asked about permit aircraft each time, and also wants a pre-paid fee for permission?

  34. If I get a foreign (ICAO-compliant: eg: FAA, South African, etc) PPL and an Instrument Rating from the same country, can I use it in the UK to escape the VFR restriction mentioned in Q&A No. 4?
    If you had an aircraft registered in the same country as your PPL and I/R, you could really fly anywhere (in whatever airspace) you wanted. If, as per Q&A 4, you mean in a UK ("G-registered") aircraft, that would give you some of the privileges of an IMC rating, but not all. It would allow IFR flights OUTSIDE controlled airspace in the UK (ie: Classes F and G), but you could not fly IFR inside controlled airspace (Classes A to E), where-as an IMC holder could do so in all but Class A,
    If you have a CAA or JAA PPL too, and you get an ICAO compliant Instrument Rating, the CAA will usually add an IMC rating to your CAA or JAA PPL if you apply to them for it.

  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 a JAA PPL?
    You should be able to count up to 10 hours towards your 45 for the JAA PPL, although this statement seems to have disappeared from the rules - check with the UK CAA. However, if you can prove the training was done towards an ICAO PPL and you have copies of your training record from your original school abroad, a recent change says that if you completed a training towards an ICAO PPL but the licence was not issued, then you can send all your training records to the UK CAA for assessment, and they will devise a training requirement to count these to a JAA PPL. It will definitely include the full Skills Test, all the ground exams, the radio tests, and as well as any other training needed, and what is called the 'Qualifying Cross Country' flight where as a student you fly a triangular route of 270 km stopping off at 2 other airfields en-route (and get a certificate signed at each).
    Unfortunately the wording is (as usual) ambiguous. It would appear to suggest that you have to complete the training towards another PPL (but not ake the test). However, I believe it can also be interpretted as completing a formal training course which was only a section of a full foreign licence course (i.e. as opposed to wanting to count various hours from 'pseudo sight seeing tours' with instructors whilst abroad). The only people who can decide what it really means is the UK CAA, so don't spend any money on 'half courses' in ICAO countries until you have definite answer from them as to whether it would count more than 10 hours.

  36. How do I claim back fuel duty for flights abroad?
    You need form HO60 (I have a poor quality copy linked below - it works for me!) and the draw back rate (which, Oct 2005, is 0.281 per litre exported.) Try this link for the current AVGAS current Rate. You fill in the form, attach fuel receipts for fuel loaded in the UK prior to your flight, and send the forms and receipts to: HM C&E, Mineral Oil Reliefs, Dobson House, Regent Centre, Gosforth, Newcastle, NE3 3PF
    The form HO60 - I'll get a better quality copy, but in the meantime use these two separate pdfs to create one double sided A4 form. This is page 1. This is page 2 to print on the back of page 1.

  37. Can I really fly legally VFR at 1500m visibility as the VFR rules suggest?
    Not if you have a basic UK issued PPL without additional IMC or instrument ratings. Pilots confuse VFR with basic UK Air Law. If you have a basic UK issued PPL whether it is JAA or pre JAA, your legal minimum anywhere is 3 km (it might be greater). This is NOTHING to do with VFR, it's just that our Air Navigation Order says so. (If you have an NPPL with 'SSEA' (Simple Single Engine Aircraft) your minimum ever is 5km, again, not due to VFR limitations, but because our ANO says so.) Visual Flight Rules are set internationally as a 'base' to be further over-ruled or adjusted by national air law.
    Schedule 7 of our ANO gives the privileges of a basic PPL issued in the UK, and it says NOT out of sight of the surface, and NOT in visibility of less than 3km. So if you flew under a normal UK issued PPL with visibility at 2km, you could still be VFR depending on your altitude and speed, but you would be breaking rules set by our ANO. The way to think of this is that being VFR does not exempt you from other parts of Air Law. i.e: claiming you were 'VFR' is not an excuse, you wouldn't be accused of 'breaking VFR', you'd be accused of breaking Air Law as per Schedule 7 of the ANO whilst you happened to be VFR.
    If you still don't get it, take a different idea altogether: If you were in CAVOK conditions at only 400' agl over the middle of a large city, you would be VFR but you would NOT be legal - you would have broken 'Rule 5' of the ANO on low flying whilst you were VFR. It would be pointless putting in a defence of the conditions being VFR. Equally, if you fly on a basic PPL at 2km, it's pointless defending yourself by saying you were VFR, as it's an ANO regulation (not VFR) you have broken by being under 3km.

  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". What the test is called depends on when you do it - before expiry (and therefore replacing the 12 hour route altogther), it's called an LPC - licence proficiency check. After expiry, it's called an LST - licence skills test.
    Both an LPC and LPT 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 LPC or LPT content in pdf form. This is the examiner check sheet, but you can ignore sections 3b and 6 for SEP LPC revalidations or LST renewals. It contains some things you may not expect - "abandoned take off" for example.

  39. I have a JAA PPL which has a 5 year life. What do I do at the end of 5 years?
    It's only a paperwork and money exercise. Normally you must have had a valid JAA rating sometime within the previous 5 years, and you must have a JAA medical which is valid on the first day of new licence issue (i.e.: the day after expiry of your old licence). Within 60 days of your licence expiry, you look in this list of licensing forms for the renewal form. Then you look up the cost of a JAA PPL (or CPL) 5 year re-issue in this CAA Cost Calculator. -Then you send the required documents (as specified on the renewal form) and any required documents or certified copies.

  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 - usually nowadays the payment form is attached to the main form. And you need to know how much (prices tend to go up in April of each year, so you need the CAA Cost Calculator.

  42. I'm flying just standard 'SEP' aircraft (eg: C172, PA28, etc) on a full PPL, SEP rating but NPPL medical. What do I need to do with new rules out saying I cannot revalidate the SEP rating with this combination?
    (NB: The CAA announced in June 2012 that the ability to fly with an SEP rating and NPPL medical declaration will end totally on Sept 30th 2013.)
    Since about 2008 you could legally fly on a full PPL, SEP rating, and NPPL medical declaration as long as you restricted yourself to NPPL-SSEA 'rules', like daytime, UK or Channel Islands, no IMC, visibility never less than 5km, no more than 4 people in the aircraft, which had to be 2 metric tonnes certified MTOW or lighter. Now you can fly on this combination until your SEP rating expires - but you don't want it to expire, as you would then need a flight test to get flying again. At any time (don't bother waiting til your revalidation is due):
    • The simplest case is if you can (and also want to) get a EASA medical again. If you do that and have a EASA medical, there's no further problem, you revalidate your SEP rating as normal under normal rules in the final three months before expiry. Problem 'solved', at the expense of a medical, no need to think of the following options:
    • Next 'simplest' is the pilot with an non-expiring CAA PPL (pre mid-1999). There's no reason why you cannot use your existing current SEP rating to get the issue of an NPPL-SSEA rating into your current non-expiring licence. It will cost you though for an issue of a rating (Price goes up April each year, you can check prices on this CAA Cost Calculator.
      So you have to consider and take action BEFORE the licence OR the rating expires (whichever comes first), as if you are not getting a EASA medical, you need to go for a real NPPL issue now with an SSEA rating in it. Getting an NPPL issued before either your SEP rating or full licence expires means that would only cost the one off fee of 140 or so as it is all done in one go. You can get an NPPL with SSEA rating on the basis of your current PPL and current SEP rating without a flying test - see the NPPL website, SSEA page for details of licence issue for an NPPL-SSEA. You partially complete the form, striking out all the boxes needing exams or tests or hours (currently sections 4 to 8), you just prove to your local CFI that you have a current licence, current rating, and a current medical declaration, as listed on the form the form and send them the fee for an NPPL with SSEA rating included and apply to the NPLG not the CAA.

  43. I'm just like the case above (42) but also fly Motor Gliders (SLMG) and/or Microlights on a full PPL, SEP rating but NPPL medical. What do I need to do with new rules out saying I cannot revalidate the SEP rating with this combination?
    Since the issue of AIC White 53/2011 there is now confusion over how to apply for NPPL ratings in this case. Prior to this AIC, the answer below was valid, but the AIC says applications are made through the NPPL representative organisations - there is absolutely nothing on the AOPA or NPPL website about doing this and a call to one of the 'representative organisations' was a dead end! This was the CAA advice before the recent AIC caused confusion: The answer is basically the same as (42) BUT you will have to apply for separate ratings such as SSEA, SLMG or Microlight, whichever apply to you, and supply log book evidence that you are flying either the SLMG or Microlight at the moment on the SEP rating at the moment. The good news is that if you ask for these ratings on the SAME form at the same time as the SSEA rating, you should only be charged one fee, not multiple fees, for the process. For example, if you are using CAA form 1119 (see above), list the ratings you want issued all together on the one form, not just the SSEA. You will have to provide evidence (such as logbook photocopies) of 'differences training' for microlight or motor gliders as appropriate if you are flying them on the basis of an SEP rating.

  44. Do I need to apply for an EASA or JAA licence to fly EASA certified or EASA-permit aircraft?
    For private flying, although EASA rules become law in 2012, the main licensing effects are delayed for 2 years for existing private pilot licence holders. Therefore whilst it is true that EVENTUALLY you will not be allowed to fly an EASA-certifed (or the rare EASA-permit) aircraft on a pre-JAR PPL or NPPL. Your current licence/rating is OK in any G-reg aircraft that you use it in now, EASA or not, for a TWO year bridging period (assuming you keep revalidating and getting medicals). You therefore had until April 7th 2014 to apply for the EASA PPL whilst continuing to fly G registered aircraft on your old licence and ratings. Once past that date, a PPL holder with suitable ratings can continue to fly EASA aircraft on old ppls until April 7th 2015 but the privileges are slightly limited, similar to those of a LAPL.


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