IAOPA enews, December 2014 - Welcome to the IAOPA Europe enews which goes to 23,000 aircraft owners and pilots in 27 countries across the continent

SERA: who’s doing what?

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has officially postponed full implementation of the Single European Rules of the Air (SERA), which were due to have been adopted on December 4. The CAA says its decision has been prompted by concerns over the impact of the changes on UK aviation, the need to complete the derogation process with the European Commission, and delays in providing the CAA with the authority to administer the rules seamlessly.
Right across Europe there is evidence of patchy and incomplete implementation of SERA. Some countries say they are adopting it on deadline but seem to have taken no action to inform their pilots of the changes; others have expressed reservations about some aspects of SERA but have not officially announced that they will defer adoption. Some countries say they will be adopting SERA on deadline without having the airspace classifications that would facilitate adoption.
IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson says: “Full credit to the UK CAA for having the courage to take the right course of action on this. There are serious questions that remain to be answered about SERA, and when aviation safety is at stake it is not enough merely to pay lip service to the idea of harmonisation.
“We support the concept of pan-European harmonisation so that every pilot can know the rules, but SERA implementation is a muddle for the European Commission to sort out.”
For UK pilots, the postponement means the proposed move from quadrantal to semi-circular cruising levels will not now happen until some time in the future; equally there will be no changes to minimum height rules, and both VFR and Special VFR flight at night will continue to be permitted.
The CAA has also asked the European Commission for two derogations from SERA. The first would allow the UK’s existing clear of cloud rule, governing flight in VMC in controlled airspace, to be maintained. This, it says, “gives flexibility to pilots and air traffic controllers and reduces the need for Special VFR in a control zone”. The second derogation seeks to avoid the unintended effect of air traffic control not being able to issue a Special VFR clearance when the ground visibility at the reporting aerodrome is below the specified new criteria, despite a pilot being able to fly in VMC (or under a Special VFR clearance) within a control zone away from the affected aerodrome.

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Pilot upgrade seminars organised by AOPA Finland

AOPA Finland organised three Pilot Upgrade seminars for Finnish pilots to introduce local airspace changes and SERA regulation. Seminars were held at Oulu, Seinäjoki and Vantaa, where the most active pilots heard the latest updates for Finnish air space and were given an introduction to SERA regulation. Further seminars will be held elsewhere in Finland beginning in January 2015, once again in co-operation with Finavia and Trafi – the Finnish CAA – lecturers. Seminars are open to all, with no AOPA membership required for admission.
The new airspace structure and the Single European Rules of the Air will be enforced simultaneously in Finland. The objectives of these major changes are the efficient use of airspace, the enforcement of pan-European regulations, and the structural enhancement of the Finnish Air Force. These changes further highlight the importance of careful pre-flight planning, the use of up-to-date charts, and diligent navigation. Every aviator, professional or GA, must be familiar with the new regulations, new concepts, and the new airspace structure to fully understand how these changes will impact his or her operations.

EasyVFR: a benefit with a special price for AOPA Finland members

Finland's airspace change was foreseen a year ago to be the major challenge to all airspace users and it was one of the reasons why AOPA Finland started a sourcing process for flight preparation and air navigation applications for members.
Handheld mobile terminals were the desired platform and after careful consideration and testing the EasyVFR by PocketFMS Foundation was selected. License distribution was started in May 2014, and so far all users have reported positive experiences on various operating systems, Android, iOS and WindowsPhone. EasyVFR is available for Windows 7 & 8, iOS and Android and can be purchased for these platforms by AOPA Finland members. Frequent Flyer Membership (FFM) subscription is included for AOPA Finland members, providing smooth and flexible way to file as many flight plans as necessary to the AFTN system without any paper work or confirmation calls to ANSP.
EasyVFR combines the power device’s built-in GPS receiver and the PocketFMS AeroDatabase to continuously show an aircraft’s position and the airspace in its vicinity, and warns you well in advance of changes to airspace class or area, or if you get too close active TSAs or restricted area.
One of the attendees of seminars said after the EasyVFR demonstration that “EasyVFR is the king of mobile aviation applications”. This pilot was not even a member of AOPA Finland – but he is now.

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AOPA seeks answers on radio zone

AOPA UK is attempting to introduce clarity to the situation around Southend airport, where a Radio Mandatory Zone has been imposed and general aviation aircraft are required to make two-way radio contact before entering a large swathe of what was previously Class G airspace. The RMZ covers some airspace commonly used by GA traffic entering the UK.
The airport says GA pilots are often calling when they are already in the zone, or entering before two-way communication has been established. AOPA is questioning whether the problem is being exaggerated, or whether external factors are in play. AOPA UK’s Chief Executive Martin Robinson said: “Southend is trying to get Class D controlled airspace for itself in order to protect commercial aircraft which want to use it as a cheaper alternative to other nearby airports. It may have an incentive to say GA poses a danger, and we believe its claims must be tested. I am asking our members to tell me of their experiences in the area. Are calls being answered promptly, can two-way communications be easily established, or do other factors intrude? It’s important to establish exactly what’s going on before the wrong impression takes root.”

AOPA Romania wins tax fight

AOPA Romania has been successful in its fight to have VFR flights exempted from new Terminal Area Navigation Charge (TANC) imposed by the Romanian Ministry of Transport around many airports. AOPA was the only Association to request the amendment of the order imposing the new charges to exclude VFR flights, in order to boost flying schools and promote aerial tourism. As a result of AOPA’s work the Ministry has issued a new order cancelling the charge for VFR flight, except at Bucharest’s international airport LROP. The change will shortly be published in official government documents.

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AOPA fights for GA recognition in Romania

AOPA Romania has begun a campaign to have general aviation recognised as a strategic component of the country’s aviation industry and is seeking to have GA recognised in the Romanian government’s Transport Master Plan. The Ministry of Transport held a public hearing with airspace users in October to present the final draft of its Transport Master Plan, which provides guidelines for channelling strategic investments into the Romanian transport infrastructure over the next several years. What became obvious to AOPA was that the GA sector of the aviation industry was totally neglected. The Master Plan takes into account and proposes funding of traditional airports, even where the real economics may not justify the investment. AOPA Romania drafted a document asking the Ministry to be aware that the starting point of almost any national pilot’s career was on a small grass airstrip with ab initio flight training. In order to develop the pilot population AOPA Romania has requested that small airstrips should be included in the Master Plan, thus becoming beneficiaries of an extremely small level of investment which could nonetheless have the effect of substantially improving safety and Romanian GA.
AOPA Romania also raised the issue of Baneasa Airport (LRBS) which is located dangerously – for its future – close to Bucharest International Airport. AOPA Romania has demanded that Baneasa should be included in the strategic airport list to secure its future, and has proposed a number of actions to make the airport GA friendly.

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Saving Romania's aviation heritage

During November no fewer than four Avioane Craiova IAR93 – twin-engine, subsonic, close support ground attack and tactical reconnaissance aircraft with secondary capability as low level interceptors – have been saved from being scrapped by AOPA Romania members. Under the supervision of the National Aviation Museum, they obtained a lease that allows them to dismantle the aircraft, which were lined up on the runway of the Craiova Aircraft Factory. They have transported the aircraft, which are in very poor condition, to privately-owned airfields nearby for restoration and display. AOPA Romania is grateful for the effort, both financial and physical, of those AOPA members who have saved these important pieces of Romania’s aviation history from destruction. 

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Passengers get out and push frozen UTair plane. Yes, this really happened! A bunch of passengers left their seats to give their frozen plane a push at a snowbound airport in Siberia. That was the situation at Igarka airport where temperatures of minus 50 degrees left a Tupolev Tu-134 stranded on the runway. Passengers rallied to the rescue when the oil in the plane's landing gear iced up. According to the Komsomolskaya Pravda website there were cries of "Let's go!" as two rows of passengers, dressed in heavy coats and tick gloves, each took a wing and began shoving the aircraft into position. "We all wanted to go home," one of the volunteers said. Watch the video here.