GA maintenance review may lift some of the Part M burden
The GA Task Force looking at the problems associated with EASA’s Part M maintenance requirements has made solid progress, and EASA is now preparing a Notice of Proposed Amendment dealing with changes to the requirements on continuing airworthiness for the European Light Aircraft (ELA-1), Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), sailplanes and balloons. Dan Akerman, senior technical advisor to AOPA Sweden, who is IAOPA’s representative on the group, reports that the ELA-1 limit has been raised to 1200 kg. Dan writes: “An ELA-1, LSA, sailplane or balloon not used for commercial operations should no longer need an individual maintenance program, a beast that has grown to unbelievable proportions over the four years passed since Part M came into effect.
“The NPA introduces a new concept, the Minimum Maintenance Program, MMP, which is in reality an adaptation of the FAR 43 Appendix D. There will be separate MMPs for ELA-1, LSA, sailplanes and balloons. The MMP lists a number of inspections that have to be done annually, or every 100 hours. This new concept will remove the recommended replacement of exhausts, seat belts, the 30-day door seal lubrication requirement etc that plagues GA in many countries today.
“It goes without saying that the aircraft will not pass these annual inspections unless it is maintained, but the owner is free to adjust the maintenance to his type of operation without any bureaucratic complications.
“The NPA also clarifies that Service Bulletins, Letters and Instructions are recommendations only. The present Part M is quite clear on this, but some national aviation authorities have had difficulties absorbing it.
“The only required maintenance actions for MMP aircraft will be Airworthiness Directives, Airworthiness Limitations and the very rare Certification Maintenance Requirements. This is how the maintenance publications written by the US manufacturers are intended to be used.
“The MMP is granted by EASA and is the same for all users, and any ADs applicable to the aircraft must be added to the special MMP form. The owner himself will then approve the MMP – this is possible since it contains only pre-approved data.
“Another change is that any Part F or Part-145 organisation may act as a CAMO and perform the airworthiness review and issue an ARC for MMP-eligible aircraft. The only requirement is that the personnel doing this are approved in accordance with the present rule. We must hope that the NPA will turn into an Opinion, and that the Opinion is voted through.
“This is only the beginning. The GA Task Force is now looking at Phase 2, which will introduce even more changes. These changes, however may take longer to materialise since it will take longer to push them through the European political processes.”
Martin Robinson, senior vice president of IAOPA, says: “Our thanks are due to Dan Akerman, who has brought his unrivalled experience in GA maintenance to bear on this very difficult subject and is working very hard to make the improvements that are desperately needed to Part M.”
Iceland condemns Part M reduction in safety
The Icelandic CAA has gone to extremes in their interpretation of EASA Part M, which AOPA Iceland says has had a negative effect on safety as vast amounts of money have been siphoned away from safety work into compliance with new rules. Even though a CAMO requirement has been suspended for aircraft under 1200 kg, there are still ongoing problems regarding maintenance issues for many operators. Given that private planes in Iceland are seldom used to fly to other countries, Icelandic pilots are questioning why the country had to plunge headfirst into European legislation when they have been operating with an excellent safety record for decades. Haraldur Unason Diego of AOPA Iceland reports that the Icelandic gliding club has not been able to fully use their fleet of powered and non-powered aircraft due to the burdensome regulations. Many aircraft have been grounded because heavy paperwork, and a new inspection forced the immediate grounding of an aircraft because labels in the cockpit were in German, although the aircraft had been flown safely with those same labels for years. Kristján Sveinbjörnsson, President of the Icelandic Gliding Club, (pictured here with his daughter) noted that the costs of implementation are estimated to be around €25,000, in addition to the labour of volunteers in the gliding community. Kristján says Part M has had a detrimental effect on safety because of the resources spent on unnecessary compliance and the costs of conforming to new rules. "Due to the time-consuming implementation of Part M, other flight security measures remain unperformed," he says, adding that the availability of funds for renewal of equipment has been severely affected. The solution, he says, is to cancel the implementation of Part M for GA and work with the aviation community to build a lasting framework that provides an environment where the needs of pilots are met and safety is enhanced.
Many aircraft are still flying, though, Haraldur writes. "Fly-ins are relatively frequent over the summer, with one of the largest being held at Mulakot in southern Iceland from August 3rd to 6th. Optimism continues within the flying grassroots for easier legal framework and the continued joy of flight, something we do celebrate well and often."
Fiscal police swoop on AOPA Italy AGM
The Annual General Meeting of AOPA Italy was supposed to be a relaxed affair in which friends got together to discuss the ups and downs of the year. It wasn't. On the night before the AGM, members of the AOPA Board received anonymous phone calls warning: "They're waiting for you." Who was waiting for them? Calls to the airfield on the island of Elba, where the AGM was to be held, elicited the information that the fiscal police had descended on the airfield in a helicopter and a large force of officers were lying in wait to check, one by one, all the documents of GA pilots flying in. Many pilots were unenthusiastic about being treated like criminals and subjected to endless demands for paperwork, so only about 25 brave souls flew in, out of the 50 who were expected. Massimo Levy of AOPA Italy says: "Against all the odds the assembly was a success, and the following week, most of the media were criticising the government's actions. The Hotel Operators Association on Elba wrote to the Minister of Economic development accusing the fiscal police of undermining tourism on the island. The hoteliers said that after the 2011 economic crisis, and after the crazy laws against private property – read new taxes on planes and boats, which have hit Elba hard – the first signs of reconciliation between visitors and the island have been blighted by the authorities' use of the iron fist, when the same result could have been achieved as easily by having two officers discreetly verifying tax declarations on a laptop."
*Better news from AOPA Italy's Massimo Levy: ENAC, the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, has recently informed AOPA Italy that the "study" we presented as an example of how to proceed with a review of the airspace structure around airports (CTR) has been accepted and approved by the authority and that it has forwarded it to ENAV, the Italian ATC manager, for joint approval. "One good step in the right direction," says Massimo. "This does not mean Italy will soon modify its airspace structure, but it means that, when it is done, we'll be one of the players."
Meet our new lobbyist in Brussels
IAOPA’s new lobbyist in Brussels is Lutz Dommel, who as well as running a European Affairs company in Brussels is a general aviation pilot who has had shares in several aircraft. After studying political sciences, philosophy and public law he began work in 2002 as a management trainee with German Railways in Frankfurt and later joined the office of a German Member of Parliament as head of office in Brussels. From 2007 onwards he advised companies as well as state- and non-state actors on EU affairs, strongly focusing on informing and influencing members of the European Parliament.
As a general aviation pilot he began flying gliders and later continued with microlights, acquiring his PPL in 2005. Lutz enjoys flying Cessna, Mooney and Walter Extra, mostly from the airfield of Aachen-Merzbrück near the Belgian-German border.
Lutz, pictured here flying the Piel Emeraude in which he had a share, says that his primary assignment in Brussels is to ensure that general aviation is on the radar screen of the European Parliament’s decision-makers and that IAOPA is recognised as a major player whenever aviation issues are discussed. On upcoming issues such as EU OPS for non-commercial complex aircraft or the so-called airport package, he is working to safeguard the interests of all of general aviation, in close co-operation with IAOPA.
AOPA Spain proposes 19 no-cost measures to save GA
AOPA Spain has proposed to the Spanish government a programme of 19 urgent measures that could be taken to save general aviation without involving the government in significant investment or cost. GA in Spain is suffering particularly badly in the current economic crisis. It is about 20 times smaller than GA in France, the UK or Germany, and as Rafael Molina of AOPA Spain reports, today survival has become the first priority of AOPA Spain.
The lack of alternative airports to state-run AENA network, increased airport charges and new rates applied on a per-passenger basis have come as a blow to general aviation. But the government’s announcement that the operating times of 17 airports are to be reduced could be a fatal blow to small operators and flying clubs.
AOPA’s package of 19 measures has been presented at a Workshop on aviation chaired by the Director General of Civil Aviation, and have been well received by the Ministry and the Director General. The full list is available on the AOPA Spain website.
They include the elimination of minimum landing fees, the immediate abolition of the tax on GA passengers, relief from mandatory handling, the extension of operating hours of airports, and the breaking of fuel provisions monopolies. The list also seeks changes in access to airspace, the removal of the obligatory flight plan filing requirement for VFR, more flexible application of the EASA’s Part M maintenance requirements and more.
Rafael Molina writes: “These measures do not involve any investment and would generate an increase in activity of GA and those companies that rely on GA.”
In the meantime AOPA Spain suggests that all pilots flying to Spain after August 23 check carefully the AIP information on airfield operating hours, or contact AOPA Spain for updates.
AOPA Sweden's 50th anniversary fly-in - this week!
Pilots all across Europe are invited to AOPA Sweden’s celebration of its 50th anniversary at a fly-in at Ljungby Feringe GA airport (ESMG) on August 4th and 5th. On Saturday the celebration is in focus with seminars and GA-aviators having fun together. Join our “loose formation-flight” over Swedish cities and landscape close by in the afternoon. Sunday will be the “GA Airshow day”, and everyone who would like to may show their aircraft to the general public in true AOPA-fashion. Supermarine Spitfire Mk. XVI, Yak 52, gliders, helicopters and others will be turned upside-down in air displays. AOPA Sweden was founded in 1962 and has made a huge difference to general aviation in Scandinavia over the past 50 years. AOPA has set the standard in communications with Swedish authorities and has established itself as a respected partner in aviation. Jan Stridh of AOPA Sweden says: "Swedish general aviation would not be what it is today without AOPA! To be part of the excellent co-operation via IAOPA and IAOPA-Europe is a great benefit for all pilots all over the world, and as IAOPA was formed in 1962, we have all reasons to celebrate together with our fellow pilots from all countries."
The programme, together with practical information, is available in English on www.aopa.se. "No landing fees, no take-off fees, no parking fee, no ATC – only fun!" Jan says. "There's a 1150x30m paved runway, 100LL and Jet A1 are available. Bring your family and have a really nice weekend – and if you are planning a Scandinavian tour, this will be the perfect time and place of entry. Any questions? Send an e-mail to AOPA Sweden. You don’t need to be an AOPA-member to participate in this event, but you might consider joining AOPA after it."
Hotel accommodation for the weekend at the special AOPA rate is available at www.hotelterraza.com. Write 'AOPA' in the e-mail to the hotel in order to obtain the AOPA discount. There's a celebration dinner on Saturday evening send a simple e-mail to AOPA Sweden to announce your arrival. Welcome!
AOPA Greece supports Athens Flying Week and ‘Alex’ air show
The success of the Kavala Air Show over the past two years is creating a wave of interest in general aviation in Greece, and AOPA Greece is taking a lot of inquiries from town mayors and private companies who want assistance to stage their own airshows.
Anton Koutsoudakis of AOPA Greece says: “If it was not for the really difficult economic situation of the country, general aviation could be soaring high in the sky here.”
Despite the economic situation, AOPA Greece is assisting Podimatas AudioVisual S.A. in organising the first Athens Flying Week, which is planned to take place in Athens from September 24 to 30, peaking during the weekend of 29-30 September. It is the first aviation event to be organised in the country by a private company on pure commercial grounds.
Podimatas AudioVisual S.A. is one of the leading companies in Greece specialising in event production. Its owner, Panagiotis Podimatas, is a PPL holder and a member of AOPA Greece. Panagiotis watched closely the two aviation events held at Kavala in 2011 and 2012. “If you are able to gather 30 to 40,000 people in an airport for a couple of days, than you got a commercial proposition,” said Panagiotis.
AOPA Greece is offering its organisational experience and gets in return, a free ride in the promotional campaign. “It is a win-win situation,” says Anton. “Both parties have something to offer, both have something to win.”
Details will be released soon.
The Mayor of Alexandroupolis, a small city in the north east corner of the country, has invited AOPA Greece to organise a small, low-budget air show and fly-in in a record time. The event will take place on September 7th, 8th and 9th – that’s in just over a month’s time.
Alexandroupolis International Airport, officially named Dimokritos (LGAL) but dubbed by local pilots as ‘Alex airport” has an asphalt runway 2,850 meters long, parking areas and customs. All types of GA fuel will be available for the event. Fuel prices, event programme and accommodation cost will all be available through the AOPA Greece web site not later than August 16th. AOPA Greece will arrange for some aerobatics, a hot air balloon and some general aviation aircraft and helicopters, performing over the sea in front of the city. Pilots who come, despite short notice, are assured for really good time and extremely low cost.
AOPA Greece is responsible for the organisation while the city Mayor will arrange for the lowest possible cost. Egnatia Aviation, which is by now among the leading European Training Organisations, will be working with AOPA.
ATM Master Plan
Eurocontrol's Air Traffic Management Master Plan is being updated and the focus is narrowing onto commercial air transport, with the attendant risk that general aviation will suffer collateral damage by being required to adopt technology designed for airliners and which is too costly, heavy and power-hungry for small aircraft. The documentation says general aviation "must be considered" but goes no further, and IAOPA is concerned to ensure that any equipment requirements are reasonable.
The challenge is to integrate all users into a 'known environment' in which all traffic is electronically visible, within the next 10 to 15 years. IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson says: "Since this was first discussed in the early 1990s IAOPA has been insisting that the requirement is for a small, cheap, portable system with enough built-in power for several hours of operation. We must be able to use low-cost technology to show height, position and direction to other airspace users, and we cannot and should not be required to adopt current TCAS systems."
Standardised rules of the air mean change for many
The EC's Single European Sky Rules of the Air (SERA) come into effect towards the end of this year, and it's time for AOPAs to ask exactly when individual states plan to implement them. The rules will be common across Europe and in theory they should make aviation safer – if everyone is operating to the same rules, there will be less confusion and ambiguity when crossing European borders. In some states, the rules will be more restrictive: for instance, in the UK it is currently possible to fly at any height, as long as there is no person, vessel, vehicle or structure within 500 feet. Under the standardised rules, 500 feet becomes a minimum height rather than a distance. Other states must make different adaptations.
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