The CAA have confirmed that they will not make further extensions to the validity of pilot licences and ratings, despite the UK entering a second national ‘lockdown’.
During the initial lockdown the CAA had recognised that pilots could inadvertently be put in the position of having a licence or rating expire through no fault of their own – by virtue of not being permitted to fly and revalidate a licence or rating that was due to expire. The CAA therefore commenced issuing pilot licence/rating validity extensions, ultimately setting an expiration limit of 22 November 2020 for licences and ratings that were still valid as of 16 March 2020.
With a second lockdown now in place, which will continue beyond 22 November 2020 cut-off date for licence validity extensions, it appears that a number of pilots could be caught out. FTN contacted the CAA to ask if they would be extending the validity date further. FTN were told: “We issued a significant number of exemptions to help aviation cope with the impact of the Government’s COVID-19 restrictions. Currently we don’t plan to issue any wide-ranging exemptions for the current lockdown when the latest set ends on 22 November. We believe flying skills cannot be sustained in the long term by exemptions.
We believe flying skills cannot be sustained in the long term by exemptions.
Under the current lockdown restrictions the Department for Transport has confirmed that engine health and maintenance check flights and flights to maintain currency are allowed. These should only be conducted where there is an urgent requirement, and where alternative options are not available. We believe flying skills cannot be sustained in the long term by exemptions.
There are some elements of commercial aviation that are important to the response to COVID-19 which will be considered for exemptions. Consideration to those undergoing initial commercial flight training will also be considered.”
Based on the CAA position, pilots whose licences and ratings are already at expiry point will either need to find an instructor willing and able to revalidate them before the 22 November cut-off date, or undergo some form of renewal process with an examiner after 22 November.
The current government guidance states that: “Private pilots should not undertake any sport or leisure flying…”, however, it also goes on to say: “…flights to maintain currency only, that would otherwise lapse during the planned lockdown period, should only be conducted where there is an urgent requirement to do so, and alternative options are not available.”
It would seem to be up to individual pilots and flying schools to decide if they should make flights for the purposes of ‘currency’ while acting in accordance with this guidance.
We will post any further updates on this story as they become available.