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What Happens to UK/EU Pilot Licences After Brexit?

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Prior to Brexit, all pilot licenses in the United Kingdom and the European Union were issued by the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency).

Pilots having UK licenses were able to fly for both UK and European carriers. However, following Brexit, significant worries arose about the implications of the UK’s departure from EASA on pilot training and license issuing.

The United Kingdom is no longer a member of EASA.

When the United Kingdom leaves the EU on December 31, 2020, it will also leave EASA. All UK-issued EASA licenses became UK-only on January 1, 2021, and the UK CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) was declared the exclusive Authority.

What does this imply? It means that pilots who acquired their licenses from the UK CAA before that date we’re no longer eligible to use EASA privileges.

By the end of 2020, however, licenses issued by another EASA member state continued to give these advantages while denying their holders the ability to operate UK-registered aircraft.

Obtaining an EASA license based on a CAA license issued in the United Kingdom

Up to the end of 2020, a UK CAA-issued license could be transferred to another EASA member state.

Thousands of professional pilots took advantage of the chance and moved their EASA UK part FCL licenses to another EU jurisdiction (according to some sources, Austria was topping the list).

Furthermore, students who began their study in a UK-approved ATO before January 1, 2021, have the option of transferring their training to a training organization overseen by an EASA member state before that date.

Obtaining a UK pilot’s license based on an EASA pilot’s license

Holders of EASA licenses who seek to obtain UK licenses must do so by January 1, 2023. The UK will no longer accept EASA licenses beyond this date.

According to the UK CAA website, “From 1 January 2023, the UK will no longer be able to recognize EASA-issued certificates, approvals and licenses for the operations and/or maintenance of UK registered aircraft. The CAA is encouraging holders of EASA approvals and personnel licenses to begin the process of obtaining their UK equivalents now by applying to the CAA as soon as possible.“

The advantages of having an EASA license

The cost of training and a wider range of work prospects are two of the most significant benefits of obtaining an EASA pilot license.

While the ATPL Integrated normally costs above £110-120k in the UK, it is significantly less in the EU. Furthermore, there is much more EU-registered commercial aircraft than G-registered commercial aircraft. Regardless of who is or is not recruiting, statistically speaking, your chances of landing a job are better.

So, should you go with the UK CAA or the EASA?

“It depends,” is probably the most accurate response. Consider the following questions: “Where do I have the legal right to live and work?” “Where do I want to be based during my career?” “What airlines do I want to work for?”

If you want to work for a UK-based airline like EasyJet or British Airways, you’ll require a UK CAA license. An EASA license is required if you want to fly for an airline registered in an EU Member State, such as Wizz Air, Vueling, or EasyJet (although some easyJet operations require a UK CAA license).

BAA Training gives training certificates that are recognized by all EASA member states. You can use it to contact the appropriate National Aviation Authority (NAA) to apply for a pilot license.

Finally, keep in mind that if you receive a job offer elsewhere, you may always convert your license. It’s because both EASA and the UK have ICAO licenses. So, good luck with your training and, later on, good luck flying with whatever license you obtain!


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