Welcome to the second blog update covering the journey of one of our Resilient Pilot mentors as they look to re-gain an EASA FCL post Brexit transfer deadline to hold both a UK and EASA licence simultaneously.
Please understand this is a personal case study of updates and by no means a method to be quoted for obtaining an EASA licence. It is written simply to raise awareness of potential steps to take, which needs to be supplemented with your own research.
Firstly, A Short Recap
After losing their job, our Resilient Pilot mentor wanted to convert their UK FCL to an EASA FCL to look for recruitment opportunities within Europe. As our previous blog post illustrates this was not going to be a simple process.
Last month’s entry outlines the initial steps our mentor has undertaken; researching the process, opening petitions to raise awareness, and formalising a financial breakdown of the costs associated to undertake a licence conversion. You can read the first blog post here.
The EU Petition
Now you’re up to speed with our latest entry, you’re probably first wondering has there been any progress in terms of a reciprocal agreement, meaning pilots won’t have to undertake the costly conversion?
As you will recall from ‘Step two’ in last month’s blog, our mentor had launched an EU petition calling for a reciprocal agreement. Although this petition was advised to be admissible, it was unfortunately closed.
This was a huge setback in raising awareness to the European parliament on the difficult situation pilots are facing. Unsatisfied, our mentor decided to investigate why the petition wasn’t allowed to be opened…
A dual UK and EU citizen, our mentor first decided to contact their MEPs (Members of the European Parliament). Many emails and phone calls later, this was the response from an MEP on the matter: ‘Having consulted with my colleagues in the European Parliament, it remains unclear to me why exactly your petition was rejected’
After further conversations, our mentor was given the following advice to try and rectify this situation: “The way to ensure a petition is not closed is to ensure that there are MEPs on the PETI committee who are willing to contest decisions like this (closing the petition). The more MEPs from the widest array of groups that you can get onside, the more likelihood there is that the petition will be pursued.”
The email was then summarised: “Given the issue you are raising concerns the UK’s withdrawal for the EU; we don’t see why it couldn’t secure broad support among the political groups here (EU state)”
Therefore, instead of just trying to reopen the closed petition, our mentor is now exploring the option of opening a new petition with the support of their MEPs. The support of multiple MEPs illustrates a positive step, and hopefully there will be more progress in the next update.
How can you help?
If you’re an EU citizen or have the right to live and work in the EU, you can help in two ways; Firstly you can request the petition (0263/2021) is reopened by emailing email@example.com. Secondly you can write to your MEP. Find their contact details here: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/home.
In terms of the ongoing UK petition, it is still open and can be signed until the 26th September. Please find the petition here.
One of the biggest goals for our mentor from the petitions, and similarly this blog is to raise awareness of the difficulties pilots are facing because of no reciprocal agreement. Fortunately, since the last update, airlines are now starting to get onboard too…
A well-known low-cost carrier currently on a recruitment drive for EASA license holders have been approaching UK candidates with the following statement: “There are no updates yet, however, please note that we still won’t be able to hire candidates with a UK CAA licence. What we are trying to do is set up a process with the authorities for the conversion to an EASA licence.” Therefore, airlines are trying to find solutions and look towards assisting with a conversion process, again positive news.
And The Unions…
Recently BALPA have also extended their support. They have written a joint letter from over 3500 pilots to urge the government to end the damaging post Brexit licence inequality stopping thousands of pilots from securing a job. The article mainly concerns the issue of UK licence holders being unable to fly EU registered aircraft even if based in the UK without an expensive conversion. The fact pilots, airlines and unions are all working together is hopefully a good sign that significant progress in terms of a reciprocal agreement can be made.
But In The Meantime,
Whilst there are seeds of hope that awareness is increasing, at the moment there is no reciprocal agreement hence our mentor is continuing with the process to convert their licence.
Since the first update our mentor has booked their initial EASA medical. This proved to be quite challenging with only two UK Austrocontrol approved locations offering the initial EASA medical service; one in Birmingham and one in London with limited availability.
Upon further investigation we have since discovered some further caveats to be aware of… When you undertake your initial EASA medical, if the AME is not certified by the desired state of licence issue, then the applicant will need to go through the SOLI process to transfer the medical over to them before the FCL can be issued. This can therefore cost extra time and money, with reports of this taking up to 6 months! In practice however this should be far quicker, but it could be worth considering flying overseas for the medical
A Verification Letter
Our mentor has also started the ‘verification letter’ process for their details to be transferred from the UK to Austrian Authorities. Again, this has been a lengthy process; a copy of their licence needed to be certified and sent to the UK CAA. Finally, our mentor then needed to contact Austro to ask them to contact the CAA, whilst paying a £46 fee. Nevertheless, the process is underway.
And the Skills Test
Our mentor has also had confirmation regarding their upcoming skills test in Austria. They’ve been told if their type rating is valid on the UK CAA licence, that they’re allowed to do a skills test for the conversion. The examiner will be nominated by Austro control but a simulator and EASA examiner can be requested for approval.
Another point here to be aware of is when applying for a FCL issued by Malta the candidate needs to nominate three possible EASA TREs. The authority will pick the TRE from this list for the LST. Apparently, the individual authorities are quite accommodating, but the process needs to be undertaken in this order.
We will of course keep you updated with our mentors’ progress as they undertake their medical and prepare for the upcoming sim assessment. However, as time has progressed there have been further stories of pilots at differing stages of their careers also facing licensing adversity. We are therefore looking to explore case studies from pilots of various experience levels wishing to obtain an EASA licence and how they have gone about achieving this. There are a lot of rumours and misinformation regarding this subject. Therefore, and our aim is to instead provide accurate information on this issue affecting pilots all the way from ground school to the left hand seat.