New voice in Brussels for IAOPA
International AOPA has committed €100,000 to hiring full-time lobbyists in Europe and is joining with the European Business Aircraft Association and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association to make joint representations on matters of mutual interest.
IAOPA President Craig Fuller made the announcement at an IAOPA-Europe Regional Meeting at Friedrichshafen in April.
AOPA has been aware for many years that professional lobbying and legal representation is a prerequisite for proper influence at the European Parliament, the Commission, Eurocontrol, EASA and other bodies in Brussels, Cologne and Strasbourg, but has not up to now been able to devote enough money to it. AOPA US, aware that regulatory diseases originating in Europe soon cross the Atlantic, is to make a contribution. International AOPA, which comprises AOPAs in 66 countries, will provide the majority of the funds, and IAOPA Europe, which has 23 states in membership, will make a major contribution.
IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson says: “While we continue to work hard through the established consultation channels, direct lobbying is absolutely vital. A proportion of everyone’s membership fee now goes towards this; the more members we have, the better we can represent general aviation.”
Volcano separates Europe’s best and worst regulators
The five-day shut-down of commercial aviation because of volcanic ash showed up stark differences in approach between the regulatory authorities of Europe, with some allowing piston-engined VFR flights to continue unhindered while others banned it outright. In Germany, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and Britain flight training continued, while in the Netherlands restrictions were imposed then lifted, and in Denmark and Italy the industry was shut down. There seems little chance of compensation for those affected.
In the UK, the CAA advised pilots to ensure their flights were safe but imposed no restrictions. AOPA UK’s Martin Robinson said: “The CAA was put in an extraordinarily difficult position with CAT, making safety decisions on the basis of inadequate data and unsophisticated models, and as far as GA is concerned they did absolutely the right thing. Responsibility for the safe conduct of the flight remained, as always, with the pilot in command. There were, of course, no adverse effects.” Some UK pilots consulted both aviation sources and automotive engineers to establish the level of risk, and FTOs took advantage of empty skies to train students to handle flying in Class D airspace.
Similarly, in Germany VFR traffic was unaffected but IFR was banned, while in Sweden IFR was banned and the position with piston aircraft was ambiguous until AOPA convinced the Swedish CAA to impose Temporary Restricted Airspace in areas where turbine aircraft could not fly, and to expressly exempt piston-powered aircraft.
The Netherlands initially closed all its airspace to all flying things – including, bizarrely, gliders and balloons. On the second day, aircraft without engines were allowed to fly, and on the third, VFR GA was allowed under certain restrictions. Ary Stigter of AOPA Netherlands says: “We are investigating the cost of the damage to the industry. Every day we had CAVOK weather.”
The least reasoned response came from the Danish CAA, which banned all GA, VFR and IFR, for six days despite official measurements which showed no ash at all below 5,000 feet. AOPA Denmark’s Jacob Pedersen says: “Confronted with these facts, the Danish CAA simply claimed that they where happy to be the safest authority. GA has been taken hostage for purely political reasons, with no will to look at real facts or do the most basic risk assessment.” A ferry pilot who flew a Mooney across the Atlantic, over Greenland and Iceland, was stuck in Norway for five days because the Danish CAA would not allow him to fly the last 50 minute leg to EKAH. He had been in sight of the Danish coast when Norway informed him of the CAA’s decision and he was forced to divert.
Similarly, Italy closed only the north of the country (Milano FIR) but they shut down all piston VFR operations, too. AOPA Italy’s formal requests for dialogue were ignored. As with Denmark, the regulatory authority is not overseen by anyone with enough technical understanding to know just how stupid the decision to shut down the piston-engined part of the industry was.
And in Malta, all of GA was banned, but not due to volcanic ash – the Pope’s visit led to a total shut-down. Again, no reason was given and the decision will never have to be justified.
America’s Environmental Protection Agency is moving against leaded 100LL avgas and is planning a public consultation aimed at phasing it out altogether. No timescale has been proposed, although the EPA has previously said it would like leaded fuel phased out by 2017. The move will force American producers to concentrate on developing and manufacturing a viable alternative for general aviation aircraft, but the United States is ignoring the fact that unleaded avgas is produced in Sweden and Poland and has been available in Europe for 28 years – not only that, but the Swedish oil company Hjelmco Oil is working on an unleaded avgas based on bioETBE which will meet many environmental goals of the European Union. It seems likely, however, that the Americans will continue to shut out European products while seeking access to European markets with their own fuels when they become available.
Unleaded avgas has a significant penetration in Sweden, where it became available at a time when GA was moving away from 80/87 avgas and onto 100LL. Unleaded avgas took over the Swedish 80/87 storage tanks and delivery facilities, but elsewhere in Europe these were taken over for 100LL. Unleaded avgas has never caught on in these places because anything containing leaded fuel cannot be used for anything else without prohibitively expensive or physically impossible cleaning. Refineries have to have dedicated distillation towers for avgas while ships, jetty pipes, pipelines, road tankers and airfield fuel tanks may carry only leaded avgas. Unleaded avgas is easier to transport and store than its leaded counterpart, but it would require duplication of fuel facilities at most airfields – separate tanks, bowsers and delivery tankers.
European authorities have done little to promote the use of unleaded avgas. Much more could have been done in terms of tax concessions and positive backing, but small oil companies like Hjelmco have been left to fund their own research while coping with onerous new fuel taxes. American marketing muscle may now squeeze them out, even in their own countries.
Fürsti fight reaches the courts
The battle to save Fürstenfeldbruck, the only hard-runway GA airfield in the Munich area, from the car company BMW moves to the German courts this month with AOPA Germany having obtained enough finance to fight the case. BMW showed its muscle when it sent a fleet of test cars out onto the airfield, a move which may prove counter-productive because local residents realised for the first time exactly what they were letting themselves in for if BMW has its way. AOPA Germany has had some success with its campaign to dissuade pilots from buying BMWs as long as the car company continues to maintain that it cannot co-exist with general aviation at Fürstenfeldbruck. See http://www.aopa.de/aktuelle-news/fuersty-bmw-zeigt-seine-autos-aber-auch-staerke.html for BMW’s show of strength.
IMC rating campaign begins to bear fruit
A real chink of light has appeared at the end of the long battle to save the UK's IMC rating from being harmonised out of existence. EASA’s executive director Patrick Goudou has responded to a battery of enquiries by Members of the European Parliament, energised by an AOPA UK campaign, to confirm that EASA intends to incorporate the UK’s IMC rating into a future European system. AOPA has gone to some lengths to clarify exactly what is meant by this, and EASA personnel have confirmed verbally that the intention is to transfer those parts of the IMC rating that are designed for the saving of life – the ability to maintain control in IMC, and to get back on the ground on an instrument approach – into a future system, possibly on the basis of national exemptions.
If this turns out to be the case it will represent a significant victory for all those pilots who answered AOPA’s call to lobby their MPs and MEPs in support of the IMC rating. Martin Robinson says: “There’s a long way to go, but if EASA’s actions match their rhetoric, we will have made some positive strides towards saving the IMC rating.”
EASA is required by European Union law to harmonise rules where possible across the Continent, but it could not get unanimous acceptance of the IMC rating from all 27 European countries. In some, it is illegal to fly in IMC outside controlled airspace, while other countries wrongly believed the IMC rating to be “an IR with 20 percent of the training.” A working group called FCL008, set up by EASA to discuss the IMC rating and other issues, proposed the ‘En Route Instrument Rating’ (EIR) which would allow pilots who had passed the theoretical knowledge exams for the full instrument rating to fly in IMC on airways, but not to make instrument approaches. Some EASA staff presented the EIR as “the solution to the IMC rating problem” and AOPA has had a hard battle to convince them that the EIR does not begin to address the same issues as the IMC rating, and is no substitute.
That message seems to be getting through, thanks in large measure to Timothy Kirkhope, MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber and leader of the Conservatives in Europe, who is a private pilot with an IMC rating. He and Conservative transport spokesman Jacqueline Foster have taken up the issue with the EC, while EASA itself has been bombarded with queries by MEPs acting on behalf of pilot constituents.
Mr Kirkhope received a reply from Gilles Gantelet, the EC’s director general of communications, saying inter alia: “In relation to the UK-specific IMC rating, EASA is still working on a dedicated proposal and has not yet published its position. A public consultation with the so-called Notice of Proposed Amendment is due to be published towards the end of the year. EASA’s general objective is to transfer the UK-specific IMC rating into the future European system.”
Mr Kirkhope, and AOPA, are keen to establish exactly what is meant by that last sentence and have been drilling down into EASA to find out. Most responses have been positive, and the official line, provided by EASA’s communications director Daniel Hoeltgen, is:
*The statement comes directly from Patrick Goudou.
*It does not refer to the EIR as an IMCR replacement.
Martin Robinson says: “It is symptomatic of the relationship industry has with EASA that we still have worries that they are taking refuge in semantics, rather than addressing the fundamental safety issue. But there is reason to be hopeful. I think EASA is finally coming to the realisation that the IMC rating is not a convenience, but a safety-of-life requirement which is largely responsible for the UK’s excellent GA safety rate.
“The cause has been significantly enhanced by the position the UK CAA has taken in support of the IMC rating, and by the intercession of the chairman of the EASA Board of Management, Mr Mike Smethers, who wants to find an acceptable solution.”
World Assembly – one month to go
Just one month to go to the IAOPA World Assembly in Tel Aviv, and for those of you who are flying in, AOPA Israel has managed to negotiate reduced landing fees in Cyprus for refuelling or technical stops. The reductions at LCLK and LCPH are quite dramatic, but there are a couple of strict but not difficult conditions: crews must available at no additional charge. The landing fees will be €50 to €60 in total, and you must inform them in advance – you can do that by emailing email@example.com, who can also arrange to have your fees paid by credit card in advance. That’s worth doing because you can’t pay by credit card at the airport – it’s cash only, so they don’t have to run back and forward to the office. If you plan to pay in cash on site, please advise Aaron Shnerik prior to landing, requesting that the receipt to be given on site. His mobile is +972 54 4567899.
So far AOPA Israel has registered delegates from Russia, Japan, Botswana, China, Canada, Korea, UK, USA, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland, Isle Of Man, Netherlands, France, Jersey, Austria and Greece. All information and details as well as registration form are available via the internet on the event's website at http://www.iaopa2010.com and flight information is at http://www.aopa.org.il/site/userfiles/files/English/intoisrael.htm
ICAO language proficiency
Italy is facing serious problems with the ICAO language proficiency checks, as a good share of pilots will not reach the required Level 4. The Italian CAA has given a mandate to an English private company to administer the tests, but AOPA Italy believes the standard required is too high and the tests are too complex for private pilots flying VFR. AOPA Italy’s Massimo Levy says: “I have personally taken the test and, although I am still unaware of the outcome, I am absolutely convinced that the test does not meet the ICAO requirements that specify that the knowledge of the language must be
sufficient for the type of flight performed. We wonder what is happening in the other European countries?”
Over many years IAOPA opposed ICAO proposals to require private pilots to attain the same English standards as commercial pilots. ICAO’s attempts to improve standards has been rendered nonsensical by predictable moves in many countries to get around them; it has been reported, for instance, that Chinese commercial pilots are automatically given Level 6 (fluent) certification with their ATPLs.
Flying in the States? You need to know this
In reply to a European AOPA member who asked about procedures for getting a Temporary Airman’s Certificate in the United States, the FAA’s North Florida Flight Standards District Office in Orlando has issued these guidelines:
“With the appropriate documentation, an FAA Inspector at the FSDO, or any FAA Designated Foreign Pilot Examiner, can issue you a temporary FAA Private Pilot Airman’s Certificate based on your foreign licence per FAR 61.75 as long as you do not already hold an unrestricted US Airman Certificate.
“The documentation you will need to provide the Inspector or Examiner is (a) your foreign licence; (b) your foreign medical or a US medical certificate; (c) valid and current passport; (d) your pilot logbook; and (e) a current Letter of Verification of Authenticity of your foreign license which can be obtained by following the instructions at http://www.faa.gov/licenses_certificates/airmen_certification/foreign_license_verification/
“In addition, it will be necessary for you to register on the FAA’s Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application (IACRA) at https://iacra.faa.gov/iacra/. Once you have registered, you will need your FTN number, Username, and Password to complete the application process with the Inspector or Examiner.
“To be able to exercise the privilege of the FAA Certificate, you would need: (a) your foreign license to be valid and current; (b) a valid foreign or US medical certificate; (c) a US Flight Review per FAR 61.56; and (d) photo identification.”
This advice comes from Janeen Kochan, an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner and Foreign Pilot Examiner at the North Florida FSDO, who adds: “I realise this sounds very complicated. The key is to apply for your Letter of Verification of Authenticity in good time, so you will have it when you arrive. Then, if you have your documents and your verification letter ready, it only takes about an hour to complete the paperwork and issue your Temporary Airman’s Certificate. There is no charge for your certificate if you go to the FSDO.”
Italy's airports make life difficult for general aviation
Many of Italy’s airports are making it ever more difficult for general aviation to operate, and the Italian CAA and government no longer have any real control over them. The airports were given to private enterprises on a 40-year lease in return for ten percent of the landing fees. AOPA Italy’s Massimo Levy says: “Ultimate control has been handed to the 18 regions, so instead of being obliged to go to one CAA, now we have to go to 18 regional presidents. There are 100 airports, 47 of which are open to CAT. Out of these 47, 44 have restrictions on GA access and 28 do not supply avgas. Florence, for instance, has a PPR requirement. When you fill out the PPR form, you are required to give your credit card details. Why? Because if they give you permission and you divert elsewhere, they fine you €200. This is dangerous, but nobody at a political level can stop it.”
The Channel Islands invite you to visit
This month sees the 55th Jersey International Air Rally, which runs place from Friday 28th May to Sunday 30th May and offers you the opportunity to fly to the Channel Islands, where general aviation is welcome and fuel is less expensive. The rally comprises a weekend of competitions, good food and drink and a chance to spend time in the company of real aviators. All the details and application form are on www.jerseyaeroclub.com. Fuel is duty-free in jersey and Guernsey, and there’s a further 5% discount for AOPA members – just produce a valid membership card.
If you miss that, there’s the Guernsey Aero Club 39th International Air Rally at EGJB on the 10th, 11th and 12th September. See www.guernseyaeroclub.com
A welcome new feature of the IAOPA Europe website is an aviation calendar – have a look at www.iaopa.eu – which we intend to fill up with AOPA events and major aviation attractions from all over Europe. If you have something you think ought to be included, contact your national AOPA, who can arrange to have items entered on the calendar.