EASA Management Board seeks fundamental change
The EASA Board of Management has backed a new strategy for the regulation of general aviation in Europe following a strenuous IAOPA campaign to get the European Commission to revisit its whole approach to lawmaking for GA. The Management Board, which comprises representatives of every European national government, has recognised that GA must be separated from commercial aviation for lawmaking purposes because EASA's 'one size fits all' approach isn't working. It has come into line with IAOPA's long-stated position that regulations must be proportionate, flexible and risk-based, using good quality safety data where possible rather than perceptions and hunches. The Board goes so far as to say that Basic Regulation 216/2008, which is the EC's guidance document on which all EASA regulation is based, should be amended.
The Board's findings represent a breakthrough in the long campaign to reduce the debilitating impact of EASA on the GA industry, but there is a gulf between deciding something must be done, and actually doing it. IAOPA-Europe is now identifying specific steps that must be taken to address the problems. While it's possible to take aim at individual regulations, there also needs to be a philosophical change at EASA, which must accept that there should be no regulation without a demonstrated safety need. The problems are compounded by the fact that EASA has already delivered thousands of pages of regulation, much of it written in dense and barely understandable legalese, and it continues to churn out new material even while the shortcomings of its regulation are accepted.
IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson said: "We are taking a multi-faceted approach. It is important that the European Commission and the Parliament endorse a new strategy, and at the same time we must zero in on the 'quick wins' that the new atmosphere allows. For instance, we have suggested that the proposal for all flying schools to become Approved Training Organisations should be amended so that all that changes is the name. The current plan to have ATOs audited by national authorities every year, and for every course they offer to be separately audited, will create endless bureaucracy and cost the industry millions, and there's no good reason for the change. This is the sort of thing that EASA must now pay attention to."
There has been a proposal that EASA should set up a new GA department, but this would lead to even greater bureaucracy and cost. It has mooted setting up a sub-group of its Safety Standards Consultative Committee dedicated to GA. IAOPA-Europe will be discussing the situation at its quarterly meeting in Cyprus this month. Martin Robinson said: "This is a significant moment for general aviation, which is an industry that supports 150,000 jobs in Europe. But it will only revitalise our industry if we capitalise on what the Management Board has set out. This is where the work really starts."
The outcome of the Management Board's deliberations represent a success for a number of aviation groups acting together, including the European Business Aircraft Association, the European Council of General Aviation Support, the Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association, who said: "This strategy owes a great deal to the efforts of our sister associations, including LAMA and ECOGAS. In particular, the International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations (IAOPA) played an instrumental role in bringing about this document."
IAOPA renews SESAR contract
The contract between IAOPA and SESAR has been renewed, allowing IAOPA to ensure that general aviation's interests are protected as Europe maps out its future air traffic management system. SESAR is the research project which will lead to the Single European Sky and its deliberations affect everything from airspace designations to satellites, ground infrastructure, cockpit equipment and pilot training. IAOPA has been involved in what became SESAR for more than seven years and has deployed significant resources to ensuring that GA has equitable access to the airspace of the future. Airlines, aircraft manufacturers, equipment makers and Air Navigation Service Providers are allocating huge resources to SESAR, and when the big beasts like Airbus and Thales are in the driving seat, GA could easily be left behind. In fact, SESAR began with the airlines questioning whether there as any need for uncontrolled airspace at all; IAOPA was instrumental in gaining acceptance of the fact that it was absolutely vital to the health of all aviation. Ben Stanley of AOPA UK and Michael Erb of AOPA Germany are looking after IAOPA's interests at SESAR and sit on several of its working groups. Thanks to them, IAOPA has become an integral and valued part of SESAR. In conjunction with AOPA US, IAOPA-Europe also plays a major part in the difficult process of harmonising America's future airspace system, NextGen, with SESAR.
IAOPA staves off VFR charges again
The subject of charging VFR traffic for air navigation services has once again raised its head, but IAOPA has been able to convince its proponents that it would be a bad idea. Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) across Europe are feeling the pinch from recession-induced reductions in commercial air traffic and are desperate for cash, while many airlines resent the fact that VFR and sub-two-tonne IFR flights pay no en route charges. The subject was discussed at length during the September meeting of Eurocontrol's Enlarged Committee for Route Charges, where IAOPA's Martin Robinson was able to argue successfully that while VFR charging sounded superficially attractive, it wouldn't work in practice. The cost of collecting it would match or exceed the revenue, and ANSPs would have to guarantee service to VFR traffic, which most are not currently set up to do and which would be seriously expensive. At the moment ANSPs send a claim for services to VFR traffic to their respective states, which are supposed to pay what they consider to be reasonable. Germany, for instance, gets a bill for €22 million and pays €6.5 million – but other states like Greece and Poland pay nothing and are deeply in debt to their ANSPs. The Committee was advised to remind states of their obligation to ANSPs under EU regulations, which set out exemptions for categories of traffic including state aircraft, military training conducted by civilian companies in sub-two-tonne aircraft, and VFR.
GA twins under EASA attack
IAOPA-Europe is making a last-ditch attempt to stop the imposition of new regulations on private twin-engined aircraft which would make it illegal for them to land at some 900 European airfields that they have used safely for years. EASA is extending ICAO’s requirement for accelerate-stop distances for multi-engined aircraft to cover not just commercial air transport, as ICAO does, but private flights. This means that safety systems meant by ICAO to protect the paying public will now be forced upon small twins.
As a result, small twins will no longer be able to use runways which are not long enough runway to meet accelerate-stop rules which require an aircraft that has reached flying speed to be able to decelerate and stop before the end of the runway if an engine fails. IAOPA’s Jacob Pedersen argued forcefully against the EASA extension during the consultation phase, but to no avail.
The rule will force some small twin owners, already operating under a costly and onerous regulatory burden, to downgrade to singles in order to continue using their airfields. As Pedersen points out, this means they will become less safe for 99.9 percent of a flight in order to be more safe for a couple of seconds during take-off.
In September Martin Robinson met with Carl Heinz Florenz, a Euro MEP on the Transport Committee, and his advisers to discussed the accelerate-stop requirements and seek ways to get the European Commission to modify them. The figure of 900 airfields has been calculated by AOPA Germany using the Jeppesen database. For many of these airfields, light twins represent premium traffic. Companies like Hawker Beechcraft have woken up to the potential impact on sales of the European rule, for which there is no demonstrated safety need. They want Europe to adopt the ICAO recommendation, which says the accelerate-stop requirements do not apply to non-commercial piston or turbine aircraft below 5,700 kg.
Martin Robinson says: This issue also points up the lack of joined-up thinking among the members states. During the comitology stage, the French delegate voted in favour of this, while his own DGAC was arguing passionately in favour of less onerous regulation of GA. Our only recourse now is to try to get the Parliament to reject it now, although the Parliament doesn’t have a lot of say in these matters. It’s a last-ditch attempt to stave it off.”
UK maintenance group settles disputes
AOPA UK reports that one of the most regular requests it gets from members is to resolve disputes between aircraft owners and maintainers, and in order to improve co-operation it has started a Maintainers Working Group to discuss the most common issues that arise, and how they should be handled. The Working Group members have decided to draft a Code of Practice for Maintenance and Repair that they themselves will follow, and which could be recommended to other light aircraft maintainers. Many disputes arise from unrealistic expectations on the part of owners, and maintainers are concerned that the cost of EASA approvals, which they have to pass on, are resulting in new frictions. A common understanding prior to the commencement of work is desirable. The Code of Practice reads as follows:
Light Aircraft Maintenance Organisation Commitment to Customer
An aircraft owner who is a customer of a light aircraft maintenance organisation that subscribes to the AOPA Code of Practice for Maintenance and Repair is provided the following commitment.
• We will endeavour to contact you at least two weeks in advance of any scheduled maintenance due to fix a mutually acceptable time and date to receive your aircraft at our facility.
• A full explanation of any mandatory requirements ADs, SBs, etc. that you need to have carried out when your aircraft is with us, in addition to the routine scheduled work, will be given in detail.
• Any additional work requested by you will be agreed at the time of booking.
• Estimates and quotations can be provided upon request and before any work is carried out if required.
• Accepted methods of payment will be confirmed prior to any work commencing. (For lengthy or expensive projects stage payments may be agreed)
• We will agree with you the parts to be used. Should you wish to source and pay for parts directly this can be discussed and we may be able to agree, subject to the inclusion of a suitable administration fee to cover the approval of any necessary paperwork that you need to provide.
• All parts supplied by us remain our property until we are in receipt of cleared funds.
• Replaced parts will be made available to you for examination upon request. (Unless required for part exchange by our supplier.)
• The quality of any subcontract work e.g. avionics, weighing, welding etc. remains our responsibility unless purchased directly by yourself.
• Any additional work found to be needed, during the maintenance procedure, will be advised to you in writing or by email, and will be required to be prior authorised by you, unless otherwise agreed.
• All elements of the work carried out will be explained in full upon collection/delivery.
• Final invoicing will clearly show labour, parts, additional charges and VAT. Once our explanation of the work is complete payment is due upon collection/delivery, which should be within seven days. Thereafter, a daily storage charge may be raised.
• Aircraft must have valid insurance whilst within our custody
• We ensure that all our staff are competent to carry out the work within their responsibilities.
• A competent member of staff will appropriately supervise trainees.
• Appropriate equipment is used to carry out the work we undertake.
• All work is carried out in strict accordance of the National Airworthiness Authority regulations appropriate to your aircraft.
• In the event of a complaint our Chief Engineer or Accountable Manager should be informed immediately.
IAOPA-Europe Regional Meeting in Cyprus
The 127th IAOPA-Europe regional meeting will be held in Larnaca, Cyprus, on Saturday October 27th. Delegates from more than a dozen countries have already registered to attend, and more are expected. The RM comes at a crucial time, with EASA's Board of Management having signalled its readiness for a change in the way general aviation is overseen by the Agency, and IAOPA will be planning a strategy to ensure that words are translated into deeds.
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Email fraud targets EASA
EASA approvals holders have been targeted by email fraudsters attempting to get payments of fees and charges redirected into their own bank accounts, and EASA is warning all those who pay it money to beware. Emails purporting to come from EASA say the Agency has changed its bank account; EASA has not done so. Bank details remain:
ING Matisse Business Branch
Avenue Henry Matisse,
ACCOUNT NR: 310 1698326 39
IBAN: BE13 3101 6983 2639
EASA will never ask for payment of fees to any other account. Furthermore, the Agency points out that it will never ask for copies of invoices. It asks recipients to forward fraudulent emails as an attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org.