Type ratings for both pilots required under ICAO rules

 - March 16, 2007, 2:45 PM

To borrow the term “caveat emptor” (Latin for “let the buyer beware”) and mangle it only a bit, flight crews of aircraft that require two pilots should be aware that in some countries both of those pilots need to be type rated in that particular airplane.

Some U.S. pilots are upset by ramp checks in the UK by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which is adhering to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) rule that requires two type-rated pilots, as do many, if not most, other countries. But so far, most of those countries do not bother to enforce the provisions.

 The applicable ICAO standard, Annex 1 chapter 2 paragraph 2.1.4.1, requires that both the pilot-in-command and the copilot possess a type rating in any aircraft certified for at least two pilots. The FAA requires only the PIC to be type-rated per FAR Part 61.31 and allows second-in-command (SIC) privileges based on the training under FAR 61.55.

Although the U.S. is a signatory to the ICAO rules, the FAA has filed an “exception” to the two-type-rating rule. “It’s not an issue since the UK CAA (and the rest of the world) knows we’ve filed an exception, and our FAA rules don’t require a type rating,” said an FAA spokesman.

In response to some postings on NBAA’s Air Mail forum, Joe Hart, manager of the association’s operations services group, acknowledged that the lack of harmonization of international aviation regulations has been a concern of NBAA. “Historically, the FAA has issued certain regulations that are not, or are not seen by others, as fully in line with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS),” he wrote. “European countries, on the other hand, often issue regulations modeled closely on ICAO SARPS.”

The question for an N-registered operator is which regulations he should follow. Because the issue has also surfaced in Brazil, NBAA is advising members that, to be legal everywhere, the SIC should be type rated.

The FAA said it considers the ICAO rules to be guidance and therefore nonbinding. Because it filed exception notices, the agency does not see the issue as a problem and therefore does not advise U.S. operators of the rule. It is understood that Part 121 operators have at least two type-rated pilots on each international flight.

According to the FAA spokesman, if the UK CAA did a ramp check and found that a U.S. copilot was not type rated, it could not take enforcement action against the airman or the operator. But NBAA believes that it could ground the flight until another type-rated pilot was secured.

Bill Stine, NBAA director of international operations, pointed out that the U.S. files more exceptions to ICAO regulations than any other country. Just two examples are legalized night VFR and single-engine commercial operations.

“In most cases, the U.S. is more liberal,” said Stine. “We have proved over the years that it is no less safe. Our safety statistics will match anybody’s in the world and better most of them.”

Hart has not heard of any penalties other than prohibiting the non-type-rated pilot from flying the airplane. No one has been slapped with a violation, he told AIN, and his research of the ICAO convention rules says it is up to the FAA to issue those pilots with notice of a violation. That seems unlikely, since the pilot would not be violating the FARs.

Stine explained that NBAA has talked to the FAA and got it to officially file an exception, but that doesn’t mean that any other country has to accept your exception. “It just means that you have filed it, and within the confines from 12 miles out in the ocean until you get 12 miles out in the other ocean, this is how it applies in the U.S.,” he said. “It just means that’s the way we do it.”

Apparently, neither the FAA nor the CAA considers this to be a problem. But until someone puts it in writing, international operators might want to treat their type-rated SICs like American Express cards–don’t leave home without them.