The Aircrew Regulation under EASA
The European Commission Regulation (EU) No. 1178/2011 (the "Aircrew Regulation") is binding and directly applicable in all EASA Member States since 8 April 2012.
The regulation includes several annexes, of which Part-FCL (Flight Crew Licensing, Annex I) and Part-MED (Medical Certification, Annex IV) are the most important ones for pilots. In order to act as a pilot-in-command of an "EASA aircraft" as specified in the Regulation, it is a regulated requirement to hold a pilot license according to Part-FCL, in principle. However, due to the burdensome requirements for organizations - such as gliding clubs - for training towards such a pilot licence (non-commercial), Part-DTO (Annex VIII) was introduced by Commission Regulation (EU) 2018/1119 of 31 July 2018 to promote more flexibility within General Aviation.
Nonetheless, each Member State was given by legislation (by the Commission Regulation itself) the possibility, through a derogation, to not apply among others:
- Annexes I to IV until 8 April 2013
- provisions of Annex I related to powered-lift aircraft and airships until 8 April 2015
- provisions of Annex I related to sailplanes and balloons until
8 April 2018/ 8 April 2020 (extended by Regulation (EU) 2018/1119)
For glider pilots, the last itemized possible derogation is probably the most relevant one; indeed, the United Kingdom is making use of this possibility: The UK CAA has filed such an exemption for pilots of sailplanes and balloons from Part-FCL licensing requirements in the United Kingdom - while gliding clubs (or the British Gliding Association in the UK) use the time to set themselves up as DTOs to offer EASA-compliant training courses towards the LAPL(S) license or the SPL license.
Hence, currently, there is still no requirement to hold a (Part-FCL compliant) pilot license while flying a sailplane in the UK, yet. In fact, there is no legal requirement in the UK, at all, to hold a license as a glider pilot for non-commercial operations.
Changes in EASA Sailplane Licensing: Part-SFCL (possibly from April 2020)
LAPL(S)/SPL License (as of up until March 2020)
COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 1178/2011 requires in Part-MED, Section 2 ("Requirements for medical certificates"):
"MED.A.030 Medical certificates
(a) A student pilot shall not fly solo unless that student pilot holds a medical certificate, as required for the relevant licence.
(b) Applicants for and holders of a light aircraft pilot licence (LAPL) shall hold at least an LAPL medical certificate.
(c) Applicants for and holders of a private pilot licence (PPL), a sailplane pilot licence (SPL), or a balloon pilot licence (BPL) shall hold at least a Class 2 medical certificate.
(d) Applicants for and holders of an SPL or a BPL involved in commercial sailplane or balloon flights shall hold at least a Class 2 medical certificate.
(h) A licence holder shall not at any time hold more than one medical certificate issued in accordance with this Part."
Though, it has to be taken into consideration that most BGA training in the UK currently is formally NOT (directly) towards an EASA Part-FCL license (SPL or LAPL(S)). The grant of such a license does not fall under the (immediate) purposes of BGA gliding training - and in the UK, hence, BGA gliding student pilots are not considered as applicants to an EASA Part-FCL license. Nonetheless, upon conversion to an EASA Part-FCL license, MED.A.030 does apply to the license holder indeed - and a valid and relevant EASA Part-MED medical is then also required to be held.
The particular national circumstances also have to be taken into consideration:
On the one hand, Part-MED - insofar applicable - only stipulates the minimum medical requirements within the EEA. Member States principally might impose even more confined restrictions, though. For example, in Germany, LuftPersV § 16 paragraph (2) no 2, makes it necessary to hold the Part-MED Medical even at the beginning of the flight training (also for sailplanes/gliders). Hence, all flights within Germany - before such a Medical is held - can only be passenger flights. Consequently, to not be caught off guard, the relevant national requirements should be reviewed before flight training in another country is planned and conducted.
Due to UK CAA General Exemption E 4825, on the other hand, up until April 2020 no Part-FCL license needs to be held to fly sailplanes. Respectively, no training towards a Part-FCL for flying gliders is necessary - which renders Part-MED not applicable for all BGA training whose (immediate, direct) purpose is not the grant of a Part-FCL license. [National Regulations? probably not for gliders in the UK... have to look into ANO.] Though, nonetheless, for flying within BGA clubs, obviously BGA requirements needs to be adhered to.
BGA Medical Requirements
For the first (and subsequent) solo flights - as well as for mutual flights, i.e. flights with another principally qualified pilot, the BGA accepts the following documents to show the necessary medical fitness (as of March 2019):
- EASA Part-MED Medical of LAPL standard (not ICAO-compliant)
- EASA Part-MED Medical of Class 1 or Class 2 standard (ICAO-compliant)
- third country ICAO-compliant medical certificate (subject to general recognition by UK CAA)
as well as (as of March 2019):
- driving licence issued by an EU nation (or UK crown-dependencies)
- valid BGA Medical Declaration to DVLA Group 2 standard endorsed by GP
- valid NPPL Medical endorsed by GP (restricted / unrestricted)
- UK CAA Pilot Medical Declaration
- if under the age of 25: self-declaration to DVLA Group 1 standard - held by the club
- if temporary resident in the UK only: non-EU medical certificate (not ICAO-compliant)
- (Air Cadet gliding medical certificate or NATO military aircrew employment standard)
Currently, the bold options are the most commonly used evidences accepted for gliding within BGA clubs. Below the age of 25, a self-declaration is simply sufficient. Above the age of 25, people usually hold a UK/EU driving license. Otherwise, the least uncomplicated option is to visit and ask their GP for the NPPL Medical.
Qualified pilots who exercise their Part-FCL licence privileges necessarily have to hold a valid and relevant EASA Part-MED Medical for the privileges in question.
- The other annexes are concerned with the cabin crew in Part-CC (Annex V), the aircrew requirements for the National Aviation Authorities - e.g. the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the United Kingdom or the German Luftfahrtbundesamt (LBA) for Germany - in Part-ARA (Annex VI), the aircrew requirements for organizations - such as aeromedical centres and training organizations - in Part-ORA (Annex VII) and requirements for Declared Training Organizations in Part-DTO (Annex VIII). Conversion requirements for (existing) national licenses of Member States are regulated by Annex II; and the acceptance of those from third countries (under which the UK falls after a "No Deal"-Brexit) are regulated by Annex III.
- Commission Regulation (EU) 2018/1119
- General Exemption E 4825: Requirement to Hold a Part-FCL Pilot’s Licence to Operate a UK Registered Balloon, Sailplane or Powered Sailplane with an EASA Certificate of Airworthiness
- Opinion No 01/2019 (A) & (B)