Light at the end of the EASA tunnel
The French-led working group that aims to create a new world of light-touch regulation for European general aviation has produced a set of guiding principles for EASA which will be considered by the Agency's Board of Management next week. Although the full details are confidential, the basic tenets are that there should be no regulation without a specific safety aim, and every new regulation should be tested with a full risk analysis and a cost-benefit study before it is imposed. The group wants EASA to move completely away from the 'top-down' concept of creating regulations for Commercial Air Transport then imposing them on GA, sometimes in a slightly watered-down form. It wants EASA to adopt the ICAO stance, which specifically states that authorities do not owe the same duty of care to GA participants as they do to paying customers of the airlines and uninvolved third parties.
The group is much more than a think-tank, and includes representatives of EASA and the European Commission, who have indicated that they go along with the consensus view. It was set up at the behest of EASA's Board of Management following a presentation to the Board by IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson, who sits of the group together with AOPA Germany's Managing Director Dr Michael Erb.
The general view is that Annex 6, part 1, of ICAO's Chicago Convention covers general aviation regulation sufficiently well, and if EASA wishes to go beyond it, then it has to be addressing a demonstrated safety problem and its response should be proportionate to the risk and the cost. European states are signatories to the Convention whereas Europe as an entity is not, and the EC does not consider EASA to be bound by its provisions. The states, however, have relied on ICAO for guidance since the Second World War, and it has not been found wanting.
There is a real chance that this revolutionary approach will be officially adopted, and GA could enjoy a more prosperous future freed of the burden of excess bureaucracy and unnecessary cost inherent in over-regulation. A new Transport Commissioner takes over at the EC in 2014, and the 'new broom' could provide the perfect opportunity for a fundamental change of philosophy. The working group has made specific suggestions on guaranteed grandfather rights, and clarity in rulemaking. EASA's regulations are written by lawyers – the Agency carries no liability insurance – and it's sometimes necessary for a pilot to read hundreds of pages of legalese, correctly cross-referencing other documents and interpreting inconsistencies, before he knows what he's allowed to do. Ambiguity, opacity and inconsistency are dangerous to aviation.
Martin Robinson says: "We must congratulate the French CAA, the DGAC, for their support and their work on this issue. The DGAC has a requirement in France to ensure there is always a market place for aviation, and they are rightly proud of their aviation history.
"The wind of change is blowing through Cologne, and the changes are fundamental and positive. As far as GA is concerned, the first instinct of EASA should be to do nothing. The risks of GA to uninvolved third parties are so minuscule as to be largely irrelevant. These facts should guide EASA's thinking."
The question now is how the new philosophy can be applied to EASA regulations that have already been imposed. EASA's Aviation Training Organisation rules are a case in point. A flight training organisation which is not owned by its members is deemed to be a commercial operation, subject to all of EASA's requirements for CAT. Trial lessons are deemed to be commercial operations, which means flying clubs will have to dedicate an aircraft, with an AOC, a detailed ops manual, and a commercial pilot to fly it, if they want to do trial lessons. The horse has bolted on this one, and according to EASA it cannot be changed without changing the wording of the Basic Regulation, the EC bible which governs what EASA does. Obviously it will be easy to get around this particular problem – just call it a 'first lesson' instead of a trial lesson – but other EASA regulations will not be so simple to finesse, and GA will have to rely on a certain amount of goodwill from national authorities in their interpretations.
While the working group was originally only scheduled to meet twice, provision has been made for it to meet again in the light of the response of the Board of Management next week. More details in the next IAOPA-Europe enews.
Flying to England for the Olympics?
The United Kingdom has imposed prohibited and restricted zones in the south of England to cover the Olympic Games from July 15th to August 15th, and the Paralympic Games from August 16th to September 12th. The zones will be patrolled by military aircraft with orders to shoot down any unauthorised intruders, but arrangements have been made to ensure that as far as possible, general aviation can continue to operate during the Games, and it should be possible for anyone who wishes to fly into England for the Olympics or for any other reason to do so unhindered.
You must, however, know the rules. A special military air traffic control system has been established to cover the area, and only aircraft whose flight plans have been accepted by this system – known as 'Atlas Control' – will be allowed entry. You will have to carry a working Mode C or Mode S transponder and will have to stick to your agreed route and, within reason, to your timings. In addition, more than 40 airfields around London have been taken into the slot allocation system, so you cannot turn up at most of them without a landing slot. The restrictions are, in fact, less onerous than those which covered the Games in Vancouver and Athens and the football World Cup in South Africa. Everything you have to do is set out on the website www.airspacesafety.com/olympics.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority, the ATC provider National Air Traffic Services, and the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy have mounted an extensive and sustained public education programme in the UK, and there is no excuse for any British pilot not knowing what is required. Anyone who infringes the zones will have their licence suspended immediately, and it has been made clear that patrolling military pilots will shoot you down rather than give you the benefit of the doubt. The CAA has published a new document outlining interception procedures, and as a last resort has issued this advice: 'If you see a military aircraft close to you, and you aren’t sure what it wants you to do, turn away from London immediately and call 121.5.'
The increase in traffic for the Olympics is expected to be massive – half a million extra airline passengers, 150 Head of State flights and innumerable extra GA movements. Airways and TMA dimensions have been increased to cope. Airports at Southend, Manston and Farnborough will get Class D zones for the duration, but most of the temporary controlled airspace is above 2,500 feet, a lot of it at flight levels.
You will have to file a flight plan between 24 and 2 hours before your intended flight(s). This must be done either in person with a flight planning office – no faxes or emails – or into the AFTN using AFPEx, SkyDemon, EuroFPL or other online tools. You will get a response, both via AFTN and a text to your mobile phone, which might be an approval code, a rejection because of capacity or an approval code for a different time. If you can accept that different time, you just do it without further ado, but if you cannot you are asked, for the sake of the rest of us, to cancel so that someone else can get the slot. Your flightplan must be addressed to EGGOLYMP and include entry and exit points to the zone, with EETs, and must only include three letter radio aid designators, range and bearing from a radio aid or lat/long.
Once you have an approval number you must depart, or cross the zone boundary if inbound, within 30 minutes of your planned time. Approaching the zone, you must call Atlas Control with your call sign and approval number (no approval number, no clearance) and service required. You will be given a squawk and a contact frequency and you will then be given a LARS service by an experienced controller. The RAF and the Royal Navy are manning twelve extra ATC consoles around the clock during the Games with an extra 48 LARS controllers and 50 Air Traffic Assistants.
Military interceptors will not have much time to make decisions and will be expecting a positive and rapid response from intercepted aircraft. Fast jets and helicopters will be used. They might fly right across in front of you, and might fire flares. You should acknowledge that you have seen them by waggling your wings and turning immediately onto the course they initially turn on to. If you are in any doubt: TURN AWAY FROM LONDON and CALL 121.5
GA’s place in the Single European Sky
The second edition of Europe’s Air Traffic Management Master Plan has been released for consultation, and IAOPA is disappointed that it does not go far enough in taking the needs of general aviation into account. The Master Plan – a milestone on the road to the Single European Sky – focuses largely on the airlines, while GA is addressed as an afterthought. The risk is that GA aircraft will be forced to pay for expensive on-board equipment which will benefit only the airlines. The first edition of the Master Plan, adopted in March 2009, suffered from a similar deficiency, and at IAOPA’s request the European Commission met with representatives of the many strands of general aviation so they could get a better understanding of how GA worked. A group was formed under the aegis of SESAR, the Single Sky research programme, to develop a GA concept of operation for inclusion in the Master Plan revision. Unfortunately, little has changed second time around.
The main thrust of the Master Plan is that future airspace management systems will be performance-driven and will make measurable improvements in cost efficiency per flight, emissions reductions, safety, and levels of service. The goal is to have a four-dimensional trajectory for an aircraft from take-off to touchdown, so that it crosses given points within a few metres of track, a few feet of altitude and a couple of seconds of a prearranged time. Achieving that level of performance means installing as-yet unspecified equipment on the ground and in the air.
While this is suitable for airlines which often know six months in advance where their aircraft are going to be, insufficient thought has been given to how it dovetails with ad hoc charter work and less predictable general aviation. The second Master Plan does not explain how performance targets will be achieved at regional airports where commercial operations and GA mix.
While it will cost the airlines some €30 billion to equip for SESAR, experts have calculated they will save €13 billion more than they spend in reduced fuel costs and emissions trading charges because of more direct routings, continuous climbs and descents and other advantages. And while the airlines are able to pass on costs to their passengers, general aviation has no such option.
The European Commission is sympathetic to IAOPA’s standpoint, and IAOPA will continue to work with the Commission to achieve a positive outcome.
Dutch CAA swoop on law-abiding pilots
The Dutch CAA and police have mounted a second day of surprise inspections of pilots ready for departure at four major airfields in the Netherlands, and once again had little to show for their efforts. Ary Stigter of AOPA Netherlands reports that the CAA ran a similar exercise last year, when some small infringements were noted. This time, they came up with even less. CAA staff checked all preflight planning, including weight and balance calculations, fuel management and navigation planning, up to date charts, alcohol abuse, and NOTAM and weather briefing. They also inspected all documents and equipment. Only one problem was reported – a foreign aircraft was not carrying the current ELT, which is mandatory for border-crossing traffic. This resulted in a official warning for the pilot, without penalty or obligation of immediate adjustment. Ary says: "We compliment our GA pilots for their excellent performance in flight preparation and urge them to continue this good airmanship."
Ary also warns pilots that all air traffic zones at military airfields have a ceiling of 2,300 feet, not the 1,500 feet indicated on the VFR chart. "When the CTR is not active, the ATZ may still be used for glider towing by cable up to 2,100 feet," Ary says. "Avoid these ATZ and the indicated glider areas up to 2,300 feet and keep a good lookout for gliders. The national glider championships is taking place at present.
"Avoid infringements by good navigation and reading the NOTAMs, switch on your mode C and S transponder to 7000 above 1,200 feet, and when you are not in contact with an ATC unit, keep a listening watch on Amsterdam Information on 124.3 in the west of the
country, or Dutch mil on 132.35 in the east. Be aware that the southern part is class D airspace, so request crossing clearance
on the local indicated stations Eindhoven tower 131.0 or Beek approach 123.975."
Permits now valid in Channel Islands
The Channel Islands, which are effectively self-governing British dependencies off the coast of France, have moved to make life easier for flying visitors in aircraft which do not have ICAO Certificates of Airworthiness. Fergus Woods, Director of Civil Aviation for Jersey and Guernsey, has published a series of exemptions to the Air Navigation Orders covering the islands to allow flight by aircraft which have Permits to Fly issued in other European countries. The exemptions cover all home-built aircraft registered in countries of the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC), which includes all EU countries as well as Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and the Balkan countries. The Channel Islands have also adopted a change recently announced by the UK CAA to allow VFR flight at night. This is a step towards the harmonisation of European rules of the ait. The exemptions will remain in force until 2014, at which time the Rules of the Air will be rewritten to conform to the Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA).
AOPA Finland organising 'Sunny Nights' Fly-in
AOPA Finland, the Aviation Club of Oulu and Aviation Club of Pudasjärvi are organising the 'Sunny Nights' Fly-In at Pudasjärvi Airfield (EFPU) in northern Finland from June 26th to July 1st this year. The aim is to gather together European and Scandinavian aviators at this now-traditional fly-in, and spend good times together with a fairly casual programme. The highlights of the Sunny Nights Fly-In include flying tours taking in Aavahelukka (EFAA), Enontekiö (EFET), Ivalo (EFIV). Kuusamo (EFKU), Oulu (EFOU), Pokka (EFPA), Rovaniemi (EFRO), Ranua (EFRU) and Pajala (ESUP). Attractions along the routes, and at EFPU, include Ranua Zoo, a traditional Finnish sauna next to the airfield, barbeque at the flying club's Lappish hut, glider activities, an introduction to reindeer husbandry, Santa Claus Village, the Arctic Circle, Ranua Vineyard, Fishing at Koiteli Rapids, Kierikki Stone Age Centre, and a lot of hangar talk and networking. For more information see Sunny Nights Fly-In 2012.
AOPA Finland meets Finavia
AOPA Finland continues actively to promote and represent GA's interest in Finland. Board members of AOPA Finland met the management of Finavia, the government-owned national airport and air navigation system operator, in early May, introducing AOPA Finland as an organisation guarding the interests of pilots and aircraft owners. The main topics at this meeting were landing fees and their cost structure, attitude of airport managers towards GA, and access to airports' GA stands, as well as Finavia's training and communication activity for pilots and aircraft owners. AOPA Finland proposed a training model where air traffic controllers would visit non-controlled airfields and exchange information with pilots, advising them how to communicate, navigate and aviate in controlled airspace.
*AOPA Finland's Annual Meeting was held on May 6th 2012. Mr. Erkki Pulkknen was elected Chairman of the Board, and Mr. Jaakko Kyllönen and Mr Marko Jokinen were elected as new members, and Mr. Esa Harju and Mr. Esko Mäkelä were re-elected again. Other members of the Board continuing in office are Mr. Seppo Turkki, Mr. Tapio Takkunen and Mrs. Kirsti Takkunen.
Night never falls in Iceland either...
AOPA Iceland wants to invite you to visit the country this year, the 75th anniversary of the founding of Icelandair. Haraldur Diego says: "The land of the midnight sun is a wonderful place to be for a pilot. The local Pipers and Pitts', Cessnas and Cirruses will be able to fly all night long because from May until late July, there is no official night-time. Having to use sunglasses in the middle of the night is just one of the many privileges we enjoy as pilots in Iceland.
"The great aviation community is very active, especially over the summer. On May 28th, the annual Air Show will be hosted at Reykjavik airport, conveniently located in the city centre. Icelandair's 75th Anniversary will be celebrated with the special appearance of a Catalina flying boat at the show. The Catalina played a critical role in Icelandic air travel between 1944 and 1961, when the country had only a handful of airfields. The last Catalina left the Icelandic fleet in 1963.
"Numerous landing competitions will take place this summer, along with an air rally in August and various fly-ins. Here, the €100 hamburger is a myth, but we'll go almost anywhere for some a good cup of coffee with good company."
AOPA Sweden's 50th anniversary fly-in at ESMG getting closer!
Pilots all across Europe are invited to help AOPA Sweden
celebrate its 50th anniversary at their fly-in at Ljungby Feringe GA
airport (ESMG) on August 4th and 5th. You are promised a warm welcome and an interesting weekend in the Land of the Vikings! 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: "Having enjoyed the hospitality of AOPA members all over Europe
during our fly-outs down the years, we have decided it's time for a little payback. Now it is our turn to welcome you with open arms. "
Right now, detailed planning is going on, and a detailed programme will be published on the website www.aopa.se
in mid-June. There will be interesting seminars for pilots, ground displays for both pilots and families, amusement park visit for the kids, and family trips around the neighbourhood, fly-outs to interesting places, air displays and more. "The fly-in will be organised in true AOPA fashion, which means no landing fees, no take-off fees, no parking fee, no ATC – only fun!" Jan says. "There's a 1150x30M paved runway waiting for both AOPA-members and others from all over Europe
. 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. Get it in your diary. Any questions? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Medical costs cut in Greece
AOPA Greece has reached an understanding with a number of AME’s who have volunteered to offer new reduced prices for the renewal of Medical Certificates. The offer is open to all AOPA members.
Up to now, medical certificates for PPLs have cost around €180 to €200. Under the new arrangement, members will pay €80. Anton Koutsoudakis of AOPA Greece says: "This cost reduction is more than welcome, especially by PPL members, due to the difficult economic situation of the country. The sum saved by each pilot, is in fact greater than the annual subscription to AOPA Greece."
Annual subscription for AOPA Greece is €80. Members of other European AOPAs may find it useful to take advantage of this concession on medical costs if they happen to be travelling to Greece.
AOPA Israel hosts AOPA Germany
AOPA Israel incoming flight co-ordinator Yigal Merav hosted 14 German single-engine GA aircraft with 33 pilots and spouses on board for a five-day tour of Israel in late May. The guests, flying all the way from Germany to Haifa (LLHA) travelled to Golan Heights, Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea. The German group organiser Mr. Egolf Betz said it was a very interesting and successful cooperation between AOPA members in both countries, as well as a very enjoyable and perception-changing for the participants. The biggest surprise for the German pilots was the very favourable low prices of avgas and parking at LLHA, especially after experiencing the charges in Romania and Cyprus.