View Full Version : IR renewal after 7 years and ATPL theory

23rd May 2023, 20:25
Hi folks,
I'm going around in circles trying to get to the bottom of an issue and I'm hoping someone can point me to something I've missed and put my mind at rest....

I did my UK ATPL exam's back in 2012/2013 and then did my CPL/IR straight afterwards. (My IR was issued in 2013). I then went overseas and flew and held a CPL/IR in another ICAO state.

Sadly Covid prevented me returning to the UK in 2019 and 2020 when I intended to come home and renew my UK IR (before the 7 years from its expiry ended) but I have however just renewed my UK IR based on my valid ICAO IR without the need to re-do the theory exams.

Here's the question:

I now have my CPL and MEIR (plus UPRT and MCC) and wish to apply for jobs in the UK but are my ATPL theory exams still valid for the purposes of unfreezing an ATPL?
The derogation the UK got several years ago when under EASA means having a valid IR in an ICAO state negates the need to re-do the theory for an IR renewal outside of 7 years. Does that carry forward and mean when I come to unfreeze my ATPL I'm covered for the ATPL theory or am I in some unique and special position where I have the CPL/MEIR etc. but potentially don't have the theory and so wouldn't be able to either get an airline job or unfreeze my ATPL?

If you lasted this long, thanks for reading and thanks in anticipation to anyone who can point me to something concrete to confirm.



24th May 2023, 05:32
It all depends on interpretation.

You're covered for an airline job. ATPL theory credits are required for a first multi pilot type rating, and for that purpose the exams have no expiry.

As for the ATPL exam credits towards an actual ATPL, it's up to the authority to decide if they accept your ICAO IR or not. You could even potentially renew the IR via the CBIR route with no written exam (just an oral) and keep quiet because 1.) you now have a valid IR and 2.) we all know that the ATPLs are valid for another 7 years now!

24th May 2023, 13:35
This is a question I recently discussed with the CAA. The CAA’s opinion is that a foreign IR won’t preserve the exam pass credit for a future ATPL. The reason given was not particularly compelling and seemed not to have been carefully considered. I don’t think it’s consistent with the justification the CAA gave to the European Commission for the original exemption, Annex V to Commission Decision 2014/69/EU (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A32014D0069).

25th May 2023, 09:26
Thanks both,

Sounds like a classic case of which way the wind blows on any given day will determine how it's viewed?

Not what I wanted to hear but thanks for the input.


25th May 2023, 09:56
It really wouldn't surprise me if the CAA issued an ATPL based on previously expired theory credits as long as the IR was valid. Quite often the left hand doesn't talk to the right, and the person processing the paperwork is probably just working down a check list.

ATPL exams passed? ✅️
IR valid within the last 7 years? ✅️

If I were in that situation I would just apply anyway and try my luck. If you start asking questions then it might be elevated to someone with the authority to think!

25th May 2023, 10:02

In my case I did go outside the 7 years but because I had a valid ICAO IR I've been able to renew my IR without re-doing the exams. If the same rule (having a valid IR elsewhere keeps the exams alive) applies when you later unfreeze the ATPL then I'm OK but I can't see this written anywhere - it appears there are two standards?

29th May 2023, 18:12
FCL.025(c)(2) clearly statesThe completion of the airline transport pilot licence (ATPL) theoretical knowledge examinations will remain valid for the issue of an ATPL for a period of 7 years from the last validity date of:

(i) an IR entered in the licence; or

(ii) in the case of helicopters, a helicopter’s type rating entered in that licence.

You have an IR entered in the licence and it is currently valid. In accordance with the regulation, therefore, your examination passes will remain valid for the issue of an ATPL for 7 years after the last validity date of your current IR. It is difficult to see how this can reasonably be interpreted in any other way and sounds like a classic case for an appeal under Reg 6.