Should you complete an EASA or CAA licence?

Training to become a pilot against the backdrop of Brexit and a global pandemic could seem too challenging. If you have researched on the web and followed conversations on forums, you could feel overwhelmed by the additional consideration you need to give to where and how to train.

The single most effective way to cut through all the noise and confusion is to ask yourself ‘what position do I want to be in two years time?’.

In the wake of Brexit, many ATOs took a ‘watch and see’ attitude to EASA and CAA approvals. Some are still awaiting ‘mutual recognition’ where EASA will recognise licences issued by the UK CAA and vice versa.

We have taken a different approach. With students in training and courses enrolled on throughout the Brexit negotiations, we had to be sure that we secured the best position for our students, as well as our school.

It was originally thought that the UK CAA would accept EASA licences for a period of 2 years. However, they have since stated that they would only accept an EASA licence for issue of a UK CAA licence if the EASA licence was held prior to 31st December 2020. This means that EASA licence holders (for instance) would not be able to fly ‘G’ registered aircraft for a UK registered airline, such as British Airways. It would also prove difficult for those who want to become a flight instructor in the UK.

We work hard to maximise employment opportunities for our students, and to this aim, we believe that a pilot holding both a UK CAA licence AND EASA licence will have more work opportunities than a pilot who holds one or the other.

We are approved by the UK CAA and EASA. Therefore, we can complete training for whichever authority the student chooses, or for both authorities (for the integrated Flight Deck Programme and Modular Packages, Dual Licencing is included in the course cost). It is important to emphasise that it is the student’s choice who they wish to have their licence issued by.

During professional flight training, it is necessary to take an Instrument Rating skill test (IR). For those who wish to have an EASA licence issued, acclimatisation flying as well as an IR skill test needs to be taken in one of the EU Member States.

We are very fortunate to be positioned where we are on the Sussex coast. The entirety of our students’ flight training is completed from our base at Brighton City Airport (formerly known as Shoreham Airport). The proximity to France has meant that we have completed IR training flights there for many years.

The IR skill test can therefore be taken from an EU member state with just a short transit flight there and back. This is the reason that we have been able to continue EASA training seamlessly since the end of 2020. 
All future students will have the option to choose whether they wish to have an EASA licence issued, a UK CAA licence issued, or both.



Which Aeromedical?

If you are applying for a UK CAA licence, you will need a UK CAA Class One Medical.  If you are applying for an EASA licence, you will need an EASA Class One Medical.  If you are applying for Dual Licencing, you will need both a UKCAA and EASA Class One Medical.  

Students that enrol on an integrated programme at FTA this year need to complete an initial class one medical with an AME who has both CAA and EASA approval. Centreline Aviation Medical Services or Aeromedical Consulting UK can help. 

The same will be the case for modular students who wish to train here. We published an article by Dr Chris King of Centreline Aviation Medical Services which explains how Brexit has impacted aeromedicals. Click here to read more. 

How to secure a UK CAA and EASA, or ‘dual licence’.

Integrated FDP students

Students enrolled on our Flight Deck Programme and Modular Packages will have the opportunity to secure a ‘dual licence’ at no additional cost. To ensure this is possible, the student will need to have both a CAA and EASA Class One Medical (ideally issued on behalf of the IAA or Austro Control) and complete two sets of ATPL exams, as well as an additional IR skill test (all included within the course cost).

This dual licence is to ensure maximum future employability, so the graduate pilot can consider roles with UK-based airlines and operators such British Airways, Tui, SaxonAir (to name a few) as well as those major European operators such as Ryanair, EasyJet, Wizz air, or Air France.

ATOs which don’t benefit from such an ideal location on the Sussex Coast may be able to offer EASA approved programmes by sending you to Europe for the IR element of your training. Be sure to discuss how and where your training will be completed and any additional costs before you enrol.

Some ATOs have opted to only secure a single approval, such as the UK CAA. Consider first whether you are content with the career options that this assures before you enrol. Without mutual recognition (which may happen in the future), your training may incur additional costs and duration.

Modular students who have already started their training will need to consider the options relevant to them. Click here to learn more information.

Our recommendation

It is only you that can choose the correct option for you and your circumstances. However, know that what you do have is options. You do not need to choose between a UK and EASA-issued licence because we have put all the necessary measures in place to ensure that you can obtain both. Secure an CAA and EASA aeromedical and you don't need to decide which licence you want to complete until you sit your test. 

Enrolling on a Flight Deck Programme means that we can ensure that all your training needs are met, and you know the time it will take you to train, and where you will live. You can settle in Sussex knowing that it will be your home for the duration of your time at FTA and we will do everything to ensure that your time with us is as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

All the partner organisations that work with FTA, such as Jet Masterclass and FPT, have also secured UK CAA and EASA approval to deliver training.