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I am returning to the UK and want to convert my FAA PPL to a UK PPL. Does anyone know the process for doing this?

I am getting lots of conflicting information.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site @EricLacey, there's plenty of questions about going the opposite direction, but none about coming to the UK that I know of. I suggest you contact the CAA and ask. EASA and the CAA tend to be stuffy on these types of things, so while the FAA will issue a license on the basis of a UK one, the CAA will likely make you re-test and pass all the exams. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Sep 19, 2017 at 7:46

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As a disclaimer, this answer is based on Googling, not on personal experience, and compared to the US the situation seems very complicated. I'd suggest contacting the CAA directly; EASA delegates licensing to its member states, so the practical details depend on the country you're in. You can read about one person's experience here, although it's in Hungary, not the UK.

Anyway, it looks like there are two processes: validation and conversion. A validation is a temporary license valid for 12 months only (or 24 months, according to some sources), whereas a conversion gives you a full EASA license. The purpose of a validation seems to be to let you fly while you work on conversion; I couldn't find any definitive sources on the process.

As for conversion itself, the requirements I found on various sites are consistent with EASA's own information:

If you hold a Private Pilot Licence obtained outside Europe or not according to the relevant EASA licensing regulations, you can convert it to an European one. In order to do this you will need to pass an exam on Air Law and another exam on Human Performance. You also need to undertake a skill test and have at least 100 hours as a pilot in the relevant aircraft category.

That doesn't sound too bad, although I have no idea how much effort and expense there is in practice. If you're instrument rated, though, the requirements seem quite onerous compared to the US because of the large amount of theory required (this is from the same EASA source):

Competence Based Instrument Rating (CB-IR): This rating is for those who already have an Instrument Rating issued outside Europe (e.g. FAA). This reduces the requirements of obtaining an Instrument Rating to at least 80 hours of theory and 40 hours of instrument time, 25 hours of which must be training.

And to add more complication, it appears that the UK currently allows FAA license holders to fly using their FAA license but in the UK only, i.e. it isn't an EASA license and therefore not valid across Europe. There's an ongoing discussion with EASA about it, so it might not be a good long-term option but I really have no idea.

There's also something in the UK - and perhaps other countries? - called an NPPL, a National Private Pilot License. But that also has limitations, and isn't valid outside the UK.

Finally, although it's common to see N-registered aircraft in Europe, if you're a European resident then you can't fly them with just an FAA license. You also need an EASA license.

Someone who's actually converted an FAA license to EASA could probably give you a better answer.

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This is how you can validate an ICAO licence for non-commercial activities (from the CAA website):

Validating an ICAO licence for non-commercial activities allows you to fly for personal purposes (not for pay) under Visual Flight Rules (VFR) in UK airspace using your ICAO licence. People with an ICAO licence who want to fly privately, for personal reasons, for more than 28 days a year in UK airspace need to apply. You need to have:

  • A valid ICAO licence and medical.
  • Any required class or type ratings must also be current and valid.
  • At least 100 hours of flying experience in the relevant category of aircraft.

Additionally:

  • The aircraft you plan to fly must be registered in the UK, or its operator's main base must be in the UK, or the aircraft must be based or maintained in the UK. You must pass a licence skill test conducted by an authorised Part-FCL UK examiner. You must demonstrate language proficiency, which will be tested by a UK examiner. If you don't have a full ICAO class II medical certificate, you'll need to obtain a UK Part MED Class Two Medical Certificate. FAA Class II medical certificates are not acceptable. The validation is valid for up to one year. If you want to extend it, you must enroll in a course to obtain a UK licence before it expires. Extension is only possible once and must be done before the expiry. Refer to Article 6 or 7 of Section 2 (UK (EU) 2020/723) for more details.

Original source: https://www.caa.co.uk/commercial-industry/pilot-licences/non-uk-licences/validate-an-icao-licence-for-non-commercial-activities/

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