European Pilots Who Earned Licenses And Ratings in The U.S.
Would Be Required To Obtain European Licences
In a move termed "disastrous" by IAOPA, the EASA has proposed
rules which will make it impossible for European citizens to fly in
Europe on American licences, render worthless the FAA Instrument
Rating and, IAOPA says, blow the bottom out of the market in
N-registered aircraft. If they are adopted, the plans will force
thousands of pilots to undertake new training courses costing
millions of euros and further damage the already-depressed used
aircraft market with no real benefit to safety.
After years of discussion, the details were revealed just two
weeks before the EC was due to make a final decision on EASA's
proposals. IAOPA is asking the Commission to set the issue aside to
allow time for its impact to be properly assessed.
The advocacy organization says the plans fly in the face of
every assurance given by EASA's principals that while they wanted
European pilots to fly on European registers, they would properly
address the reasons why they did not. EASA's Executive Director
Patrick Goudou promised in 2005: "We will ensure there are no
special advantages to being on the N-register." He has not kept his
side of the bargain. Few of the compelling reasons why European
pilots are driven into the arms of the FAA have been addressed, and
those that have been looked at have been skimmed over in a
desultory and unsatisfactory way.
EASA's claimed motivation for changes to the N-register is
safety, but IAOPA says there has never been any evidence, or even
any credible claim, that the N-register is unsafe. With this move,
IAOPA says, EASA has gone far beyond its safety remit and stepped
completely into the realms of political protectionism.
IAOPA-Europe met in Amsterdam over the weekend to plan a
response. Delegates from 17 European countries debated emergency
tactics, and Craig Spence, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for
AOPA US, flew in from Washington. He left with a full understanding
of the gravity and urgency of the matter.
AOPA UK's Pam Campbell outlined the issue which, she said, had
come as "something of a bombshell". Pilots living in Europe would
be required to have an EASA licence and, if applicable, an EASA
Instrument Rating, to fly an airplane in Europe regardless of the
country of register. A stop-gap validation on a non-European
licence would be available from national aviation authorities,
valid for one year. The pilot would have to apply to the authority
of the nation in which he or she resided. There would be a test for
the validation, and no repeat validation would be possible,
although an extension would be granted for a maximum of one year if
the pilot could prove that training to convert the licence or
rating has been commenced.
The minimum requirements to convert a third country PPL would
be to pass an examination in Air Law and Human Performance, a PPL
Skills Test and a Class 2 medical. It would also be necessary to
demonstrate English language proficiency, and to have a minimum of
100 hours. That would convert the licence to a PPL with an SEP
rating. Higher qualifications would be granted subject to
additional training at the discretion of the service provider. The
holder of an FAA Instrument Rating would have to study for and sit
seven theoretical knowledge exams, which are currently the greatest
barrier to the IR for private pilots. EASA is tinkering with
theoretical knowledge requirements but there will be few
game-changing amendments. It is unclear whether there would be any
credit for American training or hours flown.
Emmanuel Davidson of AOPA France said there were more than
10,000 European pilots holding FAA licences flying in Europe. "We
have to bear in mind that if your American licence is made illegal
and you have an N-registered plane, when you fly it on a European
licence you will have to apply both European and FAA regulations,
which would mean you can only fly in the country that has issued
your licence. It will be illegal to fly, say, from France to
Germany or England to Belgium. Those aircraft which have been
modified to FAA STCs may not be able to go on the European register
and will have to be sold, but to whom? A glut of aircraft will come
onto the market, and the only place you'd be able to sell them
would be America. There will be massive compensation claims against
EASA and the EC."
IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson said this had been
sprung on the industry at the very last minute, and that all
assurances given by EASA and EC figures that the situation was not
as dire as it seemed had proved valueless. "We are facing a firing
squad which has its rifles cocked," he said. "EASA has consulted on
Part FCL, and in response to IAOPA's specific comments on third
country licences it responded with one word - 'Noted.' That is all.
EASA sends its work as an opinion to the European Commission, which
has a time frame in which to accept or reject, and the hearing for
that is on the 13th and 14th October."
IAOPA has already met with MEPs and European Commission figures
and more meetings are scheduled with the aim of getting the
Commission to allow more time to discuss the issue. "Our first
objective is to get the EC wound up to 'park' the issue so the
ramifications can be looked at," Robinson said. "In the short time
we have available, there is no other option. Then we have to work
on how we modify the text to get a proper resolution.
"There is no guarantee that the EC will listen. They could say
we've had our chance, but we can demonstrate that our comments
simply haven't been listened to. The regulatory impact of this will
be enormous, and I believe they are poorly understood, even at
EASA. I cannot believe they have done a proper Regulatory Impact
Assessment on FCL. If they even begin to work out how many people
would be driven out of aviation by this, EASA and the EC would
recoil from it."
There is little individual AOPA members can do at this late
stage to influence events. Martin Robinson said: "If you feel
strongly about this you can write to Mike Smethers, Chairman of the
EASA Board of Management, at the CAA in Kingsway, with a copy to
your local MEP. But time is so short that we can only take
emergency measures at this stage."