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Home > Blog > Can A Private Pilot Fly To Europe

Can a private pilot fly to Europe?

Posted 23 May 2022

Can a private pilot fly to Europe?

You can fly to key destinations in Europe from the United Kingdom in under an hour, making it a great destination for pilots. Flying to Europe also gives pilots the ability to connect with other aviation enthusiasts from across Europe.

If you are a private pilot and you enjoy flying for pleasure, chances are you would want to experience as much diversity of landscape as possible. The United Kingdom, while home to gorgeous airfields and beautiful scenery to fly over, is not very big.

If you wish to broaden your travel horizons and fly beyond the border, you’re in luck! While flying to Europe isn’t as easy as it used to be pre-Brexit, it is still entirely possible, just with a little bit more paperwork. You can fly to key destinations in Europe from the United Kingdom in under an hour, making it a great destination for pilots. Flying to Europe also gives pilots the ability to connect with other aviation enthusiasts from across Europe.

If you wish to fly outside of the UK’s borders, there are certain things that you must keep in mind, such as immigration requirements, as well as what kind of pilot licence you hold. While it is entirely possible to fly to international destinations such as Europe on a general aviation licence, you must make sure you have a European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approved licence and not one that is valid solely in the UK.

This article will help you figure out what you will need to be able to fly outside of the UK into EU airspace, from the documents you will need, the aircraft you will fly, all the way to where to land and take off from!

Europe is exceedingly beautiful and a treat to fly in, so it is best to make the most of the close proximity of the area with the UK and have some flight experiences that you will never forget! 


 While the difference between the CAA and the EASA may not have been of too much consequence before Brexit, now, with the UK having left the European Union, it is necessary to understand that the two have different requirements and are mutually exclusive.

The CAA is the Civil Aviation Authority of the United Kingdom. This is the body that dictates the rules and regulations for operating an aircraft in the UK. The CAA is the body that issues pilot licences and clearances to aircraft, as well as medical certificates.

This is your main source of information when flying in the UK, and most of the CAA's policies are compliant with that of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). This is the body that governs international regulations, with most national organisations taking cues from the ICAO on things such as standard protocols and safety.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is the body that regulates flying within the European Union. In order to fly across the border into Europe, the pilot will have to comply with the rules and regulations set by the EASA.


 Before the UK parted ways with the European Union, the licences issued by the CAA of the UK were valid across Europe as well, since they fell under the umbrella of EASA. A pilot could easily fly across the border without any immigration-related procedures from the UK to France on a UK-issued Private Pilot Licence.

However, with Brexit, the UK-issued licence is now treated as a third-country licence by EASA, which means you cannot fly on a UK PPL in Europe. However, the licence can be upgraded to a Part-FCL (Part Crew Licencing Licence).

A part-FCL PPL allows a UK licence holder to operate an EASA approved aircraft in Europe. You can also fly UK-approved aircraft, given you have the needed medical and safety clearances.


 There are many reasons why it is advised for private pilots to upgrade their basic Private Pilot Licence to the Part-FCL. Considering how recently Brexit took place, it is true that many pilots have a community that extends well beyond the UK into Europe, given how easy travel has been between the two areas in the past.

Here are the top two reasons why upgrading your licence, even if you do not have prior business in Europe, is advised.

Broaden your horizons

Countries in the European Union have some beautiful scenery and ideal flight locations on offer. While the UK is studded with natural wonders, it is always a good idea to look beyond the country’s borders.

With a Part-FCL PPL, a pilot can easily travel between the UK and the EU region, given they have the right documentation and the patience that is required when it comes to longer queues at the immigration counter. If you have your passport on hand and fly an aircraft that is EASA-certified, you can easily fly to the EU areas on a whim.

Connect with pilots from other areas

 Aviation is always more fun when you have others with whom you can share your passion for flying.

Again, with how recent Brexit is, there is a fair chance that many pilots already have a community that extends beyond the borders of the UK. Travelling back and forth to meet your peers becomes easier with a part-FCL licence, and it also allows younger pilots to connect with others beyond the UK.

Having a community beyond the UK is also a great way to ensure that you will be welcomed when you travel abroad and will not feel isolated.



In order to qualify for a Part-FCL Private Pilot Licence, a pilot must log in a total of 45 hours of flight time, out of which 25 hours must be of training via dual instruction with a Certified Flight Instructor, and 10 hours must be of solo flight.

Out of the 10 hours of solo flight, 5 hours must be dedicated to cross-country flight. The pilot must also take a series of nine theoretical exams, earning a score of at least 75% to qualify for the licence. The subjects tested include Air Law, Operational Procedures, Meteorology, Navigation, Flight Performance and Planning, Human Performance and Limitations, Principles of Flight, Aircraft General Knowledge, and Communications.

The pilot must also hold a valid EASA-approved Class 2 medical certificate and a Flight Radiotelephony Operator Licence. 



While a UK-issued PPL can be upgraded in order to be used in Europe, there are certain licences that are only valid within the borders of the UK. These licences are generally easier to obtain with requirements that aren’t as stringent.

The two licences included in this category are the National Private Pilot Licence and The Light Aircraft Pilot Licence. Both of these are general aviation licences that are often used by private pilots who prefer to fly locally on smaller aircraft such as microlights.

For pilots that wish to expand their aircraft selection and fly in different types of conditions and areas, the PPL is recommended, since it is widely accepted outside of the UK as well. The LAPL and PPL also require fewer hours of training, and so are preferred by younger aviation enthusiasts who wish to take to the skies as soon as possible.


 If you wish to travel to Europe from the United Kingdom, there are certain documents that you must carry with you at all times. Think of travelling to Europe just as you would any other international destination.

Since the UK lies outside of the jurisdiction of the EU, immigration is now necessary since the UK is considered a third country. However, there is some good news. UK passport holders still do not have to apply for a visa in order to travel to and within the EU region. The EU has a visa waiver policy for residents of certain non-EU countries, and the UK is on that list.

The UK national can have an entry permit called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System linked to their passport, which is valid for three years and allows for entry into the EU region without a visa. The EITA allows the holder to stay in Europe and other Schengen areas for up to 90 days. The permit must be renewed every three years.



Before Brexit, a pilot could travel into the European Union region with only their national ID. However, with the recent move away from the EU, UK nationals must carry their passport as valid identification when travelling to Europe.

The passport must have been issued no less than 10 years ago and should have a validity of at least six months when travelling. Without a passport that meets these requirements, a British national will not be allowed to cross the border into Europe.


Certificate of Airworthiness

 A valid certificate of airworthiness must be issued for the EASA-approved aeroplane that the pilot is flying. Airworthiness is a measure of whether or not an aircraft is safe to take to the skies. The certificate is issued after inspections by certified Aircraft Maintenance Engineers according to the rules and regulations set by the Civil Aviation Authority of the UK.

The CAA-issued certificate of airworthiness is generally accepted in all countries outside of the UK as well since it is compliant with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

In order to ensure that your aircraft remains airworthy, regular maintenance is necessary, which is performed according to a timeline that is outlined in the Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM) issued alongside the aircraft by the manufacturer.

Valid EASA-compliant medical certificate

 As mentioned previously, when flying to Europe a pilot will need to upgrade their PPL to a part-FCL PPL, which cannot be issued without a valid Class 2 medical certificate issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.

The Class 2 medical certificate is relatively easier to obtain as compared to the more stringent Class 1 medical certificate, which is required for a commercial licence such as the CPL or the ATPL. The medical certificate ensures that the pilot is of sound mind and good physical health and that they can fly an aircraft without becoming a danger to themselves or anyone else on the ground.

The certificate is issued after a licenced medical examiner performs a thorough check-up of the pilot, which includes mental evaluations as well as tests for sight and colour blindness.


Survival equipment

If the flight is over water or beyond glide range, it is necessary for the pilot to fly with survival equipment. This includes things such as basic first aid, as well as things that may be required for shelter in the case of an emergency landing in an unknown area.

These things can include fuel to build a fire, food and water, as well as tools needed for a basic tent and sleeping arrangements.

While an event that leads to the use of such gear is highly unlikely, it is best to be prepared in case there are any unforeseen circumstances such as sudden weather changes, which may force a pilot to ground the flight in an area they are not familiar with.


 When landing and taking off in the European Union region, the pilot must take care to only fly to and from airports that have the needed immigration setup. The pilot cannot enter Europe without going through customs, which is why it is important to take care and plan ahead when devising a flight plan and schedule.

The pilot must go through the necessary immigration line and get their passport checked at the airport. 



 Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country.

With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we cater to brand new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.

If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licenses, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward. Sherburn also offers a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month.

For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran. The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation for the long run.

Sherburn also offers pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward. You are required to take medical exams to prove you are fit enough to take to the skies when applying for a licence, and the facility at Sherburn allows you to start your aviation journey on the right foot.

Our in-house AME, Dr Mark Bellamy, is rated to perform EASA Class 2 and LAPL. He also holds a fixed-wing PPL. Appointments are available every Monday and Tuesday, as well as on occasional Saturdays. In addition to that, if you are looking for a hangarage for your own aircraft, need servicing or repairs, want to buy a new aircraft or aviation equipment, or are just looking to enjoy and watch the aircraft, Sherburn Aero Club is the place to be.

Call us on 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on flying to Europe and upgrading your Private Pilot Licence.

Photo by Héctor Macías on Unsplash 



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