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General aviation safety strategy and road mapgeneral aviation and OPS, FAQs for general aviation

Interesting mostly for aviation professionals engaged in general aviation and/or non commercial air transport operations, national aviation & oversight authorities.

General Aviation Safety Strategy and Road Map

General Aviation Safety Strategy and Road Map

What is General Aviation for EASA?

General Aviation, as a term, comprises a diverse number of actors in the aviation community and includes numerous types and categories of aircraft. There are multiple definitions to be found, including ICAO’s definition that refers to all operations which are not commercial or aerial work. Regardless of definitions, this webpage aims to present both relevant content and direct links to such information which may be of interest to those identifying themselves as part of the General Aviation community.

Why do we have a General Aviation Safety Strategy and Road Map?

EASA recognises the importance of General Aviation (GA) and its contribution to a safe European aviation system. For this reason, the Agency is implementing the recommendations of the GA Safety Strategy through the Road Map for Regulation of General Aviation (also called GA Road Map). To learn more about these initiatives and to find information related to General Aviation, please browse these pages.

European General Aviation Safety Strategy

This paper is the response of the appointed group to the EASA Management Board’s request for a summary of the proposed principles and guidelines to inform on the future regulation of General Aviation in Europe. Although this has initially been prepared in the context of the reflection led by the Management Board on the Agency’s strategy, it proved to be wider than that, encompassing recommendations for the Agency but also for the European Commission, the EU Member States and the General Aviation stakeholders.

EASA Road Map for the Regulation of General Aviation

The EASA Road Map for the Regulation of General Aviation (also called GA Road Map) represents the follow-up of an analysis carried out jointly by the Agency and its Management Board, the European Commission and representatives from the General Aviation stakeholders. Following this input, the Agency initiated a cross-directorate project that aims at visibly implementing a more tailored and proportionate approach to General Aviation, while ensuring an adequate level of safety. A partnership approach of authorities (European Commission, EASA and national aviation authorities) and the General Aviation stakeholders — e.g. with EGAST for safety promotion — is an essential element for a successful outcome.

Operations in General Aviation

Operations in General Aviation

Operator classification

When developing the European AIR OPS rules, the Agency applied the air operation classification shown below.
This classification was used to develop a different set of technical rules (e.g. for CAT, NCC, NCO, SPO operations) taking into account the principle of proportionality and the need for different safety levels. The safety levels were based on a risk hierarchy ranging from operations with a fare-paying CAT passenger which require the highest safety level to non-commercial single-pilot operations with non-complex aircraft (NCO) which require a proportionate lower safety level.

Applicable OPS rules for NCO and NCC operators

The Air Operations Regulation consists of 8 Annexes. The following chart summarises which Annexes are applicable to NCO and NCC operators.

Rule applicability NCO operator NCC operator
Annex I: Definitions containing definitions of terms containing definitions of terms
Annex II: Part-ARO    
Annex III: Part-ORO   partly applies to NCC
Annex IV: Part-CAT    
Annex V: Part-SPA only if a SPA operation is needed only if a SPA operation is needed
Annex VI: Part-NCC  

technical rules for NCC operations

Annex VII: Part-NCO technical rules for NCO operations  
Annex VIII: Part-SPO    

The working method to develop the non-commercial rules

The rules applicable to NCO and NCC operators were developed together with two different rulemaking groups. These rulemaking groups consisted of all relevant stakeholders, in particular representatives from general aviation associations such as EAS, AAOPA, EBAA, NBAA and IBAC; furthermore, representatives from manufacturers, staff associations, national aviation authorities and EASA experts.

The rulemaking groups reached decisions by consensus of all members.

The rulemaking groups took into account the comments and reactions received from stakeholders during the two public consultation procedures (NPA consultation and CRD consultation).

The development of non-commercial rules was based on the following objectives:

  • to maintain a proportionate level of safety depending on the complexity of the aircraft;
  • to ensure proportionate rules between NCO and NCC operations;
  • to guarantee sufficient flexibility and efficiency for operators and authorities;
  • to be compliant with ICAO standards and recommended practices (SARPs) of Annex 6 Part II and Part III Sections III as far as feasible; and
  • to be consistent with the rules of other Annexes under the AIR OPS Regulation.

Difference between NCO and NCC

To provide proportionate rules, the Agency proposed two different sets of rules for non-commercial operations depending on the complexity of the aircraft operated. For the operation of non-complex aircraft (aeroplanes, helicopters, sailplanes, balloons) proportionate basic safety rules apply (Part-NCO). For the operation of complex aircraft (aeroplanes, helicopters) more advanced safety rules apply (Part-NCC and partly Part-ORO), particularly taking into account that complex aircraft may carry a larger number of passengers and usually require professional teams for their operations.

The term NCC stands for non-commercial operations with complex motor-powered aircraft.

The term NCO stands for non-commercial operations with other-than-complex aircraft.

The term ‘complex motor-powered aircraft’ is defined in the Basic Regulation (EC No 216/2008) as follows:

‘complex motor-powered aircraft’ shall mean:

(i) an aeroplane:

  • with a maximum certificated take-off mass exceeding 5 700 kg, or
  • certificated for a maximum passenger seating configuration of more than nineteen, or
  • certificated for operation with a minimum crew of at least two pilots, or
  • equipped with (a) turbojet engine(s) or more than one turboprop engine, or

(ii) a helicopter certificated:

  • for a maximum take-off mass exceeding 3 175 kg, or
  • for a maximum passenger seating configuration of more than nine, or
  • for operation with a minimum crew of at least two pilots, or

(iii) a tilt rotor aircraft;

Different from the Basic Regulation definition, ICAO defines a large aeroplane (in Annex 6 Part II) as follows:

“An aeroplane of a maximum certificated take-off mass of over 5 700 kg.”

The definition of a complex motor-powered aeroplane as defined in the Basic Regulation deviates from the ICAO definition of a large aeroplane insofar as a complex motor-powered aeroplane includes expressively a multi-engine turboprop aeroplane with a maximum take-off mass at or below 5,7t. Under ICAO SARPs, such an aeroplane is classified as a small aeroplane. As stipulated in the Essential Requirements for Air Operations (Annex IV of the Basic Regulation), for such aeroplanes the European rules are intentionally stricter than ICAO SARPs. For such aircraft, the NCC rules apply.

Regulation (EU) No 800/2013 amending Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 on Air operations covering non-commercial aviation

Regulation (EU) No 800/2013 adds new definitions for non-commercial aviation in Annex I, Definitions:

“ELA1 aircraft” means the following manned European Light Aircraft:

(a) an aeroplane with a Maximum Take-off Mass (MTOM) of 1 200 kg or less that is not classified as complex motor-powered aircraft;

(b) a sailplane or powered sailplane of 1 200 kg MTOM or less;

(c) a balloon with a maximum design lifting gas or hot air volume of not more than 3 400 m 3 for hot air balloons, 1 050 m 3 for gas balloons, 300 m 3 for tethered gas balloons.

“ELA2 aircraft” means the following manned European Light Aircraft:

(a) an aeroplane with a Maximum Take-off Mass (MTOM) of 2 000 kg or less that is not classified as complex motor-powered aircraft;

(b) a sailplane or powered sailplane of 2 000 kg MTOM or less;

(c) a balloon;

(d) a Very Light Rotorcraft with a MTOM not exceeding 600 kg which is of a simple design, designed to carry not more than two occupants, not powered by turbine and/or rocket engines; restricted to VFR day operations.’”

Licensing for General Aviation

Licensing for General Aviation

GA-related topics:

  • FCL.002, which is the review of Part-FCL addressing certain open tasks such as the Learning Objectives or the Examiner’s handbook, and problematic issues already identified during the current implementation phase;
  • FCL.013, which is dealing with the review of Part-ORA and Part-ARA. An update is in process;
  • FCL.014, which will develop additional AMC and GM related to Part-ORA for small non-complex training organisations in order to provide further support to these organisations;
  • FCL.016, which will develop additional ratings for Part-FCL licence holders (mountain rating for helicopter licence holders, seaplane extension for the LAPL).

In addition, the Agency is involved in several other GA-related projects, such as:

  • The Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) with the US, which aims at achieving a bilateral acceptance of each other’s licences, FSTD certificates and ATO certificates (the first phase will address PPL and instrument rating (IR)).
  • The European Central Question Bank (maintenance – new questions, supporting the MS) containing all the questions for the theoretical knowledge examinations for instrument ratings (in the future this will include the questions for the new En route Instrument Rating (EIR) and competency-based Implementing Rule) and for professional pilot licences as well;
  • Provide feedback on safety recommendations and rulemaking proposals;
  • Develop recommendations on Article 14 requests;
  • Provide assistance to the European Commission with regard to FCL-related questions and projects.

Licensing FAQs:

What is the difference between the terms ‘FCL (Flight Crew Licensing)’ and ‘Aircrew’?

‘Aircrew’ is the common term for ‘Flight Crew’ and ‘Cabin Crew’. The new Implementing Rules, which cover both flight crew and cabin crew, were published in Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to civil aviation aircrew and in its amending Regulations (Regulations (EU) Nos 290/2012, 70/2014 and 245/2014 (further information is available here).

Annex I to the above-mentioned Aircrew Regulation contains the Implementing Rules for Flight Crew (Part-FCL).

Annex V to the above-mentioned Aircrew Regulation contains the Implementing Rules for Cabin Crew (Part-CC).

Last updated: 03/04/2014

How can a national pilot licence be converted into an EASA pilot licence?

In accordance with Regulation (EC) No 216/2008, in the field of pilot licensing the Agency is not authorised to issue pilot licences and, therefore, there will not be any EASA pilot licence in the future.

According to Annex I (Part-FCL) to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 on Aircrew, the title of the new licence issued in accordance with this Annex is a Part-FCL licence.

National licences shall be converted into Part-FCL licences by the competent authority of the Member State that issued the national licence in accordance with Article 4 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 on Aircrew and its amending Commission Regulation (EU) No 290/2012.

It is the competent authorities of the Member States which will convert and issue Part-FCL licences, not the Agency.

Last updated: 03/04/2014

How can a third-country (non-EU) licence be converted into a Part-FCL licence?

Pilot licences issued by third countries will be accepted in accordance with Article 8 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 on Aircrew. According to paragraph 1 of Article 8, the Member State may accept a third-country licence, and the associated medical certificate, in accordance with the provisions of Annex III to that Regulation.

For the issue of a Part-FCL licence, the holder of at least an equivalent third-country licence issued in accordance with ICAO Annex 1 shall comply with all the relevant requirements of Annex I to that Regulation (Part-FCL), except that the requirements of course duration, number of lessons and specific training hours may be reduced.

As stated in Article 12 of Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 on Aircrew, the application date was 8 April 2012; nevertheless, by way of derogation from this paragraph according to Article 1(3) of Commission Regulation (EU) No 245/2014, Member States could decide not to apply the provisions of Annex I to pilots holding a licence and associated medical certificate issued by a third country involved in non-commercial flights until 8 April 2015.

The competent authority of the Member State to which an applicant applies will determine the conversion requirements, which can be reduced on the basis of a recommendation from an approved training organisation.

Therefore, the national aviation authority of the Member State where an applicant resides or wishes to work should be contacted for further information concerning the applicable acceptance requirements.

To find a list of the national aviation authorities, please click here.

Last updated: 03/04/2014

Is it correct that there are new requirements for instrument ratings and provisions to allow cloud flying for sailplane pilots published in the Aircrew Regulation?

Yes, this is correct.

The Agency initiated the rulemaking task RMT.0198 and RMT.0199 (former FCL.008) in order to review the existing requirements for Instrument Rating (IR) and to consider if, especially for private pilots, a more accessible IR should be developed.

A rulemaking group was established at the end of 2008. Based on the draft proposals of this group, the Agency published a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA 2011-16 ) in September 2011. After the 3-month public consultation period, the Agency published the related Comment-Response Document (CRD 2011-16) in October 2012. When the review period ended in December 2012, the Agency commenced with the drafting of the Opinion. Opinion 03/2013 was published in April 2013.

Commission Regulation (EU) No 245/2014, amending Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 of 3 November 2011, was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 14 March 2014 and is in force from 3 April 2014. It contains new rules developed for a competency-based instrument rating, an en route instrument rating (EIR) and a sailplane cloud flying rating. Decision 2014/022/R, complementing said Regulation with new and more accessible instrument ratings (IRs) focussed on General Aviation (GA) pilots, has been published on the Agency’s website on 1 April 2014. This is part of the Agency’s ongoing work to simplify and improve GA regulations. This Decision is expected to provide more flexibility with regard to obtaining such ratings, thereby allowing more pilots to operate safely in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC), for example in low visibility.

sub-Safety Standards Consultative Committee (sub-SSCC)

General Aviation sub-Safety Standards Consultative Committee (sub-SSCC)

The main task of the General Aviation sub-SSCC is to advise the Agency on the implementation of a more tailored regulatory approach towards GA, ensuring at the same time an adequate level of safety. The Committee has already identified a list of issues describing problems that occur where current regulations do not comply with the principles and guidelines of the European General Aviation Safety Strategy. As a next step, dedicated projects, involving EASA, affected stakeholders and NAAs, will be initiated in order to work out appropriate adequate solutions to the identified issues. Due to the cross-sectoral character of General Aviation, cooperation and information exchange with other sub-SSCCs will play a major role in the Committee’s activities.