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Pilot members are the mainstay of AOPA UK membership and the focus of our work to ensure your continued ability to fly as a Private or Commercial pilot in the aircraft of your choice, within the privileges of your licence and ratings, is paramount in our activities.

We believe that attempts by some, including other aviation organisations, to redefine Private Pilots as "Amateur Pilots", "Hobby Pilots", Recreational Pilots" or "Sports Pilots" is demeaning and risks Regulators seeing you as some form of sub-Pilot and be tempted to try and restrict your privileges and aircraft choice. We already see these terms appearing in regulators information and news items. As there is no legal basis for these licence categories we ask the authors to desist in using them and use the correct titles.

You can find our views on other aviation matters affecting GA elsewhere on this site.

You can also find out how you can be involved with AOPA if you so wish. Equally, you may just prefer to support AOPA with your membership and let us get on with the job we do. Either way, we welcome your support and couldn't do our work without it.

You will find other subject areas below, which are designed to provide you with pertinent information, in as plain English as we can, to help answer common questions we get from members. In the interests of GA as a whole, most of the information is open to all visitors. However, we may restrict access to some content and you will need to log-in with a Member level account.

Please note that the information is correct at the time of publication. You should check that any reference material used is still current.

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 UK Airprox Board

"An Airprox is a situation in which, in the opinion of a pilot or air traffic services personnel, the distance between aircraft as well as their relative positions and speed have been such that the safety of the aircraft involved may have been compromised."

In the UK, the UK Airprox Board's primary objective is to enhance air safety in the UK, in particular in respect of lessons to be learned and applied from Airprox occurrences reported within UK airspace.

Full details on how to file an Airprox can be found on the UK Airprox Board website.

The UK Airprox Board publish monthly reports and other information designed to help other Pilots understand and avoid an Airprox. You can also view an interactive map of UK Airprox locations.

Reference Material:


From our April 2017 AOPA Magazine:

Our AOPA Corporate members have told us that there appears to be a looming shortage of PPL instructors. Several of our IAOPA (Europe) colleagues advised that they are also beginning to see a shortage.

It’s reported that airlines are beginning to recruit again, so perhaps some existing instructors are heading that way - but why are so few people coming forward to replace them, unless they too are hoping to build hours before applying to the airlines?

Perhaps the main reason is that most PPL holders don’t actually know what options are available to them as potential instructors, so let’s have look at them:

Do I need a CPL to be paid if I want to teach at my local flying club?

If you hold a Part-FCL PPL, then no you don’t! Under FCL.205A(b), the holder of a Part-FCL PPL(A) with instructor or examiner privileges may receive remuneration for the provision of flight instruction for the LAPL(A) or PPL(A).

Do I need to sit loads of exams?

When EASA launched NPA 2008-17b, the intention was that an instructor only needed to hold the licence or rating for which instruction was being given. So to teach at PPL level, you should only need to hold a PPL. IAOPA warmly welcomed this, but some Member States and, it has to be said, perhaps a few self-interested organisations, objected to this.

So EASA was obliged to amend FCL.915.FI(b)(2)(i), requiring FI (Aeroplanes) applicants to have met the requirements for CPL knowledge. Which means passing the CPL exams even if you just want to instruct for the PPL.

What about the LAPL/FI?

LAPL holders may not include an instructor certificate in their licences; all ab initio LAPL instruction has to be provided by at least a PPL/FI. Originally there was to be an EASA rating termed a Light Aircraft Flight Instructor to support the needs of LAPL training, but with lower training requirements than are required for an FI.

This proposal was also rejected; as a compromise, following observations by certain Member States, the CPL exam requirement does not apply to FIs wishing to instruct only for the LAPL and associated ratings. So if you want to instruct for
the LAPL, first persuade your local club to start marketing the LAPL rather more positively. Then, once you meet the precourse prerequisites, you can start an FI course without needing to sit any more EASA exams.

Pre-course prerequisites?

Paraphrasing FCL.915.FI, a PPL-holding applicant for an FI(A) certificate must have:

  • Received at least 10 hours of instrument flight instruction on aeroplanes, of which not more than five hours may be instrument ground time in an FSTD.
  • Completed 20 hours of VFR cross-country flight as PIC on aeroplanes.
  • Except for an FI(A) providing training for the LAPL(A) only, met the requirements for CPL theoretical knowledge.
  • Completed at least 200 hours of flight time on aeroplanes or TMGs, of which 150 hours must be as PIC.
  • Completed at least 30 hours on single-engine piston powered aeroplanes of which at least five hours must have been completed during the six month period preceding the pre-entry flight test for the FI course.
  • As PIC, completed a VFR cross-country flight of at least 300 nm, including two intermediate landings.

So an experienced PPL holder may well find that he/she already meets most of the prerequisites to provide instruction for the LAPL, but then if you’re hoping to instruct for the PPL, we come back to the topic of exams.

It’s becoming evident that the CPL exam hurdle is the one real obstacle faced by the suitably experienced PPL holder who would like to do some instructing, perhaps on a part-time basis as an escape from the day job. But in previous times, the pre-course requirements included an exam to check that the
aspirant FI had the appropriate level of theoretical knowledge,rather than CPL knowledge.

Even the Basic Regulation states that flight instruction must be given by ‘appropriately qualified instructors’, who meet the theoretical knowledge and experience requirements ‘appropriate’ for the instruction being given, rather than any commercial level theoretical knowledge requirements.

So we think that it’s high time to press-to-test on this and to propose a return to rather more pragmatic previous ways. Hence at the forthcoming EASA FCL Implementation Forum I intend to elicit members’ views concerning a proposal for the amendment of FCL.915.FI(b)(2) to include an option of :

‘...a pre-course written exam approved by the competent authority and conducted by the ATO, which will confirm that the FI(A) course applicant has demonstrated an appropriate level of theoretical knowledge to be able to exercise instructional privileges for the PPL(A) and LAPL(A).’

Several European AOPAs are already supportive, as are the UK ATOs with whom I’ve spoken. AOPA already has the Ground Instructor Course pre-entry written exam, so with a little tweaking and titivating, a pre-FI course exam could be developed pretty quickly from the GIC exam.

Are there any other instructional qualifications available at PPL level?

Yes, the Class Rating Instructor. A CRI on single pilot aeroplanes may provide training for existing licence holders, such as the ‘training flying with an instructor’ required for revalidation and may also, if suitably qualified, conduct aerobatic rating training.

Quite a useful qualification, no CPL exams needed and the course itself only requires three hours of flight instruction, plus 25 hours of teaching and learning instruction and 10 hours of technical training.

A CRI who is an acknowledged expert in a specific field or on a particular aeroplane is a useful person from whom a pilot might seek the relevant training for such purposes.

What does the FI course include?

Having met the pre-prerequisites and passed the pre-entry flight test, the course itself consists of 25 hours of ‘teaching and learning’, 100 hours of theoretical knowledge instruction, 30 hours of flight instruction and finally the ‘assessment of
competence’ taken with a Flight Instructor Examiner, which also includes a ground oral examination.

Your own flying skills will need to be of a good standard and the pre-entry flight test will soon identify areas which might perhaps need a little more polish.

The ground training is intended to ensure that you can brief a student competently in both flying exercises and technical subjects, before you put them into practice with your FIC instructor in flight.

You will be taught to identify and rectify any student errors in a manner which will encourage your student, rather than the “Look, you numbskull, I’ve told you how to do it, I’ve shown you how to do it, I can do it, the aircraft can do it - so why the
hell can’t you do it?” style which some of us may remember from the bad old days!

Of course you will also learn how to conduct a post-flight debrief for your student in a clear, concise and constructive manner.

Are there any restrictions on newly-qualified instructors?

Initially, you will be under the supervision of another instructor nominated by your training organisation and you will not be permitted to supervise first solos or first cross-country solos until you have gained more experience. But once you have
flown 100 hours of flight instruction, supervised 25 student solo flights and gained the approval of your training organisation, these restrictions will no longer apply.

Are there any FI revalidation requirements?

Yes. The FI certificate is valid for three years and may only be revalidated if you have met the relevant criteria by completing two of the options of having either

1. conducted 50 hours of flight instruction,
2. received refresher training at an FI seminar or,
3. in the final year of the validity period, passed an assessment of competence.

For at least every alternate revalidation, the assessment of competence is a mandatory requirement.

Will I earn much money?

It’s perhaps not fair to accuse training organisations of paying their FIs as little as they can get away with, although at times some FIs might feel that this is indeed the case! In recent years, airline recruiting hasn’t been particularly buoyant and
there were few financial retention incentives for FIs, given that there were probably more around than the training world really needed.

But things are beginning to change; for example, one popular UK airline has recently announced significant expansion and has placed a pilot supply contract with a major European ATO, which itself has now launched an FI recruitment drive.

Faced with all its FIs rushing off to the airlines, it’s indeed likely that instructors’ pay might improve. But don’t forget that the cost of any pay increase will probably have to be recovered from the customers; to remain competitive, most
flying training organisations try to keep their flying rates as low as possible, otherwise prospective trainees will look elsewhere.

If airline recruitment really does take off at the level many predict, training organisations are going to find it much harder to retain their FIs, particularly those who have already obtained CPLs.

Amending the Aircrew Regulation can often take many years, so if we are to avoid a dearth of PPL-level FIs in the coming years, we need to highlight the CPL exam problem to EASA without delay and that’s my intention.

Meanwhile, flying clubs can perhaps help themselves by looking more at the LAPL and by encouraging their more experienced PPL holding members to think about becoming LAPL-level FIs. Worth thinking about?

Nick Wilcock
IAOPA (Europe) FCL Representative

In August of 2016, following a number of recent incidents that have compromised safety when aircraft over-flying glider sites have come into close proximity with winch-launching gliders, the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) and the British Gliding Association (BGA) issued a joint statement to remind pilots about the dangers of over-flying gliding sites, especially as the summer months mean much greater gliding activity is likely.

Some recent Airprox incidents illustrate the risks:

2014013 – a glider aborted a winch launch at Tibenham, Norfolk when a PA28 overflew the site.

2014211 – an Augusta 109 helicopter came close to a glider winch launching at Dunstable, to the west of Luton 2015026 – again at Dunstable, an MD902 helicopter came close to a launching glider

2016036 – an unidentified light aeroplane overflew Lasham, the busiest gliding site in the country, during a winch launch.

2016074 – an R44 helicopter overflew Husbands Bosworth south of Leicester and caused a winching glider to abort its launch.

Four of these incidents were categorised in the highest risk category - A – where it was judged a serious risk of collision existed and luck played a major part in the fact that collisions didn’t occur.

The British Gliding Association (BGA) is the governing body for the sport of gliding in the UK.

There are approximately 2,500 gliders and 8,500 regular glider pilots in the UK making in excess of 250,000 flights a year.

Gliding sites are listed in the AIP at ENR 5.5, including the authorised maximum winch height where applicable.

The full reports are available from within ‘Airprox Reports and Analysis’, side heading ‘Individual Airprox Reports’, under the appropriate year.

The key point is that pilots should not rely on seeing the winch launch happening as they approach the glider site. A glider will go from ground to 1000-1500ft in about 20 seconds, so spotting it in the climb is too late to do anything about the conflict. Nor is the danger passed once the glider is released from the winch. Pilots are very unlikely to see the cable itself and, depending on the winch-launch height, the hazard from these continues for at least another 20-30 seconds as it descends under a small parachute that is effectively invisible. Some glider sites are capable of launching to altitudes of 3-4000ft, with associated increased cable descent times.

As well as publishing a map of sites the British Gliding Association (BGA) also has an interactive map at

Maximum launch altitudes are indicated on the 500K VFR chart with a forward slash and height; as an example, Lasham has a maximum winch-launch altitude of 3700ft, represented as /3.7 as shown below:

Anyone planning to fly near Lasham, the UK's busiest gliding site, should assume there is gliding on most days, even in the week.

Pilots should always assume that a gliding site is active. Ed Downham, who, as well as being a UKAB gliding member, is a Boeing 777 captain said: “So far, we haven’t seen an actual mid-air, either between the aircraft or with the descending winch cable. But it could soon be a matter for the AAIB rather than UKAB. Be under no illusion, such an encounter is highly likely to be fatal for those involved”.

Chris Fox, another UKAB gliding member and an R44 pilot, also commented: “A recurring theme in these reports is that the powered aircraft pilot assumed that the gliding site would not be active – perhaps because the weather was less than perfect, or it was late in the day. Gliders can, and do, winch-launch in strong winds and any cloud base that permits the launch to be completed safely – often in conditions that would deter many other GA pilots.”

The UKAB advice is to avoid glider sites at all times; only overfly them if you have timely, positive confirmation from the site itself that they are inactive. When avoiding glider sites, beware of simply skirting the ground location by a narrow margin because there are likely to be gliders operating close to the site as they soar within gliding range and, even if a site has finished winch-launching for the day, it may have gliders returning from cross country flights, or motor gliders self-launching into the local area.

Many gliders these days fly with a system called FLARM, which is a relatively cheap electronic conspicuity aid. The associated P-FLARM unit is also relatively cheap, easy to fit in any aircraft, and provides potentially life-saving audio and visual cues for those hard-to-see gliders.

Gliding Radio Frequency Utilisation

The BGA Operational Regulations make recommendations regarding the use of each of the BGA allocated frequencies for different activities within the gliding movement.

130.400 MHz: This is to be used for cloud flying and relaying cross-country location messages only.
130.125 MHz: Primary Use: Training (lead and follow) and cross-country location messages.
                       Secondary Use: Local flying; competition start and finish lines.
130.100 MHz: Primary Use: Competition start and finish lines; local flying.
                       Secondary Use: Training (lead and follow).
129.975 MHz: To be used only as a gliding airfield local control frequency within 10 nm radius and below 3000 ft. This frequency may be used by power aircraft requiring clearance through a gliding airfield circuit.

129.900 MHz: Ground to ground and retrieve recovery only.

122.475 MHz: This is the primary frequency for balloons.

Revalidation - Before Rating Expires


FCL.140.A LAPL(A)-Recency requirements

(a) Holders of an LAPL(A) shall only exercise the privileges of their licence when they have completed, in the last 24 months, as pilots of aeroplanes or TMG:

(1) at least 12 hours of flight time as PIC, including 12 take-offs and landings; and

(2) refresher training of at least 1 hour of total flight time with an instructor.

(b) Holders of an LAPL(A) who do not comply with the requirements in (a) shall:

(1) undertake a proficiency check with an examiner before they resume the exercise of the privileges of their licence; or

(2) perform the additional flight time or take-offs and landings, flying dual or solo under the supervision of an instructor, in order to fulfil the requirements in (a).

EASA and UK PPL Licence Revalidation Requirements:

FCL.740.A Revalidation of class and type ratings - aeroplanes

(a) Revalidation of multi-engine class ratings and type ratings. For revalidation of multi-engine class ratings and type ratings, the applicant shall:

(1) pass a proficiency check in accordance with Appendix 9 to this Part in the relevant class or type of aeroplane or an FSTD representing that class or type, within the 3 months immediately preceding the expiry date of the rating; and

(2) complete during the period of validity of the rating, at least:

(i) 10 route sectors as pilot of the relevant class or type of aeroplane; or
(ii) 1 route sector as pilot of the relevant class or type of aeroplane or FFS, flown with an examiner. This route sector may be flown during the proficiency check.

(3) A pilot working for a commercial air transport operator approved in accordance with the applicable air operations requirements who has passed the operators proficiency check combined with the proficiency check for the revalidation of the class or type rating shall be exempted from complying with the requirement in (2).

(4) The revalidation of an en route instrument rating (EIR) or an IR(A), if held, may be combined with a proficiency check for the revalidation of a class or type rating.

(b) Revalidation of single-pilot single-engine class ratings.

(1) Single-engine piston aeroplane class ratings and TMG ratings. For revalidation of single-pilot single-engine piston aeroplane class ratings or TMG class ratings the applicant shall:

(i) within the 3 months preceding the expiry date of the rating, pass a proficiency check in the relevant class in accordance with Appendix 9 to this Part with an examiner; or

(ii) within the 12 months preceding the expiry date of the rating, complete 12 hours of flight time in the relevant class, including:

- 6 hours as PIC,

- 12 take-offs and 12 landings, and

- refresher training of at least 1 hour of total flight time with a flight instructor (FI) or a class rating instructor (CRI). Applicants shall be exempted from this refresher training if they have passed a class or type rating proficiency check, skill test or assessment of competence in any other class or type of aeroplane.

(2) When applicants hold both a single-engine piston aeroplane-land class rating and a TMG rating, they may complete the requirements of (1) in either class or a combination thereof, and achieve revalidation of both ratings.

(3) Single-pilot single-engine turbo-prop aeroplanes. For revalidation of single-engine turbo-prop class ratings applicants shall pass a proficiency check on the relevant class in accordance with Appendix 9 to this Part with an examiner, within the 3 months preceding the expiry date of the rating.

(4) When applicants hold both a single-engine piston aeroplane-land class rating and a single-engine piston aeroplane-sea class rating, they may complete the requirements of (1)(ii) in either class or a combination thereof, and achieve the fulfilment of these requirements for both ratings. At least 1 hour of required PIC time and 6 of the required 12 take-offs and landings shall be completed in each class.

(c) Applicants who fail to achieve a pass in all sections of a proficiency check before the expiry date of a class or type rating shall not exercise the privileges of that rating until a pass in the proficiency check has been achieved.

FCL.740.H Revalidation of type ratings - helicopters

(a) Revalidation. For revalidation of type ratings for helicopters, the applicant shall:

(1) pass a proficiency check in accordance with Appendix 9 to this Part in the relevant type of helicopter or an FSTD representing that type within the 3 months immediately preceding the expiry date of the rating; and

(2) complete at least 2 hours as a pilot of the relevant helicopter type within the validity period of the rating. The duration of the proficiency check may be counted towards the 2 hours.

(3) When applicants hold more than 1 type rating for single-engine piston helicopters, they may achieve revalidation of all the relevant type ratings by completing the proficiency check in only 1 of the relevant types held, provided that they have completed at least 2 hours of flight time as PIC on the other types during the validity period.

The proficiency check shall be performed each time on a different type.

(4) When applicants hold more than 1 type rating for single-engine turbine helicopters with a maximum certificated take-off mass up to 3 175 kg, they may achieve revalidation of all the relevant type ratings by completing the proficiency check in only 1 of the relevant types held, provided that they have completed:

(i) 300 hours as PIC on helicopters;

(ii) 15 hours on each of the types held; and

(iii) at least 2 hours of PIC flight time on each of the other types during the validity period.

The proficiency check shall be performed each time on a different type.

(5) A pilot who successfully completes a skill test for the issue of an additional type rating shall achieve revalidation for the relevant type ratings in the common groups, in accordance with (3) and (4).


NPPL Revalidation The Air Navigation Order 2016

Class Ratings on NPPLs have a 24 month validity period. In this period, a total of at least 12 hours flight time, including 8 hours as PIC must be completed in order to revalidate by experience.

1. Holder of a licence with one class rating (SSEA or SLMG or Microlight):

Complete on the class of aeroplanes held:

(a) within the period of validity of the rating have flown as pilot:

- at least 12 hours flight time including 8 hours PIC.

- at least 12 take-offs and landings.

- at least 1 hour of flight training with an instructor. If this flight time has not been completed, the rating will be endorsed ‘Single seat only’.

(b) Within the 12 months preceding the expiry date of the rating, have flown as pilot:

- at least 6 hours flight time.

2. Holder of a licence with 2 or 3 ratings (SSEA/SLMG/Microlight):

(a) Within the period of validity of the rating on any of the classes of aeroplanes held, have flown as pilot:

- at least a total of 12 hours including 8 hours PIC

- at least 12 take-offs and landings

- at least 1 hour of flight training with an instructor. If this flight time has not been completed all ratings will be endorsed ‘Single seat only’.

(b) Within the 12 months preceding the expiry date of the ratings held have flown, as pilot on any of the class ratings held:

- at least 6 hours flight time.

(c) Within the period of validity of each class rating held, have flown as pilot:

- at least 1 hour PIC on each class held;or
- undertaken at least 1 hour of flying training on each class held with an instructor entitled to give instruction on aeroplanes of those classes.

If (c) has not been fully completed, you will be required to renew the relevant Class Rating(s) by Skill Test.

Renewal - After Rating has Expired

Renewal of a Class and Type Rating for EASA licences is covered in FCL.740.

If you need to renew a Class and Type Rating you need to:

Take refresher training at an ATO, when necessary to reach the level of proficiency necessary to safely operate the relevant class or type of aircraft and pass a proficiency check in accordance with Appendix 9 to this Part.

This means that you will need to have an assessment of your training needs by an ATO and complete any training deemed necessary before completing a proficiency check. An ATO can determine that no additoanl training is required, but still need to do an assessment.

The introduction of the Single European Rules of the Air (SERA) into UK Legislation has resulted in some important changes to Visual Flight Rules which need to be understood if you are unable to fly under Instrument Flight Rules.

Reference documents:

The Implementing Regulation for SERA is COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU) No 923/2012

The written rules for VFR flight are in UK AIP ENR 1.2

ICAO Annex 2 Rules of the Air

ORS4 1067 Standardised European Rules of the Air – Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC) Visibility and Distance from Cloud Minima

ORS 4 1125 Standardised European Rules of the Air – Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Special VFR Flight at Night

ORS 4 1126 Standardised European Rules of the Air – Compliance with Cruising Level Requirements

Significant SERA Differences and UK Variations

Cruising Levels:

SERA.3110  Cruising  levels

"The cruising levels at which a flight or a portion of a flight is to be conducted shall be in terms of:

(a)  flight levels, for flights at or above the lowest usable flight  level or,  where applicable, above the transition altitude;

(b)  altitudes, for flights below the lowest usable flight level or, where applicable, at or below the transition altitude."


"Except where otherwise indicated in air traffic control clearances or specified by the competent authority, VFR flights in level cruising flight when operated above 900  m  (3000 ft) from the ground or water, or a higher datum as specified by the competent authority, shall be conducted at a cruising level appropriate to the track as specified  in the table of cruising levels in *Appendix  3."


"An IFR flight operating in cruising flight in controlled airspace shall be flown at a cruising level, or, if authorised by ATS unit to employ cruise climb techniques, between two levels or above a level, selected from the table of cruising levels in *Appendix 3, except that the correlation of levels to track prescribed therein shall not apply whenever otherwise indicated in air traffic control clearances or specified by the competent authority in aeronautical information publications."


An IFR flight operating in level cruising flight outside of controlled airspace shall be flown at a cruising level appropriate to its track as specified in the table of cruising levels in *Appendix 3, except when otherwise specified by the competent authority for flight at or below 900 m (3000 ft) above mean sea level."

* See diagram below:

Within UK Airspace (Note: Excludes Channel Islands)

  • Quadrantal Rule no longer applies.
  • Where a cruising level is required it should be chosen in accordance with the Semi-Circular Rule as above.

For VFR Flight:

While ORS4 1126 remains current " The Civil Aviation Authority permits, under SERA.5005(g), an aircraft in level cruising flight and operated in accordance with the visual flight rules above 3,000 feet above mean sea level to be flown at a level other than a cruising level appropriate to its  magnetic track, as specified in the table of cruising levels in *Appendix 3 of SERA, unless flying in conformity with the conditions specified by the appropriate air traffic control unit."

For IFR Flight outside controlled airspace:

While ORS4 1126 remains current "The Civil Aviation Authority permits, under SERA.5025(a), an aircraft in level flight outside controlled airspace below 3,000 feet above mean sea level and operated in accordance with the instrument flight rules to be flown at a level other than a cruising level appropriate to its magnetic track.

b) The Civil Aviation Authority further permits, under SERA.5025(a), an aircraft in level flight outside controlled airspace above 3,000 feet above mean sea level and operated in accordance with the instrument flight rules to be flown at a level other than  a cruising level appropriate to its magnetic track if it flies:

i) in conformity with the instructions of the appropriate air traffic service unit; or

ii) in accordance with holding procedures notified by the Civil Aviation Authority in relation to an aerodrome"

Within European Airspace

SERA rules apply unless there is a permitted National Derogation published in their AIP or other authoritative documents.

VFR Flight Outside Controlled Airspace - Day

The rules are separated for Aircraft and Helicopters, above and below 3000 ft amsl/ height above terrain and by airspace type. There are also exceptions based on Knots Indicated Air Speed (KIAS).

Below 3000 Feet in Uncontrolled Airspace (Class F or G):


  • Above 140 KIAS: Visibility 5 Km or more, Clear of Cloud and with the surface in sight.
  • 140 KIAS or less: Visibility 1500 m or more, Clear of Cloud and with the surface in sight.


  • Visibility of 1500 m or more, Clear of Cloud and with the surface in sight.

SERA does set other conditions which may allow VFR flight in visibility of 800 m, or less, for Helicopters if so prescribed by (in this case) the CAA.

The ANO definition of "with the surface in sight" is:

“With the surface in sight” means with the flight crew being able to see sufficient surface features or surface illumination to enable the flight crew to maintain the aircraft in a desired attitude without reference to any flight instrument.

Below 3000 Feet in Airspace other than F or G:

  • Visibility of 5 km or more, 1500 m horizontally and 1000 ft vertically clear of cloud.

Above 3000 Feet and below 10000 Feet AMSL - Day :

  • Visibility of 5 km or more, 1500 m horizontally and 1000 ft vertically clear of cloud.

Above 10000 Feet AMSL - Day:

  • Visibility of 8 km or more, 1500 m horizontally and 1000 ft vertically clear of cloud.

Special VFR Flight in Controlled Airspace:

Clearance for Special VFR flight in the UK is an authorization by ATC for a pilot to fly within a Control Zone although he is unable to comply with IFR.

In exceptional circumstances, requests for Special VFR flight may be granted for aircraft with an all-up-weight exceeding 5700 kg and capable of flight under IFR. Special VFR clearance is only granted when traffic conditions permit it to take place without hindrance to the normal IFR flights.

Without prejudice to existing weather limitations on Special VFR flights at specific aerodromes (as detailed within the AIP AD 2 Section) ATC will not issue a Special VFR clearance to any fixed-wing aircraft intending to  depart from an aerodrome within a Control Zone, when the official meteorological report indicates that the visibility is 1800 m or less and/or the cloud ceiling is less than 600 ft.

Why is an interesting and grossly underused word in flight training! Why for example do people do so many strange things when flying aeroplanes?

There you are on final approach, power set, flaps deployed and trundling down the glide path nice and stable, when at about 50ft above the ground you chop the power. Go stand next to your favourite GA runway and watch.

See if you can spot the wobble when the power comes off, the nose tries to drop, and the trim goes to pot. Why do we do this? Please somebody explain to me the advantages of destabilising a perfectly good approach!

How about a gentle reduction of power during the initial flare thus giving better elevator control, and a civilised harmonious return to what Neil and Buzz described as ‘the good earth’.

Here are a few more ‘whys’! Why are there nine examinations to pass to obtain a PPL? Most of the information a student has to force into his or her brain is pretty irrelevant. I have never used the 1 in 60 rule in my life and please somebody tell me – where is the signals square at Heathrow? I once had an Aldis lamp conversation with the old tower at London Airport but we were just showing off as the radio was working perfectly well!

Staying with examinations – why on earth is there a requirement to pass them all in six sittings? What’s that all about and how is this relevant to leisure flying?

Another question is why are we so short of flying instructors and why do they move on so quickly? Could it be that nobody can afford to live on an average instructor’s wages? I recently came across a flying school paying the national minimum wage to its part time instructors on a zero hour’s contract. I suppose you could live with this if work was available for 10 hours day, there is lots of lovely daylight all year round, and the weather never strays from that portrayed in English Heritage brochures.

It would also help if all the students bother to turn up.

So it really is not that surprising that when the airlines' seductive call is heard, the response is amorous.

Why do pilots fly so close to controlled airspace? I am getting pretty bored with providing the training required by the CAA to expunge the sin of an airspace incursion. Keep at least two miles and 500ft vertically away from these blasted zones. Remember your transponder only has to be plus or minus 100ft accurate, therefore bombing along just below controlled airspace can easily trigger an alert leading to a letter dropping on the door mat!

Another quandary with asking "why?" can be when you get a reasonable answer. However this can be very refreshing! Years ago you could come and go in and out of the country as a pilot by just waving your flying licence at customs. The Commercial licence actually stated that the holder had the right of entry into the UK.

One day, all of a sudden, our passports were demanded at what was usually the end of a heavy day. This was very annoying so one day I tackled the border guards. To my horror my hostility was met with a perfectly good explanation. The UK had become a flying training centre of excellence and considerable numbers of overseas citizens had gained UK licences. Therefore this system was no longer viable.

Mind you there were consequences of having to report to customs as one evening we arrived late and duly trudged off to their office. We were greeted by scuffling noises from behind some lockers, followed shortly by silence and then the appearance of a young couple of somewhat embarrassed border officers, who had been indulging in what my mother would have described as ‘courting’.

So what is the point of asking why? Well if you are under training you are probably overwhelmed by all the rules, regulations, and training information. By asking why a little more often you will be able to make your own mind up about the efficiency of your training. Does your instructor understand the subject sufficiently to explain why you are doing something? Is your flight school giving you the very best it can? Are you doing something just to appease officials in EASA? Asking why will put you in command of your training and develop the self-reliance to be the captain of your aircraft.

Meanwhile back at the Training Committee we have been trying to answer some of other people’s why’s.

Why does the Wings scheme not cover people undertaking Tiger Moth type flying or indeed give instructors an improvement route?

Why are pilots still coming to grief using flap 40 in Cessna 150s? It must be a training issue as the go around at this flap setting has been known as all-but impossible for decades.

What is the industry doing about the flying instructor supply? My club has been using European instructors to supplement supply for years, but due to Brexit uncertainty, and the falling pound, that source has dried up.

I have spoken with many retired airline pilots who started their careers instructing with the aim of getting them back into the training industry. Unfortunately very few are prepared to go back to basics and teach again. I think the cost of renewing their instructor privileges outweigh any desire to pass on their invaluable knowledge. Shame.

We have electric aeroplanes on the horizon so what are the regulations going to be about them, and of course there are drones to avoid. Or should it be they must avoid us? Sadly there are far more drone owners than active pilots so guess where the votes are.

Two last thoughts. If you are flying in the hot weather or are popping over to the continent please be careful with pressure altitude. Your engine may well be struggling in the heat and the wing won’t work that well.

The second is my AOPA email account is now up and running, Hurrah! So if you have any training issues or comments please drop me a line. AOPA is here to help!

Ian Marshall

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