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Foreign Pilots & the Operation of Foreign Registered Gliders in Australia

Australia welcomes overseas glider pilots and we try to make it easy for you to fly here. However, ultimately we are governed by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and there are formalities we all have to comply with.

GFA Requirements

Regardless of whether the glider(s) concerned in any given operation are registered in Australia or a foreign country, foreign pilots operating in Australia under the auspices of the GFA must be GFA qualified, be issued with GFA pilot authorisations for the tasks contemplated, and must be members of the GFA and an affiliated club.

Check Flights

Competency checks will be carried out on foreign pilots at the discretion of the Instructor supervising the gliding operation.

A site check may be provided for those foreign pilots who have not operated at that site before.

Rules, Regulations and Procedures

As GFA members, foreign pilots flying in Australia must comply with all aspects of normal GFA operational requirements, including applicable Civil Aviation Regulations (CARs/CASRs), the provisions of Civil Aviation Order (CAO) 95.4 and the GFA Operations Manual, which can be downloaded from the Docs/Forms tab above.

All foreign pilots will be provided with a comprehensive briefing on Australian procedures (general and local) before flying as pilot-in-command. In particular, foreign pilots will need to demonstrate a working knowledge of the requirements for operating on Certified and Registered aerodromes, including requirements for operations in the vicinity of non-towered aerodromes and associated CTAF procedures, using the GFA ‘Airways & Radio Procedures’ Manual, which can be downloaded from the Docs/Forms tab above.

Foreign pilots will also be provided with a safety and survival briefing if they have not operated in Australia before.

Radio Communication

All communications with Air Traffic Control or other airspace users MUST be in the English language. 

Foreign Pilots must hold either a Flight Radiotelephone Operators Licence issued by their National Aviation Administration or a GFA Flight Radio Operators Logbook Endorsement before flying solo in Australia.

Foreign pilots for whom English is not their primary language and who do not hold an ICAO English Language Proficiency Level 4 (or higher) endorsement to their Licence must demonstrate to a GFA Level 1 or higher rated Instructor aviation English language proficiency and be issued with a logbook endorsement prior to flying in command.

Operation of Foreign Registered Gliders in Australia

Foreign registered gliders operating in Australia must be type certified and hold a full Certificate of Airworthiness issued by a Contracting State. Pilots of gliders that do not meet these requirements will need to apply to CASA for flight approval. For further details, please contact the GFA’s Chief Technical Officer, Airworthiness.

The pilot in command of a glider possessing the nationality of a Contracting State must not allow the glider to fly within, or depart from, Australian territory if the glider does not comply with the provisions of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 that are expressed to apply to such aircraft and the requirements of the Convention in respect of:

(a)  its nationality mark and registration mark;

 (b)  its certificate of airworthiness;

 (c)  the number and description of, and the holding of licences and ratings by, the operating crew;

 (d)  the documents to be carried;

 (e)  the flight and manoeuvre of aircraft; and

 (f)   the provision of radio apparatus.

A glider registered in a non-Contracting State cannot fly in Australia without the approval of CASA and must operate in accordance with the conditions of that approval.

No person may operate a foreign registered glider within Australia as pilot in command unless that person is a current member of the GFA; and

(a) that person has a pilot licence, certificate or authorisation issued by the country of registration; or

(b) the country of Registration allows operation by a person holding a pilot licence or certificate issued by another State (e.g. the USA - refer FAR 61.3).

Maintenance of a foreign registered sailplane

Maintenance of a foreign registered sailplane operating in Australia must comply with the requirements of the State of Registration. Any maintenance work to be undertaken in Australia can only be completed with the authority of the Contracting State. Neither CASA nor the GFA can approve maintenance on a foreign registered sailplane.

Recognition of overseas Licences (or equivalent)

An overseas licence cannot be used for flying Australian Registered gliders.

Foreign pilots wishing to fly in-command of an Australian Registered glider and who hold an overseas ICAO Glider Pilot Licence, or EASA LAPL(S) / SPL, may convert their licence to a GFA Glider Pilot Certificate (GPC) upon application to the Chief Flying Instructor (CFI) of their Australian club. New Zealand pilots holding a Qualified Glider Pilot (QGP) Certificate may convert their certificate to a GPC. BGA pilots who hold a Bronze Endorsement plus either the Cross Country Endorsement or an FAI verified Silver distance as issued by the BGA or other National authority, are also eligible to convert to a GPC.

Foreign pilots who do not meet the above requirements will need to be assessed to the GPC syllabus by their Australian CFI for the issue of a GPC.

Foreign pilots who do not meet the requirements for the issue of a GPC may still fly in command of a sailplane provided they meet GFA operational requirements and fly under the direct supervision of their Australian Club.

Recognition of overseas Medical Certificates

GFA Medical Requirements are detailed at paragraph 3.2 of the GFA Operational Regulations.

In most cases, foreign glider pilots will be able to self-declare their medical status.

In the event that a foreign pilot is unable to make a self-declaration because they:

(a)  suffer from a medical condition described in Operational Regulations, paragraph 3.2.2(d); or

(b)  intend to instruct or fly charter while in Australia,

then they must hold a valid Medical Certificate before commencing flying.

Foreign pilots who hold a valid:

(a)  ICAO Class 2 or higher Medical Certificate issued by their licencing State, or

(b)  Medical Certificate that has been assessed to a medical standard equivalent to (or higher than) the ‘Austroads’ Standard issued by their licencing State,

may fly gliders in command while that Medical Certificate remains current. 

Foreign pilots with a non-ICAO Medical Certificate as per (b) above will need to provide the GFA’s This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with a copy of their Medical Certificate together with a copy (in English) of their State’s medical requirements for glider flying so that an assessment can be made as to acceptability.

For foreign pilots with an ICAO Class 1 or 2 Medical Certificate, the Club CFI can accept these but a copy must be retained for onforwarding to the GFA office.

Foreign pilots who do not hold an overseas issued Medical Certificate that is acceptable to GFA and who are ineligible to make a self-declaration will need to obtain a Medical Practitioner’s Certificate of Fitness from an Australian Registered GP using the GFA Form designed for this purpose. 

Christopher Thorpe

Executive Manager, Operations