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

EASA and the 'pilots' spring'

IAOPA-Europe’s Regional Meeting in Reykjavik in May was electrified by the news that the European Aviation Safety Agency says it wants to change its approach to general aviation, and intends to spend the next three years putting right the mistakes of the past. EASA has adopted IAOPA’s mantra of “proportionate, risk-based regulation” and in an unexpected move has decided that its Head of Rulemaking will not be replaced when he retires this year. IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson said this was an encouraging sign. “What they’re saying is that they’ve got enough rules for now, and they don’t want any more being written until these have bedded down,” he said. “This is a major change – the EASA mill has been churning out rules for a decade, and there were those who thought it would go on forever.”
IAOPA has pledged 100% support to EASA as it begins to implement its new policies. Martin told the Regional Meeting: “EASA has stated publicly that it wants to improve its relationship with GA. This is the result of IAOPA’s sustained campaign down the years to demonstrate the damaging effect EASA is having on the general aviation industry. This has not always won us friends, but without it, EASA would not now be talking of the need to do things differently. They are beginning to adopt our language – risk-based regulation with proportionate oversight. We are going to hold their feet to the fire to ensure these fine words are translated into action.”
*A full report of the IAOPA-Europe Regional Meeting can be read in General Aviation magazine, available online at www.iaopa.eu

EASA RF-to-ATO conversion workshop

One of the first manifestations of the new EASA game-plan was an Agency-sponsored workshop on the issue of the conversion of Registered Facilities – the current non-complex flight training outfits – into Approved Training Organisations, a process which introduces new levels of bureaucracy and cost. Many RFs could well be driven out of business if they have to comply. Lennart Persson of AOPA Sweden told the Regional Meeting that of the 60 RFs in Sweden, about half could have to stop trading. Nick Wilcock of AOPA UK and Gerald Gollob of AOPA Germany attended the workshop on May 15 and 16 on behalf of IAOPA.
Nick reports: “It is clear that, under the very welcome leadership of Patrick Ky, EASA has had a considerable shift in attitude towards GA regulation; the Agency has finally accepted that many current regulations are both burdensome and disproportionate. Delegates to the EASA ‘RF-to-ATO’ workshop from both industry and national authorities provided feedback and examples of problems faced by RFs caused by the current conversion process. EASA then revealed that no Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) had ever been written for non-complex Approved Training Organisations (ATOs); hence the current problems stem largely from the adoption of AMCs for complex ATOs.
“In order to rectify this omission, workshop delegates helped to agree proposals which EASA will now use to draft the necessary AMC. Due to the legal processes required, this AMC cannot be in place before the end of 2014 at the earliest; neither is it certain whether the European Commission could agree on a delay to the RF-to-ATO deadline until even later. However, EASA are content for the UK CAA to draft an Alternative Means of Compliance based on decisions made at the workshop, which would not only enable simpler requirements to be introduced in the UK far earlier than under the formal EASA process, but also in any other member state which chose to adopt the UK alternative. AOPA UK will now be working closely with the UK CAA to create both this alternative and an associated ATO template manual.
“IAOPA Europe and the UK CAA also agree that it simply is not possible to revert to the previous RF system, because different states had different ways of overseeing their national RFs. To achieve a new, common set of requirements for RFs would undoubtedly prove to be a lengthy process; however, simpler, lighter and better rules for GA should certainly be achieved instead through adoption of this new Alternative Means of Compliance.”

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Down to business

Some 28 AOPA representatives from 18 countries attended the Reykjavik meeting, at which they were able for the first time to meet Ulrich Stockmann, the former MEP who now acts as International AOPA’s lobbyist in Brussels. IAOPA General Secretary Craig Spence also came from the United States and  Kevin Psutka from Canada, along with Frank Hofmann, IAOPA’s representative at ICAO in Montreal. The Regional Meeting was the first to be hosted by AOPA Iceland, and a strong local contingent led by Valur Stefansson and including Matthias Sveinbjornsson, Reynir Thor Gudmundsson,  Haraldur Diego and Siggi Jonsson organised the conference.
Topics under discussion included EASA and the European Parliament elections, which were being held in the week after the meeting, lobbying and political education, pilot recruitment and statistical trends, SESAR and the Single European Sky, ADS-B and other potential equipage mandates, ICAO language requirements, and remotely piloted vehicles. AOPA Iceland gave a presentation of Reykjavik’s downtown airport, which is under threat from politicians backed by property developers’ money, and which AOPA is fighting to save.
The purpose of the Regional Meeting is to explain to every AOPA in Europe what the organisation is doing internationally, and to allow delegates to influence the approach of the Executive in all things. It gives delegates a platform to explain what their specific problems are with their national authorities and in their areas, identified common themes and shares knowledge of how they are tackled elsewhere. It gives people the understanding to explain to AOPA members in every country what is being done with their money, in their own language.
In the Chair, Martin Robinson said that GA has suffered terribly from having a plethora of voices, some claiming to represent hundreds of thousands of pilots while having no members, no reporting systems and no money for lobbying. EASA has been able to choose such people to fulfil its requirement to consult with industry, and in some cases, those people are personally able to profit financially from EASA’s choice. In Britain’s case, this situation came close to killing off one of GA’s most highly prized safety aids, the IMC Rating, which was only preserved after a long AOPA campaign.

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Lawmakers, lobbyists and money

International AOPA’s representative in Brussels is Ulrich Stockmann (pictured at right), a former Member of the European Parliament who now lobbies on transport issues and who has been paving the way for IAOPA’s next big push in Europe – the process of educating the new intake of MEPs about what general aviation is and why it needs their help.
Ulrich, a member of the European Transport Committee for seven years, outlined to the meeting the structure of a European lawmaking system that is bewilderingly complex and can only be navigated by those with insider knowledge of who really has the power, and how it is wielded. You need to know which individuals and which groups and sub-groups can influence events, and things are not always what they seem. Ultimately, you need to know how to play the system to get what you need.
IAOPA has joined with the European Business Aircraft Association (EBAA) and the European Regional Airline Community (ERAC) to take a joint approach to the many aspects of lobbying where we have common interests.
The foundation of successful lobbying is not meeting with specific people to discuss specific issues, but a slow and sustained process of relationship-building which educates and explains. The advice from Kurt Fleckenstein MEP, one of the most influential members of the Social Democratic group which has most of the power in the Parliament, is to have a ‘friendly face’ walking the corridors, knowing who can open doors. The major airlines, equipment manufacturers, big airports, all have such friendly faces doing their bidding – often crowds of them.
Ulrich used the word ‘sustainability’ almost as often as the Greens do; sustainable lobbying means being a permanent part of the process, so that legislators dealing with an issue expect you to knock on the door, and you in turn expect to be taken seriously. Last year IAOPA launched a successful kick-off event at the European Parliament, reported extensively in this magazine. But efforts have been directed towards preparing the ground for the new intake of MEPs who are due to start work in July, but won’t really get down to it until later in the year.
Parliamentary understanding of GA was poor or non-existent until IAOPA’s relentless work began to get through six or seven years ago; MEPs began to be aware of the value of the industry, its reach and its potential, and called for the production of data – the document known as ‘Towards a Sustainable Future for General Aviation’ set out 30 points which needed to be addressed to give GA a way forward. Unfortunately, said Ulrich, there had been no progress on any of these points.
“Lobbying is a necessity,” he said. “It is often viewed negatively, but it’s vital for success. Legislation always reflects the balance of interests of those affected at any given time. The politically contentious points must be made clear to the MEPs. They need facts and figures – the rule is that if you want to change something, you have to bear the burden of proof, you have to demonstrate consequences and promote correct solutions, and you have to get your data to the right people.”
With EASA showing signs of changing the way it deals with GA, the time is right for effective lobbying. “I believe there’s a lot of scope for winning an effective campaign, a very real possibility that we can influence the direction of European legislation,” Ulrich said.

Oil and understanding

EASA clearly does not understand the risks it is regulating. An example is the ‘dangerous goods’ regulation which prevented a GA aircraft from carrying a quart of engine oil in the aircraft, because it might represent an ‘environmental hazard’ in an accidental spill or a crash.
Over the past five years IAOPA has argued that it is essential for some aircraft to carry spare engine oil, if they are operating to remote airstrips where oil may not be available. They cannot be forced to fly back with their engine oil running low simply for misperceived safety reasons.
Martin Robinson and Michael Erb met with Jules Kneepkens, EASA’s Head of Rulemaking, and stressed that IAOPA considered the inability to carry spare engine oil to be a serious safety issue. Mr Kneepkens said that he saw their point. A few weeks later, EASA announced that aircraft under 2,000 kg would no longer need to carry official documents which proved they were entitled to carry some engine oil.
While that seems to be a solution on the face of it, it’s a bureaucrat’s get-out that doesn’t address the problem. Jacob Pedersen of AOPA Denmark, who has been IAOPA’s lead on dangerous goods legislation, said: “You don’t have to carry the document, but you still have to conform to all the rules. In order to carry some oil, the pilot still has to do the classes in handling dangerous goods. All they’ve done is take away the requirement for certification.
“We had a meeting with the EASA expert, a very nice lady with absolutely no understanding of general aviation. She confirmed to us the new initiative that aircraft up to 2 tonnes are exempted from having a certificate, but no more.”

The law of unintended consequences

One example of counter-productive regulation is the requirement to perform check rides for high performance aircraft in simulators. “The current regulation says that if there’s a simulator anywhere in the world, it must be used for your proficiency check ride,” Jacob said. “This is a gift to the sim owners like FlightSafety. Instead of taking a check in your own aircraft, you have to go to where the sim is, in some cases on other continents. And the sim company will only sell-you a week-long course, using their own instructors, at huge cost. And there’s no way around it. This is now a huge issue for pilots of high performance aircraft.”
Another safety-critical issue concerned the definition of “passenger”. If you haven’t flown for some time, it’s been possible up to now to take another pilot as a safety pilot while you did your three take-offs and landings. But now, that pilot is designated a passenger, and you cannot carry him unless you’ve done three take-offs and landings…
Oxygen carriage requirements are also counter productive, he added. As the rules stand, an aircraft without oxygen cannot fly above 10,000 feet. This leads to non-oxygen planes which just want to occasionally cross mountains dicing with the peaks in order to stay legal, when it would be much safer to climb for short periods. Icing requirements led to similar problems.
The definition of ‘commercial’ in the Basic Regulation needs to be fixed, as does some other terminology. “Based on what we’ve done so far, a new regulation out last month, 379/2014, introduces an exemption from the commercial regulations for introductory flights, competition flights and flying display operations, parachute dropping and glider towing, and allows cost-sharing by up to six private individuals, also for competition flights and displays, all applicable from July 1. While these ops are exempt from the commercial requirements, they’re still commercial, but it’s stated that they can be conducted with a PPL or a LAPL. I’ve not found two people giving me the same view of what constitutes commercial operations,” Jacob said.
“One criterion is whether the customer has control over the operation. But what does that mean? EASA says the idea is to allow fractional ownership, where you can be said to have control over the operation as a customer. But they won’t put this in writing… EASA says the court must decide what EASA means. So the frustrating problem for us is that if you are an operator, you don’t know what your status is in Europe. It’s possible that all club operations could fit under the umbrella of non-commercial, because as a member you have some sort of control over the operation. But we need the Commission to come out with an interpretation, or we need the wording to be fixed.”

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Aerodrome pressure in Reykjavik and elsewhere

AOPA Iceland is preoccupied by the preservation of Reykjavik’s Vatnsmyri airport, a fabulous asset to the country’s transport infrastructure but one that is under threat from politicians backed by property developers. An airfield since 1919, it was laid out by the British in the three-runway configuration during the Second World War and is still a hub for international services to Greenland and the Faeroes, as well as being at the centre of Iceland’s domestic route network. Last year it handled 340,000 domestic and 42,000 international passengers. Non-scheduled operations from the airport include air ambulance and SAR flights, and it supports about 700 jobs and some 600 aviation students.
There is strong public support in Reykjavik for the retention of the airport, but the property developers have the politicians in their pocket and seem to be winning. Siggy Jonsson of AOPA Iceland said: “Three our of four voters in Reykjavik want the airport to stay, and more than 80 percent of people out in the country. But if you want to know why the politicians defy them, follow the money.”
The situation at Vatnsmyri mirrors that at many general aviation airfields in Europe and around the world. Delegates spoke of airfields in the UK, in Denmark, in Norway and elsewhere where the pressures were identical.

IAOPA World Assembly In China

The 27th IAOPA World Assembly is being held this year in Beijing, and the programme is slightly different from biennial assemblies in the past, General Secretary Craig Spence said. On the first day, the World Assembly will combine with China’s Low Altitude Economic Summit, giving those who are trying to develop general aviation in China an opportunity to meet with those who operate in a mature GA environment.
“The market in China is key to the future of general aviation across the world,” Craig said. “It’s a matter of sheer numbers. Even if China only achieves a fraction of the GA activity the US has, you’re still talking huge numbers – the potential for pilot training, manufacturing, equipment sales is vast, and the opportunity is there for IAOPA to get in as a key foundation stone of an industry which will pay dividends in future.”
Resolutions made at the World Assembly are agreed on by all AOPA delegates and effectively dictate the organisation’s programme for the next two years. Senior Vice President Martin Robinson said: “International AOPA is the only general aviation organisation that develops national and international positions, voted on by affiliates to form the basics of a strategy and communicated to members to whom we are directly responsible, and who support us and rely on us to represent their interests.”
The World Assembly runs from September 9 to 13.

AOPA Greece co-operates with controllers

AOPA Greece has reached an agreement to work together with the Greek air traffic controllers association to foster civil aviation, and particularly general aviation, in Greece.
The first step will be a “meet your controller/meet your pilot” weekend, to be held in April each year except this year, when the event will take place on September 20 and 21 to coincide with Athens Flying Week celebrations.
Pilots will be invited to participate in organised tours in all ATC premises in the country. At the same time, controllers will be invited to visit general aviation hangars, flying schools etc. Whenever it is financial and technical feasible, ATCO will be invited to participate in short familiarisation flights. Both sides will cooperate to invite TV and mass media to ensure maximum publicity.
Pilots and controllers together will also present their hopes and their problems in a common presentation to an audience of civil aviation officials, government employees and aviation companies.

MEP candidate web poll

AOPA Finland launched a web poll for MEP candidates in mid-April. The questions covered EASA regulations, national general aviation hot topics, national authorities’ competence, resources and capabilities as well as the future of the national airline Finnair and the local ANSP service provider’s status. The poll was send to all 250 Finnish candidates, but it seems that AOPA Finland has lots of work to do in order to get GA and its importance known among politicians.
Only 76 persons of the 250 candidates started the questionnaire, while modest 59 of them finished the poll. Among parliamentary parties the Christian Democrat Party had the highest reply rate with 31.58%. Second was the Centre Party with 25%, then the Social Democratic Party of Finland with 21%. The Finns Party, the Greens of Finland and Left Alliance all had poor 20% reply rate.
The critical questions separated the government parties and opposition parties. For example, the opposition objects the Helsinki-Malmi airport, EFHF, being turned into housing development, whereas the government parties support this idea.

AOPA Finland teams up with PocketFMS Foundation

AOPA Finland has been working actively and systematically to improve GA flight safety since 2011, and an example of structured flight safety work is the web portal it has published, www.gasafety.fi, the purpose of which is to supply information on the background and root causes of GA accidents, to help pilots avoid making similar mistakes and thus reduce accident rates.
The national ANSP, Finavia Corporation, decided to shutdown their own web service, VFR Suomi Finland, which meant that GA pilots faced increased challenges to receiving current and accurate aviation data for flight planning relating to uncontrolled airfields. Keeping in mind that there is a major air space structural revision coming at the end this year, AOPA Finland has decided to source a reliable long-term partnership for flight planning services. After comparison and negotiation rounds, the EasyVFR application of PocketFMS foundation was chosen.
EasyVFR is available for Windows 7 & 8, iOS and Android and can be purchased for the platform of your choice. AOPA Finland editions come with Frequent Flyer Membership (FFM) subscription so there is no need to contact Finavia Corporation for flight plan filing, which requires a back-up call to national briefing centre for each flight plan you submit via their web pages. EasyVFR application is available for all paid-up members at a 50% discount to the normal price.
Mr. Pekka Henttu, Director General for the Finnish Transport Safety Agency’s Aviation Sector, says: “Aviation is a highly collaborative form of transport. The contribution of several people is required to ensure that a flight can be accomplished safely. Commercial airlines have their own organisation for this. General aviation organisations are the heart of aviation community. I very much appreciate AOPA Finland’s active approach and concrete actions for the safety of general aviation. Flight planning is one area where there is lots of room for upgrade. AOPA Finland’s flight planning tool is a very good step to the right direction. Now it is important that all pilots learn to use the tool, and understand its possibilities and limitations.”

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