Changes to aircraft rating flight review requirements - July 2016
Learn about changes to the aircraft rating flight review requirements - in effect from 1 July, 2016.
Who should read this information?
- Pilot instructors.
- Flight examiners.
- Chief pilots and heads of training and checking.
- Flight training operators.
- Aircraft operators.
How have the flight review requirements changed?
To conduct an aircraft operation, a pilot needs to have a valid aircraft rating flight review.
Under Part 61, to exercise the privileges of an aircraft class rating or pilot type rating, pilots need to have a valid flight review that was conducted in an aircraft that is covered by that rating within the previous 24 months. In some cases, a flight review that was conducted in a type-rated multi-engine aeroplane satisfies the multi-engine aeroplane class rating flight review – refer to paragraph 61.745 (3) (d) and the Prescribed aircraft and ratings legislative instrument – schedule 10.
A pilot can satisfy the aircraft rating flight review requirement by completing a flight test, proficiency check and certain kinds of training and assessment if the activity is conducted in a suitable aircraft.
Flight reviews that include training are done under Part 141 or 142 as appropriate. CASA strongly encourages pilots to include training in all flight reviews.
A new exemption (CASA EX97/16) came into effect on 1 July 2016, which provides an alternative to these requirements.
Under the exemption, pilots need to comply with the following two requirements.
- Aircraft category – to operate an aircraft, the pilot must have completed a flight review within the previous 24 months that was conducted in an aircraft of the same category.
- Multi-engine aircraft – to operate a multi-engine aircraft, the pilot must have completed a flight review within the previous 24 months that was conducted in a multi-engine aircraft of the same category.
Pilots working under an operator’s training and checking system are still required to comply with the operator’s proficiency checking requirements.
The exemption has no effect on the night visual flight rules (VFR) rating, private instrument flight rules (IFR) rating and low-level rating flight review requirements in Part 61.
Why do civil aviation authorities require regular checks?
The principle underlying the flight review requirement is taken from Annex 1 of the Convention on Civil Aviation. It is the ‘Validity of licences’ principle which states:
'pilots should not exercise the privileges of a licence or related rating unless the pilot maintains competency and meets recent experience requirements – Annex 1, section 1.2.5.'
In order to operate particular types of aircraft, pilots need to complete relevant knowledge and practical flight training. The practical training, together with training in topics of underpinning knowledge, is regulated to ensure properly authorised instructors deliver approved training courses which are conducted by certificated flight training schools, all with the aim of achieving quality training outcomes.
Before being granted an aircraft class or pilot type rating, pilots must demonstrate to an acceptable level their knowledge of the systems, performance and operation of the aircraft. They must also pass a flight test which assesses their underpinning knowledge and practical skills.
Some class-rated aircraft require pilots to complete initial type specific training and a flight review in that aircaft – refer to regulation 61.747.
Types of aircraft that have certain characteristics are prescribed as type-rated aircraft. If a type of aircraft is not prescribed then it is covered by a class rating. Type ratings are prescribed for aircraft that are sufficiently complex to operate or have relatively high performance which warrants type-specific training and a flight test. Type-rated aircraft also justify regular competency checks to ensure the pilot continues to be capable of operating that type of aircraft.
Skill-based qualifications, like aircraft class and pilot type ratings, require the qualification holder to maintain their skills and operational knowledge. This is because skills and knowledge can degrade over time. In the interests of safety, rules are put in place to ensure pilots are sufficiently competent operating class and type rated aircraft.
This is why the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Australia and other countries require pilots to comply with recent experience standards, and to undergo regular skills and knowledge-based aircraft class and pilot type rating checks. Under the Australian licensing system, these checks are referred to as flight reviews.
In some countries, pilots need to revalidate their pilot type ratings every two years and, in some cases, type-specific revalidations are required for commercial operations.
Who is affected by the changes to flight review requirements?
For most pilots, the aircraft class and pilot type rating flight review requirements in Part 61 have minimal – if any – consequences. However, for some pilots, the requirements are substantial and have significant cost implications, which is why the exemption has been made and the rules are being changed.
Existing training and checking requirements for operators and pilots remain the same and are unaffected by this exemption. Pilots working in a training and checking system which has a regulation 61.040 approval (previously referred to as a cyclic program), who don’t complete a flight review, would be taken to have met the flight review requirements for the aircraft class rating or pilot type rating, as they did before the exemption was made. That means a pilot participating in a 61.040 approved program for operating a multi-engine helicopter would be taken to meet the flight review requirements for all helicopters.
Under paragraph 61.1280 (2) (e), flight examiners are required to meet the flight review requirements for a rating when they are conducting a flight test for that rating. The exemption means the flight examiner only needs to meet the alternative flight review requirement and not the class rating or pilot type rating flight review requirement.
How do you determine if you have a valid flight review?
The exemption provides an alternative to the aircraft class rating flight review requirement in regulation 61.745 and the pilot type rating flight review requirement in regulation 61.800.
Instead of having to have a separate flight review, you only need to have completed a flight review in an aircraft of the same category within the previous 24 months. If the aircraft you want to fly is a multi-engine aircraft, then the flight review must have been completed in a multi-engine aircraft of the same category and within the previous 24 months.
The following table outlines how to work out if you have a valid flight review for a flight you are planning. If you want to exercise the privileges of your pilot licence in an aircraft that is described in the left-hand column, you will need to have completed the related flight review in an aircraft that is described in the right-hand column on the same row within the previous 24 months.
|I want to operate an aircraft described below||I need to have done a flight review in an aircraft described below in the previous 24 months|
|1. Single-engine aeroplane||Any aeroplane|
|2. Multi-engine aeroplane||Any multi-engine aeroplane|
|3. Single-engine helicopter||Any helicopter|
|4. Multi-engine helicopter||Any multi-engine helicopter|
|5. Gyroplane||Any gyroplane|
General competency rule
Pilots need to consider their obligations under the general competency rule in 61.385. The general competency rule says pilots should only fly a particular aircraft if they are competent to do so. Before conducting a flight, you need to review your personal situation and decide whether to undergo refresher practical training. You should also review your knowledge about operating procedures, using the aircraft systems and other relevant information.
CASA encourages all pilots to include refresher training when undertaking a flight review. Flight reviews including training must be undertaken by an authorised flight instructor at a Part 141 or 142 flight training operator.
Want to know more?
The flight crew licensing rules are contained in Part 61 of the Civil Aviation Regulations.
- 61.385 – Limitations on exercise of privileges of pilot licences – general competency requirement.
- 61.400 – Limitations on exercise of privileges of pilot licences – flight review.
- 61.745 – Limitations on exercise of privileges of aircraft class ratings – flight review.
- 61.800 – Limitations on exercise of privileges of pilot type ratings.
- 61.1280 – Limitations on exercise of privileges of flight examiner ratings – flight reviews and subject matter proficiency checks.
The transition rules for Part 61 are contained in Part 202 of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations.