General Aviation

Published on September 28th, 2016 | by Mark Dwyer


European operational and equipment requirements for private flying of light aircraft

EASA LogoOn 25th August 2016, the European Air Operations regulation became applicable to non-complex aircraft operating non-commercially. These new rules only apply to aircraft which are considered EASA aircraft, registered in Ireland or registered elsewhere when the operator is established or resident in the EU. If you fly an EI- or an N- registered aeroplane e.g. Cessna 172, these new rules apply to you. They also apply to helicopters, sailplanes and balloons.

Aircraft operating on a Flight Permit issued by the IAA, such as homebuilts, microlights, classic/vintage aircraft, and gyrocopters, are not affected. These will continue to be regulated by S.I. 61 of 2006 (Operations Order).

This is a high level summary of some changes. It is important that all pilots of affected EASA aircraft familiarise themselves with the regulations.

What is a non-complex aircraft?


  • with a maximum certificated take-off mass of 5,700kg or less, and
  • certificated for a maximum passenger seating configuration of fewer than 20, and
  • certificated for operation with a minimum crew of one pilot only, and
  • not equipped with (a) turbojet engine(s) or more than one turboprop engine.

Helicopters certificated;

  • with a maximum take-off mass of 3,175kg or less, and
  • for a maximum passenger seating configuration of fewer than ten, and
  • for operation with a minimum crew of one pilot only.

What are the new rules?

The new European rule is called Part-NCO (Non-Commercial Operations with other-than-complex motor-powered aircraft). This replaces S.I. 61 of 2006 (Operations Order) for EASA aircraft. While a lot of the technical requirements are the same as what you’re used to, EASA has consolidated the requirements and specified all requirements as they apply to private flyers. It’s one rule which applies across 32 countries, and the National Aviation Authorities are not permitted to add extra requirements.

The new rule is divided into sections;

Subpart A – General Requirements

Subpart B – Operational Procedures

Subpart C – Aircraft Performance and Operating Limitations

Subpart D – Instruments, Data, and Equipment

Subpart E – Specific requirements

The Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) is available on EASA’s General Aviation page. This is a lighter read than the entire regulation.

Do I need to fit an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) to my aircraft?


As of 25th August 2016, all EASA aeroplanes and helicopters must carry an ELT or in certain cases, a PLB.

As of 25th August 2016, all EASA aeroplanes and helicopters must carry an ELT, or where the aircraft is certified for a seating configuration of six or fewer, a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) can be carried instead. ELTs are battery-powered units designed to activate during the impact of a crash, when it will transmit a distress signal on 406 MHz and a homing signal on 121.5 MHz. It may also be manually activated.

A sailplane or balloon requires an ELT or PLB for flights over water only, where deemed necessary by the pilot in command.

Aircraft first issued with an individual Certificate of Airworthiness after 1 July 2008 must have an automatic ELT. Those which predate that, may use any type of ELT (there are 4 options!).

All ELTs must be capable of transmitting on 121.5 MHz and 406 MHz. ELTs must be registered with the IAA, who will give you a code to programme it with. PLBs must be registered in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. PLBs are registered to an individual, so you can use the same one when you are flying different aircraft. If you are using a PLB, all passengers must be briefed on its operation before flight.

Do I need a Child Restraint Device (CRD)?

Children carried on board who are under 24 months require a child restraint device. This may be an infant seatbelt loop, or a CRD which is approved to certain motor vehicle standards.

What else is required?

IAA logoPart NCO includes other requirements, for example; supplemental oxygen, floatation devices, first aid kits, seat belts, lights, and radio/navigation equipment required for VFR at night. It may seem like a daunting task, but once you start to read the AMC, it is actually easy to follow. The IAA have published Aeronautical Notice O.80 explaining that this is effective and encouraging you to read it.

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About the Author

Mark is an airline pilot flying the Boeing 737 for a major European airline. In addition he is also a Type Rating Instructor, Type Rating Examiner and Base Training Captain on the B737. Outside of commercial flying Mark enjoys flying light aircraft from the smallest 3 Axis microlights up to heavier singles. He is also an instructor and EASA Examiner on single engines and a UK CAA Examiner. He flies the Chipmunk for the Irish Historic Flight Foundation (IHFF). Mark became the Chairman of the National Microlight Association of Ireland (NMAI) in 2013 and has overseen a massive growth in the organisation. In this role he has worked at local and national levels. In 2015, Mark won ‘Upcoming Aviation Professional Award’ at the Aviation Industry Awards sponsored by the IAA. Mark launched this website back in 2002 while always managing the website, he has also been Editor and Deputy Editor of FlyingInIreland Magazine from 2005 to 2015.

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