As CFI and head of training at a busy ATO I have made a mental pie chart of how much time I spend on advising callers and customers. A major slice is the same thing. Currency and recency.
The UK has many different pilot licences. Let's just stick to aeroplane ones for this briefing.
NPPL (National Private Pilot Licence) This covers microlight and SSEA ratings and is UK only
PPL (UK national) This is a non EASA UK pilot licence
PPL (EASA) Your bog standard PPL
PPL (UK part FCL) The 2021 version of the above
ATPL See above!
Let's take the CPL and ATPL out of the mix as the rules for currency are the same as EASA PPL.
Also, lets make things even simpler by referring to SEP aircraft only, I get very few enquiries for the licences and ratings I have excluded.
So that leaves:
There you go, simpler already!
Common factors on all the licences is that they contain privileges and restrictions. You need to understand these to fly legally. Also there is a requirement for medical fitness which is outside the scope of this briefing as is the requirement to carry ID. I will assume the readers are familiar with all the TLAs.
A bog-standard initial licence gives you VFR day privileges. Let's limit the brief to this.
Your rating limits you to the aircraft category i.e. microlight, SSEA. This is a class rating allowing you to fly that class of aircraft until expiry.
Note class and type ratings are different. Think SEP MEP for class; Boeing 737, Airbus A380 for type.
Your class rating lasts 2 years during this time it is valid so can be revalidated. After this time it is no longer valid and must be renewed. Same goes for PPL.
To revalidate you must get your licence signed by an examiner or suitably qualified instructor during its period of validity. They will look at your hours flown and sign it if you have done the following:
- 12 hours during the period 6 within the last year
- 8 hours P1
- 1 hour training with an instructor
If these are not met they will not endorse your licence. If your rating expires you will need to do a GFT with an examiner.
Your SEP class rating lasts 2 years. Again, it needs to be revalidated within its validity or renewed outside.
An examiner or instructor will revalidate your SEP on your licence if you have in the 12 months prior to the expiry date:
- 12 hours total
- 6 or more P1
- 1 hour training with instructor
- 12 take-offs and landings
Outside this you need to do a proficiency check with an examiner. If you are within the 2 years but have nowhere near the hours you can also do a proficiency check to revalidate.
There is a Covid exemption if you have fewer hours but you need more take-offs and landings and longer with the instructor. It won't be around for that long and is outside the scope of this briefing but don't let that stop you googling ORS4!
This licence has embedded privileges to fly SEP aircraft with certain limits. If you have a LAPL you will know these.
As there is no class rating as such it can't be revalidated or renewed. However, in a similar way, you need recency to exercise the privileges.
Recency on a LAPL in the last 24 months before each flight:
- 12 hours flight, dual or solo
- An additional 1 hour training with an instructor
- 12 take-offs and landings.
If you haven't got this in the last 24 months you can either make it up "supervised solo" i.e. no passengers and under supervision of an instructor, or do a proficiency check with an examiner.
No endorsements will be made in your licence. An examiner will endorse your logbook which covers you for 24 months.
There is much more to this, of course, but these are the most common queries I have had.
Further reading on the CAA site and part FCL rules. Its not easy reading, the CAA site if you google the correct thing is marginally better. A good site for PART FCL rules and SERA rules is Part-Aero.com. Its really easy to navigate and find what you are looking for but hasn't been updated for a while so always check against CAA or EASA once you have found the rule number.