View Full Version : CAA driving me nuts.

28th May 2010, 11:39
So it's taken 7 months approve the change of state for my JAR from a Swedish to a UK license. All this for £176.

Finally an email came through where they said they were ready to exchange my license and needed my Swedish JAA to be sent in. As I was in the US at the time I sent it by UPS and it arrived on the 17th of May.

Now having returned home recently I'd expected the new license to waiting for me in the post, but of course it wasn't. So I call.

"It can take 12 working days, but probably longer"

This was a number that sounded strangely familiar. It was the same time they'd quoted in the beginning for the change of state application. The one that in reality took 7 months.

So I rang back.

"No, the change of state has already been approved. All I need now is the new license to be printed and sent out"

"Oh, I see"

This worried me as it meant they actually didn't have the right information on their files and/or are clueless. Shouldn't they know this when you have a reference number?

"Well, you can come in before 12.00, get a waiting list number and get it done".
"Can I talk to the licensing desk to make sure it's OK to pick it up?"
"No, we don't connect to the licensing desk".

Alright, fine. But since I sent my license in by post and arranged for it to be sent out to my home, I just know that if I drive 2 hrs to come in they'll say
"Oh no, Mr Frisch, it can only be sent out by post now as that's how you sent it in. It's in process".

Has anyone got experience with this? They seem to be very badly clued in up there and the lady I was talking to was very aloof, like an old headmaster, just waiting to pounce on some minor flaw.

Are they always like this?

28th May 2010, 11:47
Welcome aboard!
There is a broader issue here, the more difficult they make it, the more chance you will (unknowingly) commit an offence and then they can take you to court and claim very extravagant costs.
jobs for the boys!:bored:

28th May 2010, 12:30
Are the CAA Civil Servants?

If so, let's hope for some cuts and then dealing with them might be come easier.


md 600 driver
28th May 2010, 12:41
Are the CAA Civil Servants?

civil maybe
servants definately no

your the servant

28th May 2010, 13:03
the lady I was talking to was very aloof, like an old headmasterThey are an equal opportunities employer!
No they are not Civil Servants!
The real problem is that all the cut backs of the last few years has left them devoid of competent management.

You could always right to the Chairperson (Dame Edna) and ask why they have failed to meet their declared targets. She's a food expert so you'll probably have to wait till she's finished her lunch!

28th May 2010, 13:51
Hi Adam,

I have no idea what can have possessed you to transfer your licence from a country with a long standing reputation for quiet efficiency to... er... the UK. However, now the damage is done you need to know a few basic rules for dealing with any department of British central government or any of the governent's stand-alone agencies such as the CAA.

I have a great deal of bitter experience of dealing with the Civil Service stretching back over a good many years. So the following rules have been learned the hard way.

First of all, whenever you send them anything by mail, always send it either by recorded delivery or by registered mail and keep a copy in a safe place together with the mailing receipt attached. This way, you have evidence of posting the item to them and also a means of tracking the item should they try to deny it ever arrived at their offices.

Secondly, never seek information over the telephone. Telephone conversations are deniable. Their minions will tell you whatever they think will please you just to get rid of you. If later you try to take them to task about something they said over the 'phone, they will either, pretend they don't know whom you could possibly have been speaking to, or else the person concerned will deny ever having said any such thing to you.

If you must speak to them over the 'phone, always take down the name and job-title of each person you speak to and make a written note of the conversation with the date and keep it in a safe place.

If you write to them and receive no reply within 21 days, write again, (by recorded delivery or registered mail,) enclosing a copy of the original item and demanding a reply. If again you receive no reply within 21 days, complain to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman and/or your MP.


Good luck.


28th May 2010, 15:37
I'm starting to see my error in changing state...

Dying to go flying, but I'm not allowed to because my license is stuck in bureaucratic hell. Exactly how illegal is it to go flying without it physically in the aircraft?

Fuji Abound
28th May 2010, 15:43

There would seem to speak a man that has gradually be worn down like the rest of us :).

In terms of the CAA the only thought I can add if at all possible do everything in person - they seem to be very co-operative if you turn up and work things through over the desk.

28th May 2010, 15:55
I always go personally to the Public Desk at the Belgrano. I must have made 5 or 6 visits over the last few years for one thing or another.

I have always had a friendly reception and have never been in there for more than 30 minutes and have always left with the problem resolved.

You cannot beat a face-to-face encounter (no pun intended).

Perhaps I have just been lucky?

28th May 2010, 16:07
I don't think its illegal to not have it in the plane( I never do) but the point is you have to check it to see if it contains any mistakes before you fly,and the only way to do that is by having it in your hand.
If you fly without having it and have an accident and it susequently turns up with mistakes you will not have been insured at the time of the accident as the onus is on you to check that you are legal before you fly.
Of course you wait in lovely weather only for it to arrive in perfect condition and then the weather craps out for 6 weeks!:ugh:

28th May 2010, 17:06
No, I'll just have to wait until Tuesday and drive up there to resolve it.

28th May 2010, 17:38
I don't think its illegal to not have it in the planeProvided that the flight is intended to begin and end at the same aerodrome and does not include passage over the territory of any country other than the United Kingdom, that is true so long as it is kept at the aerodrome at which the flight began. If, however, you intend to land at another aerodrome, your licence, as well as the other mandatory documents listed in Schedule 9 must be carried in the aircraft. But, of course you knew that, didn't you?

28th May 2010, 18:07
You cannot beat a face-to-face encounter (no pun intended).

You mean their real people in that Battleship? :eek:

Peter PanPan
28th May 2010, 18:34
The UK CAA... Don't even get me started on these guys! I couldn't agree more with Broomstick and the others who have posted here: Adam, what have you done?
I find them the most uncompetent Aviation Authority I have ever dealt with, it truly leaves you a bitter taste when you get ripped off by their fees and get the "customer service" they provide, or should I say an complete void of customer service. Aloof? You must have meant snotty lady right? I have written about a dozen emails to them and not once they have been back to me within the 10 working days they claim.
Seems like we all should Transfer State to somewhere else!

28th May 2010, 18:49
She's a food expert so you'll probably have to wait till she's finished her lunch!

I guess that you mean the very nice, heavily-subsidised lunch that all SRG staff enjoy in their long lunch breaks in the top-floor restaurant.

Of course the subsidy is paid from fee income.

It really gives me a warm feeling knowing that these idle and incompetent wasters are filling their faces at my expense.

Zulu Alpha
28th May 2010, 22:12
Dying to go flying, but I'm not allowed to because my license is stuck in bureaucratic hell. Exactly how illegal is it to go flying without it physically in the aircraft?

The issue is whether they have issued it yet.
However, if your Swedish one is valid, then why can't you fly on that even if you don't have it in your hands. I assume you have a copy in case you need to prove validity.


28th May 2010, 22:19
Your licence is not valid until you have signed it; if the old one has been canceled, then you can only wait for the new one to arrive. I think the Chairman should be asked why it has taken 7 months to perform such a simple task! She can't improve things if she doesn't know what the problems are.

29th May 2010, 07:13
Hi Guys,

In my last post I ought to have mentioned that before you can approach the Parliamentary Ombudsman, you have to exhaust any internal complaints procedure provided by the department concerned.

In my experience, these departmental complaints procedures are of limited value. Unless your complaint arises for something very simple and obvious, they tend to take the part of the officer against whom you are complaining.

However, if such a complaints procedure does exist, it must be used before you go to the Ombudsman.

Some guys have mentioned that you get better service if you go in person to the Belgrano. This is true, so long as you come away with whatever you have gone there for in your hot little hand. However, if you come away with a mere promise that the CAA will do something for you at some time in the future, then at least get the name of the person you spoke to and confirm whatever you have agreed to afterwards in writing.

I could write a book about all this, including about the Ombudsman, but I think I had better stop here. All this is not good for my blood pressure.



29th May 2010, 09:57
Lucky you don't have to deal with the Irish IAA (Institution Against Aviation !).
Their Airworthiness department is second to none, however their personnel licensing department is a complete and utter nightmare.

29th May 2010, 11:37
You will undoubtedly need a few flights with an instructor after not having flown for seven months. You could take the CAA to a small claims court to get those costs back.

30th May 2010, 00:10
As long as everything is current no problem

30th May 2010, 01:24
I have flown on my Swedish license. I just surrendered it 2 weeks ago. It's taken 7 months for the approval of change of state.

30th May 2010, 09:37
From the little knowledge I have of collegues who have swapped from the Swedish CAA I would give the benifit of the doudt to Gatwick about who has been stalling the process.

Also as well as much as we moan about Gatwick the costs/ bullpoo of maintaining a Swedish license are 10x worse than a British one.

It isn't until you hear about some of the other CAA's that you realise that our own isn't as bad as we think.

30th May 2010, 11:35
Some real scary biscuits in this thread! I'm doing my Skills test next week and all being well I hope to send them all my paperwork and a massive fee in exchange for the poo wallet. Of course, I will be sending all by registered post but how long is the lead time to get the license through on my end? No doubt there will be a variation in their target and the actual time but how much variance will there be between the two? (I feel that is a 'How long is a piece of string' question).

Also, other than Registered post, is there anything else I should consider? (I have the logbook backed up)


30th May 2010, 12:12
In general it does work as they describe.

Occassional sods law works and a bit of paper goes missing.

They publish on the caa site what date of recieved paper work thay are working on so you can see whats happening.

Just photo copy everything and send it by reg post. The main reason for this is to stop them from denying that it ever arrived.

30th May 2010, 12:31
Might I also add that whatever sparse communication between CAA and me has all been through emails. Only thing I've received via mail is the initial receipt of the fee paid and the cover letter, about 6 months ago. The rest has been emailed from a spam-looking FCLWEB address.

Now I love email, however, in cases of flight crew licensing like this I do think that backups should also be sent by post, as at no time have they ever confirmed that the email address they had to me was actually correct. So they rely heavily on the "who cares if he doesn't get it - he'll be contacting us as it's in his interest"-approach.

Mad Jock could be correct, that the delay was on the part of the Swedish side. That's entirely plausible as they're not the fastest bunch. But nevertheless, after the last email where they asked me to send in my Swedish license for the physical swap to the CAA one (if you come in, this takes just a couple of hours, apparently), which they got the 17th May, you'd think I'd have it by now. Even if they were really slow on the draw and sent it out a week later, that's still leaves all of last week for it to arrive.

My worry is just the cluelessness when you call up and quote your case number. It doesn't seem like anything gets logged down there. It was as if I was speaking to her for the first time and wanted to apply for a license exchange.

I'm sure it will all get sorted, it's just the time and money I have to spend driving to Gatwick and the down time I could be flying.

30th May 2010, 17:13
Sorry to get out of line here, but my experience with the CAA has been fine.

To get my PPL i had to wait a few weeks as announced, but when i called they correctly informed me on when i could expect it.
Subsequent ratings (night, imc, mep) all similar stories. Also similar with releasing my details to the FAA.

I once wrote to the CAA regarding using the imc for flying airways (!). Initially they did not respond but after an email prompt i got my answer.

It's is true that a better tracking system could improve things and I am sure some people have bad experiences, problem with a forum is we only hear the bad stories.......

There is always room for improvement and especially with non-commercial organizations which don't seem to depend on their clients for survival, but at least my experience was not that bad...

30th May 2010, 17:58
Personnel Licensing | Safety Regulation (http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?catid=137)

If you look at the bottom of the page that tells you what date they are working on.

11th Jun 2010, 18:35
Afternoon all.

Time for my input.

9th May - Passed skills test.

10th May - Posted all paperwork, passport, logbook etc.

12th May - Royal Mail confirmed package was delivered and signed for at the CAA (Safe to say the ten working days have

17th May - Huge amount of money disappears from bank account (I assume this is a good sign, the CAA are getting on with it
just three working days after receipt of the application).

27th May - Received an email stating that the third page (declaration) of the Night Quanlification is missing. Within two
hours of receipt of the email I printed off the required page, signed it and faxed back to them. Ten minutes later I
followed the fax up with a phone call to ensure they had received it. The email stated that I would be looking at another
ten working days. Harsh, I thought, especially as I had responded so quickly and the mistake was a simple one. This occurs
eleven working days after they had received the original applciation.

3rd June - Telephoned the CAA for progress of my application. Was informed that the fax was received on the 27th May and
that I'd be looking at ten working days from that date. Harsh, I thought again, though five days had already elapsed. Only
a week to go, I thought. Went for just over an hour's flight in order to stay current that afternoon. Unfortunately I had
to make the flight alone, which wasn't exactly what I'd got in mind.

Today (11th June) - Nothing. Telephoned the CAA again for a progress check. Was informed, again, that the fax was received
on the 27th and linked to my application successfully (??!!! It was two hours after they emailed me!! How hard could that
be?). I was then given the usual 'Ten working days from the 27th'. Not realising, I gave a disheartened 'OK thanks' and
Some investigation has become necessary. After a quick trawl around on here I found a thread 'CAA driving me nuts.' This
triggers a flood of worries. Am I going to be waiting months? I checked the above link and it shows that on Monday (7th
June) they were checking paperwork received on the 19th May. TEN DAY TURNAROUND??! Assuming they process a specific day's
applications each day, that would mean that today they're assessing applications from the 23rd June. This means that they'd
be looking at processing the applications from my day (Now the 27th May) next Thursday (17th June). This equates to a
staggering 15 days. 50% over quoted time. Plus a good few days in the post.

Unlucky for me, holiday coming up, passport needed. Another solo flight probably needed to stay confident. I don't agree
with the fob-offs on the telephone when it clearly contradicts both what has already happened and what it states on the CAA

Anyway, apologies for long, drawn out description of the long, even more drawn out process. I understand I made a mistake,
fair enough. I do feel, however, that the money should not have been taken from my account until the licence was issued.
This, to me, is wrong. Supposing I get the licence next Monday (21st June), that means I'll have gone six weeks since the date of passing my skills

Any views/opinions? Surely on the CAA's part some common-sense and perhaps a little heart would be welcome. I mean, if I
were processing applications and I found an error that was rectified in less than two hours by the applicant surely the right
thing to do would be to carry on where I left off, not brush it to the back of the queue and start fobbing off?


11th Jun 2010, 18:52
Mr Rodge
Won't your school/club allow you to fly locally with a copy of your FCL 684 Skill test report form until your brown book arrives?
Stay current and don't let the ba£[email protected]<hidden> grind you down

11th Jun 2010, 19:47
Mr rodge, it's my understanding that the 10 day turnaround only applies when you hand in the paperwork direct to the PLD desk at Gatwick and its all in order, by post the time varies, I've heard of times varying between 2 and 6 weeks depending how on how busy they are.

Captain Smithy
11th Jun 2010, 19:56
According to the CAA, my place of birth is "Edingburgh", or so it says on my license :ugh:

Had a bit of bother with my RT application, all got sorted though after a few weeks.


11th Jun 2010, 20:46

They're letting me hire an aircraft, it's just the whole passenger thing. I have a list of family/friends (particularly the mrs who wants to start seeing me again on Sundays) as long as my arm dying to see the home town and I can't wait to share the passion.


Zulu Alpha
11th Jun 2010, 22:45
Very frustrating. I am waiting for something from the CAA and when I phoned I was told that "we are working to service commitment levels" which means it won't be done for 5 days....oh of course you can pay a £300 expediting fee and have it done by tomorrow.

I don't want to say what and who in case my application gets 'lost' but I do find it infuriating, especially as it is just a piece of paperwork which will add 0 to safety.


11th Jun 2010, 23:16
mr_rodge, my flight school in Florida was extremely meticulous about the accuracy and completeness of information in my logbook and application forms for my JAA PPL license (through the UK CAA) They knew that any errors would cause lengthy delays in the application process.

When I came back to the UK, I waited three weeks before I could go flying, even though I had no issues with my application. I was dying to go up there, but was told I wasn't allowed to do so legally. My friends who did the FAA PPL were given temporary licenses (valid for a couple of weeks) until the FAA sent them their permanent photo-license. Quite a neat idea IMHO as one doesn't want to go rusty, which could affect safety, having just acquired new skills!

I hope your problem gets sorted soon. I would suggest you to ring them and chase up on it.

12th Jun 2010, 00:37
43 years ago I passed my driving test. The examiner gave me a "pink slip" to say so, and off I went, straight round to all my my mates houses to take them for a spin, perfectly legally.

17 years ago I passed my MEP rating and the examiner gave me the stuff to send off to the CAA. I got straight back in the twin and went for a spin (solo) but it did not remotely occur to me that It might not have been legal to do so, even alone never mind with passengers.

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