Licences

There is a buzz in the media about commercial pilots’ licences.

It’s almost as well to start with the question: why do pilots need a licence?  The roots of pilot licencing go to the earliest days of flying.  Quickly it was realised that specific attitudes, skills and knowledge were essential to be able to fly safely.  To start with licences were not mandatory.  That changed markedly when civil aviation became commercial.  The need for mandatory licencing was well established in the 1940s when the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) came into being.

Today, Article 32 “Licenses of personnel” of the Chicago Convention is clear:

  1. a) The pilot of every aircraft and the other members of the operating crew of every aircraft engaged in international navigation shall be provided with certificates of competency and licenses issued or rendered valid by the State in which the aircraft is registered.
  2. b) Each contracting State reserves the right to refuse to recognize, for the purpose of flight above its own territory, certificates of competency and licenses granted to any of its nationals by another contracting State.

Today, the EU Basic Regulation and its implementing rules apply in the UK.  Today, we have a harmonised system with mutual recognition in 32 European States[1].  We respect and recognise each other’s pilot licences.

Tomorrow, post March 31, 2019, the EU Basic Regulation will not apply in the UK[2].  Tomorrow, UK law may be a straightforward copy of the exiting EU law.  At that time mutual recognition is not guaranteed unless an agreement is in place.

So, EU will need to decide – will it recognise a National licence from a “third country” that uses the “same” rules?  Will any recognition be dependent upon rules continuing to be harmonised?  What level of standardization auditing will maintain confidence that the system works?

I can’t answer these questions (yet).

[1] Licences issued by the National Aviation Authorities (NAAs) according to a set of common rules applied by the European Aviation Safety Agency, known as EASA – Flight Crew Licensing (EASA-FCL).

[2] https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/legislation/brexit-notice-to-stakeholders-aviation-safety.pdf

 

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