More accessible Instrument Rating is now a reality
The long-awaited new regulation for a more accessible instrument rating is now a reality. The regulation, EU No 245/2014, comes bundled with several other other significant improvements for GA. Jacob Pedersen of AOPA Denmark reports that the new package contains:
1) The introduction of the new Enroute Instrument Rating (EIR)
2) Theoretical knowledge requirements for the IR adapted to what is relevant for flying non-complex aircraft with a PPL
3) A competency-based path to earn a full instrument rating
4) Holders of a third country ICAO compliant IR can be credited IN FULL for both the theoretical knowledge course and the practical training requirements
5) Possibility for third country license holders with residence in the EU to continue flying till April 8 2015 before an EASA license is mandatory
6) The privileges of PPL and LAPL licenses are extended so it is clear that the holder can make use of the new rules for cost-sharing for up to six individuals
7) The UK IMC rating can continue to be issued until at least 2019
The Enroute Instrument Rating (EIR), as the name suggests, allows the pilot to fly IFR during the enroute phase of the flight. It only requires a minimum of 15 hours of instrument flight instruction, but comes with significant limitations compared to the full IR. It has no approach privileges, and both the take-off and arrival must be flown VFR. The transition must take place et the minimum IFR enroute altitude which is typically 1,000 ft above the highest obstacle within 5nm. In other words, it is not a rating that will get you in or out of an airport in marginal conditions – you will be better off arriving VFR. The EIR can, however, allows you to enter class A airspace.
The theoretical knowledge curriculum has been reduced significantly and the required number of hours has been cut from 200 to 80, of which most can be done as distance learning. Physical classroom presence can be as little as eight hours if you are good at home study. The items that have been removed from the curriculum relate to flying high-performance aircraft at high altitudes. Should you later want to fly such an aircraft you will need to cover these subjects, but for a PPL holder wishing to fly a typical GA aircraft the new theoretical course will make the path to the instrument rating more simple.
The new competency-based route to the full instrument rating is another opening especially for the PPL holder who might already have some instrument experience or training from either the enroute instrument rating or from flying IFR on an instrument rating issued outside the EU. The competency-based path to the instrument rating requires 40 hours of instrument instruction. Of these, up to 30 hours can be credited based on prior experience and training.
Holders of an FAA issued instrument rating, or other ICAO-compliant third-country rating, with a minimum of 50 hours of IFR/PIC time will find that their rating can give them full credit for both the theoretical knowledge course and the practical training requirements. If they can pass an instrument skill test and during this test demonstrate that their theoretical knowledge is adequate, they can have the European full IR issued.
Third country license holders can also fly for another year. As part of the new regulation every European member state now has the option to postpone the deadline of the new rules that requires residents in the EU holding a third country license to convert to an EASA license. They can now continue flying within the EU until April 8, 2015 if the individual member state so decides after April 3 but before April 8 this year.
Many of the affected pilots hold an FAA license and use their FAA instrument rating to fly N-registered aircraft in Europe. These pilots now have a year to use the new competency-based path to pass in IR skill test and get a full European instrument rating. Alternatively they can hope that the bilateral safety agreement (BASA) between Europe and the US will be extended in time to allow them to keep flying in Europe. An effort is certainly being made, and there is pressure from IAOPA in both Europe and the US, but no guarantees for this strategy.
The new EU regulation also includes an extension of the privileges of the PPL and LAPL licence to make it clear that new rules allowing cost-sharing for up to six individuals do not require a commercial licence. The new cost-sharing rules are not yet officially published, but they are already referred to in other regulation. More details on these new possibilities will follow as the regulation is in fact published.
The UK IMC rating can continue to be issued till 2019. This rating, which follows a 15-hour minimum flying course and has a rigorous revalidation schedule which is designed to give pilots the ability to save their own lives in IMC by maintaining control of an aircraft and returning it to the ground by whatever instrument landing system is available, has been obtained by tens of thousands of British pilots despite conferring no additional access privileges – and in 40 years, only one IMC rating holder has been killed in actual IMC. The UK has fought hard to keep the IMC rating, the case for which it believes to be self-evident, and is likely to pursue its continuation before the five-year stay of execution. As always, the IMC rating will continue to be valid only in UK territory.
Altogether the new regulation opens up a future for GA where an instrument rating is now realistically achievable for the typical private pilot. Until now less than two percent of European private pilots have obtained a European instrument rating. In the US, the level is well over 40 percent. With the new more achievable path to a European instrument rating the hope is that we will start to see more instrument proficient private pilots getting more benefits from their license and with skills allowing them to fly even safer.
AOPA Germany wins single-radio clarification
AOPA Germany has won its campaign to turn back a German Ministry of Transport requirement that non-commercial General Aviation IFR aircraft be forced to carry two 8.33 kHz radios. The German National Supervisory Authority for Air Navigation Services (BAF) has now published its decision stating definitively that only one 8.33 kHz radio is required.
In January, the Federal Ministry of Transport replied to an AOPA request for clarification with a statement that two 8.33 kHz radios for IFR traffic had been mandated since January 1, 2014. This was contrary to the situation everywhere else in Europe, where one is sufficient. Given that loss of licence was a possible penalty for flying without the proper equipment, it raised the possibility that the German authorities would be seeking to revoke an EASA pilot's licence for a misdemeanour that EASA did not recognise.
For more than a year, AOPA Germany has been trying to obtain clarity on the question of whether, in view of the January 1 deadline for non-commercial IFR traffic to have 8.33 kHz capability, these aircraft were required to have one such radio or two. Germany's Air Traffic Control Regulation (FSAV) mandates two 8.33 radios for all aircraft above FL245, but there is no such pan-European regulation.
Dr Michael Erb, Managing Director of AOPA Germany, says: “We have always taken the position that in Europe a uniform standard should apply and that therefore, according to the new European equipment requirements for aircraft and the EU regulation on 8.33 radios, only one radio is necessary.
“We received from the Federal Ministry of Transport a letter dated 22 January 2014 informing us of their view that contrary to the European standard for non-commercial IFR flights, two 8.33 radios were required in Class C airspace in Germany. AOPA President Prof. Giemulla sent a letter directly to the new Federal Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, presenting him with the conflicting information we have been given and seeking an authoritative answer.
“The answer was a little slow in coming, but on March 24 the BAF published a revised FSAV which says in effect that only one 8.33 kHz radio is required, and the mandate for two 8.33 radios applies only to commercial aircraft. We thank all parties involved for their co-operation, which encourages us to continue to look for a critical and constructive dialogue with the authorities.”
Is your government ready to claim opt-out?
European governments are in the unusual situation of having only a five-day window to respond to an EASA opt-out which will allow the holders of FAA licences to continue flying N-registered aircraft unhindered for another year.
A law allowing the opt-outs does not take effect until April 3, while the law making it illegal for FAA licence holders domiciled in Europe to fly third-country aircraft on non-European licences takes effect on April 8. Between those dates, the nations of Europe must apply to EASA for permission to opt out, and if they do not do so, the affected pilots will be unable to fly.
Over recent months international AOPA has been pressurising governments to prepare their opt-out applications, but it is believed that not all have yet done so. In particular, some of the smaller states with under-developed general aviation are thought not to be ready. Prompted by national AOPAs, authorities in most northern European countries are said to have prepared their papers, while Germany appears to have jumped the gun by getting their application in before the law took effect. IAOPA is continuing its efforts to ensure that all European countries meet the deadline.
Dutch CAA reports infringement-free nuclear summit
The director of the Dutch CAA has complimented AOPA for its willing partnership in promulgating news of flying restrictions around the Nuclear Security Summit from March 23 to 26, at which the attendance of prominent world leaders caused serious security headaches. The extensive restrictions on flying around the Hague were widely reported by AOPA Netherlands, including in the last IAOPA Europe enews. As a result, there was not a single infringement of the airspace during the Summit. AOPA Netherlands wishes to thank our international colleagues for their cooperation.
AOPA Finland fights on to save Helsinki Malmi airport
Finland's Minister of Transport, Ms Merja Kyllonen from the Left Alliance, is ready to close Helsinki-Malmi airport, EFHF, and has said in an interview with Helsingin Sanomat that there are now no obstacles in the way of closure. AOPA Finland, however, is continuing the fight to save the airport from destruction.
The government intends to build a vast number of houses on the airport, and Kyllönen dismisses the campaign to save Malmi as “70 amateur pilots versus 10,000 inhabitants in the future”. This is a travesty of the truth. There are 1500 members belonging to several flying clubs who base their aircraft at Malmi. There is also a conflict of interest because private training to ATPL level costs around €130,000, including 24% VAT, whereas training to the same level at the state-owned Finnish Aviation Academy at Pori costs €320,000, with no VAT.
It is also questionable why the Minister of Transport is promoting the City of Helsinki's housing projects by planning to shut down an important airport. The Ministry of Transport and Communications has a duty to secure the necessary operating conditions for air transport in Finland.
But property developers have been lobbying politicians heavily because there are huge investments involved and massive profits at stake. The airport land, which covers 136 hectares, is owned by the City of Helsinki. The airport itself is owned by Finavia, but it pays no rent for the land. The State has a shareholding in Finavia, while Trafi, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency, which under EU law should enjoy a degree of independence, is controlled by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. The potential for conflicts of interest is a serious issue.
AOPA Finland is asking you to sign a petition in favour of the retention of Helsiki Malmi as an airfield. Malmi is one of the best-preserved of Europe's early civil aviation airports and provides a GA outlet for one million people in the Helsinki area. Despite being the second-busiest airport in Finland with 38,450 landings last year, Helsinki-Malmi airport complex has been selected twice (2004 and 2006), on the world's 100 Most Endangered Sites list maintained by the World Monuments Fund. It is also a vital link in the pan-European chain of general aviation airports. As well as providing flight training and engineering education it is home to the Finnish border guard, rescue services, air force and police, and it represents a rare and valuable bird sanctuary and wildlife oasis in north-eastern Helsinki.
Those fighting to save the airport have put together a list of reasons why Helsinki-Malmi must be retained for aviation. Not only is it vital for GA – the activities at Malmi could not be dispersed, only destroyed – but it is an important part of the cultural heritage of Helsinki. The first aircraft landed at Malmi more than 75 years ago. The airport enjoys widespread local support, with more than 50,000 Finns having signed the petition.
You can read the list in English at www.pelastamalmi.org/en/index.html, where there is a lot of interesting historical information about Malmi. You can also sign the petition online.
AOPA Italy fights conversion costs
The President of AOPA Italy, Rinaldo Gaspari, has met with officials of the Civil Aviation Authority to address the problem of the high cost of converting licenses from JAR to EASA there. An Italian pilot has to pay up to €200 for the conversion, as they have to pay €90 for the validation of FAA licenses obtained on the basis of their national licenses, which re rendered invalid by the fact that the EASA licences have different numbers to the JAR versions. The CAA is studying the issue of costs.
Athens Flying Week is coming!
AOPA Greece and the Athens Flying Week organising committee are already answering pilots' questions about this year’s international event. A new revised edition of all relevant information, incorporating answers to most questions received so far, will be available in AOPA site (www.aopa.gr) by mid-April.
The general outlook for AFW 2014 is as follows:
(a) AFW fly in from Sept 15 to Oct 5
During this period, each participating pilot may plan his own flying schedule. Arrival and departure dates, and days at selected airports are to be decided by the pilot only. Participation in other AFW activities is suggested; but again it is for the pilot to decide.
During this period AOPA Greece will be manning a pilot support office which will provide pilots with all necessary information – airports operating hours, fuel availability and price, hotel suggestions and anything else a pilot may need abroad. This pilot support office will be useful especially to seaplane pilots, who will be flying for the first time in a country that has approved seaplanes just a few months ago.
So far, participating airports are, LGSR Santorini, LGKF Kefalinia, LGZA Zakinthos, LGTS Thessaloniki, LGRP Rhodes, LGSM Samos, LGST Sitia. More airports are to be announced by mid April.
(b) AFW activities in Athens area from Sept 22 to Sept 28
During the last week of September a lot of aviation activities are planned in the Athens area, to arouse public awareness of general aviation. These activities include exhibitions of aviation-related material in selected places in central Athens, seaplane and aerobatic operations along the Athens coastline, a Greek aviation forum and above all, of course, the Regional Meeting of IAOPA EU to be held in Athens, on Sept 27
Participating pilots are invited to attend these activities, in addition to usual visits to Athens Acropolis and various Museums.
(c) AFW aviation exhibition and Air Show, 26-28 Sept
The highlight of AFW is the international aviation exhibition and Air Show at Tatoi Military airport. General aviation, military aircraft, helicopters, gliders, microlights, everything that flies in the air will present a continuous three-day air show. More than 50,000 spectators attended the AFW Air Show last year. It is by far the biggest international aviation event in South East Europe
Participating pilots are strongly advised not to miss this opportunity.
China on the rise in the GA world
The contrasting approaches of Europe and China to general aviation were highlighted by IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson at a regional conference on GA in Cyprus. China is planning to build 150 new airports over the next 10 years, and by 2020, according to the head of the Chinese CAA, they plan to have 15,000 private pilots and 5,000 GA aircraft flying two million hours a year. That's small beer compared to America and Europe, but it's a start, and the Chinese are planning for continuous expansion. Across Europe, however, we are struggling to find any growth for GA. “If Europe fails to get its aviation policies right, we will be importing pilots and engineers from China in the future as we will have priced ourselves out,” Mr Robinson told the conference.
While the Chinese draw up plans for opening up airspace to VFR operations and but up GA companies like Cirrus and Mooney, there seems to be little appetite in Europe to help GA compete. “We need to be more competitive on a global basis, and we need policies and regulations that deliver growth in our sector of civil aviation,” Mr Robinson said. “ICAO is raising concerns as to where the future aviation professionals will come from. They estimate that 350,000 pilots and 400,000 engineers are needed, but there is little to inspire the next generation of aviation professionals.
“Across Europe today there are some 50,000 GA aircraft and between 150,000 and 200,000 GA pilots, and the industry turns over between between €25 and €35 billion. It plays a vital role in connecting towns and regions which cannot support commercial services. Think about the vast number of Greek islands – airports in Greece are more important than railway stations, yet European officials solely focus on large transportation systems.”
Southern Europe, with its better weather, has greater potential for GA growth than Northern Europe, Mr Robinson added. “Now that the new European Instrument Rating has been approved, perhaps southern countries can capitalise on new opportunities in the training market.”
He warned, however, that the general aviation sector itself has to stop its continuing sub-division into separate niches like business aviation or sport and recreational aviation. “Agencies like EASA can be seen as the lion, a hungry predator pursuing two men across the plains of Africa, one of whom knows that by outrunning the other he might save himself. But that is a short-term strategy, and however fast you run, the lion is still there. We have to stand together as general aviation if we are to survive and thrive.”
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