BGA FRTOL course

The next BGA Flight Radio Telephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course begins on Tuesday 5th December 2023, providing full training for the licence required to use most non-gliding VHF radio channels. If you’d like to participate, please register now here

We’re also recruiting experienced radio users to coach small groups of FRTOL students via Zoom; if you hold, and are confident using, any CAA-issued R/T qualification (including a FRTOL) then we’d love to have your help teaching this important skill to glider pilots.  Contact Paul Ruskin at for more information.

The course combines self-study video lectures, practice scripts, and weekly interactive Zoom sessions.  It will run on the following Tuesday evenings:

·       5th, 12th,19th December 2023

·       9th, 16th, 23rd January 2024

We also run small-group coaching (also usually conducted via Zoom). Over 150 BGA course graduates have passed the CAA FRTOL exams in the past 4 years, with the CAA Chief Examiner rating the quality of their R/T as "very high".

The CAA FRTOL practical exam is based on a simulated cross-country flight, with the examiner successively playing the parts of Air Traffic Service Units that the pilot must talk to en-route. Until recently this pretend flight had to be made in a powered aircraft, but the CAA is now allowing glider pilots to instead make a simulated glider flight if they wish.

Despite the option to customise the practical exam for gliding, passing it still leads to an unrestricted, ICAO-compliant FRTOL that allows full use of the radio in any aircraft, including motor gliders or any other powered aircraft. The BGA course therefore also covers R/T procedures for powered flight. FRTOL candidates must also pass a short multiple-choice theory exam, and again the course provides training for this.

The course costs £30, which covers Zoom fees and other expenses, with any surplus going to good gliding causes.  There's no obligation to take the FRTOL exams at the end of the course; we also welcome anyone who just wants to learn the right way to use the radio, or already has a FRTOL and would like to refresh their skills. Those who do take the CAA exams will have to pay their chosen examiner, and there may also be a CAA fee, so expect to pay £150-£250 overall to get a radio licence (valid for at least 10 years).  We may be able to give some bursaries for deserving causes.

There is no minimum experience requirement, but if you do not yet have a Bronze badge (or equivalent CAA pilot's licence), you’ll need to put in a few extra hours learning about Air Law and airspace classifications to Bronze standard.