Tom Horne

Europe hates GA, apparently

October 7, 2010 by Thomas A. Horne, Editor At Large

I’ve written extensively in the past about European GA, and why Europeans come to the United States to earn their pilot certificates. Why? Because it’s infinitely less expensive and streamlined–compared to the onerous, bloated, and punishingly expensive European path to certificate-hood. You thought Euro-user fees were bad? How about spending $15,000 to get a private pilot certificate across the pond?

Now, a new European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) proposal would end all that. No more reciprocation between the US and Europe, goes the plan. You might be able to get European validation of your U.S. pilot certificate right now. But in two years, if you want to fly in Europe you’ll have to earn one of their certificates. It would mean the end of a long, happy (until now) tradition of US–and European!–pilots flying GA aircraft for vacation and business purposes in Europe.

But wait, there’s more! EASA wants to rid the European Community of N-registered airplanes too. Soon, the common practice of Euro-pilots registering their airplanes with a US N-number will end if the proposals go through. Europeans realize considerable savings by flying airplanes with an “N-reg.” Lord knows they need to save as much as they can if GA flying is to continue, what with $20-per-touchdown landing fees and $8 per gallon fuel costs.

The impetus for all this xenophobic regulatory activity? Why, to garner more fees and pump up an already-Byzantine regulatory culture. Thanks to all those centuries of Kings, Queens, Lords, Barons, Viceroys, Dukes, “vons,” and landed gentry, Europeans seem not able to shake the inclination to submit to the state.

Pilot und Flugzeug, a German aviation magazine, has posted three scenarios on the potential outcome of the EASA proposals. Here’s a link to editor Jan Brill’s musings on the impact:

As always, IAOPA and AOPA-US are on top of this issue. Let’s hope that this trans-Atlantic GA force rises to the task. Europe–well, EASA anyway–seems to hate GA. Let’s not turn the other cheek.

6 Responses to “Europe hates GA, apparently”

  1. Doug Evans Says:

    I would seem that the Europeans have gone completely nuts. The last nutty idea is the multi-pilot license, so that solo or captains won’t exist. The new rules JAA proposes that would put faa pilots and N aircraft out of “European” airspace needs to not only be addressed, but the US Congress needs to make it very very clear that if such rules are enacted then there will be similar punnishments to Europeans trying to license in the states, and even airline pilots with J
    AA Cert should simply be barred from US airspace. It looks as if Europe wants to start a trade war. Where does ICAO stand on this issue, it would seem that this would violate the spirit of international cooperation. I flew a few years ago in Cyprus, and the Chief Pilot said that doing the JAA courses and relicensing would be a waste of time. He said he had done it after learning to fly the US and earning his Commercial, Multi Engine, and Instructors ratings, but explained that even JAA written exams had been made so hard that they were unattainable to all except those that could spend about two years in a formal school. The rules in Europe are arcane and out of touch with reality, to tell the truth.
    Let’s hope, at this point in history, when it is so expensive to attain European flying licenses, that the US Government will strongly support the finest aviation training system in the world and make Europe understand that these punitive and foolish actions will be met head on that we will virtually bar European Airlines from our Airspace. I would encourage everyone to join in and lobby congress and support AOPA in the attempt to stop this foolishness in its tracks.
    Doug Evans, ATP, CFI, II, MEI ASEL, AMEL, BA, MA ED

  2. Ron Michaels Says:

    As a frequent GA pilot in Europe, I am not happy to hear about these proposed rules. But I find it silly that we think we have any reason to complain. Yes it is bad that Europe will be stifling GA. But I always thought it was amazing that a pilot with a US license or N-number airplane could fly so easily (and cheaply).

    It makes sense to me that a nation (or group of nations) would want to have something licensed (and taxed) in their own nation(s).

    It was George W. Bush that wanted to put an end to Swiss banking secrecy after 9/11 forcing many Americans who enjoyed the financial banking advantages of having their money in Switzerland to instead transfer their money somewhere else. But I don’t remember people complaining that Bush “hates banking” even though he took away the advantages many Americans enjoy by doing their banking in the mountain nation.

    Imagine a world where pilots could save massive amounts by registering their aircraft and getting their license in Mexico. I’m guessing there would be a massive uproar if 50% of all of the airplanes in the US had Mexican registration.

    Or am I wrong? Would all of the patriotic pilots happily go to Mexico to train and register their aircraft to save some taxes? Perhaps they would.

    I am happy that IAOPA and AOPA are working hard to prevent these new rules from taking effect. But honestly, it doesn’t surprise me at all that Europe wants to have pilots and airplanes trained and registered as Europeans.

  3. Jan Brill Says:


    It’s a common attitude here in Europe to judge legislation by it’s intend, and not by it’s measured outcome. The fact of the matter is, that, if this goes through:

    1. A number of people will quit GA
    2. A number of people will return to flying VFR only because they held US-IFR ratings
    3. The number of GA-airplanes in Europe will drop
    4. Foreigners owning airplanes will stay well clear of the EU
    5. The desired validation of EU-licenses such as the MPL by the FAA will be off the table

    So clearly, there is something in it for everybody!

    best regards,

  4. Paul T. O'Leary Says:

    As a Brit living here permanently in the US I will agree – BUT! I will say this, the “Kings and Queen’s” statement is inaccurate – it is the European Parliament and the European Union that are the issue, not the vastly eroded “aristocracy”. The Bureaucratic machine that is the EU is a gravy train for the officials and is, yes all about fees!

    Asides from a slightly xenophobic remark, I think this is a worthy article and something which needs more publication. Because yes GA suffers in Europe – I have a friend who is commercial pilot rated for the UK and did all his training in the US – Why? Because it was cheaper and the infrastructure is there, numerous planes available and many airports. He once said to me “in the UK, small airports with minimal airspace and regulatory restrictions do not exist” – it is all about money. GA has just been lucky in the US that it has been allowed to flourish.

    One thing is for sure, I certainly do not see things getting better in the US either… with the constant argument for user fees, avgas prices rising and the cost of training tripling since the beginning of the 21st century. We now live in an age where learning to fly is no longer a choice for many, but a privilege for the few.

    Paul T. O’Leary

  5. Bob Patrick Says:

    My first reaction was “Yeah, if they do that to us, Lets do it to them” – – not a very productive attitude. Our flying system and it’s cost recovery method allows access by most Americans, effectivly promotes safety and creates a positive environment for training of a large pilot pool, concepts we have been promoting in defense of the present method of financing the FAA. Adopting Europe’s proposed rules in retaliation is only opening the door for such nonsense to be appl;ied to us by the regulation fanatics we have been keeping at bay with so much effort. If the least amount of necessary regulation is correct for american pilots in the U.S. it would hold as a valid premise for all pilots operating in the U.S. If we can export the good things about America, namely freedom, so much the better

  6. Tomas Vega Says:

    Now that Europe {almost bankrupt} Union proposes such measures isn’t it time perhaps
    that GA as well as Americans in General pay closer attention to helping out poorer Nations such as Latin America and our nearest neighbors across the boarder and forget about trying to cross the pond in that direction. Its over rated.

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