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Flight instruction or training in third country aircraft

Does FCL.900 require a person who gives instruction in flying using third-country aircraft to hold an appropriate instructor certificate issued in accordance with Part-FCL?

The relevant facts are that the operation takes place in an EASA Member State using an aircraft which (a) has a standard certificate of airworthiness, (b) is not listed in Annex I to the Basic Regulation, (c) is registered in a third country, (d) is operated by an aircraft operator established or residing in an EASA Member State, and (d) is not carrying out military, customs, police, search and rescue, firefighting, border control, coastguard or similar activities or services. Assume that, notwithstanding the point in question, the operation is conducted lawfully in all respects.

According to these facts the operation and the personnel involvement must comply with the EASA Basic Regulation (article 2). The Basic Regulation (article 26) states that “[p]ersons responsible for providing flight training […] or for assessing pilots’ skills […] shall be required to hold a certificate […]” and the Commission is required to (article 27) “adopt implementing acts laying down detailed provisions concerning […] the situations in which such […] certificates are or are not required.” These acts are intended to ensure the uniform application of and compliance with the essential requirements for aircrew required by article 20 and made in Annex IV.

This sets the foundation for the applicability of the Aircrew Regulation. The Aircrew Regulation requires pilots of the aircraft described to (article 3) “comply with the technical requirements and administrative procedures laid down in [Part-FCL and Part-MED].” There is an exception for pilots flying under a validation issued in accordance with Annex III which this question assumes is irrelevant. Finally, rule FCL.900 in Part-FCL states:

FCL.900 Instructor certificates

(a) General. A person shall only carry out:

(1) flight instruction in aircraft when he/she holds:

(i) a pilot licence issued or accepted in accordance with this Regulation;

(ii) an instructor certificate appropriate to the instruction given, issued in accordance with this Subpart;


There is no definition given for “flight instruction” whose ordinary meaning must, at least under a purely grammatical interpretation, surely include all instruction in flying, for example instruction in flying given in the context of training requirements made in third-country law. Specific examples for US pilot certificate purposes might include a flight review, which is a training flight according to US law, or an instrument proficiency check. It appears in that persons giving such a review or check, in the context of this question, must be the holder of an appropriate instructor certificate issued in accordance with Part-FCL.

I look forward to see what opposing points of view there are.

London, United Kingdom

Qalupalik wrote:

surely include all instruction in flying, for example instruction in flying given in the context of training requirements made in third-country law.

What is the logic in that? IMO flight instruction clearly is confined to the appropriate instructions according to Part-FCL, nothing else.

The elephant is the circulation

The Basic Regulation, to the extent that compliance with the essential requirements for aircrew is mandatory, does not distinguish between aircraft registered in an EASA Member State and aircraft registered in a third-country when operated in the union by an operator resident or established there. Both sets of aircraft are treated equally by article 20 which states that “[p]ilots … involved in the operation of aircraft referred to in point (b) of Article 2(1) … as well as … persons and organisations involved in the training, testing, [or] checking … of those pilots … shall comply with the essential requirements set out in Annex IV.”

Article 26 as mentioned requires persons responsible for providing flight training to hold a certificate issued in accordance with implementing acts adopted by the Commission to ensure compliance with those essential requirements. That is the fundamental basis of FCL.900 requiring flight instruction to be given only by the holder of a relevant certificate issued in accordance with Part-FCL. If you would hold that FCL.900 applies exclusively to flight instruction when it is for the purpose of a person becoming qualified in accordance with Part-FCL, then where are the implementing acts required by article 27, which the Commission is mandated to adopt, to ensure compliance with the essential requirements for aircrew?

London, United Kingdom

In the UK, in all the time I have been involved in the N-reg scene (since about 2004) the position has been, initially under JAR, that if the instructor was paid then you needed the DfT permission. Later this became a CAA permission and later this was no longer needed if you were getting yourself trained in your own plane.

If the instructor was paid, he needed the full JAA CPL. This was widely ignored – practically necessary because most FAA CFI/CFII instructors had no European papers. The standard routes, both legal, were to get payment for “ground school” and/or doing the actual training portion of the flight outside UK airspace. I am aware of one famous case where, following a failed prosecution by the CAA, the guy running the business embarked on the JAA CPL. Later, only the CPL theory was required for being an FI but AFAIK it was never established whether this was relevant to this angle.

Outside the UK, the situation varied. Most countries regulate this (otherwise every flying school would just move to N-reg) but the regs are hard to find. They are not EASA; they are national. It is evident that most countries don’t do any enforcement in this area, particularly France and Italy.

As for Qalupalik’s angle above, which is based on EASA FCL, I don’t understand the regs well enough to have a useful view.

I have this recent input from one specialist:

A further detail is that an FAA BFR is probably not “training”. It is a “flight review” – particularly if the LHS is legally PIC at the time, which normally is the case.

However the point which I believe Qalupalik is making is that the possession of an EASA FI (which probably also implies the CPL theory, unless one is looking at the – not relevant to this discussion – angle of LAPL or NPPL training) is mandatory for all training in EASA-land, regardless of whether it is towards any EASA license or rating. This would be utterly crippling in many scenarios.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter, economic regulation of third-country aircraft is an adjunct consideration to the regulation of flight training. The question I have posed applies equally to commercial and non-commercial operations. Once a training flight rises to the level of a commercial operation (see point (i) in Article 3 of the former Basic Regulation) it must, if the operation is to be conducted in accordance with Part-NCO or -NCC, be done within the framework of a (regulated) training organisation. Article 5(5) of the Air Operations Regulation refers. In any event compliance must not be so parsimonious as to be guided by the failure of the economic regulator to bring enforcement action.

The specialist’s claim that (flight) training other than for Part-FCL purposes may be done without a Part-FCL instructor certificate may be the more reasonable interpretation but it lacks justification. As mentioned, flight training is regulated by the Basic Regulation, pilots instructors and examiners are required to comply with the essential requirements for aircrew, and the Commission is required to adopt implementing acts to ensure compliance by those persons with those essential requirements. If FCL.900 does not apply, then the Commission has failed in its duty to adopt the relevant acts.

Whether the US flight review is determined to be flight training or an evaluation does not alter the requirement made in the Basic Regulation (articles 20, 26, and 27) for the person conducting the review to hold the relevant certificate.

London, United Kingdom

Wouldn’t -

an instructor certificate appropriate to the instruction given, issued in accordance with this Subpart

- answer this? Clearly it cannot be all instructions, but only those appropriate and issued in accordance with “that” subpart?

An FAA license cannot be part of these instructions IMO

I’m just a simple mind wondering. I’m not sure what your objective is, and the language is difficult

The elephant is the circulation

@bookworm might be able to get his head around these regs.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Is there any new input on this?

I agree with LeSving above in that the regulation must be referring to the license it is towards. If you are training towards an EASA license then obviously the FI needs to be EASA licensed. I don’t see the regulation saying that training towards an FAA license needs an EASA FI – other than separate local requirements e.g. you need an EASA CPL to be paid, etc.

Otherwise, the regulation could be read as saying that if you are being trained on how to drive a lawn mower you need an EASA FI.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Fortunately gardening equipment tends not to come within the scope defined in article 2 of the Basic Regulation.

London, United Kingdom

Peter wrote at post #3 in the thread Ab initio on a complex aircraft:

You cannot do [an ab initio FAA PPL in Europe] because the solo portions are done on the US Student Pilot Certificate but this is not valid outside the US. So you have to embark on an EASA PPL and do the solo bits within that regime, and then abandon that and continue on the FAA regime.

If pre-solo flight training must correspond to a Part-FCL course then the same applies to post-solo training. The interpretation must be consistent. Flight training done on aircraft coming within the scope of the Basic Regulation shall be done according to a developed syllabus. Art 20.

A third country aircraft, other than an annex I aircraft, comes within the scope of the Basic Regulation when “operated by an aircraft operator established, residing or with a principal place of business in the territory to which the Treaties apply.” Basic Regulation, point (b)(ii) of art 2(1). All pilots shall be required to hold a licence except as in specific circumstances permitted by the Aircrew Regulation. Point (c)(i) of art 23(1). Point (a) of the rule FCL.020 in Part-FCL adopted for solo flying requires a student pilot to fly only when authorised and supervised by a flight instructor, however the supervision requirement may be relaxed pursuant to art 4(7). The flight instructor must be certificated under subpart J of Part-FCL. Point (a)(1)(ii) of rule FCL.900. The student pilot must also hold an appropriate medical certificate. Point (a) of rule MED.A.030 in Part-MED.

The Aircrew Regulation makes no explicit requirement for the flight training to be done within a pilot training organisation and no pre-solo training requirements are prescribed. It’s questionable whether the training must correspond to a Part-FCL training course such as a LAPL or PPL.

For aircraft other than those coming within the scope of the Basic Regulation the situation in UK is clearer. Under UK law a student pilot may, in UK, Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man, act as pilot-in-command of a non-EASA aircraft in accordance with instructions given by a UK or Part-FCL flight instructor. ANO 2016 art 140. The essential requirements annexed to the Basic Regulation have no equivalent in the ANO. To make matters more interesting there will be no primacy enjoyed by retained EU law over domestic legislation once, or if, UK leaves EU.

A US student pilot may not act as pilot-in-command of an international flight according to 14 CFR 61.89(a)(5). This is more stringent than the corresponding standard in ICAO Annex 1 which states that a “student pilot shall not fly solo in an aircraft on an international flight unless by special or general arrangement between the Contracting States concerned.” The FAA could be petitioned for an exemption, pursuant to 14 CFR 11, with application outside the US and such an exemption if confined by the ICAO standard would be consistent with the statutory requirement at 49 USC 40105(b) to comply with international agreements. It’s surprising 61.89(a)(5) wasn’t amended in Oct 1998 when the US lifted the restriction on US pilot schools and training centers operating outside the US (63 FR 53531, 65 FR 2022). Without the exemption a student pilot may not act as pilot-in-command of a US-registered US-controlled civil aircraft. 14 CFR 61.3.

London, United Kingdom
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