US flight schools that cater to students from members of the European Union should be aware this source of students may soon dry up. The October IAOPA (Europe) e-newsletter reports that EASA is proposing that pilots will need a JAA/EASA license to fly there. A pilot who lives in Europe but holds a US certificate and/or rating must convert them to the JAA/EASA equivalent, which involves several knowledge tests and medical exams.
The conversion process isn’t easy or cheap for any ticket, but the EASA proposal hammers the IFR flyers, IAOPA says. The planned EASA equivalent rating requires seven written exams and “flight training which will probably cost tens of thousands of euros even for pilots who’ve been flying safely for decades” on a US instrument rating.
If these new requirements come to pass, US flight schools can kiss European students goodbye. For nearly two decades EASA has been trying to stem the flow of students heading to America for affordable (compared to the cost of training there) training. It seems they will succeed this time.
Given the cost of flying in Europe, I doubt that, if enacted, the EASA regs will achieve its unspoken goal: increase enrollment at EU flight schools. The result will surely be the same anywhere bureaucrats act with short-sighted self-interest: that business dies.
Because there is no reliable data on students learning to fly in America, I’ve been unable to unearth the number of Europeans who’ve earned certificates and ratings here (and hoping for a clue in the number of aviation-specific F-1 and M-1 visas issued has proven fruitless).
Anecdotal information suggests that the FAA cumulatively issues several hundred (and maybe even a thousand or more) student pilot and private pilot certificates to Europeans each year. Perhaps we’ll have a more accurate number after the new EASA regs go into effect and we can compare the number of certificates issued before and after. –Scott Spangler