IAOPA Regional Meeting to be Held in Ljubljana, Slovenia
The latest IAOPA RM will be held in Slovenia on Saturday 16th April 2016. The meeting will be hosted by AOPA Slovenia. A report of the meeting will appear in the May issue of IAOPA eNews and the June issue of AOPA UK's Aircraft Owner & Pilot magazine, with reports also in other national AOPA magazines from around Europe.
Helsinki-Malmi Still Threatened But Fight Continues
Helsinki City Council recently came out strongly in favour of Helsinki’s Malmi Airport (EFHF) remaining in use for aviation, and the Helsinki City Board followed suit by voting for the initiative at its meeting on 30th March 2016.
The initiative’s arguments were not challenged but while some councillors (who had familiarized themselves with the matter) were strongly in favor of keeping the airport, others gave less well-informed opinions.
For example, it was suggested (wrongly) that officials would ban residential building if aviation activities were to continue; and also they suggested that there were no international flights at Malmi in the year 2015. In fact there have been hundreds of such flights to and from the EU, Russia and elsewhere, and these are still continuing.
AOPA Finland is supporting the continuation of EFHF in aviation use and says that it has a significant number of members operating at Malmi airport.
New Russian GA Event Announced
AOPA-Russia has announced Aviaregion-2016, an event that it is co-organising on 27-29 May 2016 in Yaroslavl, Russia. Full details are available in Russian at http://aviaregion.aero/ and Vladimir Turin, of AOPA-Russia, has provided the following:
AOPA-Russia invites foreign pilots to Yaroslavl in May 2016
The Association of Civil Aviation (Aviaunion) and AOPA-Russia are co-organizing an aviation event named “Aviaregion-2016” in Yaroslavl, from the 27 to 29 of May, 2016. Yaroslavl is located 250km north of Moscow.
The event aims to bring together members of Russian general aviation, GA aircraft and equipment manufacturers,with a program including both festival and airshow elements.
The Aerodrome of Yaroslavl (Tunoshna, UUDL), will act as host for the event. Organizers hope that a large number of participants will be able to reach the event by air. Participants will enjoy an airshow on 27th of May including the “Russian Knights” – the famous aerobatic demonstration team of the Russian Air Force, flying Sukhoi Su-27 jet fighters.
It is still a challenge for a foreign-registered GA airplane to fly to Russia due to complex permission process, but organizers promise to help with visas and work with authorities to streamline the permission process.
There will be an organized group flight from the airport of entry – Pskov (ULOO) to Tunoshna (UUDL) – on May 26th with return flights on May 28th and 29th and these will have a leading aircraft flown by Russian speakers.
Crews will be offered cheap 100LL supply (€1/liter), attractive accommodation and registration fees of €10/day, and lifted airport landing/handling fees, at Tunoshna airport, says AOPA-Russia.
More information is available at http://aviaregion.aero/ or contact AOPA-Russia at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Engineering Matters: Part M Changes…
In November 2015 the UK CAA issued a news release stating that they had begun advising owners of general aviation aircraft regarding changes to the maintenance rules of aircraft certified under EASA, i.e. aircraft subject to Part M.
This maintenance regime became fully established in September 2008 and the financial effects of its complexity soon started to impact upon GA aircraft owners, as the additional organisational requirements began to be taken on board by maintainers.
The adverse impact of Part M on the GA industry was eventually recognised by EASA, and a task force, which included representation from IAOPA Europe, was established to revise and liberalise the requirements, with the revisions being formally disseminated last year. It is up to the country NAAs to make the revised maintenance regime work, hence the news release from our own CAA.
These changes will affect many AOPA UK members, 53 percent of which own their own aircraft outright with a further 27 percent owning an aircraft share within a group. The remaining 20 percent are non-owner pilots, including many instructors.
The majority of aircraft owned by AOPA members fall into the EASA category, the remainder being non-EASA (Annex II) types subject to UK-specific rules. The CAA intends to consider bringing the latter aircraft into line with the EASA types.
The news release lists three ways for an owner to meet airworthiness requirements, but the main item of concern for both owners and maintainers is the Minimum Inspection Programme (MIP), which allows owners to self-declare their aircraft maintenance programme.
The other routes are sticking with the existing Part M or using a programme based on manufacturer’s recommendations. Whichever is adopted, the owner must sign for full responsibility for the MIP if it has not been developed by a maintenance organisation. It is clear that discussion between owner and maintainer on the most suitable approach will be required.
The AOPA (UK) Maintenance Working Group was set up in 2009 to address the problems outlined above. It meets three times a year and attendees includes aircraft owners, maintainers and CAA personnel.
The discussions allow valuable and sometimes rapid solutions to problems arising in engineering and maintenance. It is due to meet shortly and will attempt to decide on the best future strategy for dealing with the MIP and associated issues. In particular, the evolving relationship between owners and maintainers will be determined.
Not being a maintainer myself, I would hesitate to represent a maintainer’s view, but from the owner’s point of view, there will be positive gains. Under the new regime, the apparently mandatory 10-year calendar life Cessna seat belt replacement - which cost many owners quite a lot of money in 2009 - would no doubt have been softened by using an ‘on condition’ approach.
It is possible the same approach may be applied in future to propeller maintenance, bringing it into line with the FAA’s more relaxed requirements. In the meantime, AOPA will endeavour to keep aircraft owners in the picture as the process develops.
This article was written by AOPA UK chairman George Done for the April issue of Aircraft Owner & Pilot magazine. The image shows student LAEs at ZASTI in Lusaka, Zambia; much of Africa still looks to Europe for its regulatory framework/direction.
BBGA Says Bizav Must Work on its Image
On 10th March the British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) held its annual conference at Selsdon Park, south London. The overall theme that emerged was that there is work to do to dispel the image of business aviation/GA as being for
the rich and privileged rather than a business tool.
Brian Humphreys, president of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), suggested that the industry should try to avoid using images of cabins with champagne glasses and suggesting oppulent lifestyles - as most business aircraft are serious business tools.
Giving the opening address, Marwan Khalek, BBGA chairman (and group CEO, GAMA Aviation, Farnborough and Fairoaks airports), said “people have a negative perception of the industry, one we’re working hard to change.”
Meanwhile he thanked the UK CAA for the changes they’d implemented. “They’ve been very engaged – and have listened and been pragmatic…much is down to the leadership of Dame Deirdre [Hutton] and Andrew Haines as CEO.”
He then said that the skills shortage was another priority, with “great work done on apprenticeship schemes” by the BBGA office.
Dame Deirdre spoke of her seven years heading up the CAA, saying, “Perhaps the best thing that you can do as a regulator is not get in the way of growth. Economic growth is driving growth in the business aviation sector, and it is cautiously optimistic.”
Thomson Hunter of the Department for Transport’s aviation security directorate then reflected on the risks of operating to certain parts of the world, suggesting that operators check out CAA Safety Notice SN-2014/009, “if you are going anywhere slightly dodgy.”
He said that the Notams on overflying countries that had appeared for the past few years would soon be rationalized, with a link from one “Signpost” Notam to the UK AIP.
He was followed by the UK Border Force’s Greg Easter who said GA was a “model for better use of data received in advance of arrival” and he noted that there were “around 3,000 private airfields, landing strips and licensed airfields in the UK, all of which we may have to deploy to.” The aim, he said, was “to risk assess 100% of flights notified to us through GA Reports (GARs).”
Phil Lomax, eGAR solution project manager, said that at his “bunker” at Heathrow, his team was creating an eGAR system that would allow “us to clear flights in advance remotely while minimizing inconvenience.”
He said the system was of vital importance as it was the front line for GA (such notification is only the back-up for scheduled operations). He noted that it would be done through the collaborative business portal created with AOPA.
“Border Force intends to introduce a gov.uk digital service by October this year. “It will be free and easy to use – I hope! And it will maximize the remote clearance opportunities.”
Humphreys reflected on the “value of business aviation” to the economy. Yet, he said, “We see our sector poorly portrayed and even vilified in the press. The perception study we did was encouraging though.”
“We have to find a way of communicating [better]. We think we know what people think of us, but we don’t. He added the sector serves more than 25,000 city pairs “that scheduled carriers don’t serve. And one in four of the cities has no scheduled connection at all.”
“But how do you get all this across? We’ve got a very good story to tell; and we know that the more people that know about us, the better the impression. We need to focus the message on productivity gains,” said Humphreys.
He said that EBAA wouldn’t adopt a ‘No Plane, No Gain’ mantra that NBAA has used in the U.S. “That wouldn’t work here in Europe. But we need to demonstrate value.”
Richard Koe, founder of WingX Advance, gave a statistical overview of the UK business aircraft fleet and its activity levels, and said that London was “growing” in activity. “In terms of cities London has 13 airports that we track and by far the biggest share of any single city, with Paris next and then Geneva.”
He noted that Biggin Hill recorded 18% growth in movements last year (it has all non-scheduled traffic). “These are exciting signs in an otherwise stagnant market,” said Koe.
In the Q&A session, Rod Simpson, an aircraft owner from Redhill Aerodrome, near London Gatwick, suggested that “getting locals to know the airfield café [the Pilot’s Hub] has opened their eyes. Airfields need to give locals experiences that will change their attitudes.”
Simpson also suggested that the business aviation sector “may be missing a trick not focusing on smaller aircraft too, such as Cirrus…as this is where the future jet owners are going to come from.”
Martin Robinson, CEO of AOPA UK, asked BBGA “Who are you trying to convince,” to which Humphreys answered “We really would like to convince the policymakers.”
Single Engine Commercial Flights Could Start in UK This Year
Single Engine Turbine commercial operations in IMC (instrument meteorological conditions)–so-called “SET-IMC”–could be allowed across Europe by the end of this year, it was revealed in a panel session for media after the BBGA conference.
“It is now a question of when not if” SET-IMC is passed, said panel chairman Edwin Brenninkmeyer. He added that Geoff Parker, flight operations policy lead at the CAA, admitted that the CAA may exercise its “exemptive powers” to overcome a likely 12-month delay in formalizing the legislation. So this would be “as soon as the vote goes through” in October.
Brenninkmeyer added that operators could already start using the EASA Opinion to draft manuals to prepare for approval.
Richard Koe, whose company WingX provides statistics on and analysis of the market, said “There is very strong demand for props and pistons–the [Pilatus] PC-12, Socata, Cirrus, with around 2000 aircraft active in Europe. There has been a 16 percent compound annual growth rate over the past 10 years, which is really impressive.”
WingX figures show that the PC-12 is by far the most common single-engine turbine operating, and is also well ahead of twins for private flights.
James Dillon-Godfray, business development manager of London Oxford Airport, said, “Everyone is very cost-conscious” and added “We’re very interested in ideas for regular shuttles.
Many businesses want to go between their bases several times a week.” He suggested that they would be suited best to short routes which can take 3-4 hours by road or rail. “Some city pairs are very poorly connected by rail.”
A couple of operators in France and Scandinavia have been operating under limited SET-IMC approvals already and have been successful. There will also be lots of opportunities for medevac and (non-defense) special missions; and the SET aircraft can operate from smaller airfields, including grass strips.
Brenninkmeyer said the current proposals were all outlined on the EASA website and suggested the suggested restrictions “aren’t that significant.”
Martin Robinson, CEO of AOPA UK, pointed out that Eurocontrol was already developing new low-level routes “to accommodate these operations.”
First EASA CBIR Flying Club Course in Finland
Flying club Raahen Ilmailijat, whose home base is located at EFRH, has the most extensive approved flight training course offering in Finland alongside their ATO status. As a member of AOPA Finland, they offer PPL (A), SPL, TOW, NF(A), LAPL(A), LAPL(S), SEP (Land), SEP (Sea), TMG and FI (A). The latest approved training course is CBIR, which has a full house of eager students who have gone through the syllabus using distance learning using an advanced computer based training application.
The first in-class training period was held in the beginning of April over the weekend. There were 18 students present at AOPA Finland’s headquarters studying Air Law, Instrumentation, Flight Planning and Flight Monitoring, Human Performance and Limitations, Basic Aviation Psychology, Meteorology and Radio Navigation. They were lectured by Mr. Jussi Hiltunen, FI-IR, FE-IR, FIE, Land and Sea.
As soon as distant learning and attendance training has been completed, and ATO exams and authority exams have been passed, students will start flight training during this spring.
Have You Ever Thought About Becoming an Instructor?
Nick Wilcock outlines what you need to become an instructor. You don’t need a CPL but you do need the theory. And you can be paid!
At a couple of recent AOPA committee meetings, we learned that there appears to be a looming shortage of PPL instructors. So I asked around IAOPA (Europe) and several AOPAs advised me that they’re also beginning to see a shortage. It’s reported that airlines are beginning to recruit again, so perhaps some existing instructors are heading that way - but why are so few people coming forward to replace them, unless they too are hoping to build hours before applying to the airlines?
Perhaps the main reason is that most PPL holders don’t actually know what options are available to them as potential instructors, so let’s have look at them:
Do I need a CPL to be paid if I want to teach at my local flying club?
If you hold a Part-FCL PPL, then no you don’t! Under FCL.205A(b), the holder of a Part-FCL PPL(A) with instructor or examiner privileges may receive remuneration for the provision of flight instruction for the LAPL(A) or PPL(A).
Do I need to sit loads of exams?
When EASA launched NPA 2008-17b, the intention was that an instructor only needed to hold the licence or rating for which instruction was being given. So to teach at PPL level, you should only need to hold a PPL. IAOPA warmly welcomed this, but some Member States and, it has to be said, perhaps a few self-interested organisations, objected to this.
So EASA was obliged to amend FCL.915.FI(b)(2)(i), requiring FI (Aeroplanes) applicants to have met the requirements for CPL knowledge. Which means passing the CPL exams even if you just want to instruct for the PPL.
What about the LAPL/FI?
LAPL holders may not include an instructor certificate in their licences; all ab initio LAPL instruction has to be provided by at least a PPL/FI. Originally there was to be an EASA animal termed a Light Aircraft Flight Instructor to support the needs of LAPL training, but with lower training requirements than are required for an FI.
This proposal was also rejected; as a compromise, following observations by certain Member States, the CPL exam requirement does not apply to FIs wishing to instruct only for the LAPL and associated ratings. So if you want to instruct for the LAPL, first persuade your local club to start marketing the LAPL rather more positively. Then, once you meet the pre-course prerequisites, you can start an FI course without needing to sit any more EASA exams.
Paraphrasing FCL.915.FI, a PPL-holding applicant for an FI(A) certificate must have:
Received at least 10 hours of instrument flight instruction on aeroplanes, of which not more than five hours may be instrument ground time in an FSTD.
Completed 20 hours of VFR cross-country flight as PIC on aeroplanes.
Except for an FI(A) providing training for the LAPL(A) only, met the requirements for CPL theoretical knowledge.
Completed at least 200 hours of flight time on aeroplanes or TMGs, of which 150 hours must be as PIC.
Completed at least 30 hours on single-engine piston powered aeroplanes of which at least five hours must have been completed during the six month period preceding the pre-entry flight test for the FI course.
As PIC, completed a VFR cross-country flight of at least
300 nm, including two intermediate landings.
So an experienced PPL holder may well find that he/she already meets most of the prerequisites to provide instruction for the LAPL, but then if you’re hoping to instruct for the PPL, we come back to the topic of exams.
It’s becoming evident that the CPL exam hurdle is the one real obstacle faced by the suitably experienced PPL holder who would like to do some instructing, perhaps on a part-time basis as an escape from the day job. But in previous times, the pre-course requirements included an exam to check that the aspirant FI had the appropriate level of theoretical knowledge, rather than CPL knowledge.
Even the Basic Regulation states that flight instruction must be given by ‘appropriately qualified instructors’, who meet the theoretical knowledge and experience requirements ‘appropriate’ for the instruction being given, rather than any commercial level theoretical knowledge requirements.
So we think that it’s high time to press-to-test on this and to propose a return to rather more pragmatic previous ways. Hence at the forthcoming EASA FCL Implementation Forum I intend to elicit members’ views concerning a proposal for the amendment of FCL.915.FI(b)(2) to include an option of
‘...a pre-course written exam approved by the competent authority and conducted by the ATO, which will confirm that the FI(A) course applicant has demonstrated an appropriate level of theoretical knowledge to be able to exercise instructional privileges for the PPL(A) and LAPL(A).’
Several European AOPAs are already supportive, as are the UK ATOs with whom I’ve spoken. AOPA already has the Ground Instructor Course pre-entry written exam, so with a little tweaking and titivating, a pre-FI course exam could be developed pretty quickly from the GIC exam.
Are there any other instructional qualifications available at PPL level?
Yes, the Class Rating Instructor. A CRI on single pilot aeroplanes may provide training for existing licence holders, such as the ‘training flying with an instructor’ required for revalidation and may also, if suitably qualified, conduct aerobatic rating training.
Quite a useful qualification, no CPL exams needed and the course itself only requires three hours of flight instruction, plus 25 hours of teaching and learning instruction and 10 hours of technical training.
See CAP 804 Part I Section 4 part J subpart 3 for full details - and if you haven’t already done so, download CAP 804 from the link at the end of this article.
A CRI who is an acknowledged expert in a specific field or on a particular aeroplane is a useful person from whom a pilot might seek the relevant training for such purposes.
What does the FI course include?
Having met the pre-prerequisites and passed the pre-entry flight test, the course itself consists of 25 hours of ‘teaching and learning’, 100 hours of theoretical knowledge instruction, 30 hours of flight instruction and finally the ‘assessment of competence’ taken with a Flight Instructor Examiner, which also includes a ground oral examination.
Your own flying skills will need to be of a good standard and the pre-entry flight test will soon identify areas which might perhaps need a little more polish.
The ground training is intended to ensure that you can brief a student competently in both flying exercises and technical subjects, before you put them into practice with your FIC instructor in flight.
You will be taught to identify and rectify any student errors in a manner which will encourage your student, rather than the “Look, you numbskull, I’ve told you how to do it, I’ve shown you how to do it, I can do it, the aircraft can do it - so why the hell can’t you do it?” style which some of us may remember from the bad old days!
Of course you will also learn how to conduct a post-flight debrief for your student in a clear, concise and constructive manner.
Are there any restrictions on newly-qualified instructors?
Initially, you will be under the supervision of another instructor nominated by your training organisation and you will not be permitted to supervise first solos or first cross-country solos until you have gained more experience. But once you have flown 100 hours of flight instruction, supervised 25 student solo flights and gained the approval of your training organisation, these restrictions will no longer apply.
Are there any FI revalidation requirements?
Yes. The FI certificate is valid for three years and may only be revalidated if you have met the relevant criteria by completing two of the options of having either 1. conducted 50 hours of flight instruction, 2. received refresher training at an FI seminar or, 3. in the final year of the validity period, passed an assessment of competence. For at least every alternate revalidation, the assessment of competence is a mandatory requirement.
But will I earn much money?
It’s perhaps not fair to accuse training organisations of paying their FIs as little as they can get away with, although at times some FIs might feel that this is indeed the case! In recent years, airline recruiting hasn’t been particularly buoyant and there were few financial retention incentives for FIs, given that there were probably more around than the training world really needed.
But things are beginning to change; for example, one popular UK airline has recently announced significant expansion and has placed a pilot supply contract with a major European ATO, which itself has now launched an FI recruitment drive.
Faced with all its FIs rushing off to the airlines, it’s indeed likely that instructors’ pay might improve. But don’t forget that the cost of any pay increase will probably have to be recovered from the customers; to remain competitive, most flying training organisations try to keep their flying rates as low as possible, otherwise prospective trainees will look elsewhere.
If airline recruitment really does take off at the level many predict, training organisations are going to find it much harder to retain their FIs, particularly those who have already obtained CPLs.
Amending the Aircrew Regulation can often take many years, so if we are to avoid a dearth of PPL-level FIs in the coming years, we need to highlight the CPL exam problem to EASA without delay and that’s my intention.
Meanwhile, flying clubs can perhaps help themselves by looking more at the LAPL and by encouraging their more experienced PPL holding members to think about becoming LAPL-level FIs. Worth thinking about?
Click HERE to view CAP 804.
Mooney Upgrades Acclaim
Mooney recently unveiled the M20V Acclaim Ultra featuring many upgrades to the single-engine piston aircraft, including a pilot’s door (previously the type has only ever had just a passenger door). The cabin is now enclosed by composite but the empennage and wings remain metal. The cockpit of the M20V is also improved, drawing on design for the new, all-composite M10J, with the panel featuring oversized soft-touch switches and a keypad for the Garmin G1000 system.
The Acclaim is still powered by a 280 hp Continental
TSIO-550-G engine, top speed 242 kts. The typical useful load for the aircraft will be around 1,000 lbs and the range (with extended 100-gallon tanks) as far as 1,275 nm at a cruise speed of 175 kts. With the standard 89-gallon tanks the Ultra can cruise up to 1,100 nm.
New Acclaim Ultra airplanes are already coming off the Mooney production line in Kerrville, Texas, and the company expects to receive certification from the FAA for the upgrades in the second quarter of 2016. The price tag fully equipped stands at $769,000. Meanwhile the non-turbocharged Ovation will also get the upgrades, and the new designation M20U Ovation Ultra costs $689,000.
Diamond Aircraft is to manufacture the airframe for the all-composite Dornier Seastar twin-turboprop amphibian. According to Germany-based Dornier Seawings, it selected Diamond due to its experience in composite airframe manufacturing.
Diamond is to build the Seastar’s fuselage and one-piece wing at its London, Ontario factory in Canada, and deliver the components to Dornier Seawings’ facility in Germany for final assembly and completion. An initial contract covers the production of 10 shipsets and tooling work for planned higher-volume production.
Developed initially by Claudius Dornier Jr., the 12-passenger Seastar amphibian made its first flight as a proof-of-concept aircraft in August 1984. Shortly after FAA certification in June 1991, work on the program was halted due to a shortage of funding, but was resumed in 2009 by Dornier Seawings. The design uses two centerline-mounted Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-112s. The aircraft has a 10,141-pound MTOW, 900nm range and 180kt maximum cruise speed.
Diamond also recently celebrated FAA certification of its DA62 twin, in late February.
Airspace Structure Consultation
The CAA has launched a consultation on how decisions are made on proposed changes to the UK’s airspace structure and is seeking views from stakeholders, ranging from the aviation industry and general aviation to people affected by aircraft noise, on a series of proposals aimed at making the airspace change process more transparent and give the CAA a more hands-on role.
Its suggested changes are supported by an independent review carried out in 2015 by specialist consultants Helios.
One change under consideration is the creation of an online portal to provide a single access point for anyone to view, comment on and access documents for every UK airspace change proposal.
“The effectiveness of the process could also be improved by additional stages of scrutiny and validation,” says the CAA.
The consultation, which is open to everyone, is available until 15 June 2016 and can be accessed at: www.consultations.caa.co.uk
Daher further enhances TBM900
France’s Daher has unveiled a range of enhancements for its TBM900 single-engine turboprop, for example improved warning identification and flight planning facilitation. They are part of Garmin G1000 avionics updates (V15).
Envelope monitoring has been added to the electronic stability and protection system (ESP), along with underspeed protection; new aural alerts for stall, overspeed, landing gear extension and oxygen mask use; an angle-of-attack sensor with cockpit visualization; and two-way wireless link-up from a mobile device that runs the Garmin Pilot application, so flight plans can be synced and GPS, weather, traffic and other information can be uploaded/downloaded.
TBM is also including an L-3 data recorder as standard equipment, and the Garmin GRA 55 radar altimeter is an optional extra.
As IAOPA eNews was closing, Daher announced at the Sun 'n Fun show in Florida that it was launching a new designation for an upgraded model, the TBM930. It will feature a Garmin G3000 touchscreen avionics suite.
CAA To Phase In New Airshow Fees
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced on 18th March that the new fees for air shows would be phased in over the next three years.
The CAA says that after an extensive review of air show safety, following the tragic accident at the Shoreham Air Show on 22nd August 2015, “a series of additional safety measures have been introduced that air shows must now meet in order to go ahead, including carrying out enhanced risk assessments. Tougher checks and training requirements for pilots and display directors are also being introduced.”
The 2016/17 charges will now be set to recover £100,000 of the expected £200,000 of additional costs, with the remaining £100,000 being absorbed by the CAA. Andrew Haines, CEO of the CAA, said, “We understand that people care passionately about air shows and we want all events to be a success.
We are also very clear that we will not compromise on safety. Enhancing the safety of air shows is essential and this extra work must be funded.”
The AAIB bulletin (the full report has not been issued yet) can be see at https://www.gov.uk/aaib-reports.
British Airshows DO have a future… but we still don’t know what it is!
The following is an opinion piece, courtesy of British Airshows:
When the Hawker Hunter crashed at the Shoreham airshow in August 2015, the immediate consequence was the loss of life and the impact on the families and friends of all those affected. Let us not forget, too, the airshow enthusiasts who had come to enjoy a spectacle but were upset, some traumatised, by the tragedy they witnessed.
It was inevitable that there would be consequences beyond the immediate shock and terrible loss, not only for Shoreham but for all airshows.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) acted very quickly to impose strict constraints on some elements of airshows. With immediate effect, and while the situation was under review, there were to be no displays at all by the same type of aircraft and no high energy manoeuvres by any vintage jets over land. These new restrictions were generally accepted by the air display fraternity as an understandable but hopefully temporary response.
What many involved in flying, organising and watching airshows had not expected, and have been less willing to accept, is the increase in charges that the CAA say are now necessary to pay for the investigation in the immediate aftermath, the ongoing research and the implementation and supervision of new regulations.
The reason for the scale of additional income needed to cover the costs became evident when requirements were published for enhanced risk assessments, accreditation of flying display directors and other regulatory changes that would significantly increase the workload of the shows’ organisers, who would have to prepare reams of additional documentation, and the CAA who would have to process it.
The proposed changes to the fee structure were published on 1st February in a CAA consultation document (CAP1373b) which allowed just four weeks for responses.
There was then only another month for the 534 responses to be reviewed by the CAA and any changes considered for approval by the Secretary of State for Transport, before the scheduled implementation date of 1st April.
In practice it took the CAA and the Secretary of State just 17 more days to consider the representations and for the CAA to publish a summary with their own responses (CAP 1388) and the revised scheme of charges. The ultimate charges echo the figures in the consultation document but there have been some concessions on the speed of implementation.
The headline change is a doubling of the fees that pilots have to pay for Display Authorisation and that shows have to pay for permission to organise an airshow.
The increases in the airshow approval fees are on a scale that rises according to the number of displays due to fly. They range from £187 for an airshow with three or fewer displays to £2,695 for the larger shows, making the post-increase totals £374 and £5,390 respectively.
The sting in the tail is a brand new fee, called a ‘post event charge’ for all shows with seven or more displays. This new fee is also on a rising scale and in the original proposal would have cost a larger show an additional £15,000.
Added to the approval fee, that will increase the total payable by a show with 31 or more displays from the original £2,695 to a new £20,390.
Although the doubling of application fees for 2016/17 season has been confirmed following the consultation, the new post-event charge is now to be phased in over three years. Initially, the charge will be at half the levels initially proposed, so the total fee to be paid by the larger shows will increase by 378% to £12,890 rather than £20,390. The remaining half of the originally-proposed increase will be phased in two equal instalments over the following two years.
The immediate outcry against the proposed fees by many in the airshow community had been met with a statement from the CAA claiming that the fees were necessary and could be recovered by adding just a few pence to ticket prices.
Although this may be possible for some of the larger shows in future years, the suggestion of the CAA ignored several issues. The first is that the consultation came so late in the airshow planning cycle that most had already set their ticket prices for 2016: indeed some had already sold tickets before the consultation document was published. Despite the phasing of part of the fee, this still leaves these shows with a large unbudgeted expense.
The second is that a significant proportion of the 6 million people who watch air displays every year attend free seaside airshows or festivals, where there is no ticket and no comparable way to recover the massive additional costs these shows are being asked to bear.
It also ignored the many very small shows where a single display might entertain modest numbers at a village fete, private celebration or company event. Such small displays are essential to the viability of many single-aircraft operators who may be priced out of competing for such functions if they attempt to pass on the 100% fee increase to the customer.
The extra income to the CAA from doubling the charges for these very small shows is surely insignificant compared to the huge impact it will have on those events and the pilots flying in them.
The overall impact of the increase in the fees, despite the concessions, will still be felt not just by air enthusiasts, but by whole communities. Many shows are run to raise money for charities. The show at Little Gransden raises funds for Children in Need. The show at Abingdon is one of several that benefit the local air ambulance. Many more are established to benefit military charities. If the fees eat into the margins, or if the shows become unviable, these charities will be the losers.
The concessions of the CAA include an invitation for the organisers of small and charitable airshows to request ‘assistance’. This is against the background that the CAA insist they do not want to see the demise of these shows but it is not yet clear whether, or to what extent, the significant fee increases will be reduced either for the coming season or when the further phased increases are introduced.
The effect on seaside shows may be different. These airshows bring huge benefits to local businesses in the form of increased demand for hotels, restaurants, transport and other services. The businesses, local people and local authorities already provide significant subsidies through contributions from public funds, private donations and sponsorships.
Although the burden on these shows will be relieved a little by the phasing of the post-event charge, there is no specific reference to seaside and other free shows in the CAA’s response nor an invitation for them to apply for the assistance available to small and charitable shows. One of the few ways remaining for the free airshow organisers to compensate for the fee increase would be to reduce the number of paid-for displays.
This likelihood, and the possible closure of other shows, would be a major blow to the broader aircraft community; the companies that employ and train people in engineering to maintain and renovate aircraft; aircraft owners who invest heavily maintaining the country’s heritage; the pilots who have to pay to fly and maintain their aircraft and who need to display to offset their costs.
The thrust to make every compartment of public bodies self-financing must be weighed against the benefits of airshows to education, charities, service recruitment and local economies. The CAA has a mandate to be self-funding overall but the amount still being sought by the CAA from the revised increases, with unmanageably little notice, is massive in terms of airshow affordability, but tiny as a proportion of the CAA’s total budget.
The phasing will result in a delay before this element of the CAA’s role becomes self-financing but this clearly remains the objective.
CAA Impact Assessment
In their response to the consultation the CAA has undertaken to ‘review and revisit’ the charging approach including ‘a full impact assessment’. It is arguable that such an assessment should have occurred before the consultation document was issued but it does indicate that there is still time for a longer-term holistic approach to be taken to the costs and benefits of airshows.
It would be a pity to reduce the exposure of youngsters to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects at airshows and then have to pay through another budget to promote STEM learning.
It would be a shame to risk the removal of opportunities for RAF and other military recruitment, only to have to increase advertising to compensate. And why deny youngsters the opportunity to be inspired by aviation technology and opportunities at airshows, only to have to fund their promotion through another budget?
There is no dispute that safety is the principal concern and those involved in airshows have not opposed the introduction of further, reasonable safety regulations. Indeed, the third interim report and recommendations of the AAIB following the Shoreham incident have been regarded, in the main, as a measured response to the incident.
Whether or not everyone in the industry agrees with the extent of those changes, the changes introduced earlier and the changes that may be to come, change is certain and the new arrangements will inevitably cost more. The airshow industry would probably find a way to meet fair additional cost, given adequate time and opportunity.
But the proposals, even as amended, provide neither.
It would have been possible for the CAA to limit damage to airshows, to the airshow community and to those who depend on airshows for their livelihood by remitting the ‘post event’ charge for free seaside shows that can’t raise ticket prices because there are no tickets. They could have removed the 100% fee increase for shows that have only one or two aircraft, to avoid damage to small operators and to the private display market. And they could have deferred more of the fee increases for everyone else, to give the organisers time to react to the consequences.
The CAA has agreed to discuss airshow-related matters with prominent members of the air display community. Success at this and possible follow-up meetings is imperative to make even safer an industry that, despite very regrettable and rare exceptions, has an excellent safety record. The measure of success will be the reasonable safety changes that everybody wants and a fee structure that everybody can afford.
There have been suggestions that the proposed changes will result in the end of British airshows. The British airshow is certainly not at an end. The involvement of the military will fluctuate depending on other commitments and their ability to fund teams; perhaps some shows will be lost because their location will not enable them to meet whatever the final safety regulations will become, while others on the margin of affordability will fail for economic reasons, especially if costs rise in the way projected.
Despite this, the Great British Airshow will survive. There is too much enthusiasm and dedication on the part of individuals and groups determined to maintain the UK’s aviation heritage for any other outcome to be credible.
The untiring work by so many to bring the Vulcan back to flight and the sterling efforts of other teams with ambitions to return to the skies another Lancaster, the ‘Peoples’ Mosquito’ and other classic examples of the UK’s aviation heritage are witness to that. But it needs a little more understanding. If those involved can manage this, the benefits will be reaped not just by airshow enthusiasts but also by aircraft renovators, STEM educationalists and students, local communities, heritage museums, engineering companies the armed services and many charities.
British airshows do have a future. Exactly what that future might be remains largely in the hands of the CAA and the Secretary of State, for the time being.
I Learned About Engine Overhauls From That…
Martin Wellings offers some guidance on forming a contract for overhaul of your engine, based on his own drawn-out experience.
We are probably unique in the aviation fraternity in not only admitting our mistakes, but publicising them to help others avoid the same errors. This can be a big contributor to safety and sometimes saves on costs as well. So it is with this in mind that, having learned the hard way of the pitfalls that can befall the unwary when it comes to TBO time, I relay this little cautionary tale of what can go wrong.
The story starts back in the summer of 2010 when the engine of my Cessna 182 had passed the recommended TBO time.During the course of a routine inspection by my usual maintenance organisation, they advised that the compressions were getting low and that in the very near future I needed to make arrangements for either a new engine or an overhaul.
This was not a surprise, as I knew the time was coming, so I decided to plan during the summer so that it could be done over the coming winter period. I might add that, being based at Shoreham and doing frequent sorties across the Channel, it does tend to make one that bit more interested in engine reliability!
So at this point you are faced with three choices – buy a brand new engine; get a factory overhauled one; or have your own overhauled. There are pros and cons for each: the new one is obviously the most expensive although, surprisingly, not a great deal more than the factory overhauled one (at around 20 percent extra). Either new or overhauled has the obvious advantage of being the quickest, with minimum down-time, whereas overhauling your own will probably take around three months.
The other point to consider is that, when buying a factory overhauled engine, there is a one-in-three chance that it has already been overhauled twice, so having your own overhauled does mean that you are working on a known engine.
Due to both the lower price and because I preferred to have my own engine overhauled, I chose this option. I duly contacted a small firm at my local airfield that I had previously used, agreed a price (or so I thought) and arranged to deliver the engine in October so that - even allowing for any unexpected delays - completion would be done by early spring 2011.
My engine was delivered as scheduled, and it just remained for me to be patient and await its completion. In the meantime, while the aircraft was on the ground, I made arrangements for the prop to be overhauled as this was also due under the six-year rule.
All’s Not Well
All pretty straight forward up to this point, and it was only in the approaching spring that I realised that things were running behind. Many of the parts necessary had not even been ordered from the States and, to cut an extremely long story short, despite a great many chasers and promises that completion would only be “around another three weeks,” another year had gone by.
During one of my chasers when my patience had run pretty thin I referred to both the agreed price and timescale, to which I was told that the original price never included any parts and it had been labour only, despite being given a price for the whole job.
At this point, in order to get my aeroplane back in the air, expediency was the order of the day, and therefore a compromise agreement was reached.
At last, with the engine completion in sight, I made arrangements with my usual maintenance organisation to fit the engine as soon as it was delivered. They asked me what was happening about the Constant Speed Unit. “What about the CSU?,” was my response.
I was advised that this also had to be overhauled, so I immediately made enquiries, only to be told by the company that overhauled the engine that this had not been part of the overhaul, and that the CSU would be have to be sent away to a specialist company.
The Final Straw
So finally, after all the delays and promises, the engine was completed some twenty months after commencement. But unfortunately the story does not end there, and there was a final bombshell waiting for me – the final price.
Despite having agreed a revised price, a further sum of around £7,000 was demanded as one of the subcontractors had charged “a bit more than expected”!
Words like straw and camel’s back sprang to mind, and indeed this camel had several back problems! There was no way that I was going to pay the additional sum, and therefore I had little choice but to initiate legal proceedings for the recovery of my engine, for damages caused by the delay and adjudication of the correct price for
I could write an article just about the legal process, which took a huge amount of personal time, cost and delay in getting my engine back; in all this added another year and a half until the case finally came to court.
The resolution at court was that the firm could not charge me the additional sum, but as I had not put in precise terms including the timescale in writing, I could only claim a very small sum in damages (i.e. under £1,000) – my solicitors omitted to inform me of this little gem.
These are engine-specific items, but apart from learning all about pitfalls on engine overhauls, I find that I also learned a lot about the legal process, and some interesting items regarding contracts that are also very useful to know anyway.
Many companies now produce their terms and conditions primarily issued as a back covering exercise, but two can play at this game. And now in the course of business, when I have anything that could be a bit complicated and needs to be done by a specific time, I send a formal letter to the service provider setting out exactly what I expect, and when I expect the job to be finished (this is especially useful with solicitors as most in my experience have two operating speeds – slow or very slow!)
And you also have to spell out how much it is going to cost if the work is not done within the agreed period. The key thing here is to agree “time is of the essence” (to use the legal phrase) and specify the cost of failure to deliver within the agreed period. These have to be actual, realistic costs rather than some penalty payment.
So, some valuable lessons learned (see also below), so hopefully when your TBO time comes, you can learn from my mistakes.
Finally, I must thank AOPA for the assistance that they gave on some of the technical issues.
Lessons learned were legion. Other than buy a brand new engine, I would still have opted to have my own engine overhauled, because - as I say - it is known and I would rather have this than a factory overhauled one, which could have been someone else’s engine that has been overhauled twice previously.
I modestly believe that I should be awarded a PhD in Hindsight for this and other things, so what are the golden rules if I was to do the same job again? They are:
1. Check out the company as to both quality and reliability and particularly that it is licensed by EASA to undertake the work – not all companies are.
2. Don’t assume anything as to what “an engine overhaul” consists of, as you need to verify exactly what is included in the engine and all the peripherals such as the magnetos, carburettor, CSU, wiring harness etc. - and, last but not least, does it actually include the removal and refit of the engine to and from the airframe? Interestingly, on the issue of the CSU, AOPA’s view was that it is normal for it to be considered part of an overhaul, whereas some companies dispute this and consider it extra.
3. Timescale. You really need to tie down any company to quote a specific time for the job; it should take no more than about three months.
4. Ensure that there is a very clear written agreement covering every item of the work required. However well you might know the engineering company concerned, as Ronald Reagan said when dealing with the Soviets – “Trust but verify”. A clause should also be added listing your costs in the event that the engine is not returned in the agreed time.
Could Airships Finally Come of Age?
Dr. John McAdam recounts the chequered history of airship development and hopes that the new Airlanders being built at Cardington’s giant hangars will usher in a new age.
I was invited to the old and very historic Royal Air Force Cardington station in Bedfordshire, some 60 miles north of London, last year and my first sighting was very evocative of my childhood memory singing ‘The Teddy Bears Picnic’; “If you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a Big surprise…”
The reason for one’s ‘Big Surprise’ is the astonishing vision and impact of one’s very first sighting of the double hangar, which is the largest purpose-built hangar for aviation related craft in the world today.
The current resident is Hybrid Air Vehicles, the owners, designers and assemblers of the world’s largest aircraft – the Airlander 10. It is the only company in the world to have designed and built a full-sized hybrid aircraft, with 11 current worldwide patents, and it is working towards a first flight for the Airlander this year.
However, as with most inventions, the old saying – “From little Acorns, mighty oak trees grow”, applies, as does the truism about ancient battle fields, “They who occupy the high ground have the advantage in that they can observe the enemy positions and determine their strengths and weaknesses...”
Intelligence and observation officers then developed a lighter-than-air hydrogen balloon to lift them upwards to observe the enemy positions and so achieved the advantage of that ‘Added height above the ground.’
One of the earliest recorded incidents was on the 1st August, 1798 when Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson attacked the French fleet during the Battle of the Nile. It was recorded that a defending French Army officer, Captain J.M.J. Coutelle – acknowledged as the world’s first military aviator – commanding his company of ‘Aerostiers’, launched his observation balloon too late to stem the successful attack of the British fleet.
This little acorn was born in the shape of these one-man observations balloons, comprising only a couple of cubic feet of hydrogen, and like the oak tree it just grew bigger and bigger into an airship like the Hindenburg, whose hydrogen capacity reached seven million cubic feet.
There then developed an international race to determine who could build and operate the biggest, most luxurious and above all cost-effective balloon. An important factor in the design and operation was the type of gas to fill the envelope, and the designers had the choice of either Hydrogen or Helium.
Sir Henry Cavendish first discovered hydrogen in 1766 and he named it ‘flammable air’ because of its very explosive and volatile nature, where the slightest spark would ignite the gas and consume the airship within seconds – as happened to the Hindenburg, the R101 and many others.
The alternative was to use helium, a very inert and therefore much safer gas although it is twice as heavy as hydrogen, but still much lighter than air. At the turn of the century, in 1900, Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin flew his 410-feet long airship LZ1, designed by Germany’s leading airship designer Dr. Hugo Eckener. He calculated that for every 1,000 cubic feet of hydrogen a lift of 68lbs could be achieved, compared to only 60 lbs using helium. Nevertheless, for him safety was of paramount importance and as he stipulated, helium was to be used in his new creation the Hindenburg, the largest flying machine the world had ever seen.
Unfortunately for Dr. Eckener, the United States of America was the only country in the world that could supply helium in large quantities and promptly passed the Helium Control Act of 1927 through Congress, which placed an embargo on this very precious commodity. With this export ban in place, Dr. Eckener was compelled to use the only alternative, hydrogen. So at Naval Air Station-Lakehurst, on 6 May 1937, the Hindenburg disaster became the airship’s defining image.
In Great Britain, Barnes Wallis (later to be knighted as Sir Barnes Wallis), who is best known as the inventor of the Bouncing Bomb used in the Dam Busters raids on the Mohne, Sorpe & Eder Dams during World War 2, was Vickers Armstrong’s chief designer of the R100 airship, which was constructed and stationed in this very hanger at Cardington.
The R100 was considered a very elegant piece of engineering, simple in design concept and very light for it size, and easy to maintain. In July 1930, despite encountering violent storms en route, this Barnes Wallis R100 creation made a record-breaking passage to Canada and back.
Despite the success of the Barnes Wallis designed and Vickers Armstrong built airship, the government of the day decided to build the new sister airship, named the R101.
With a complete departure from the proven R100, an alternative designer and builder was chosen to construct the new R101.
It was generally regarded as over-complicated, underpowered and still inflated with the highly volatile and dangerous hydrogen gasbags, as opposed to the much safer inert helium gas.
I was received at this extremely spacious purpose built hanger at Cardington in Bedfordshire by Christopher Daniels, the ‘executive in charge of partnerships and communications’. Dressed in a hard hat and high visibility yellow coat, I was escorted to meet the revolutionary Airlander 10.
Occupying only half of this gigantic hanger, that was built for the famous R100 and R101 airships circa 1930s, the Airlander 10 is still 92 meters long by 44 meters wide by 26 meters high, with an envelope volume of 38,000 cubic meters. With a total weight of 20,000 kg the craft is designed to cruise at 80 knots at a maximum altitude reaching just over 6,000 meters (20,000 feet), carrying a payload up to 10,000 kg.
I asked Christopher Daniels how this Airlander uses lighter-than-air technology to fly. He explained the Airlander is a new breed of hybrid air vehicle combining the best attributes of a conventional aircraft with airship buoyancy, which is the ability to float, and is created by the helium-filled hull.
As a unique part of the design, 60 percent of the lift is produced aerostatically by being lighter than air and a further 40 percent lift is generated aerodynamically by having a wing-shaped hull.
The engines can be rotated to provide an additional 25 percent of thrust up or down to assist landing, take-off and hover. The helium-filled envelope is constructed of a laminated fabric, which is impossible to tear by hand, and is aerodynamically shaped as an elliptical cross-section allied to a cambered longitudinal shape.
The Airlander is powered by four 350 hp, 4-litre V8 direct injection, turbo-charged diesel engines that use jet fuel (kerosene). Two engines are mounted forward on the hull and two on the stern for cruise operations. All four turbocharged engines are configured in ducts with blown vanes to allow vectored-thrust for take-off, landing and ground handling operations, similar in operation to cross-channel ferryboats.
I then asked Christopher Daniels what is the payload of the Airlander 10 and he explained that she could accommodate 10 tonnes, but would be used mainly for search & rescue, reconnaissance, communications and humanitarian aid distribution. The larger Airlander 50 will have a much larger payload of 50 tonnes, and is intended primarily for heavy lift and cargo transport.
Both the Airlander 10 and the Airlander 50 have a long payload module, located along the centreline of the underside of the hull, like the keel on a mercantile marine ship. This comprises of a flight deck with a payload compartment at the bow, a mid-body payload beam for externally slung loads and a stern section for fuel tanks and additional payloads.
I told Christopher Daniels that I was familiar with film footage of traditional airships landing and requiring a host of men to secure it to its mooring post. He explained that both Airlander 10 and 50 have much better ground handling capabilities and require far fewer ground crew than historic airships.
Additionally, both marks of Airlander are fitted with integrated mooring-mast attachments which when deployed are connected to a mooring mast, so that the Airlander is free to rotate and face into wind like a weather vane. This allows the Airlander to operate even if wind speeds reach up to 80 knots at ground level, which would not even be possible with conventional fixed wing aircraft.
Popular opinion would say that this Airlander is not a new concept, so why should this one succeed where others have failed?
While I would agree with this to some extent, I would add that the failure in the 1920s airships lay not in the concept or construction but in the dangerous hydrogen gas the designers were compelled to use. Helium is the only practical alternative to hydrogen but was in short supply as the United States of America, also being in the airship business, placed an export embargo on helium – meaning that European airship builders had no choice but to
Today, some 100 years later, the situation has changed completely and by using helium, a much safer and inert gas, which is used as a fire suppresser, we can look forward to a safer and trouble-free airship industry.
As I bade farewell to Airlander 10, I saluted the aviation craft of the future as it could and certainly would perform an infinite number of aviation roles, from heavy-lift cargo to trips to inaccessible areas, to search and rescue and surveillance, desert pipeline and electrical cable over-ground inspection, and as a platform for aerial filming and photography.
By Dr. John McAdam PhD, MA, BA (Hons), FRGS is a liveryman of the Honorable Company of Air Pilots, which is based in London. The full version of this article is published in the April issue of AOPA's Aircraft Owner & Pilot magazine.
Wings Over Asia Opens Singapore GA FBO
Singapore’s Seletar Airport has proved the ideal place to start a general aviation membership club, “WingsOverAsia”, which has led to what could be the first private owner-focused FBO outside the US.
It started as a bit of fun – a social network for pilots. And WingsOverAsia is still a social network for pilots, but it has become a lot more than that, thanks to the efforts of founder Ng Yeow Meng and his team.
AO&P caught up with Yeow Meng after the Singapore Airshow in February, up at the WingsOverAsia HQ/clubhouse in an office block on the northwest side of Seletar Airport’s 03-21 runway.
The airport is an Asian version of Biggin Hill; it is also a former Spitfire base, has the same runway orientation and is a centre for business aviation, with no scheduled traffic. Seletar has also become a Mecca for aerospace companies, including Rolls-Royce with its giant Trent engine assembly plant.
Yeow Meng and his team were packing everything at their clubhouse into boxes as they were about to move into a vast new S$15 million FBO facility on the other side of the runway.
Yeow Meng said that the position was fortuitous as there was now talk of the airport building its new terminal right next to WoA’s FBO, which he said was making the mainstream bizjet FBOs like Jet Aviation and Hawker Pacific, on the northwest side, somewhat envious as all customs and immigration has to be done at the terminal – which is currently a small, old terminal building near WoA’s old clubhouse.
So how did it all happen? “I started it as a blog in 2004 and then founded the company in August 2009, when I left my corporate job – I was an internet software engineer with GE.”
Yeow Meng obtained his PPL in the US in 1998, in Ohio, “for fun.”
“I was broke – I was paying off university loans, but I found a place to rent a Cessna 152 in Malaysia so went across the border to do cheap flying.”
At the same time his consultancy work was picking up too, in IT project management. “When I travelled I used the opportunity to take pictures at airfields – and to do the blog – and it started to connect with pilots in southeast Asia. Then Japan, and China too. It started to develop into an offline social thing too.”
Meanwhile, he said, “The blog became very capable – as a social networking site it launched the same year as Facebook. I wanted to be the Facebook of the Aviation world.”
Then he started campaigning in relation to the blueprint for Seletar Aerospace Park, “where there were less than ten parking slots for Code A aircraft.” He said “the turning point [here] was this lobbying. I had got to know three or four pilots at Seletar. Before they hadn’t communicated with each other.”
Now the GA pilots have a common parking area that WoA manages for the airport. “But we had to justify it – so we encouraged aircraft sharing.” The pilot community grew, had BBQs and seminars. “They talked among themselves and said they should share aircraft and we were the platform that facilitated that.”
He said the second phase involved the Malaysians. “They all said that it was too strict in Singapore, so we said we have a car and can look after you here [at Seletar]. So we asked the airport for official permission to drive the vehicle and support [visiting aircraft]. We did that for a year or two, and then we got a full handling licence in early 2014.” He said that was “a big turning point” for how WoA was viewed in the aviation community.
Today, he said, the airport is not difficult to operate to. “It’s just a perception that it’s difficult… the landing fee is S$25 and the passenger service charge is S$18 each. Parking is S$300 a month.” He said before WoA established a parking area, parking was S$25 a day and long-term parking 2-3 times that. We pay a lump sum to the airport now and charge our members. It’s much cheaper with us so we save our members money.
So that was the outcome of the lobbying – they said ‘You manage the Code A aircraft’,” recalled Yeow Meng. WoA now attends monthly meetings with the airport and other tenants.
As well as the parking and ground handling Yeow Meng also had been developing his flying over the years and has also helped with ferrying, which gave him contacts with the manufacturers – leading to dealerships in early 2015.
“We’ve just been asked to do some sales representation for Kodiak – previously we were doing Cirrus, and we have Piper and TBM too.” He said that he had demo aircraft for the latter two “But the owners just upgraded to Phenom jet” – WoA tends to get the role of selling on the old aircraft. “I’m very grateful to the OEM reps,” he said.
But he said that “the toughest part is finding new pilots – flight training is geared towards commercial pilots, CPL/IR. But we encourage people to join a flying club through our network.”
Most of the pilots in Singapore use the US FAA system, so WoA helps with the administration and has training schemes (outlined on its website in detail) where people can go to the US to train at the flight schools WoA has partnerships with. “We don’t have the resources to offer full flight training ourselves,” he admitted.
There are two other flying clubs in Singapore – the Seletar Flying Club and the Republic of Singapore Flying Club. “One has a 172 and one has a TB10,” he said. “But most Singaporeans go to Johor over in Malaysia [Senai International Airport, JHB/WMKJ].
It’s cheaper because of the exchange rate [to the US dollar].” He added that “there are quite a few good airfields to fly to in Malaysia – Tioman Island isn’t far away, and Malacca.”
He said that all flights in Asian countries require a flight plan and foreign pilots tend to have to fly with a safety pilot to gain local knowledge, and to do a check out. “We also do flying tours every now and then and the pilots really have a lot of fun.” He said that foreign pilots do come out for flying – “one UK pilot recently visited and took a Cirrus up to Thailand for 4-5 days,” he said.
“And we have been to Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia – and we even had one trip to Perth in Australia, and once we took 15 aircraft to Clark in the Philippines.”
He said they like to do one big trip and two or three small ones each year. “It slowed down last year a bit because of the hangar [FBO] project.” He said that WoA has staff that help pilots plan their trips, obtain permits etc.
Yeow Meng was a few days away from heading out in the new Kodiak that was parked out the front of the almost completed WoA facility. “Next week I am flying to Papua New Guinea, via Darwin, Cairns and up… we’ve done a lot of ferry flights too, from America and Europe, for our members. We brought a Columbia 350 [now Cessna TTx] back and a Pilatus PC-12, and an Eclipse – it’s pretty much the only one in Asia.”
One of WoA’s members was the new owner for the TBM900 that had been on display at the Singapore Airshow, he said (see image).
With maintenance he said that this was started last year to maintain members aeroplanes. It is now a Piper service centre (this was announced at the Singapore show) and a Garmin service centre too. “We’ve become a one-stop shop now,” said Yeow Meng.
“Anything below six tons we fly all over the world – everything from the smallest aircraft to light jets – we sell, fly, deliver, maintain, support permits and ground handling.” He also has agreements with banks that can help finance aircraft.
Overall, Yeow Meng said, “It’s just us – no venture capitalists – I’m still the major shareholder, and I have a business partner.” For the facility, it took him four years but eventually it was backed by a foreign bank. “It took us four years to convince the government that it was worth supporting. They had no idea what GA was about. The big push now is for us to provide charter – but we want to make sure the infrastructure and service quality is good.”
He noted the high growth now in the region: “For 20 years GA in southeast Asia didn’t grow as no governments or regulators understood the benefits – they saw it as a nuisance. It took a long time to convince them we are safe, understand the regulatory process, and can coexist with the bizjets and the airlines.
We tell our members that we’re not helping them so they can be cowboys! You have no choice but to be professional as you’re up there with 737s etc.”
Yeow Meng now has 2,600 hours of flying in his logbook, has an ATP and is a CFI, plus he has done aerobatic training (in Australia) and a seaplane rating. He has a share in a Robin, and used to fly a Pitts. “But I mostly fly turboprops now but I do flip-flop between aircraft a lot,” he said.
He noted that there is little airspace to train in – it is above Seletar and is small, and there is a slot system shared with the flying clubs and the so-called Youth Flying Club, which is effectively Singapore’s air cadets. “There are blocks for the different flying clubs and private flyers, the airspace being 2,500-4,000 ft and then 4,000-10,000ft – but laterally it is less than 5 miles by five miles, and the training area is very near the air base that is west of Seletar. You still need a flight plan as well.”
That can be compared with Johor, which is only 10 minutes flying away and has lots of less congested/constrained airspace.
Hangar Homes for European Airparks
The number of GA airfields closing in the UK and beyond is growing at an alarming rate for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it is not easy keeping a small airfield going as costs often exceed revenues, and for many private owners it has become a labour of love, but for 2nd or 3rd generation owners, who are not particularly interested in aviation, the lure of quick profits by selling the airfield to property developers is all too tempting.
Coupled with the demand for housing and industrial estates by local councils, who in some cases own or run the airfields, the demise of GA airfields is inevitable as no new GA airfields are being constructed because of lack of space, resistance by local residents and planning restrictions. So how can this trend be reversed or at least slowed?
One way is to look across the Atlantic where GA airfields are flourishing because they are combined with residential use in the form of airparks. There are over 600 airparks in the USA, which has undoubtedly helped to sustain those airfields and GA generally in that country.
While it may be difficult to envisage residential air parks in the UK for various reasons, there is no reason why hangar homes could not be adopted at suitable GA airfields in the UK, along with other activities on the airfield, to make them more sustainable and help keep them from closing.
This also requires planning authorities to recognise the importance of GA in the community and allowing residential use on airfields will virtually guarantee continued operational use of the airfield.
Hangar Homes Ltd has been set up by Peter Day, a private pilot for over 25 years, since he sold his IT business, which operated a Rockwell Commander.
The concept of Hangar Homes is not new, and has been around for many years in the USA and more recently in France, but to date there are none in the UK, which is what Peter’s new company has been set up to address.
"If boat enthusiasts can live on a marina or golfers on a golf course, then why not aviation enthusiasts on a GA airfield?", asks Day. For further information please see www.hangarhomes.co.uk.
Conspicuity Proposals Released
Proposals for how GA aircraft and airspace users in uncontrolled UK airspace can use low cost and low power electronic devices (known as electronic conspicuity) to be more visible to each other have been released by the UK CAA.
The proposals, contained in CAP 1391 Electronic Conspicuity have been developed in conjunction with the GA community.
The document sets out the benefits of using devices to enhance the visibility of aircraft. It explains how people can legally carry and use these devices in flight to aid a pilot's visual scanning by alerting other aircraft, carrying compatible devices, of their proximity.
The CAA believes that any move to make aircraft more visible is an aid to safety. In the UK there are no requirements for light aircraft flying outside controlled airspace to carry any form of electronic device, such as a transponder. And there are no current plans to mandate such equipment in uncontrolled airspace.
In some cases transponders may add too much additional weight and have unrealistic power requirements for certain aircraft. Therefore, the new plans set out an industry standard for equipment based on Automatic Dependant Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology which is low cost and can be produced as light-weight and low power devices.
The standards have been drawn up by the GA community and the CAA, through an electronic conspicuity working group and build on scoping work that was chaired by AOPA Chief Executive Martin Robinson, with representatives from other key GA organisations to advise the work.
Clair Muir, CAA manager of safety programmes, said: “We are aiming to make it significantly easier and cheaper for pilots to be able to electronically show other aircraft their position by turning the 'see and avoid' concept into 'see, BE SEEN and avoid'. The goal is to create an environment which encourages more GA pilots to voluntarily equip their aircraft with a device. If that happens then we hope to see a reduction in the number of mid-air collisions and Airprox incidents.”
As part of the planned introduction of the proposal we are consulting with manufacturers on a new process that aims to remove regulatory barriers, making it easier for manufacturers to build a range of devices. Once the process is up and running manufacturers will be required to make a declaration to the CAA that their device complies with the relevant approval.
This will ensure that all EC devices, that have an acknowledged declaration, meet the standard set out for it to be used legally on board an aircraft. The administration charge for declaration has been waived for the first year of the scheme.
A list of current declarations will be published on the CAA website. It is then the responsibility of the aircraft operator to ensure that the device has a valid declaration and can be used on board.
The draft process is available at www.caa.co.uk/cap1391
The CAA is currently seeking views on this proposal via a survey, which is open until 18th April 2016. Once the responses to this survey have been assessed the final process for submitting a declaration will be published on the CAA website.
UK Fines for Airspace Infringements
This LINK leads to a UK Department for Transport consultation on proposed increased to fines for infringements of the Rules of the Air. The DfT proposes to amend the UK Air Navigation Order to allow for the maximum fine for such offences to be increased from Level 4 to Level 5.
The consultation period will run from 17 March 2016 until 22 April 2016. Details on how to respond can be found in the consultation document.
ACE To Start at Biggin Hill
The long-running Business and General Aviation Day show has been renamed as Air Charter Expo (ACE). The event will take place this year at London Biggin Hill Airport (LBHA, ICAO code EGKB) on Tuesday 13th September 2016. In effect it will be two one-day events running concurrently.
“While owners and operators of business jets, turboprops and helicopters can engage with suppliers of a full range of services, simultaneously the air charter brokers and travel buyers can benefit from the presence of a full range of manufacturers and service providers, said the organisers, who added: “The evolution of the branding follows extensive consultation within the industry to establish the most favourable title that is capable of bringing together the role of the air charter broker with the business aircraft owners and operators.”
The organisers will be working with trade associations such as the BBGA and BACA to ensure high profile and relevant topics for the seminar programmes.
Robert Walters, business development director at LBHA, says that the Air Charter Expo is planned to continue at Biggin Hill as an annual event for the foreseeable future.
Previously the BGAD event was held as an annual event that was to alternate between Cambridge Airport and Biggin Hill.
The ACE16 website is www.aircharterexpo.com.
The Hong Kong Aviation Club
On a recent visit to Hong Kong to see the Hong Kong Business Aviation Centre at Chep Lap Kok, Ian Sheppard took the ferry across to Kowloon and visited the clubhouse of the Hong Kong Aviation Club at Kai Tak.
The Hong Kong Aviation Club remains based at Kai Tak, the old international airport that closed in 1998, and it is the focus of all social activities. The relocation of the main airport from Kai Tak to Chek Lap Kok has resulted in the closure of the famous Kai Tak runway and at present recreational flying is not permitted at CLK.
All flying activities now take place at Shek Kong. The Club continues to provide flight training instruction including aerobatics and is currently running a young eagles program giving the opportunity for young people to experience flying. The HKAC said, “Our prime objective is to continue to promote all aspects of recreational flying.”
The end of the Kai Tak runway is now home to a giant modern ferry terminal while construction works for a new metro line/station are taking place close to the club house at present. However, helicopters still occasionally use the apron in front of the clubhouse.
The earliest aviation history in Hong Kong is believed to be a balloon flight and parachute jump. Capt. Thomas Baldwin and his younger brother carried out the first reported balloon flight at Happy Valley. Once the balloon had gone up, the young brother jumped and made the first (and first successful!) parachute jump in Hong Kong.
Today Hong Kong continues in the same spirit under the canopy of the Hong Kong Balloon and Airship Club.
On 18th March 1911 at 5.10pm Charles Van den Born took to the air in Hong Kong’s first heavier than air flight in a Farman Mk II named Wanda. A replica of this original plane was built and flown at Chek Lap Kok just before the opening of the new airport. It now hangs in the main entrance hall at the new airport.
In 1924 ‘Crazy Harry Abbott’ became the first tenant of Kai Tak and in December 1929 the Hong Kong Flying Club was formed. 1932 saw a rebellion in the Hong Kong Flying Club and in 1933 the Far East Flying Training School was formed. This was joined by a Technical School in 1971.
The Hong Kong Aviation Club was established in 1982, with the amalgamation of the Hong Kong Flying Club, the Aero Club of Hong Kong and the Far East Flying & Technical School.
This article appears in the April issue of Aircraft Owner & Pilot, and follows the shorter item in the March eNews.