The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced that aircraft operating under a Permit to Fly airworthiness approval, and overseen by the Light Aircraft Association (LAA), can from today be authorised to fly at night or under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR). Such aircraft have previously been restricted to daytime flights under Visual Flight Rules (VFR).

The change of policy will allow owners of LAA 'Permit' aircraft to apply to the organisation for permission for night and/or IFR operations. The LAA will then base their decision on design criteria for the aircraft type and continuing airworthiness assessments.

The CAA said its decision will allow existing well-equipped aircraft access to the IFR environment and encourage other candidate aircraft to become better equipped. It should also result in more pilots undertaking training to obtain instrument ratings.  

The announcement was made ahead of this year's Flyer Live general aviation show where the agreement between the CAA and the LAA will be formally announced.  

Tony Rapson, Head of the General Aviation unit at the CAA, said:

“This new policy is the result of a lot of hard work between us and the LAA, and it is fantastic to now see the fruit of that labour. This will be good for pilots and owners of Permit aircraft and also good for GA in general. We are determined to keep improving the regulatory landscape for recreational flying in the UK.”

The agreement was reached after the CAA accepted the procedures recommended under the LAA's BCAR A8-26 Approval for the assessment of individual National Permit to Fly aeroplanes for flight at night and/or under IFR conditions. These procedures provide an 'Acceptable Means of Compliance', demonstrating that after assessment the aircraft concerned will meet, and be maintained to meet, an agreed set of criteria. Certain limitations - such as prohibited flight in areas of known or forecast airframe icing or thunderstorm activity - will still apply.

Stephen Slater, Chief Executive of the Light Aircraft Association, said:

“The project acknowledges and accommodates the huge advances in instrument and navigation technology available nowadays in the non-certificated sphere. 

“It will also enhance safety by providing an incentive for improvements in aircraft equipment, pilot capabilities and instrument qualifications such as IMC(R) / EIR / IR. Acceptance of the Night IFR criteria by the CAA follows a detailed review of the LAA's safety case and a successful trial period on four representative aircraft which have been evaluated using the LAA's newly-developed procedures, we're now looking forward to offering this extended capability to eligible members' aircraft.”

For further press information, call the CAA Press Office on 0207 453 6030 or email

Notes to Editors

  • Flyer Live will take place at the Telford International Centre 2-4 December 2016
  • The CAA is the UK's aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.