Differences training has two different uses within the UK licensing system.
The first use is to train the pilot for flight in more complex aircraft than the pilot has flown before within a class rating already held.
When a licence and rating, for a PPL (A) with SEP (Land) rating is initially issued, the training has been in an aircraft with simple systems, with a fixed undercarriage, and a fixed pitch propeller.
This would be valid for all aircraft in that class, providing the new aircraft has similar simple systems and features.
If you want to move to an aircraft within the SEP (Land) which is more complex, the pilot would need formal differences training and a log book sign-off from a suitable instructor. The content of the training is only concerned with the complex operations of type.
The following list of features require further differences training. This list varies for holders of an SEP rating (or privileges within the LAPL) compared to an NPPL SSEA rating.
- Retractable Undercarriage
- Variable Pitch Propeller (Constant Speed Propeller)
- Cabin Pressurisation
- Turbo or Super Charging
- SPLC (Single Power Lever Control) used, for example with a Diesel Engine. This is not in the list of differences training required for NPPL-SSEA holders.
- EFIS (Electronic Flight Instrument Systems) (e.g. ‘Glass Cockpit’). This is not in the list of differences training required for NPPL-SSEA holders
- Cruise Speed of greater than 140 knots. This is only required for NPPL-SSEA holders.
The second use of differences training is used to extend the privileges of an existing licence, privilege or rating on a national basis.
EASA FCL does not provide a pilot with a LAPL (A) with SEP privileges (or a PPL(A) with SEP rating) to fly a microlight aircraft, but it allows national authorities to extend the use of that licence on a national basis to non-EASA aircraft (such as a microlight) through national legislation. The UK has legislated to allow pilots qualified for SEP (land) aircraft to fly G registered microlight aircraft in the UK, providing the pilot undergoes differences training for microlight aircraft, and has a logbook sign off from a suitable instructor. Differences Training is used to permit flight of a category of aircraft rather than simply a feature within an aircraft.
For pilots with SEP or TMG privileges, differences training once completed does not have to be repeated. Pilots who have not flown using the particular ‘difference’ for some time are recommended to take appropriate training that they feel necessary, but it is not compulsory.
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