Conversion Training

Conversion training is training that is carried out to enable you to fly different types of aircraft to the one you were trained on. The differences may relate to control system type, weight, speed, undercarriage configuration, or equipment and systems fitted or simply different handling characteristics. It falls into two types, MANDATORY and NON MANDATORY.
Mandatory training is written into law and must be undertaken before flying an aircraft that requires it and is rooted in safety. Operating an aircraft or safety related system that you are not familiar with is a danger.
Non mandatory training is optional and while you can choose not to do it you have to weigh up any associated risks.

Non Mandatory conversion may be carried out before you fly a different type of aircraft to that which you have trained and gained all of your experience on. You could probably fly it without additional training, but may well experience some stressful moments or near misses as you adapt to the its different characteristics.

PPL (SEP) and LAPL holders can fly microlight aircraft under the privileges of their licence, but only after undertaking mandatory conversion training. NPPL (SSEA or SLMG) holders on the other hand can only fly a microlight after adding a microlight rating to their licence. Adding the required rating will involve further training and a GST before they can apply to have it added to their licence.

Once you have your NPPL licence with a microlight rating, apart from a few exceptions, you can legally fly as pilot in command of a microlight aircraft. There are a few circumstances where because of certain differences in the aircraft type or equipment, there is a mandatory requirement to complete “differences training” before flying them as pilot in command.

Circumstances where conversion training is mandatory.
Below is an extract from the Air Navigation Order (ANO) as amended April 2022, that shows when conversion training is mandatory on an NPPL microlight class rating.

Microlight class rating 

Law In Force 

(1) Subject to paragraphs (2) to (6) and to the conditions of the licence in which it is included, a microlight class rating entitles the holder to act as pilot in command of any microlight aeroplane. 

(2) If the current certificate of revalidation for the rating is endorsed “single seat only” the holder is only entitled to act as pilot in command of any single seat microlight aeroplane. 

(3) If the aeroplane […]1 — 

(a) [ has ] 2 three axis controls and the holder’s previous training and experience has only been in an aeroplane with flexwing or weightshift controls; 

(b) [ has ] 3 flexwing or weightshift controls and the holder’s previous training and experience has only been in an aeroplane with three axis controls; […]

(c) [ has a maximum take-off mass of more than 475kg (or more than 495kg if the aeroplane is an amphibian or floatplane) and the holder’s previous training and experience has only been in a microlight aeroplane with a maximum take-off mass of 475kg or less (or 495kg or less if the aeroplane is an amphibian or floatplane); ]

[ (d) has a maximum take-off mass of 600kg or less (or 650kg or less if the aeroplane is an amphibian or floatplane) and the holder’s previous training and experience has only been in aeroplanes with a maximum take-off mass of more than 600kg (or more than 650kg if the aeroplane is an amphibian or floatplane); 

(e) is fitted with— (i) a tricycle undercarriage; 

(ii) a tailwheel; 

(iii) a supercharger or turbo-charger; 

(iv) a variable pitch propeller; 

(v) one or more Electronic Flight Information Systems; 

(vi) an autopilot system; 

(vii) more than one engine; or 

(viii) an electric engine, 

and the holder does not have training or experience in aeroplanes with such fitted features; or 

(f) has a maximum continuous cruising speed in excess of 140 knots indicated airspeed and the holder does not have experience in aeroplanes capable of that speed, ]

before exercising the privileges of the rating the holder must complete appropriate differences training. 

(4) The differences training mentioned in paragraph (3) must be given by a flight instructor entitled to instruct on the aeroplane on which the training is being given, recorded in the holder’s personal flying logbook and endorsed and signed by the instructor conducting the training. 

(5) Where the aeroplane is to be operated from water during take-off and landing, before exercising the privileges of the rating the holder must— (a) complete appropriate differences training; and 

(b) attain a pass in the Private or Professional Seamanship examination. 

(6) The differences training mentioned in paragraph (5) must be given by a flight instructor entitled to instruct on the aeroplane on which the training is being given, recorded in the holder’s personal flying logbook and endorsed and signed by the instructor conducting the training.

Notes 

1 Word revoked by Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2021/879 art.11(2) (August 19, 2021) 

2 Word inserted by Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2021/879 art.11(3) (August 19, 2021) 

3 Word inserted by Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2021/879 art.11(4) (August 19, 2021) 

4 Word revoked by Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2021/879 art.11(5) (August 19, 2021) 

5 Words substituted by Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2021/879 art.11(6) (August 19, 2021) 

6 Added by Air Navigation (Amendment) Order 2021/879 art.11(7) (August 19, 2021)