Licensing Pilots of VTOL-Capable Aircraft

Closed 20 Nov 2023

Opened 16 Oct 2023

Feedback updated 19 Feb 2024

We asked

We asked for feedback on the CAA’s position on requirements for piloted Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) capable aircraft pilots wishing to perform commercial air transport (CAT) operations.

You said

We received a total of 9 responses. Most respondents were in favour of the proposal to regulate VTOL using existing rules, but there was an interest in seeing timelines for introducing an ab initio pilot licensing regime, and additional policy positions on vertiport and air navigation service providers (ANSP).

Two respondents noted the lack of guidance for licensing of pilots undertaking non-commercial flights. One respondent was concerned that the statement’s principles will apply to non-commercial VTOL pilots as well. One respondent argued experience with flying VTOL should be first gained through non-commercial flights.

One respondent advocated broader use of Flight Simulation Training Devices for Zero Flight Time Training, Line Flying Under Supervision, and skill tests. One respondent suggested IFR pathway should be type specific.

A respondent wanted to know if dual controls will be required for completion of pilot training and if pilots will have to have an instrument rating; and asked about requirements for training hours and cross-country flying requirements.

One responded called for a licensing framework tailored separately to piloted, remote, and uncrewed flight operations.

We did

We acknowledge that respondents broadly supported the proposed approach. There was a notable call for more flexible means for training pilots and guidance on non-commercial operations using VTOL.

We reiterate that this policy position concerns only pilots that seek to perform Commercial Air Transport operations in a VTOL aircraft and does not suggest the same principles will apply to non-commercial operations.

We also acknowledge that a statement of a similar nature on principles applicable to non-commercial operations using VTOL would benefit the industry and will seek to develop this in due course.

We acknowledge that starting in non-commercial operations using VTOL to gain experience before progressing to commercial operations is a valid path for pilots. However, requirements for training and assessment will ensure that pilots holding a commercial pilot licence will meet appropriate standards before they undertake any passenger or cargo carrying operations in a VTOL aircraft.

The CAA is developing its thinking on Zero Flight Time Training (ZFTT), higher utilisation of Flight Simulation Training Devices (FSTD) and training in single-control VTOL aircraft.  The CAA welcomes input from industry to help establish how these approaches could be effectively used for training single-control VTOL aircraft pilots.

Regarding instrument ratings, we note that requirements will depend on the type of operation being performed. We will be using FCL.720.PL as a basis for the initial requirements before commencing a type rating course.

However, our current thinking is that it needs to be adjusted so that there will only be a requirement for an Instrument Rating (IR) where the operational case of the aircraft requires one, in line with current aviation practice.

There are no cross-country requirements in a type rating. Cross country experience would have been gained through the pilot licensing process. Training hours are determined as part of the Operational Suitability Data (OSD) process, which is part of the overall aircraft certification process that the aircraft manufacturer will complete.

If no training hours are present in the OSD, then the minimum training hours contained in the Acceptable Means of Compliance to the Assimilated Regulation (EU) No. 1178/2011 will apply.

Regarding creating separate frameworks for piloted, remotely piloted, and uncrewed operations, this policy statement focuses specifically on initial commercial operations using piloted eVTOL. Remotely piloted aircraft in the certified category covers operations that present an equivalent risk to that of manned aviation.

Because of this they are be subjected to the same regulatory regime (i.e. certification of the unmanned aircraft, certification of the operator, licensing of the pilot). UK regulations relating to the certified category are still being developed and are not yet published. Until unique regulations are available, the principles set out in the relevant manned aviation regulations for airworthiness, operations and licensing will be used as the basis for regulating the certified category. Further information can be found in CAP 722.

We appreciate that the industry would like to see specific timelines for the work we are doing, including a timeline for an ab initio pilot licensing path.   We are developing our thinking while collaborating with international partners, and will share information, including estimated timelines, when available.

We remain committed to the overall target of enabling commercial VTOL operations by 2026. We also continue to engage with industry on an ongoing basis to discuss our overall thinking and policy aims.  You can find further information on our ongoing work and outputs on the CAA’s Innovation Hub.


This document presents UK Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) current position on competency and licensing requirements for Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) capable aircraft pilots wishing to perform commercial air transport (CAT) operations. It is to be viewed as interim guidance while we continue to work with stakeholders to enhance our understanding of the technology and how it is to be operated. This policy statement only concerns the conversion of existing commercial pilot licenses, to allow operations to be initiated. Ab-initio training and other training routes will be developed in due course.


The deadline for responses has been extended and they are requested by 20 November 2023.

What happens next

An overview of our proposal, stakeholder comments and resulting CAA actions will be posted in the Advanced Air Mobility challenge section of the CAA’s website.


  • Commercial airlines
  • Industry representative bodies
  • Flightcrew
  • Training organisations
  • Government departments
  • Regulatory bodies
  • International Civil Aviation Organization


  • Airworthiness