April 16, 2012

Last week’s advent of new uniform Flight Crew Licensing (FCL) requirements in the European Union (EU) should have little or no impact on flight crews and aircraft registered outside of the EU, according to a senior executive at the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC).

“As far as business aviation is concerned, it’s a non-issue,” said IBAC Director for Regulatory Affairs, Ray Rohr.

“The majority of people who are U.S. operators going to Europe and who are not based in Europe will see no impact,” Rohr said.

The EU’s April 8th implementation of new FCL requirements unifies the pilot training requirements of various member states into a single set of regulations. In many cases, Rohr said, the requirements for pilot certification differ significantly from those in the U.S. and are somewhat more stringent than those called for by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Rohr said. For that reason, foreigners living in EU countries but holding flight certifications in third countries have been sensitive to the changes put forth by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

However, the Chicago Convention, which established international civil aviation guidelines, still applies, said NBAA Operations Group Project Manager Scott O’Brien.

“Chicago Convention Article 33 explains that ICAO contracting states have to accept pilot certificates from other countries so long as each state’s pilot certificates meet the minimum standard set by ICAO,” O’Brien explained.

So, for example, if you’re a certificated U.S. pilot living outside of Europe and flying a U.S.-registered aircraft, Article 33 of the Chicago Convention applies and the EU country will recognize your pilot certificate issued by the FAA.

“You should have no problem,” O’Brien said.

So why all the fuss?

“The challenge is that the rules don’t come right out and explain all this,” O’Brien said. “That’s how the fear started – nobody saw that specific scenario anywhere in the regulation. In most cases, these new EASA FCL rules simply don’t apply to the typical European operations conducted by NBAA Members.”