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Monday, 18 July 2011


Pffff.... all those abbreviations!

European legislation in the area of safety for civil aviation (requirements for Pilot's Licenses, amongs others...) is about to change. So far, JAA (Joint Aviation Authority) was the measure, but within the framework of free commercial traffic within the European Community, it was decided at EC level that all applicable law must be harmonised (equal for all member states). For that purpose, EASA (European Aviation Safety Authority) was founded, and mandated with the task to supply the European Counsil with legislative proposals on civil aviation. Of cause, the starting point was the JAA rules, amended to fit the current European situation and/or specific wishes of some member states.
Now, how does that affect my flying adventures?
First and foremost, EASA will implement a new License structure.
The current Dutch RPL will no longer be, because, well .., it's Dutch. The license only allows operation within Dutch sovereign territory.
The PPL (Private Pilot's License) will remain, but then as an EASA-PPL instead of JAA-PPL. It is a basis for a continuation of education, usually with a commercial background. For exxample, you need a PPL to do an IR course (Instrument Rating), get an FI (Flight Instructor) rating, or enter a CPL (Commercial Pilot's License) route.
Next to the PPL, EASA will create an LAPL (Light Aircraft Pilot's License). That License will be limited to SEP (Single Engine Piston) aircraft up to an MTOW (Maximum Take Off Weight) of 2000kg (easily above the 100kg MTOW of a C172; even over the 1530kg MTOW of a Cirrus SR-22). Also, next to the pilot, the number of passangers is limited to three. Because the LAPL is an EASA license, it is automatically accepted in all member states of the European Community. Downside to the LAPL is that no IR, FI, or CPL continuation is possible without an upgrade to PPL. So far, it is not clear what is needed to upgrade an LAPL to a PPL.
EASA licenses will be automatically accepted within the member states, but it is still unclear what the degree of acceptance will be outside of the Community. The EASA PPL is based on the JAA PPL, so that will probably be accepted by all ICAO (International Civil Aviation Authority) member states (pretty much all of the developed world). But it is unclear how countries like the USA, South Africa, or Australia, will treat the EASA LAPL. The USA has a similar construction, so the general consensus is that both licenses will be mutually accepted.

At this moment, my choice is to go for an RPL or a JAA-PPL. An RPL will require 30 hours of flight instruction (legal minimum); for the PPL that amount is 45 hours. That makes a PPL somewhat more expensive, but it does educate for an international license. If the RPL is "automatically" transferred to an LAPL, which is the general opinion, then that argument to go for a PPL is gone. What remains as an argument to go for a PPL is the possibility of continued education (IR, FI, CPL), guaranteed transfer to EASA PPL, worldwide recognition and acceptance, unlimited MTOW and number of passengers (An Antonov An-2: 5500kg, 9 pax then still belongs to the - non-commercial - possibilities)
Because I will be saving for a while anyway, and the EASA legislation becomes effective 12 april 2012 (current planning) with a three-year transition period for the member states, by the time I get to actually start to fly for my license course, the RPL-LAPL transistion will be more clear. If any additional exam and/or flying time is needed for the transition to take place, then the financial argument to now go for an RPL dies with that.

For now, I'll stick to the path of getting my JAA-PPL. If the course ends up to be cheaper because an RPL is automatically transferred into an LAPL, then that's all the better!

Omdat ik voorlopig toch nog even aan het sparen ben en de EASA wetgeving op Europees niveau al in 2012 (gepland) wordt ingevoerd met een drie-jarige overgangstermijn voor alle lidstaten, zal tegen de tijd dat ik daadwerkelijk ga beginnen met de opleiding wel meer duidelijk zijn omtrent de RPL - LAPL gelijkstelling. Als een extra examen of vliegtijd nodig is om van het nationale RPL naar het Europese LAPL over te stappen, dan is het verschil met nu voor een PPL gaan niet groot meer.

Ik ga vooralsnog uit van een PPL opleiding en als die dan goedkoper uit kan vallen door tòch een RPL opleiding te gaan doen, des te beter!

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