How Licences are categorised?


European licences and national licences


Pilot licensing regulations are standardised across all member states of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), including Belgium. The EASA regulations have introduced a number of new pilot licences which are replacing licences issued by national authorities across European Union, Island, , Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

These European or also called EASA licences are known as Part-FCL licences for airplanes and helicopters, Part-BFCL for balloons and Part-SFCL for sailplanes. Part-FCL is the main piece of European Union legislation introducing the changes.

In many cases, a EASA licence is already required to fly with EASA regulated aircraft.

Some authorisations or licences, mainly for powered ultralights, are still issued by national aviation authorities such as BCAA, which apply different legislation according each State. These authorisations or licences are called national licences.

The type of licence you need depends on the aircraft you want to fly.


Professional licences and General aviation licences

Licences can either be for professional flying or for general aviation. If you have a professional licence, you can be paid for flying and fly in commercial operations (such as an airline flight). General aviation licences are for recreational flying only and you aren't allowed to be paid for any flying you do using one, apart from some flight instructor work.

In the EASA system, the general aviation licences are the light aircraft pilot licence (LAPL), the private pilot licence (PPL), the sailplane pilot licence (SPL) and balloon pilot licence (BPL). The professional licences are the commercial pilot licence (CPL) and airline pilot licence (ATPL).


Aircraft category

Each type of licence is available in different aircraft categories. The categories of aircraft are:

  • aeroplanes
  • helicopters
  • airship
  • sailplanes
  • balloons


For instance, the LAPL (A) is available for flying aeroplanes and the LAPL (H) is available for flying helicopters; the LAPL (As) is for airships, the LAPL (S) is for sailplanes and the LAPL (B) is for balloons.


What is a rating?

A rating is an official authorisation you can add to your licence. A rating can give you extra privileges or allow you to do something you can't do without it, like flying at night or flying a different class of aircraft.


ICAO and non-ICAO licences

Licences can be categorised by whether or not they comply with international rules from ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Licences which do comply are known as ICAO licences and those which do not are known as non-ICAO licences. Non-ICAO licences are not fully recognised internationally, and therefore are only valid for use within certain states or Europe; for example, the LAPL is only valid in EASA members States.


Source of EASA licence requirements

The Basic Regulation (EU regulation 2018/1139) defines what aircraft and aerial activities fall within the remit of EASA legislation. The Aircrew Regulation (EU 1178/2011) sets out the detailed requirements for applying for EASA pilot licences, and contains the requirements for EASA flight crew licensing.