The qualification and licensing of air crews is a fundamental pre-requisite of flight safety. Licensing of air crews has been in existence almost since the beginning of aviation. The first pilot licences were issued in 1909 with the first international licensing standards following in 1919.
The ICAO licensing system detailed in Chapter 2 of Annex 1 covers the qualification for and issue of licences and ratings for pilots of aeroplanes (A), helicopters (H), sailplanes (S) and balloons (B). It also has provisions in Chapter 3 for licences of flight engineers and flight navigators. The related training manuals provide guidance to States for the scope and depth of training curricula which ensure that the confidence in safe air navigation, as intended by the ICAO Convention and Annex 1, is maintained. The medical standards of Annex 1, in requiring periodic health examinations, serve as an early warning for possible incapacitating medical conditions and contribute to the general health of air crews.
Having inherited an established European flight crew licensing (FCL) system from the former JAAs, which was implemented by each participating national aviation authority (NAA), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) was given, under Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 February 2008 (Basic Regulation), full legal responsibility for air crew (flight and cabin crew) licensing/attestation in Europe.
Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 of 3 November 2011 (EASA Air Crew) and its subsequent amendments lay down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to civil aviation aircrew pursuant to the Basic Regulation. The requirements have been formulated so as to ensure compliance with Annex III of the Basic Regulation and take into account former JAR-FCL 1, 2 and 3 requirements, requirements of individual EASA Member States and ICAO Annex 1 Standards and Recommended Practices.
Under EASA requirements air crew licencing/attestation is a function of NAAs, EASA relies upon the support of the NAAs of Member States in the implementation of EASA Air Crew regulations.
The regulation consists of seven annexes as follows:
Annex I (Part-FCL) deals with flight crew licensing requirements for pilots flying EASA aircraft. Most of the aircraft in Europe are EASA aircraft regardless of State of manufacture or registration. The main exceptions are: microlights, light gyroplanes, amateur built aircraft, ex-military aircraft, foot-launched aircraft, vintage aircraft (that do not have EASA permits to fly or certificates of airworthiness). These are collectively known as non-EASA aircraft. Pilots who only fly these aircraft do not need a Part-FCL licence. Part-FCL requirements are articulated in the following series of subparts:
Subpart A: General requirements
Subpart B: Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) (A, H, S and B)
Subpart C: Private Pilot Licence (PPL) (A, H and Airship (As)), Sailplane Pilot Licence (SPL), Balloon Pilot Licence (BPL)
Subpart D: Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) (A)
Subpart E: Multi-Crew Pilot Licence (MPL)
Subpart F: Air Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL) (A, H)
Subpart G: Instrument Rating (IR) (A, H, As)
Subpart H: Class & Type Rating (A, H, powered-lift, As)
Subpart I: Additional Ratings
Subpart J: Instructors (Flight, Type Rating, Class Rating, Instrument Rating, Synthetic Flight, Multi-Crew Cooperation, Synthetic Training, Mountain Rating, Flight Test)
Subpart K: Examiners (Flight, Type Rating, Class Rating, Instrument Rating, Synthetic Flight, Flight Instructor)
Annex II deals with the conversion of national licenses previously held under the JAR FCL scheme. The applicability of this annex ended on 8 April 2015, when an EASA Part-FCL license became mandatory to fly any EASA aircraft for any purpose.
Annex III deals with the acceptance of Third Country (TC) licences (issued by NAAs of non-EASA Member States) with regard to the validation and the conversion of TC licences.
Annex IV (Part-MED) deals with medical requirements for flight crew licence holders and with requirements for the aero-medical assessment of cabin crews (CC). Part-MED requirements are articulated in the following series of subparts:
Subpart A: General requirements
Subpart B: Requirements for medical certificates (class 1, class 2 and LAPL medical certificates)
Subpart C: Requirements for medical fitness of CC
Subpart D: Requirements for aero medical examiners (AMEs), general medical practitioners (GMPs) and occupational health medical practitioners (OHMPs)
Annex V (Part-CC) deals with requirements for the issue of a CC attestation. Part-CC requirements are articulated in the following series of subparts:
Subpart GEN: General requirements
Subpart CCA: Specific requirements for CC attestation
Subpart TRA: Training requirements for CC attestation applicants/holders
Annex VI (Part-ARA) deals with requirements for EASA member states’ national aviation authorities with regard to the implementation and enforcement of Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011, namely with regard to the certification and oversight of approved training organisations (ATOs), aeromedical centres (AeMCs), organisations operating flight synthetic training devices (FSTDs) as well as the issue of flight crew licences, ratings and certifications. Part-ARA requirements are articulated in the following series of subparts:
Annex VII (Part-ORA) deals with organisational requirements for ATOs, operators of FSTDs and AeMCs. Part-ORA requirements are articulated in the following series of subparts:
Subpart GEN: General and management requirements
Subpart ATO: General requirements, additional requirements for ATOs training for CPL, MPL, ATPL and associated ratings and certificates and additional requirements for ATOs providing specific types of training (distance learning, zero flight time training, MPL, flight test training)
Subpart FSTD: Requirements for organisations operating FSTDs and requirements for qualification of FSTDs
Subpart AeMC: General and management requirements
Acceptable means of compliance, guidance material and certification specifications
Acceptable means of compliance (AMC), guidance material (GM) and certification specifications (CS) to Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 are provided as follows:
Acceptable means of compliance and guidance material to Part-FCL
Acceptable means of compliance and guidance material to Part-MED
Acceptable means of compliance and guidance material to Part-CC
Acceptable means of compliance and guidance material to Part-ARA
Acceptable means of compliance and guidance material to Part-ORA
Certification Specifications for Aeroplane Flight Simulation Training Devices
Certification Specifications for Helicopter Flight Simulation Training Devices
Certification Specifications and Guidance Material for Cabin Crew Data
Certification Specifications for Operational Suitability Data (OSD) Flight Crew Data
An important change mandated by Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011, in comparison with the former JAR FCL system, is the inclusion of CC attestations in the same framework regulating flight crew licenses. In addition, licenses for the operation of aeroplanes, helicopters, sailplanes and balloons are all within the scope of the same regulatory framework whereas licences for the operation of sailplanes and balloons were previously issued in accordance with national requirements.
With EASA Air Crew regulations competence-based modular instrument rating and en-route instrument rating have been introduced. The overall objective is to make an instrument rating more easily achievable by general aviation pilots requiring only 10 hours of dual flight instruction at an ATO, compared with the 50 hours required for a standard rating. The competence-based rating allows prior instrument experience to be credited so as to permit easier qualification for instrument ratings by general aviation pilots (including TC IR experience).
The LAPL did not exist in the previous JAR FCL scheme and it is now valid in all EU countries with restrictions on aeroplane/helicopter weight (maximum take-off mass of two metric tonnes or less) and with no more than four people on board the aircraft (including crew and passengers).
Finally with EASA Air Crew there exists no more the distinction between FTO (flight training organisation), TRTO (type rating training organisation) and RF (registered facility). The distinction has been replaced by the definition of ATO (approved training organisation) for organisations providing flight crew training.