EASA is going back on its pledge to re-introduce the PPL Flying Instructor and is insisting that PPL instructors have ‘demonstrated a CPL level of theoretical knowledge’, despite near-unanimous demand for change from the industry and widespread political support. The Agency’s excuse for doing so seems flimsy – it says comments on its original proposal to scrap the requirement have highlighted, inter alia, that it would represent a difference to an ICAO recommendation. Surely they knew that when they made the original proposal?

The U-turn represents a blow for the flight training industry, which wanted to get the experienced, high-time PPL back into instruction. Pilots with decades of flying and thousands of hours behind them balk at taking a CPL course costing somewhere over €20,000 in order to instruct part-time or in retirement. Instead, a pilot with 150 hours total time, but who has passed the CPL exams, can instruct PPLs. Who would you rather have instructing you?

The original change to delete the requirement of CPL Theoretical Knowledge as a pre-requisite for an applicant for the FI Course was agreed at the final meeting of the main EASA FCL.001 Working Group in 2009. A small FCL.001 sub-group chaired by Matthias Borgmeier, an EASA Rule making Officer, was formed to finalise a number of outstanding issues regarding FIs. This group met in January this year, and there was a further one-day meeting of the group at the beginning of February when the Chairman confirmed that FIs holding a PPL would be remunerated for instruction. An IAOPA representative was present at each of these meetings. Mr Borgmeier re-affirmed his February statement in mid-June. Has he also been kept in the dark?

EASA must have thought the remunerated PPL Instructor had merit, or it would not have made its original proposal. Whose comments have changed its mind? Sources at EASA mentioned Austria; but why should the ill-thought-out objections of a state carry so much weight? As a safety agency, EASA should not be taking a line of least political resistance. There are fears that EASA, having been ordered by the EC to stop reinventing the wheel and adopt JAA or ICAO standards where no change is needed, has decided to throw the baby out with the bathwater in a fit of pique.

IAOPA is continuing to campaign for the reintroduction of the PPL instructor.