About the pilot coaching scheme

Our enjoyment of flying, and the ability to share that with others carries with it a responsibility to maintain good standards of flying and airmanship. The PCS provide Coaches to assist you not only with specific courses, but with any general training need. More information available here.


Time to fly?

Statistics show that for LAA aircraft the transition of a new pilot onto the type is a frequent source of accidents, more so than the aircraft's initial test flying phase. The same is true of the first flight of any unfamiliar aircraft, whether it is a homebuilt, vintage, or microlight. You do not have to go it alone. The LAA has the Pilot Coaching Scheme - all coaches are current CAA and JAR-FCL certified Class Rating Instructors or Flight Instructors. They’re also your trainer, confidante and mentor throughout the process of you learning to fly your aircraft. Download leaflet



Differences and Familiarisation Training

Before flying any type or variant of aircraft which you’ve not flown before, within the Single-Engine Piston (SEP) class, you must complete ‘familiarisation training’. This is the correct modern terminology for what would previously be described as being ‘checked out’ on a new type.


Familiarisation training requires the acquisition of additional knowledge, either through self-study of appropriate material about the aircraft such as the Pilot Operating Handbook, pilot’s notes, etc, training with a suitably qualified instructor, or, particularly in the case of a single seater, a verbal brief from a pilot already familiar with the type.


With multi-seaters, while it may be helpful to fly with another pilot already familiar with the type, pilots should note that only qualified instructors are authorised to provide training, including familiarisation training and this could lead to difficulties if an accident were to occur that was supervised by any pilot other than a qualified instructor.


In addition, when first transitioning to flying types or variants of aircraft which include various specific more demanding or unusual features, that he or she has not previously experienced as pilot in command, a pilot must also have differences training with a qualified instructor to teach them to safely deal with the feature or features concerned.


Features which, when first experienced require differences training under EASA regulation and the UK Air Navigation Order are:


  • turbo-charged or super-charged engines
  • variable pitch and constant speed propellers
  • tailwheel undercarriage
  • retractable undercarriage
  • cabin pressurisation
  • EFIS
  • single power lever control (SPLC)
  • microlights


Additionally, for the UK National Private Pilot's Licence (NPPL) SSEA class rating, differences training is required for aeroplanes with a cruise speed in excess of 140 knots indicated airspeed.


Differences training requires the acquisition of additional knowledge and training on an appropriate training device or on the aircraft. Differences training requires both ground and flight training and must be endorsed as having been completed by a suitably qualified Flight Instructor or Class Rating Instructor.


Pilots holding a UK NPPL with SSEA class rating must obtain a microlight class rating before acting as PIC in a microlight.


Microlight differences training is applicable to pilots holding a UK PPL or EASA PPL; this is applicable to the SEP class rating, not the SSEA class rating. A NPPL holder with a SSEA class rating may not complete differences training in microlights and then go and fly a microlight as PIC. This is because, for the NPPL only, the class ratings are mutually exclusive. Therefore the SSEA class rating does not include the microlight in the same way as a SEP class rating. Thus, the NPPL holder must obtain a microlight class rating in accordance with CAP 804 Section 5 Part A Appendix 1 or the guidance on the NPPL website.


Whilst differences training with an instructor is mandatory, we also recommend you include ground and flight training with an instructor as part of your familiarisation training.


All LAA coaches are either FI or CRI, and most have completed all differences themselves applicable to LAA types, so they can provide your differences training or familiarisation training - though naturally, before doing so they will need the opportunity to fly the aircraft sufficiently to familiarise themselves with the individual aircraft concerned.



Find a coach

All coaches are CAA qualified Instructors and CAA 'R' Examiners. You can find your nearest coach by using the google map locations or PCS table. Find a Coach


Latest articles

Read the latest coaching articles from the LAA magazine.