Licensing by aircraft

HelicopterJAR-FCL licences are issued for a particular category of aircraft:

  • Aeroplanes (A) – including motor-gliders, but not gliders
  • Helicopters (H)

The abbreviations are combined with the licence level held, for example a Commercial Pilot Licence for Balloons and Airships can be written as CPL(BA).

Type and Class ratings

A licence will contain one or more ratings. These are sub-qualifications that specify in more detail the exact privileges that the licence conveys. One type of rating is an Aircraft rating. This specifies the type or types of aircraft which can be flown, and is either a Class rating, when a whole broad class of aircraft can be flown, or a Type rating where the privileges are confined to a single type or group of very closely related types.

The very basic aircraft rating usually obtained by PPL(A) holders at their initial skills test is the Single Engine Piston Landplane (SEP-land) Class Rating. This allows flight of single-piston-engined, non-turbocharged, fixed-pitch propellor, fixed tricycle gear, non-pressurised land aeroplanes (with a few exceptions).

SEP class rating holders may optionally extend the privileges of this rating to cover complex features by taking formal differences training from a suitably qualified instructor. There are five categories of difference: tailwheel aircraft, retractable undercarriage, variable-pitch propellor, turbocharged engine and cabin pressurisation. There is no formal test for any difference training; the training is signed off as satifactorily completed in the pilot’s logbook by the instructor conducting the training.

Other class ratings include Multi Engine Piston (MEP) landplane, Single and Multi engined piston Seaplane, and Touring Motor Gliders. To add these to their licence a pilot has to undergo a course of training and pass an additional skills test. Differences training is also required for certain complex features within these class ratings.

Aircraft ratings are type-specific for turbine (turboprop & jet) aircraft and for a few other very complex types. To obtain one of these a pilot must undergo specific training and pass a skills test.
It is also possible to obtain permission from the CAA to fly an aircraft not covered by any type or class rating.

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