Converting Your Pilot License to EASA
Although you may do your flight training at Epic Flight Academy, your professional pilot plans may include working in another country. When you earn your commercial pilot license (CPL) here in the U.S., you have met the basic requirements that have been agreed upon internationally by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). However, you will need to convert your CPL to meet the requirements of other countries. One of the most common for our students is EASA – the European Aviation Safety Agency. Here we have provided the most current and comprehensive overview to help you in the process. We do, however, strongly urge you to contact a country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) directly to make sure they have not altered their requirements.
What is EASA?
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is an agency of the European Union. EASA holds responsibility for all civil aviation safety. This means they oversee certification, regulation, and standardization of pilot credentials and aircraft airworthiness. EASA also conducts investigations and monitors safety procedures and regulations.
What countries require EASA conversion?
The 28 member states in the European Union (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cypress, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom) and the 4 member states of the European Free Trade Association (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland) abide by EASA’s standards require pilots to meet EASA’s standards. The CAAs in these countries accept your ICAO training, but there are a few requirements you must meet. These include the following:
All CPLs are required to have a Class 1 Medical issued by the country where they wish to be employed. So, if you do your training in the U.S. but plan to fly in France, you will need to get a Class 1 Medical issued in France. You must have a valid EASA Medical.
Even though you’ve passed all the required exams to earn your CPL in the U.S. to FAA and ICAO standards, EASA requires you to follow an approved course of study for the 14 EASA theoretical Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) exams before you can do any practical training. You can do this on site in full-time classes or by distance learning using a computer. You will be glad to know that the material they cover in the theoretical exams is very similar to what you have already learned.
In order for you to be eligible for the EASA Conversion Career Program you need to have a valid ICAO CPL and the following:
- 150 hours total time
- 80 hours of dual instruction
- 70 hours PIC if you did your training as a part of an integrated program or 100 hours PIC if you did your training as a part of a modular program
- 50 hours of cross-country flight as PIC
- Night Rating
- Valid ICAO ME/IR ratings
- 55 hours IFR ME or 40 hours FNPT II and 15 hours IFR ME
Converting your CPL will vary slightly depending on the country, but it should average approximately 15 flight hours of standard maneuvers. Your skills test must be taken with a CAA examiner in a complex piston aircraft. This lasts approximately 2 hours. Note that navigation and communications may pose a challenge if you are unfamiliar with the area. If you speak English as a second language, you will likely be required to have your English skills assessed to make sure you meet the ICAO minimum standard of Level 4 (on a scale of 1 to 6).
Multi-Engine Piston (MEP) Conversion
Most pilots obtain their Multi-Engine in a multi-engine piston aircraft. If you do not have 100 hours experience in an MEP aircraft, the CAA may deny your current class rating and require you to complete a conversion in this class rating by taking a course that includes approximately 7 or 8 flight hours. This course will include a skills test and written exam. The written exam is overseen by the Approved Training Organization (ATO) where you are taking your course.
Instrument Rated (IR) Conversion
This is the final step to complete the last area of your EASA conversion. You are required by law to complete a 15-hour course, 10 of which can be done in an approved simulator (based on ATO). The other 5 hours will be done in a multi-engine aircraft. Once you are ready, you’ll take your last test. The CAA examiner will oversee this, and it will include 1 to 2 hours of flight time.
We encourage you to do your research ahead of time before beginning the EASA conversion process. Learn about specific airlines’ hiring requirements. Find out about the country where you want to fly. Research the ATOs there that oversee the process. Read their online reviews from other pilots. Ask other pilots. Taking the time to research ahead of time can save you time, money, and a lot of trouble. Here’s wishing you many happy hours flying in the country of your choice!