General Aviation Pilot Licensing & Training Simplification – Phase 1: Strategic Direction

Closed 16 Dec 2022

Opened 18 Oct 2022

Feedback updated 6 Apr 2023

We asked

We ran a consultation, CAP2335, from 18 October to 16 December 2022 asking the UK General Aviation (GA) community for their views on our proposed strategic direction for pilot licensing and training simplification.

The consultation covered the following themes:

  • Assessing the community’s overall view towards this project and the need for licensing and training simplification;
  • Creating a single set of Private Pilot Licences (PPL) for aeroplanes and helicopters that comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standards;
  • Creating a single set of aeroplane and helicopter pilot licences that do not comply with international standards. Such ‘sub-ICAO’ licences are designed for flight in UK airspace only and subject to certain limitations;
  • Proposing to better integrate the syllabuses of the sub-ICAO licences with the ICAO PPL to allow holders to progress more easily from one to another;
  • Gauging views on the framework for balloon pilot licensing regarding commercial non-passenger and passenger-carrying balloon operations.
  • Confirming the continued implementation of the Sailplane Pilot Licence framework; and
  • Developing an approach to honour the validity of licences/ratings after we create new regulations: we proposed four options on how existing licences should be treated after a new licensing system comes into force.

You said

We received 1,246 responses to this consultation. All respondents answered the survey questions and most left detailed comments.

  • Overall direction: the vast majority who expressed a view agreed with the need for licensing system simplification, including over half agreeing strongly, indicating a clear mandate from the community to proceed with this project. A strong majority also agreed that this review should go beyond just a simple consolidation of the UK and retained regulations.
  • Technical proposals on ICAO and sub-ICAO licences and consolidating the syllabuses: the vast majority supported each of our proposals indicating a clear mandate for progressing the technical details.
  • Balloon licensing: the majority of respondents who expressed a view favoured retaining a single balloon pilot licence with appropriate ratings for commercial non-passenger and passenger ballooning respectively, thereby supporting continued implementation of the Balloon Flight Crew Licensing (UK Part-BFCL) regulation.
  • Sailplane licensing: an overwhelming support proceeding with the implementation of the Sailplane Flight Crew Licensing (UK Part-SFCL) regulation.
  • Honouring existing licences after we create new regulations: two options were considered by respondents as most attractive: ‘deemed valid for life’ and ‘deemed valid until a sunset’.

We did

We will be proceeding with the next phase of this project to develop technical details on licences, ratings, certificates and training syllabuses across the various aircraft categories within the scope of the project. As with Phase 1, we will do this collaboratively with the GA community.

  • Technical proposals on ICAO and sub-ICAO private pilot licences and consolidating the syllabuses: we will be undertaking a risk-based process to develop of the details both internally and within an expanded GA community working group.
  • Balloon and sailplane licensing implementation: we will be progressing our previous decision to implement the UK Part-BFCL and UK Part-SFCL regulations, and to convert licences to the BPL and SPL respectively to operate Part-21 aircraft. To assist with this, the Department for Transport will be amending in legislation the implementation deadline by an extra year to September 2025.  
  • Balloon and sailplane pilot licensing reform: we will be working with balloon and sailplane experts to explore how UK Part-BFCL and UK Part-SFCL respectively could be improved as part of this wider licensing and training simplification project.
  • Honouring existing licences after we create new regulations: we will further examine the merits of the two remaining options with respect to safety considerations, transition costs, practicality, and wider (eg ICAO) developments in pilot licensing.

We have published our consultation response document, setting out these findings in more detail:


We are looking to consolidate and simplify the current general aviation pilot licensing and training regulation.

This takes forward a request from the community made in response to our 2020 consultation on opportunities for general aviation regulation post-EU exit.

We think the community would be better served by an overhaul of the current system in favour of a more straightforward and integrated set of licences that allow easier progression should the holder wish to do so.

Listen to this episode of our CAA on General Aviation podcast to learn more about this work: Help simplify private pilot licensing and training in the UK (podcast)

How to respond

  • Read through CAP 2335
  • Respond to the questions online 


  • General Aviation
  • Training organisations


  • Training