EASA vs UK CAA Licenses. Charting Your Course in Aviation

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Hey there, future aviators! Stefan here, sharing some pearls of wisdom about your flight training journey. Today, we’re diving into the nitty-gritty of choosing between a UK CAA and an EASA license.

Ever since the UK CAA parted ways with EASA, student pilots have been faced with an important decision at the ATPL theory stage of their training. Which license should you aim for? It’s a question that carries significant weight for your career, so let’s navigate this together.

Choosing Your Flight Path

UK citizens would generally benefit from obtaining at least a UK license. This allows you to operate G-registered aircraft. Essentially keeping your career grounded in the UK. However, the sky’s the limit, and you can also aim for an EASA license if you desire.

The real question arises if you have the right to live and work in both the UK and the EU. If that’s the case, the runway is wide open. You should consider getting both licenses to maximise your employment prospects. If your dreams are set on working for an EU airline, the EASA license might be enough.

However, if your residency rights are limited to the UK, it’s worth contemplating both licenses. Why? Well, airlines like Ryanair hire UK citizens but operate EU-registered aircraft. Having both licenses means companies like these and certain business jet operators can be part of your journey.

Dual License: Clearing the Clouds

Pondering over a dual license? It’s a feasible route but requires some planning. If you’re considering an integrated course, some UK providers offer one license or the other. Meaning you’ll need to choose your path before training. On the other hand, if you’re following a modular route, obtaining both licenses becomes much more straightforward.

Here’s a brief look at how you can bag both licenses:


PPL theory and practical: Neither EASA nor the UK CAA requires your PPL to be regulated by them. Meaning any ICAO license is acceptable. This basically means you can do your PPL in any country.

ATPL theory: Most ATPL theory schools will allow you to be registered for both EASA and UK CAA. Making you eligible for either or both exams. Whilst you’ll only need to pay for one lot of training, you will need to pay for both sets of exams.

Hours Building: The hours logged before starting your CPL or IR course do not need to be overseen by the UK CAA or EASA. You can do these anywhere.

CPL Approved Course and CPL Skills Test: You would need to train with a flight school that has joint recognition from the UK CAA and EASA. This limits your choice, but schools like Aeros Flight Training in the UK have joint approval.

IR Approved Course and IR Skills Test: Much like the CPL, you need to consider similar factors, but with the additional requirement that the IR skills test must be conducted in one of the Member States for EASA or in the UK for the UK CAA.

MCC: Many UK providers have dual EASA and UK CAA approval, making them capable of offering courses that satisfy the requirements of both licenses.

The Cost of Flying High

We won’t sugarcoat it; obtaining both licenses isn’t cheap. You’re looking at additional costs of around £12,500 on average, accounting for various elements like ATPL theory, CPL course, and IR course. Don’t forget, there’ll be other expenses such as medical certificates, license issue fees, and costs for food, accommodation, and travel.

Plotting Alternate Routes

If the cost of dual licenses seems steep, consider getting one license and applying to convert to the other later. Be aware, though, conversion is not a straightforward path and is often costlier and more time-consuming than going for dual licenses upfront.


Another option is to gain both CPL licences but only one IR, to add the second IR later if you find it necessary. This might be a feasible plan if you’re uncertain about needing the second licence, but want to keep all options open. Remember, the CPL is valid for life.

Choosing Your Ground School

For those contemplating sitting for both exams, select a school that holds both UK and EASA approvals. Bristol Groundschool, for instance, allows students to sit for both UK CAA and EASA exams. The course content, ground school, and question bank align with both sets of exams.

Navigating Practical Flight Training

When it comes to practical training, things get a bit complex. The UK CAA recognised EASA training until 31st December 2022. For training in 2023 and beyond, you will need to select a school that holds the necessary approvals for the license you’re aiming for. For a dual license, your school will need both UK CAA and EASA approvals.


Also, remember that the UK CAA IR skills test must be conducted in UK airspace, which could cause issues if you’re training with a UK-approved school in Europe.

Evaluating Your Flight Plan

As you can see, the path to dual licenses isn’t exactly a walk in the park. It carries a cost, both in terms of time and money. If you’re unsure, consider doing everything but the IR, which might be a suitable choice for those on a tight budget. So, is it worth it? Ultimately, it comes down to you. If you’re ready to invest and want to keep all employment possibilities open, then it might be worth the extra effort and resources. If you’re on a tight budget, however, you may have to accept that some opportunities will remain out of reach.


Remember, in the world of aviation, knowledge is your co-pilot. Make your decisions based on what will serve your career best in the long run. Whether you choose an EASA license, UK CAA license, or both, each flight you make takes you one step closer to your dreams. Keep flying high and safe travels!

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