EASA gives a little on instrument flying
Good news and bad news from EASA. Their Draft Opinion on NPA-2011-16, ‘Qualifications for flying in Instrument Meteorological Conditions’, has been published and takes on board some important suggestions made by IAOPA Europe. In particular, it has acceded to the suggestion that pilots converting from ICAO-compliant instrument ratings such as the FAA IR should not need to sit written theory exams. Instead, they will simply need to demonstrate adequate knowledge to the Examiner during their Skill Test. Nick Wilcock of AOPA UK reports: “Conversion of suitably experienced pilots holding ICAO IRs wishing to convert to the new ‘competency-based’ IR should be much simpler, requiring no written exams. Instead, the IR Skill Test will include an assessment by the Examiner to confirm that the applicant has the relevant theoretical knowledge for the C-B IR.”
Overall, the document remains both prescriptive and bureaucratic. Wilcock adds: “Regrettably, the Agency has failed both to comply with the EASA Management Board’s call for greater rulemaking flexibility and to note the Commission’s flexible response in other areas of aviation legislation. It has also failed to recognise that there is no safety case to justify the exclusion of the provisions of JAR-FCL 1.175(b) in the Aircrew Regulation (which allow national authorities greater flexibility in their own airspace). We will work with all other organisations to demand their inclusion.”
The Draft Opinion also confirms that EASA has no time for specific national requirements such as the UK’s ‘IMC Rating’, which is credited with contributing so much to Britain’s enviable safety rate. Together with other associations, AOPA UK will be continuing its campaign to allow future pilots to gain the lifesaving skills the IMC Rating provides – a campaign which has the full support of the UK CAA.
Can EASA change its spots?
The Board of Management and the European Commission have given EASA until July 2013 to publish internal guidance material against which it will have to check its rulemaking proposals. This follows the recommendations of the Working Group chaired by the French DGAC, agreed by the Management Board, which calls on EASA to make rules for GA which are proportionate and backed by reason and common sense. IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson told the Regional Meeting of IAOPA Europe in Cyprus on October 27th: “The basic philosophy should be that one size does not fit all, and GA should be handled separately from commercial air transport (CAT) and merits a different, proportional approach based on a risk heirarchy. The European Commission has effectively agreed to this because it is part of the Board of Management.
“The idea is to adopt the minimum number of rules, and to adopt a risk-based approach based on good quality accident data, from which statistically significant trends can be identified and on which a realistic risk assessment can based. Grandfather rights should be protected, bureaucracy must be minimised, best use must be made of existing expertise, and tasks should be delegated where possible to the level at which they can be performed most efficiently, including by GA organisations. Gliders, for example, may be looked after by a derogation to allow a local gliding association to administer the sport.
“It is recognised by the Board of Management that GA does not aim to achieve an equivalent level of safety to CAT. ICAO states this categorically – the person responsible in ICAO annex 6 is the owner-operator, to whom ICAO says the national aviation authorities do not owe the same duty of care. The idea is that they should no longer start with rules from CAT, then water them down to fit GA, but to make a fresh start in all fields – licensing, operations, air traffic management… and they must also consider the ‘do-nothing’ option.”
One of the first things IAOPA is looking to change is EASA’s Approved Training Organisation (ATO) requirement, which will force flying schools to follow a completely new bureaucratic path which will be expensive and time-consuming, and has zero safety benefit. EASA intends that ATOs should require new and continuing authorisations for everything they do and every course they offer. AOPA’s suggestion is that the current Registered Facilities simply be named Approved Training Organisations without any new burdens.
CAT rules with no place in GA
An example of EASA’s damaging extension of ICAO recommendations for commercial operations to private flights is the ‘accelerate-stop’ rules which EASA proposes for private twin turboprops. These mean that effectively, aircraft like the King Air or Piaggio Avanti would be barred from using strips of less than 1,341 metres and would remove premium traffic from some 900 European airfields, forcing some to close. Some owners would be forced to downgrade to single turboprops, reducing safety. Dr Michael Erb of AOPA Germany is working with regional airfields to bring some sense of proportion to the rules.
Greece: the unlikely aviation success story
Private flying is almost non-existent in Greece because of the recession, but this year the number of GA flying hours in the country has ‘exploded’, in the words of Anton Koutsoudakis of AOPA Hellas. Greece has worked hard in recent years to become GA-friendly, with the aim of becoming ‘the Florida of Europe’. And it’s working – while flight training organisations elsewhere in Europe are shutting down, investors are shifting their focus to Greece. “Foreign students are doing all the flying, taking advantage of the good weather,” Anton says. “One school is projecting 2,000 flying hours per month. They have signed a contract to buy aircraft and are finding instructors from abroad, especially Italy. Foreign investors want to build a new school in Greece with 200 new students per year, and AOPA Greece is assisting all.”
Athens Flying Week
Despite the difficult economic situation, more than 20,000 spectators came to Tatoi military airfield to attend the first Athens Flying Week organised by PC Podimatas Audiovisual SA, a private company owned by a private pilot and AOPA member. Anton Koutsoudakis writes: “It was an astounding success. A spectacular air show, a small aviation expo and excellent overall organisation made it a real European event that happens to take place in Athens. A total of 85 aircraft gathered at Tatoi, coming from all the countries of south east Europe and the eastern Mediterranean including Bulgaria, Romania, Israel, Italy and Turkey. AOPA Greece supported the organisation in every way. Two members of AOPA Board participated full-time in the organizing committee. But the real winner was general aviation, because of the widespread publicity. We look forward to this becoming a yearly event."
Denmark moves towards lower fees and charges
After a long campaign by AOPA, Denmark is now on its way to restructuring its aviation fees, abolishing annual charges and replacing them with a ‘less than €1 safety charge’ on all passengers flying on larger aircraft. Jacob Pedersen of AOPA Denmark says: "If the law passes as proposed, there will be no annual fees for anything to do with aviation in Denmark – no annual fee for the pilot to hold a licence, no fee for an aircraft owner to own an aircraft, for a flight training organisation, maintenance facility or airline to exist. Instead, Denmark will finance its safety oversight with a safety fee for all passengers leaving on larger aircraft. The new proposal has the backing of the entire Danish aviation industry including GA, airports and the airlines and according to Jacob Pedersen it could mark a very important turning point both for GA and the entire Danish aviation sector.
EASA bears down on Finnish concession
The Finnish CAA has slowly been processing and accepting Part M maintenance programmes for GA aircraft and has allowed those who have lodged their plans to continue flying pending approval. However, EASA auditors have discovered that some 200 aircraft are flying without having their programmes stamped and are demanding that these aircraft be grounded when their ARCs expire. This marks a new nadir in regulatory pointlessness. AOPA Finland has protested that changing the rules on a whim because aircraft owners are still waiting for the right piece of paper is perverse and unacceptable.
German Greens move to shoot down GA
A fine of €520 is being imposed on any aircraft that deviates by 150 metres from the circuit pattern at Bonn-Hangelar airfield (left), with €5,000 for a second offence. The fines have been imposed by the Green Party-dominated regional government of Nordrhein Westfalen. The Greens have a quasi-religious hatred of aviation, and while they accept that they cannot shut down the industry, they say they can do a lot to make life difficult for aviators. Dr Michael Erb of AOPA Germany says: “This means that if your flying is out by three seconds, you are in big trouble at Bonn-Hangelar.”
Italy goes off-piste
Problems at major airports have led to the establishment of some 200 unofficial airfields in Italy, most of which welcome visitors, says Massimo Levy of AOPA Italy. “Because GA was being squeezed out of major airports by handling fees, lack of avgas and so on, in recent years these airstrips have been created – small, private, but friendly to GA and ultralights,” he says. “Not many of these airfields are known to the rest of Europe. Some of them are very well located, and there are no landing fees. It would be useful if their existence was made more widely known.” Contact AOPA for more.
The truth about seaplanes
Are you operating a seaplane? If so, AOPA Greece needs your help. Anton Koutsoudakis points out that with 2,000 islands, Greece should be a seaplane haven. However, seaplanes are not allowed there. AOPA Greece has been putting together a case for change and needs data for its presentation to government. Anton has two main questions:
1. Legislation for environmental protection from seaplane pollution is being prepared. Our information shows that, on the contrary, seaplane operations are more environmentally friendly than a boat equipped with even a small outboard engine. What is the situation in your country?
2. Safety. Civil aviation officials are suggesting that “for safety reasons” obstacle clearance surfaces should be established for every seaplane landing site. We believe this is totally useless since all seaplane operations will be restricted to day VFR only. What is the situation in your country?
Change at AOPA France
After nine years at the helm of AOPA France, Patrick Charrier felt it was the time for a change. After expressing his desire to concentrate on the relationship with the national authorities and AOPA CFI-related activities in France, Patrick consulted the board of directors to search within the organisation, for a new President. Emmanuel Davidson, Executive Vice President of AOPA France reports that the directors unanimously recognised Jacques Callies as the best candidate. Jacques, after taking the time to think carefully about the position and the workload associated with it, presented his candidacy and has unanimously been formally elected President of AOPA France.
Jacques is the owner and editor of Aviation et Pilote, the largest French language aviation magazine. He is an avid pilot (PPL, CPL, IR SE/ME) with over 3,500 hours PIC and about 20 North Atlantic crossings. Aviation et Pilote will reinforce its partnership with AOPA France, starting this month.
Patrick Charrier has been elected Vice President, in charge of CFI related activities and managing the relationship with the French DGAC.
Jacques has mentioned his plans to revitalise AOPA France in the provinces and plans on organising pilot meetings in the regional capitals. A program of safety, technical and regulatory conferences is being finalised.
The management team of AOPA France is composed of:
Jacques Callies, President; Patrick Charrier, Executive Vice-President; Emmanuel Davidson, Executive Vice President; Yves Leipert, Secretary General; Pierre Beria, Treasurer; Alain Curoy, Technical Director. The Board of Directors comprises Maurice Alexandre, retired; Simone Becco, MD; Pierre Beria, CEO and airline operator; Jacques Callies, Editor; Nicolas Chabbert, Executive Vice President, Daher Socata; Patrick Charrier, Director, insurance broker; Philippe Chenevier, retired EADS Airbus; Daniel Darras, retired CEO; Gérard David, President, Union Française de l'hélicoptère, former communication VP Dassault; Emmanuel Davidson, aviation journalist; Guillaume D'Azemar de Fabregues, CEO TV industry; Patrice Deyglun, CEO investment group; Gérard Fohlen-Weill, lawyer; Hélène Frankel, CEO retired; Jean-François Georges, CEO Falcon Civil aviation (ret), Former President of the Aéroclub de France; Willy Gruhier, CFI, CFII; Dominique Hedon, former Vice-President Hawker Beechcraft and groupe Safran; Régis Hua-Van, airline pilot; Florence Kalfon, MD; Yves Leipert, Director, Becker Avionics France; Claude Lelaie, Executive VP EADS Airbus (ret); Stéphane Mayer, President, CEO Daher Socata; Bernard Nicot, chartered accountant; and Gérard Pic, FTO owner. All board members are rated pilots.
Strength in numbers at IAOPA Europe
The 127th Regional Meeting of IAOPA Europe illustrated how inter-dependent and mutually supportive the AOPAs of Europe are becoming, with delegates arriving in Cyprus from the USA, Canada, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Cyprus, Denmark, Germany, Finland, the UK, Greece, Iceland and Italy. Craig Spence has been confirmed as Secretary General of IAOPA, a positive development for IAOPA Europe not only because of his personal qualities but because as a full time staffer at AOPA US he has direct access to the President of IAOPA, Craig Fuller. All countries are contributing to the costs associated with having a full-time lobbyist in Brussels, and during the meeting several countries thanked their neighbours and International AOPA for assistance with domestic or bilateral issues. IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson said: “No other GA organisation in the world meets like we meet, or has met 127 times to discuss the issues that are affecting GA. We should be proud as an organisation of what has been done through the years and we continue to make progress, often against a very strong headwind.”
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