A new age for GA in Europe?
The landscape of general aviation regulation has made a dramatic shift in favour of the industry, with European countries unanimously declaring that a more efficient way must be found to regulate GA.
A French-led team of experts is to plan a clean-sheet approach to GA regulation, and it has been urged by EASA’s Board of Management to “be broad in your thinking” – even to the extent of comparing GA regulation to that of boats and cars, and looking at American systems of regulation for possible guidance.
The expert group, which will include International AOPA and Europe Air Sports, will establish the ground rules for the regulation of GA, with Matthias Reuter, the European Commission’s Director General for Transport, suggesting: “Maybe the first rule should be that there should be no rules unless safety is affected.”
The new approach suggests a widespread acceptance that current and proposed EASA regulation is stifling the industry unnecessarily, and that standardisation across Europe should be less rigid. IAOPA, which has been pushing for years for the European Commission’s own White Paper on a sustainable future for general aviation to be taken seriously, believes the new situation presents opportunities which must be grasped to ensure the future viability of GA. In the meantime, it has been suggested that EASA’s future plans should be put on hold while a new way forward is established.
To begin with IAOPA will be look for:
*the retention of the ‘registered facility’ for flight training instead of the ‘Approved Training Organisation’ system proposed by EASA;
*the unwinding of the CAMO structure for maintenance of non-commercial aircraft, which underpins the Part M maintenance requirements;
*the retention of the UK IMC rating in a more flexible licensing structure;
*rules which are proportionate, and designed solely to increase safety;
*risk-based regulations aimed at specific problems, for which there is evidence of need.
These would be some of the first gains from a whole new perspective on GA regulation which would replace the current idea of “uniform standardisation at any cost” with a looser, more flexible and responsive system tailored to address risk. The change of direction came after AOPA Chief Executive Martin Robinson gave a Powerpoint presentation based on a paper on GA regulation that was put together with EAS to the Management Board of EASA – made up of representatives of all the governments of Europe – in Cologne on March 13th. EASA also made a presentation, described by Martin as “a good critical look at themselves”, in which they suggested that perhaps the Basic Regulation – the EC’s outline document which governs what they do – may have to be amended. The Agency looked at the current state of play, and at its approach to regulations. Originally, their delegate said, the Basic Regulation was not thought to call for the prescriptive approach EASA has taken, but it was decided later to leave less room for flexibility. (This was thought to be a reference to the hold that lawyers have over EASA, which carries no liability insurance and has much of its regulation written in an opaque and legalistic way.)
The IAOPA/EAS paper, put together by Martin Robinson and David Roberts of Europe Air Sports, sought a new approach which clearly differentiated between GA and Commercial Air Transport. Martin’s presentation provoked a surprising response, with country after country recognising that there needs to be a new direction for regulating GA. Iceland, France, Spain, Ireland, Austria, Poland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, the UK, Italy and Sweden all supported calls for change. France’s call for action was accepted by all, including the European Commission, and to an extent, EASA itself.
After the meeting Martin Robinson said: “I had expected a fight, with the government delegates defending the current approach and resisting change. Not a bit of it; there has been a sea change across the continent, and IAOPA’s co-ordinated approach of lobbying influential national figures has paid off.”
At a meeting of the EASA Advisory Body (EAB) – on which IAOPA has a seat – in November, Martin produced a paper which reiterated IAOPA’s concerns at the poor way rules are developed for general aviation in Europe and the need for better regulation. The Part M maintenance requirements, it said, were having to be revisited, which cost both the industry and the regulator time and money – far better to have got them right in the first place.
The EAB agreed that regulation should be evidence-based and proportionate to risk, and the Chairman of the EASA Board of Management, Mike Smethers, invited IAOPA to make a full presentation to the Board. Martin Robinson and David Roberts of EAS worked on a paper, which Martin turned into a Powerpoint presentation to the full Board of Management.
In it, Martin pointed out that ICAO Annex 6 specifically states that GA need not be regulated in the same way as Commercial Air Transport (CAT) and places the burden of safety on the owner-pilot. It says that where there are no fare-paying passengers, the government does not owe the same duty of care to participants as for CAT. Martin quoted the European Commission’s own White Paper on a sustainable future for GA and questioned whether we were going down the right road to deliver on it. He referred to Part M and its problems and spoke of the need for safety data and trend analysis, on which the encouragement of industry best practice could be based. Only as a last resort should regulation be imposed.
Martin made the following notes of each country’s reaction. Some delegates spoke through interpreters, so there may be room for ambiguity in the details, but the overall thrust was the same. Iceland said the Part M regulations were clearly deficient and must change. “Everyone is against it,” the delegate said. “GA is simple, and it needs simple regulations.” France thanked Martin for the presentation and said that French GA took a much more aggressive stance. “The question is, have we taken the right global approach to GA safety?” the delegate asked. “Is it adaptive enough to the real risks? What do EASA’s changes mean with respect to loss of business, and how can we improve the current position? We need to start with a clean slate, look at the US market and compare it to Europe.” The delegate proposed a paper setting out a new strategy.
Ireland said it was supportive of the IAOPA/EAS presentation and backed the French call for a review. “Ireland sees a big shift towards Annex 2 (non-EASA aircraft) with people moving out of the regulated sector because of complexity and expense,” the Irish delegate said. “Part M is too complex and too expensive, and CAMOs are a big issue – Ireland is struggling just to set one up.”
The delegate from Spain supported the French proposal and suggested that most of GA cared little for freedom of movement across borders if it depressed activity at home. Self-regulation and industry best practice should play a greater role. Austria said EASA’s continued airworthiness and FCL regulations were causing problems, and future requirements for air traffic services ignored topographical issues that were important in the Alpine regions. “GA needs room to manoeuvre – it has a special position,” the Austrian delegate said.
Poland said it was wrong to compare GA to CAT, and suggested that the regulation of boats and cars be looked at as a model. The Netherlands said GA needed a special regime which was evidence- and risk-based. “What’s the problem with GA?” asked the Dutch delegate. “Mainly human factors, and how can you regulate human factors? Keep it simple. Do you really need safety management systems for aero clubs?”
The United Kingdom said the French proposal “might be the right approach” and asked whether this meant EASA-Ops would be delayed. Switzerland said every day they received many complaints, and the need for a solution was urgent. The delegate supported the French approach and stressed that whatever came out of it needed to be risk-based. Norway said that its Annex 2 aircraft were under local oversight, through the agency of a national association. “Should GA safety be compared to sailing?” the delegate asked. “There were 120 lives lost at sea last year, somewhat higher than in GA. Self-regulation is better for GA, if there is the political will to do it.” Denmark said Part M was complicated and while they didn’t agree with in the beginning, they thought it was working okay. But, they added, there should be a review. The Czech Republic backed the call for a review to find the right balance. Italy asked why it was necessary to issue a new ARC every year and pointed out that taxes were also killing GA in Italy. Sweden supported the French proposal and said that continued airworthiness, Ops and FLC together represented a ‘total system approach’ which was not fully understood. Part M provided no better control than what went before, and there was a need to find a proper balance for GA.
Matthias Reuter, the European Commission’s Director General for Transport, said an expert group should look at which part of GA we were talking about – was business aviation to be included? – and it should be informed by the Commission’s White Paper, which recognised the need for sustainable GA, with sustainable fees and charges. He suggested the EC’s ‘micro enterprises’ rules, which markedly reduce the regulatory compliance demands on smaller businesses, might be used to address the issues. “Maybe the first rule should be that there should be no rules unless safety is affected,” he suggested. “But while 27 different sets of rules is not what GA wants, there is a need for a new approach.”
Summing up, Chairman Mike Smethers thanked Martin Robinson and the Agency for the presentations and said that an expert body of no more than about ten representatives, including IAOPA, EAS and EASA, meet to produce a scoping document that set out its aims and objectives, and that this document should be ready by June. He said that comparing GA to CAT was not logical, but it was a better idea to equate it with other activities, as had been suggested. Over-regulation of GA, he said, could lead to some people operating illegally. He understood, however, that EASA was driven by CAT, and carried GA along in its wake. He suggested that EASA-Ops might usefully be put on hold, and urged the group that is currently reviewing Part M to “think broadly”, look at self-regulation, and to be open to anything. While standardisation had a role, there should be less hard law and more flexibility.
Afterwards Martin Robinson said: “To see the whole Board of Management moving unanimously in our direction was quite refreshing, after all the years we have spent lobbying on these issues. This could herald a new age for GA in Europe, and one that delivers a sustainable future and a growing GA sector, which has got to be good for everyone – Europe, EASA, and industry.
“To start with I’m going to recommend that we look again at the need to introduce ATO requirements when we should be keeping registered facilities as they are, and that we should unwind the CAMO structure for non-commercial operations. And these sentiments certainly enhance our chances of keeping the IMC rating. I’m grateful that the French have taken this on as they have great influence and the desire to get it right, especially when they are backed by all the others.”
European AOPAs debate the issues
The 126th Regional Meeting of International AOPA Europe was held in London on March 10th and brought together 37 delegates from seventeen European countries and the United States to discuss issues of common interest. The meeting was hosted by AOPA UK and Chaired by its CEO Martin Robinson, and among the speakers was UK Civil Aviation Authority Chief Executive Andrew Haines. The AOPA US contingent included IAOPA President Craig Fuller, General Secretary John Sheehan, Melissa Rudinger, who runs the political lobbying operation at AOPA US, Craig Spence, who will be taking over from John Sheehan on an acting basis when John retires in May and who is AOPA US’s NexGen expert, and Bruce Landsberg, head of the Flight Safety Foundation.
A full list of presentations has been added to the IAOPA-Europe website, and a series of reports from the Regional Meeting appears in the April issue of the AOPA UK magazine General Aviation, which is available in low-resolution PDF form on the IAOPA-Europe site. Here we present concise versions of three of those reports.
London Olympic airspace restrictions
The UK CAA has warned that any pilot who infringes the restricted airspace around Olympic Games sites in the south of England this summer will automatically and immediately have their licence suspended. Britain has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure safety at the Games, and the vast restricted and prohibited areas will be patrolled by armed helicopters and fighter aircraft. This does not mean, however, that the airspace is closed to GA. If you follow the correct procedures you should be able to fly into and out of England without too much difficulty. The British have stated their intention to encourage 'business as usual' during the Olympics.
An invited speaker at the Regional Meeting was Wing Commander Dawn Lindsey, the RAF officer responsible for airspace planning around London during the Games. Wing Commander Lindsey gave delegates a briefing on the temporary airspace restrictions, which run from 14th July to 15th August; there are smaller restrictions covering the Paralympics, which run to September 12th. Any pilot wishing to fly into or over the south of England during those dates should be familiar with procedures outlined at www.airspacesafety.com/olympics. If you plan to come to the UK during the Olympics and need clarification for anything on that website, contact AOPA UK.
Here is the text of an explanatory article on flying in the Olympic Restricted Area from AOPA UK's Timothy Nathan:
“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.”
That was the biggest and most dramatic statement in a fascinating day on 10th March, when the Airspace and Safety Initiative made a presentation to 450 pilots about the forthcoming Olympics period. The large lecture theatre was packed and apparently people had to be turned away – a great pity as it was an excellent day, full of senior and knowledgeable people making every effort to ensure that the Olympics passes without a disaster and with as little disruption as possible.
The foreseen possible disasters include an actual or attempted terrorist attack using an aircraft and an innocent aircraft being shot down because it is seen as too threatening to ignore. But even though those two outcomes are extremely unlikely, there is a big reputational risk if a light aircraft causes disruption to Commercial Air Transport, especially if that affects participants or heads of state.
The CAA made the point that the increase in traffic is expected to be massive – they are expecting half a million extra airline passengers, 150 head of state flights and innumerable extra BizJet and GA movements. They are activating as international entry points, with slots, an extra 40 airports and airfields, and have increased Airways and TMA dimensions to cope. The south east of England is one of the busiest pieces of airspace in the world on an ordinary day; the three days before and three days after the Olympics will take it to breaking point. One incursion, whether to controlled, restricted or prohibited airspace could have knock-on effects to our freedom to fly for years to come. The CAA were not pulling their punches! They also told us that the chances of prosecution were considerably higher, as the stakes and disruption would be greater.
Although Southend, Manston and Farnborough get zones, most of the temporary controlled airspace is above 2,500 feet, a lot of it at flight levels. The average AOPA member will be able to avoid it by staying low, so the focus of the day was on the Prohibited and Restricted Areas, P111 and R112 from 14th July to 15th August and P114 from 16th August to 12th September. There will also be a Restricted (though Prohibited to us) area over Weymouth and NOTAMed RA(T)s to cover other events around the country. All these areas have been set up by the military as a “proportionate response to a perceived risk” and are intended to create a “known air environment.” They will have “assets” in place to monitor activity in these areas and to intercept any which are unknown or deviate from what is known about them.
The Government, military, CAA, NATS and other bodies, such as SkyDemon, are bending over backwards to allow us to continue with our flying lives despite this disruption. It behoves AOPA members to think how much worse and more draconian this could have been, and indeed was in Vancouver, Athens and South Africa. NATS are providing 12 extra radar consoles and some very sophisticated software, and the RAF and RN are providing 48 LARS controllers and 50 Air Traffic Assistants to ensure that we can get on with our lives. Our part of the bargain is to behave responsibly, to follow the rules and be flexible. The solution was the very best AOPA could negotiate, and we believe that it is as good as we could reasonably hope for.
Apart from an area between Tottenham and Brookmans Park, the whole of the Prohibited Zone will be within the Heathrow and City CTRs and should not be particularly inconvenient to most AOPA members. It is the restrictions within the Restricted Zone which will be the most onerous.
Essentially, you must have working Mode C or Mode S and you will need 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 (ie, no faxes or emails) or into the AFTN using AFPEx, SkyDemon, EuroFPL or whichever online tool. 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 will get the slot.
If pilots or operators attempt to fool the system by applying for speculative slots, they will be spotted by those 50 assistants, and the fearsome Wing Commander Dawn Lindsey will be on the phone, probably threatening any future access to the system.
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 LatLong. Human readable descriptions, such as M25/M23 junction may not be used and will result in rejection (with a reason given.)
While it is acknowledged that many VFR pilots have little or no experience with flightplans, and even for those who do, these flightplans are even more strict and onerous than usual, Tim Dawson of SkyDemon has jumped into the breach. He is offering everyone free access to SkyDemon Light (http://www.skydemonlight.com) during the games, with free automatic generation and filing of plans. All the user has to do is to click and drag on a map on the computer screen and SDL will work out everything else, package it up neatly and file it. This will be far and away the easiest way to deal with the situation, and the whole GA community owes a debt of gratitude to Tim who is doing it, as he says himself, out of the goodness of his heart.
There will be another “File a Flightplan Day” on 5/6 May and SDL will be available on that weekend for people to practice. You can ask questions or get help with how to format flightplans from email@example.com. There is also much more information at www.airspacesafety.com/olympics
Once you have your approval number you must depart, or cross the zone boundary if inbound, within 30 minutes of your planned time. There is no further leeway on that, and you will not be accepted into the airspace a minute earlier or later. Even if there are delays beyond your control, you simply have to re-file. However, you can link together two plans for out and back, such that you get both approvals or neither.
Once in the air, or approaching the zone from outside, you must call Atlas Control on the existing Farnborough North and East frequencies with your call sign and approval number (no approval number, no clearance) and service required. Nothing more. You will be given a squawk and a contact frequency and you will then be given a LARS service by an experienced controller. You must fly your planned route. If you need to change your route, or divert because of weather or technical reasons, then tell the controller, and safety will come first.
Aircraft will be able to fly in the circuit of airfields within the zone without a flightplan, but only if they can squawk and by prior notification to Atlas. They will have to remain within 3nm of their airfield.
The highlight of the presentation was from two pilots who will be intercepting errant aircraft, in Typhoons, Pumas or a combination. If you are going to fly in the Restricted Zone, or anywhere near it, you must get familiar with standard interception procedures, and these will mostly be adhered to, but there are exceptions. The interceptors will not have much time to make decisions and will be expecting a positive and rapid response from intercepted aircraft. Whether it is a fast jet or a helicopter, it will make its presence felt. It might fly right across you, showing its upper surface, fly so close that you can hear it and feel its wash, it might even 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. The Pumas will have big boards with instructions, such as FOLLOW ME. The interceptors should make it very clear what they want you to do, but the watchword is, if you are in any doubt:
TURN AWAY FROM LONDON and CALL 121.5
Sponsor's announcement: SkyDemon
By now a great many pilots will already be aware of SkyDemon and how it can assist with flight planning and navigation. When it comes to VFR we have a system which stands out above the rest, which makes the arrival of SkyDemon for iPad particularly exciting. SkyDemon takes advantage of the unique touch interface of the iPad to deliver an outstanding experience that must be seen to be believed.
As a result of the Olympic games being held in London this summer, a great deal of focus has been placed upon filing of VFR flightplans. Our solution is to allow all UK pilots, SkyDemon subscribers or otherwise, to file flightplans during the period for free. The SkyDemon filing solution is ingenious: most fields on the flightplan form are filled in correctly for you automatically, making a potentially tedious task simple and efficient.
All the SkyDemon functionality on the new platform promises to revolutionise the way European GA pilots plan and brief for flights. You will find yourself sitting in the clubhouse, or even the aircraft, getting last minute checks of NOTAM and weather, before filing your plan and heading off, using the iPad's GPS to power the SkyDemon navigation software. For more details and a full feature breakdown follow this link
Where have all the students gone?
At the European meeting IAOPA President Craig Fuller outlined a major AOPA-US survey which indicates that between 70 and 80 percent of students drop out before they get their PPL, even though they consider the experience to have been positive and rewarding. Armed with survey responses, AOPA US has produced a 47-point action plan to help flying schools improve their retention levels. In Europe, where 70 percent of those who get their PPLs do not renew after five years, the situation is unlikely to be better, and much may be learned from the American situation. The most important factor for students, Craig said, was a good relationship with their instructor. Here is a report of Craig's presentation:
AOPA US has harvested a huge amount of data on flight training with a view to improving student retention and has come up with some unexpected and sometimes startling conclusions.
IAOPA President Craig Fuller outlined the results of a massive American survey of flying students which shows that between 70 and 80 percent of them drop out of training before they get their PPLs, even though most of them find the experience quite positive and rewarding.
“We’ve been looking at our investment in trying to drive new pilots to flight training organisations and trying to better understand how it’s working,” said Craig, who is also President of AOPA US. “A lot of people look at flight training and give up the idea right at the start, and we expected that. But the number of people who start training, then drop out, really surprised us.”
The survey showed that most students got information on learning to fly from other pilots. Predominantly they obtained details online, with AOPA’s website being heavily relied on. Far the majority of students go into flying without intending to be professional pilots.
The most important single factor in whether a student is retained or lost seems to be the flight instructor. The perceived quality of the education, the personal support from the instructor and his or her availability to discuss issues and coach the student on the ground were supremely important. Many lost students said they had little idea where they were in the curriculum – they didn’t know how far they’d come or how far they had to go. The negative aspects were topped by the cost, but close behind was poor instruction.
“The average age of a student is over 40,” Craig said. “They’re not 18 or 19 any more. They buy certain models of car, they stay in certain types of hotel, and they have high expectations which flight training organisations don’t always consider.”
With the American-style independent instructor system, many found that a sense of community was missing. “They wanted to be part of the pilot group,” Craig said. “Aviation was something they wanted to be part of on a personal level. They didn’t want just to show up for the lesson then go away. Those who felt part of the community had an increased chance of getting through the course.” Perhaps part of the same theme, the students felt they didn’t get enough recognition for their achievements.
In the US, training organisations that provided simulators reported better retention. They were seen as decreasing cost while increasing skills, and some instructors were giving students several hours of simulator time before they ever got near a plane. “The average time in the aircraft for a PPL is around 85 hours,” Craig said. “If you can drive that number down to nearer 40, you’ve addressed a major cost issue.”
Crunching the numbers produced 47 action points for improving the flight training experience and increasing the success rate. One of the results is a programme for recognising excellence in flight training, and putting student experiences online in the form of reviews. “We didn’t want flight training organisations to think we were identifying some as bad, some as good,” Craig said. “We spent a year talking with them about this research, and we co-opted them with very compelling arguments. We have enough support to go public with the next element, which is a system that will recognise excellence in flight training, based on our research. The idea is for flight schools to achieve levels of excellence according to their students. It’s not like a restaurant review, where one bad experience can skew the whole thing. It’s only going to recognise those we give an award to.”
Other initiatives will follow. “We have a shrinking pilot population, and if your constituency is shrinking you have a problem,” Craig said. “There is a pilot shortage, and a system where 70 to 80 percent drop out is not tolerable.”
AOPA is also starting a newsletter for flight training organisations and instructors to share all their findings, encourage customer focus and highlight best practice.
Martin Robinson commented that the situation where 70 to 80 percent of students were lost before they qualified was made worse in Europe where 70 percent of PPLs did not renew after five years. The problem for European flight training organisations was only going to get worse. “From 2015 all FTOs will have to become Approved Training Organisations with a new level of bureaucracy and new procedures, new audit requirements and new costs, and this is likely to do away with the one-man instructor flight school. EASA is planning a workshop on this in a few weeks time, where we will try to impress on them that gratuitously increase bureaucracy and cost has nothing to do with better training and safer pilots. Don’t let the FAA go down that road.”
The results of the American survey are available at www.aopa.org/ftinitiative.
How to do the job properly
Melissa Rudinger, AOPA US’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, gave the meeting a rundown of the lobbying effort which backs up general aviation in America and helps them succeed where European pilots fail. The nature and scale of the operation she described left European delegates slack-jawed and wistful, constrained as we are by lack of funding and the inability to engage lawyers and lobbyists in Brussels and Cologne. AOPA US has 400,000 members contributing to a slick and professional lobbying effort which gets results. AOPA President Craig Fuller was named the most effective lobbyist in Washington by a leading lobbying magazine in 2011.
“If we don’t engage with the political process, we don’t stand a chance,” Melissa said. “Somebody else will define who we are, and we won’t get what we need to support the industry. In Europe you face more onerous regulation, but it’s a lot of hard work to maintain our position in the United States.
“We have 73 years in the lobbying business and AOPA’s government affairs department has 50 staff members, of whom 30 are dedicated to lobbying in Washington and interacting with the Federal agencies. It’s an uphill battle but they are very effective, and sometimes even we forget how dedicated they are.
“We reach elected officials at every level, from the smallest municipality to the summit of Capitol Hill in Washington. You have to have a good working relationship with these people. They need to know that GA makes a huge contribution to the economy, and pays its fair share of taxes.
“We take the business of educating political leaders seriously. Our ‘GA serves America’ campaign wasn’t aimed at pilots, it was aimed at decision makers and opinion leaders. We used well-known pilots like Harrison Ford and Morgan Freeman as our spokesmen, but also everyday pilots like the doctor who uses his aircraft to reach patients on islands in Chesapeake Bay to illustrate our case.
“We also gather support from our allies. Four years ago we helped organise the GA Caucus on Capitol Hill, a group of politicians who may or may not vote in favour, but who acknowledge that GA is important and want to understand it better. The caucus now has 185 members in the House and at least 30 in the Senate.
“President Obama’s 2013 budget proposes a $100 fee for every business jet, which affects very few of our members, but recognising that the divide and conquer system is alive and well we banded together and got the caucus to send a letter saying these fees have been proposed before and Congress had always rejects them. And that was signed by 198 legislators, so they know they’re in for a fight.
“We contribute to the campaigns of candidates that support our issues. We host fund-raisers and give a lot to favourable candidates. We work to ensure that legislators get phone calls, visits and letters from their constituents. We can message pilots down to the zip (postal) code, to do things at the right time. The sophistication of our targeting is extreme. We also target those legislators who are anti-GA with our education programme. It’s it’s easy to throw stones at your enemy but better to engage with him. Even if you don’t agree, it often dials down the rhetoric.
“The ones who get the attention are the ones to whom attention is drawn – silence ensures you’ll be ignored,” she concluded.
The contrast with Europe, where GA pilots generally decline to fund political participation and the regulators ride roughshod over them, using the ‘divide and conquer’ principle to the full and selecting the least troublesome of the organisations which claim to represent GA in order to go through the motions of consultation, could not be greater.
Sheehan era ends
IAOPA Secretary General John Sheehan is retiring from the post on May 1st, and is handing over to Craig Spence who will run the ship while some strategic decisions are made about its goals. “My first regional meeting in Europe was in 1984 and it was a very small meeting of the elite,” said John (pictured left). “This was my 25th , and my lasting impression is that I’m astounded at the progress IAOPA Europe has made in 15 years. You’ve come a long way, and it has to do with the realisation that there is a common way forward, and having everyone working towards that. You have excellent leadership, every one of you must participate and follow that leadership.” Craig Fuller paid tribute to the work John has done over the years and thanked him for the effort he put in. IAOPA will use this time to look at what it wants to achieve and exactly how it should be structured.
French Customs blow for general aviation
The French government is withdrawing Customs from dozens of smaller airfields, which will have a major impact on GA flights from the UK because Britain has never signed up to the Schengen Agreement allowing free travel across European borders. Some Swiss pilots will also be affected.
A list of airfields from which Customs has been withdrawn has been confirmed by Emmanuel Davidson of AOPA France. They are Meaux-Esbly, Pontoise, Toussus Le Noble, Valenciennes-Denaine, Nancy-Essen, Pontarlier, Reims-Champagne, Saint-Yan, Vesoul-Frotey, Courcheval, Megeve, Roanne-Renaison, Valence-Chabeuil, Gap-Tallard, Albi-le-Sequestre, Cahors-Lalbenque, Castres-Mazamet, Bourges, Dieppe-St-Aubin, Granville, Morlaix-Ploujean and Quimper-Plughaffen. Customs will not be available even on 24 hours notice. Airfields which have been earmarked to have Customs facilities removed by summer 2012 include Amiens-Glisy, Abbeville, Calais, Montbeliard-Courcelles, Besancon-La-Veze, Colmar-Houssen, Nevers-Fourchambault, Epinal-Mirecourt, Auxerre-Branches, Vichy-Charmeil, Annemasse, Le Castellet, Agen-La Garenne, Lannion, Laval-Entrammes, Rouen-Vallee de Seine, Orleans-St Denis de Hotel.
Emmanuel Davidson says the decisions has been taken by the French finance ministry, which is responsible for customs. "Although we cannot understand the reasoning behind the decision, it makes things very difficult for many pilots either based in France or for foreign pilots coming or going to a country which has not signed the Schengen treaty," he says.
"For pilots wishing to use Toussus le Noble (LFPN), for instance, it means that they cannot clear Customs if they are arriving or departing from the UK or the Channel Islands. Toussus is a business and general aviation airport. Many business jets are based there.
The only airports in the Paris area with Customs available are now Lognes (750 meters hard runway), not IFR, not usable at night; Charles De Gaulles International (not accessible to GA); Orly International (not accessible to GA); Paris le Bourget (not accessible VFR, €500 in landing and mandatory handling charges.
"A pilot coming back from Guernsey to Toussus needs to clear customs either in Dinard, Deauville or Cherbourg, where Customs closes at 1900 at the latest. Therefore it is impossible to spend the week-end in Guernsey without leaving early in order to clear Customs. Your week end is going to be cut short. The Finance Ministry is deaf to any argument presented by airfield management, AOPA, or even the DGAC."
While Switzerland has signed the Schengen Treaty it has no customs treaty with France. Therefore, the interpretation of French customs is that people may circulate freely, but in the case of general aviation, pilots, their passengers, luggage and goods transported are subject to customs inspection. The exception is Geneva, where a special treaty is in place because part of Geneva Airport is on French soil and inspection or non-inspection by Swiss customs is considered as a French customs inspection and vice versa.
Wind turbine threat in Belgium
AOPA Netherlands reports one success against a wind farm which threatened the safe use of a GA airfield, but another airfield in Belgium needs your help. Despite a three-year campaign against it involving AOPA and other organisations, the city of Apeldoorn decided to allow the construction of a group of wind turbines 500 feet high at entry point S for the 700-foot circuit at Teuge (EHTE). Now, a court of appeal has decided the wind farm would be dangerous and has reversed the city's decision. Teuge has about 60,000 movements annually and plays a significant role in the local economy.
In Belgium, however, plans for wind turbines threaten Namur Temploux airport with a situation similar to that at Teuge. AOPA Netherlands is asking all European GA pilots to sign the petition here. The site is in French, but with Google translator you can understand what is requested. Please respond before the deadline of April 4th.
Sweden's 50th anniversary fly-in
Pilots all across Europe are invited to help AOPA Sweden celebrate its 50th anniversary with a 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 further information will be published in the next issue of the IAOPA-Europe enews. There will certainly be interesting seminars for pilots, ground displays for both pilots and families, an amusement park visit for the kids, family trips around the neighbourhood, a fly-out to the beautiful island of Visingsö, 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! There's a 1150x30M paved runway and 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."
€33 million Swedish liability?
At Stockholm’s downtown Bromma airport the Swedish airport operator Swedavia has advised that they will require pilots to carry a personal liability insurance covering 100 million Swedish Crowns – about €11 million – and be ready to accept a maximum personal liability of 300 million Swedish Crowns (€33 million) for the right to be based at the airport.
Lars Hjelmberg of AOPA Sweden reports that this is something new in Europe, and AOPA Sweden wonders if it is legally allowable within the EU. “If these insurances must be carried by local pilots, they surely will be required for visiting pilots,” Lars says. Bromma is a public airport listed in the ICAO regional plan as an international airport. Swedavia AB is a quoted company owned by the Kingdom of Sweden. Previously, state airports in Sweden were owned and operated by the Civil Aviation Authority. AOPA-Sweden is now approaching the Board of Transportation in Sweden and requesting action from them.
AOPA Finland rejuvenated
AOPA has been reconstituted in Finald and aims to play a big part in the development of general aviation there. Esa Harju reports that the major problems in the country are the price of aviation fuel – 100LL costs €3.10 to €3.22 per litre – as well as the supply of aviation fuels due to incomplete oil company networks. European directives and regulations are a significant concern, largely because of Finnish national interpretations. For instance, Finland's CAA, Trafi, requires maintainers to state under the Part M Maintenance Programme the expiry dates of medical certificates of all pilots authorised to complete pilot-owner maintenance tasks related to Part M Appendix VII. This means that the Maintenance Programme of a single aircraft has to be updated and approved seven times in a single year. When pilots reach 50 years age medicals are valid for 12 months, and with seven out of eight co-owners being over 50 and approvals costing €400 each, an additional annual cost of €2,800 has been created for no apparent reason. And that's just Part M – EASA OPS and EASA FCL are still to come.
In Finland, forest fire surveillance flights during the summer are operated by local aviation clubs, who also provide some SAR missions to help the authorities. The latest requirement by Trafi for the forest fire season in 2012 is a mandatory two PPL(A) pilots in the cockpit of an SEP. AOPA Finland would like Trafi to provide some justification for this, which is thought to be the first time two pilots have been required in a single-engine piston aircraft front seats during GA non-commercial operations.
Some factrs about Finnish GA at the end of 2011: Facts about Finnish GA at the end of 2011:
7900 licensed civil pilots
2100 licensed instrument-rated pilots
700 active general aviation/aerial work aircrafts
330 microlight or ultralight aircrafts
10 very light aircraft or light sport aircraft
AOPA Greece fly-in at Kavala
Preparations for Kavala Air Show 2012, to be held on June 22, 23 and 24 on the seafront in the city of Kavala, are proceeding full steam ahead. Confirmed participations include teams from Italy, Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia, and of course from Greece. Red Bull and various Greek aviation companies will also take part. AOPA Greece's Anton Koutsoudakis reports that Kavala Air Show, now in its second year, is unique in that the city is built on a slope which forms a huge amphitheatre, allowing all of the 60,000 inhabitants to watch the show from their own homes. A further 40,000 spectators are estimated to gather from nearby cities, and from other Balkan countries. Kavala international airport (LGKV) is only 10 nm away.
Organiser of the show is the Mayor of the city, with the active technical support of AOPA Greece. They offer a spectacular and rewarding air show involving airplanes, helicopters, microlights and hot air balloons. Visitors will also have the opportunity to see the aircraft at close quarters in the associated Air Park. All AOPA members are cordially invited.
*AOPA Greece has elected a new Management Council. The officers are: President, Mrs Yiouli Kalafati; Vice President, Mr Kyprianos Biris; Vice President, Marina Zompanaki; Treasurer, Mr Billy Costa; Members Representative Mr Antonis Koutsoudakis.
AOPA Israel to host German pilots
AOPA Israel held its annual meeting and general assembly at the beginning of March, and elected four newcomers to its nine-strong Board. Yaron Efrat was re-elected as chairman for another two-year term. AOPA Israel is hosting a group of 15 German aircraft with 40 pilots and spouses, who are arriving for a five-day tour in the third week of May. The visit will include excursions to the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, and a flight to the lowest airstrip on the globe, Bar Yehuda (LLMZ) which is 1,240 ft below sea level. The tour is organised by www.PiloTours.de, supported by AOPA Germany and assisted by AOPA Israel liaison man Yigal Merav, in co-operation with a local tour organiser Unique Travels.
More news from Holland…
The Dutch government will apply for the maximum opt out period for EASA FCL, and AOPA-Netherlands has created a task force representing all GA bodies to assist the Dutch CAA to make the conversion as painlessas possible. Conversion of JAA licenses is straightforward, but the new ratings and the national licenses (RPL) to the LAPL have led to arguments over ‘grandfathers rights’. The task force has had its first meeting and is accepted by the CAA. Its position paper will be finalised in April.
Airspace revision around Schiphol
Due to requests for increased capacity at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport a review of the airspace is being undertaken, and AOPA Netherlands has made 12 recommendations to improve GA access in the area. These have largely been incorporated by the CAA in its consultation document, which goes out in April. IAOPA Europe members may be asked to make their views known when the changes have been announced.
New website www.AOPA.nl
AOPA-Netherlands launched its new website on March 30th, providing better access to flying information.
New VFR chart
The new half-million VFR chart for the Netherlands was published on March 8th.