PPL/IR - Europe is the leading group for private pilots across Europe interested in instrument flying. We share insights and publications, lobby politicians and stakeholder groups across Europe on behalf of all pilots. However, we are a non-profit organisation and so limit some of the benefits to paid members. For just £95 per year members get access to a wide range of benefits.
A professional pilot develops continuously, for thousands of hours, between getting his IR and taking command…the recently qualified PPL/IR is expected to jump from the training machine directly to single pilot command.
Flight schools train towards requirements.
If the requirements are that the candidate should be able to fly a departure, airways sector, arrival, hold and approach within certain tolerances, then the school will train the candidate to do those exact things.
Similarly, if a certain level of Theoretical Knowledge is required, that is the level which will be taught.
The flight schools are acutely aware of the costs of training flights and thus do not usually include extra, real world knowledge and experience; that is supposed to come later, and quite rightly so - regulation is there to mandate the fundamentals, but Continuous Professional Development is there to cover the practicalities.
When a fresh CPL or Frozen ATPL emerges from the school and is absorbed into an airline, they will be treated as an absolute beginner. For the next many thousands of hours they will be sitting next to an experienced Captain getting experience. They will have to do Line Training as well as Base Training before they are even qualified for the right hand seat, and will have to undergo Command Training and many more Line Training sectors before being allowed to command an aircraft. This whole process will be repeated if they change aircraft type.
Compare this to the PPL/IR. You walk out of the flight school, holding onto your new IR, having little idea how to actually plan and execute an IFR flight which lands somewhere different from where you took off…something which, in all his IFR training, you are unlikely to have actually done. You are expected to jump in and be Captain from day one, with almost no training, briefing or experience.
PPL/IR Europe fills that gap. We offer advice, training, guidance, even informal mentoring, to pilots who need helping over that knowledge gap. Our books, magazine, website and forum are all dedicated to helping the PPL/IR develop his skills and knowledge.
The range of the advice and guidance we give is too great to list, but examples include:
a) How to develop Standard Operating Procedures which keep you safe, even under pressure.
b) How to deal practically with icing
c) The realities of depressurisation
d) How to transition safely between VFR airfields and the IFR en-route system.
Getting the job done:
a) Light aircraft operation is different to CAT
b) How to step outside CAT procedures and stay safe (non CDFA NPAs, for example)
c) Flying in the modern regulatory environment
d) Risk management
Working in Lower Airspace:
a) How to fly en-route within TMAs
b) Flying in and around weather, not above it
c) Pop-up clearances
Working with weather:
a) Where to get information
b) How to interpret it
c) How to determine what real effect it will have.
These are just a very small sample of the ways that PPL/IR Europe members help each other develop from new rating holders to professionally competent pilots.
Once the professional pilot is out in the real world he or she tends to be looked after by the airline Operations Department.
They will make sure that changing rules and regulations are adhered to, and keep up with changes to laws and procedures. Routes, alternates and minima will be planned, flight plans will be filed, documentation sourced, Customs, handling and fuelling will be organised, hotels will be booked – all the pilot has to do is to manipulate the controls.
The PPL/IR pilot is at the opposite end of the spectrum. If you don't do it, it doesn’t get done. You have to know everything that is going on at government level and plan every detail of every flight to be sure that the flight will be successful and legal.
PPL/IR Europe strives to make sure that you know how to do that and have the information available. We track regulations about maintenance, flight crew licencing, medical requirements, operations, equipment and so on and make sure that you know what affects you.
We help you by sourcing flight planning software which will create a route acceptable to Eurocontrol, by providing information from members about airports throughout Europe, by working with charts providers and discussing different ways of sourcing information.
We help you source and interpret weather information and NOTAMs and help you find schools and examiners when you need them.
We make sure that you are not on your own. Someone at PPL/IR Europe will know the answer to your questions, or who to get the answer from.
Finally, we have another important role to play for European IFR pilots. In the USA, being an IFR qualified pilot is nothing special. An IFR pilot is just a pilot and there is big community of like-minded people.
But in Europe, decades of making the IR too burdensome in a number of small but cumulative ways and the placing of unnecessary hurdles has made the private IFR pilot very much the exception rather than the rule. If we wander down to the flying club, or sit on pilots’ online forums, we tend to be in a very small minority. People don’t want to discuss instrument approaches or icing, nor do they engage in discussions about 600nm flights. They have their own interest in aerobatics, or going to farm strips, or mountain flying and we IFR pilots are seen to be somewhat cliquey and apart.
So PPL/IR Europe, as well as providing a community of knowledge, also provides a social community, organising trips to interesting places - like a grand tour of Europe for ten aircraft, or a visit to the Airbus factory - as well as dinners and meetings which have both a technical and social agenda. And of course the forum is a meeting place as well.
So that is the manifesto of what we do. We have had to leave out much of the detail from this description, but we hope that it’s enough to give you the general idea!