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In March 2020, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) amended regulation number 1178/2011 which detailed the rules concerning the acceptance of third-country certification of pilots. This amendment streamlined the process of converting pilot licenses from non-European countries, i.e., the USA, and made provisions for a 28-day holiday license. This license can be issued once per year for one 28-day period. This process has taken time for individual countries to implement. Germany and several other European Union (EU) countries now offer the license.
The Holiday license allows US pilots to convert their US license to a temporary EASA license quickly. The conversion enables a US Pilot to rent European-registered aircraft and barnstorm around Europe. I found this a straightforward process and a great alternative to flying your airplane across the North Atlantic.
One of the best sources to accomplish this mission is AOPA Germany. On its website, flight instructor and member services representative, Petra Schellhorn, has listed the requirements for the 28-day Holiday license and the new conversion process to convert your US FAA license to an EASA license. Petra has also included links for the necessary applications and forms. The advantage of the full EASA license is that it is not restricted to 28 days. There is a conversion process for all ratings, but for most US pilots, the Private or Private/Instrument Rating is sufficient to rent an airplane and visit many scenic European airports.
Each EU country may have slightly different requirements. In my case, I completed the Holiday license in Germany. They accept your FAA license and medical. All you need to complete the necessary forms are:
- Copies of your license.
- Proof of identity (Passport).
- Current medical and verification of your license from the FAA.
- Rental aircraft registration number.
The FAA has a link on its website for license verification; however, Germany currently requires a separate email from the FAA confirming license verification. All of this should be completed well before your planned travel to Europe.
The German Holiday License is specific to an aircraft registration number. Therefore, you must know the registration number when completing the application. More than one registration number can be listed.
After the application and documents are submitted and accepted, all that is left is a required “acclimatization” flight with a certified flight instructor. If you have not flown in Europe, there are some differences from the US. Airspace, altimetry, transition level, VFR procedures, and airport operations differ. A quick flight with a flight instructor is not enough to get familiar with the differences. You will want to schedule ground and flight training to familiarize yourself with European airspace and regulations. I have flown in Europe before, but I found a one-hour simulator session, along with two flights and some ground instruction, very helpful in refreshing my EU flying skills. If you have never flown in Europe, having a flight instructor ride around for a few hours would also be a good idea following the basic training.
My training was completed at the Cirrus Training Center Motorflugschule located at Egelsbach Airport (EDFE), Egelsbach, Germany which is about a 20-minute train ride east of the Frankfurt International Airport. Several Cessna, Diamond, and Cirrus flight schools offer rentals. Foreflight and Sky Demon both work well for flight planning and weather.