The UK Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed that additional foreign flying schools will be able to apply for approval to offer UK private and commercial pilot-licence training until 1 July, 1999. After that, however, European Joint Aviation Regulation for flightcrew licensing (JAR FCL) will be in place, stating that approved flying schools must have their main place of business in the European Union (EU). The CAA says that the fear of how these rules might be interpreted is already discouraging non-EU schools from seeking approval.

Although JAR FCL goes some way towards appeasing UK flying schools which face potential competition from training establishments in, for example, the USA and Australia, there remains the question of whether foreign schools with existing approval will be allowed to continue offering European licence training under "grandfather rights".

JAR FCL was adopted in October 1996, but UK rules will apply until the 1999 implementation date, according to CAA head of flightcrew licensing Des Payton. He makes it clear that the CAA's only mandate under the law is to consider safety, and so, if foreign schools pass the tests to prove that they can train pilots to an acceptable standard using the UK syllabus, the CAA cannot refuse approval. The UK Department of Transport has confirmed this interpretation of the CAA's mandate and has made it clear that there is not sufficient time, or political will, to change the law, according to Payton.

The JAR FCL ownership limitations "-are not set in concrete", Payton warns, explaining that there have been complaints that they flout the spirit of the international General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. As for the CAA's interpretation of phrases such as "main place of business", Payton says that he takes them literally and would issue licences only to those trained at truly EU-based approved flying schools.

Source: Flight International