The License of a pilot is a vital document for any pilot. While for decades the rules governing these licenses were determined within the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), the European Union has transposed the JAR-FCL rules into EU-wide provisions. In 2008 the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) acquired a new mandate to create such rules. These "EASA Part-FCL" rules have a direct impact on the way pilots licenses are governed in Europe. Whereas JAR-FCL was an "operational" text, easily understood by aviation professionals such as pilots, the new EASA Part-FCL is more legalistic language, more difficult to read and more difficult to apply.
ECA has been active in this domain since its establishment, first in the framework of the JAA and now within EASA. In the former JAA days, ECA pilots worked to ensure that JAR FCL reflected the pilots’ requirements. During the development of the new FCL rules, the Agency invited a selection of ECA pilots to participate in working groups to effectively transpose JAR-FCL. These working groups contributed to the draft Notice of Proposed Amendments (NPA) and the Comment Response Document (CRD). The EASA process finished on 26 August 2010 with the publication of its Opinion 2010/04. The next step was the comitology procedure in the European Institutions and once formally adopted in Brussels, the EASA Part-FCL entered into force on 8 April 2012 as Commission Regulation 1178/2011.There were possibilities for opt-outs on several parts of the legislation and most Member States have taken this option.
Obtaining a license is a big responsibility. ECA's aim is to ensure that the standard of initial and recurrent training are always sufficient to ensure the safety and the security of the flights. This is particularly true for new developments, such as the Multi-crew Pilot License (MPL) which risks undermining flight safety if not properly implemented and monitored.
In 2013 ECA published the “Pilot training compass: Back to the future”, gathering the expertise and insights of pilot training experts from all across the globe. The report is an open invitation to all stakeholders to discuss with pilots on what “learning to fly” really entails.
The publication touches upon the overall scope of the pilot’s profession and training programs, including the selection principles and competencies necessary for airline pilots. Among the most important conclusions of the report is that pilots needs to be able to develop and seamlessly shift between different skills sets (flight deck management skills and basic flying skills). Yet, these core and basic skills, such as performing a hand-flown approach, still lie at the basis of pilot professionalism and are the key to ensure a safe, sustainable lifetime performance by pilots.