100 0299   Glider Pilot Licensing

Ireland is one of the few countries, the UK is the other, in Europe where Licenses are not required for flying gliders. In fact the IAA has filed an exception with ICAO exempting Gliding from licencing. Gliding has been self-regulated since it started. While there are no “Official” Licenses, standard similar to those used for PPLs and Gliding Licenses in other countries are applied.

Bronze Certificate

The nearest equivalent to a Gliding PPL is the Bronze Certificate. This is a certificate which is only issued after a pilot completes a long course of Dual and solo flying and successfully completes a General Flight Test. The syllabus and standards are comparable with a power PPL and comply with, or even exceed, the ICAO Glider Pilot Licence standards.

Even when qualified with a Bronze Certificate, a glider pilot, even if they own the glider, still requires approval and a briefing from a Duty Instructor to fly from a gliding club. Clubs generally apply strict currency rules and require even the most experienced pilots to take check flights if they are not current. This is quite different from Power flying where a PPL holder can fly their own aircraft without any approval.

IGSA Cross Country endorsement

Before a pilot can attempt cross country flights, where there is a real risk of having to land-out, a pilot must gain a cross-country endorsement. This consist of dual training in field selection and practice field landings. In most countries this is done in motor gliders but can be done in ordinary gliders.

Silver Certificate

A pilot gains a Silver C when:

  • completes a 50k flight
  • completes 5 hour flight
  • achieves a height gain of 1000m

A Silver Cert holder can flying without a briefing but is still subject to the approval of the Duty Instructor.

Gold and Diamond Badges

These are awarded on advanced achievements such as 300k, 500k flights or 3000m and 5000m height gains.

Instructor Ratings

The IGSA has three levels of Instructor Ratings

  • Air Experience Instructor (AEI) who can instruct new students on trial lessons
  • Class II Instructor (FI) – can perform all training apart from 1st solos and 1st cross-country flights.
  • Class I Instructor (FE) – senior instructors who can send students on their 1st solos and 1st cross-country flights

In addition there is a Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) rating who manages the instructors and an Examiner (FIE) rating who can grant or renew instructor ratings.

The IGSA Operational regulations sets out the standards appropriate to each rating.

Under EASA FCL regulations, the AEI will disappear as these is no equivalent under FCL, Class II instructors will become Flight Instructors (FI) while the Class 1 instructors will become Flight Examiners (FE).


Forms for apply for Bronze , Silver, Gold, Diamond and others can be found on the forms page.

The Future

Legislation has been processed in Europe which enables EASA to implement a Gliding Licensing across Europe. Ireland will be included. By 2012 it is expected that the three year transition will commence whereby all Glider Pilots will have a SPL (Sailplane Pilot Licence) or LAPL(S) (Light Aircraft Pilot Licence – Sailplane) of some form as a replacement for the Bronze Certificate as the primary qualification. The legislation granting EASA powers to manage Licensing became European Law in the Spring of 2008. The Implementing Rules and Acceptable Means of Compliance and guidance material has been published.

The principal difference between an SPL and an LAPL is the medical standards; the SPL will require full ICAO compliant Class 2 medicals while the LAPL requirements may be satisfied by GP endorsed or extended validity Class 2 medicals. It is expected that only AME’s will be able to perform medicals in Ireland. In addition, an SPL will be required for pilots that receive remuneration (this is not applicable in Ireland as there are not commercial gliding operations).

There is a Light Aircraft Pilots License (LAPL) that is valid throughout Europe. It is similar in many ways to the Bronze Certificate in training requirements and flight tests. It may also have less stringent medical standards than the existing JAR FCL PPL that are more appropriate to sports aviation.

Pilots may apply to the IAA for a LAPL(S) or SPL if they need one for flying abroad. It is expected that glider pilots should be able to convert to LAPL(S) or SPL in 2019.

Full implementation of the new Licences is re-scheduled for 8th April 2020.

Part Gliding

A lot of progress has been made with EASA regarding the development of a Gliding Rule book and centralising gliding related rules into a single Part Gliding. This new rule book should be on stream in 2020.