Have you ever dreamt of some fair weather flying in the USA? Perhaps you are considering a new rating to your existing licence as rain and wind beat against the window? Well, if it something that you have thought about, then what’s stopping you? Lack of knowledge? Bureaucracy? Cost?
It’s easier, quicker, more efficient and certainly cheaper than you might think. Would you be surprised if I told you that to validate your EASA/CAA Private Pilot Licence for an FAA licence with the same privileges, it would only cost you £43 and about an hour of your time using only the contents of your regular flight bag?
I’ve just been through the process myself and was amazed at the simplicity of the process. I have converted my UK CAA/EASA PPL (single engine plane) to the FAA equivalent. All of the information is out there, but research is required to pull all of the information from various sources together. This guide will talk you through the whole process. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to do it:
There are three main bodies that you will need to communicate with in order to obtain your FAA licence.
- The UK CAA
- The US FAA
- The US Flight Services District Office (FSDO) in the region that you are intending to fly.
The process is simple and consists of the following steps:
- Email a completed form SRG1160 to the CAA.
- Payment to the CAA for the verification process. (currently £43)
- Email a completed form 8060-71 to the FAA with your choice of FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) included. This is where you present yourself to collect your licence in the USA.
- Email of acknowledgement from the CAA and processing of the £43 fee.
- Receive your letter of confirmation AFS-760 the FAA.
- Make an appointment with the relevant FSDO.
- Present yourself and form FAA 8710-1 at the nominated FSDO for final verification and issuance of FAA licence.
- Go flying……
STEP BY STEP GUIDE
Complete the CAA form SRG1160.
When completed you email it back to the CAA along with the fee (currently £43)
At the same time as completing the above, you must send a similar form to the FAA (Form 8060-71) to make the official request to the CAA for verification. There is no fee for this service and the form is self explanatory. You simply complete the form and email it to the FAA. **It is worth noting, that on this form, you must specify which FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) you intend to present yourself at in the USA. You will need to look on the FAA website and select the correct FSDO, as once this is submitted it cannot be changed, unless a further letter and instruction is issued by the FAA. So don’t nominate Florida if you are planning on flying in Alaska!**
There is then an email of acknowledgement from the CAA reminding you to send the FAA a Form 8060-71. It’s then a waiting game. The CAA processed my payment after about 3 weeks, so I knew the process was moving forward. This was over the Christmas holiday period too, so I would expect at other times of the year it may be more expedient.
After approximately one month from initial submission of your CAA and FAA forms you will receive a letter (Form AFS-760) from the Airmen Certification Branch of the FAA in Oklahoma City confirming the verification of your UK PPL and relevant medical certificate. The letter of certification is valid for 6 months and details the FSDO you have specified on your earlier form 8060-71. It also worth noting that the process can take up to 90 days to complete, so leave plenty of time.
You must then contact the FSDO (Flight Standards District Office) in the area that is relevant to where you intend to enjoy your flying. Their website lists all of the FSDO’s and the areas that they cover. For example – I am flying from the UK into Boston, Massachusetts, although will be flying in New Hampshire, so for me, it’s the Burlington, Massachusetts FSDO.
You need to go back onto the FAA website and download a further form FAA 8710-1. This requires completing and will detail your current hour totals and other personal details. They recommend bringing this, completed in the main part, on a USB flash drive, so they can complete their sections and print off during the following appointment.
The appointment will be approximately 20 minutes in duration and examines your UK licence, UK Medical and Passport by their on duty inspector there is no charge for this service or licence issuance. Your licence will be issued during the appointment.
You can bypass the appointment in person with the FSDO in the USA and complete this part of the process in UK. I obtained the details from AOPA UK and the gentleman I communicated with could not have been more helpful. Unfortunately the cost for this service is £385, yet it is free once you arrive in the USA, so I have not followed this route.
Most US FBO’s (where you will be renting your aircraft) will require you to obtain Renters Insurance. This is something we are used to in the UK, as we tend to fly in Flying School training aircraft, group owned or privately owned aircraft. Again, it couldn’t be easier to arrange. Most FBO’s will advise you to arrange Insurance that covers their deductable Insurance excess for hull damage, which will vary between $5000 – $10,000. Most premiums are set tariffs and I used AOPA US Insurance services. I received a 5% discount for being an Aopa UK member and the premium including injury and personal liability cover for the $10,000 hull deductable excess was £172 for 12 months. You can set the date you want the cover to begin and if you cancel with 6 months of the premium to run, they will refund you 50%, so all in all, pretty reasonable. I got many quotes and filled in many forms. They all came back with the same premium, but as an AOPA UK member, AOPA US just beat them all.
All you will need to do now is your check ride and enjoy some flying in the good Ol’ US of A. Happy Flying!!