IAOPA Europe enews, December 2013 - Welcome to the IAOPA Europe enews which goes to 23,000 aircraft owners and pilots in 27 countries across the continent

Patrick Ky: EASA needs to change

EASA’s new Executive Director Patrick Ky (left) has acknowledged the need for change at the Agency to make it less dogmatic, more flexible and better able to accommodate the special needs of general aviation. In his first interview since taking over from Patrick Goudou in October, M Ky said he believed national aviation authorities (NAAs) should have more autonomy to interpret and apply the rules, and acknowledges that ‘lines are drawn in the wrong place’ so that general aviation is caught up in regulation intended for commercial air transport.
He introduces many caveats into the conversation, however, and dismisses the idea of the sort of revolution many of us feel is essential. There is no thought of removing private aviation from EASA oversight. And while many NAAs are competent and well-resources, M Ky points out that many more are under-staffed, under-funded and don’t have the expertise to operate independently. But the need for change is a given, he adds. “As an Agency, we need to work as single entity. There are many different activities here, and when I ask questions I get a lot of different answers, some of which are incompatible. It is of the highest priority that we have a more consistent approach.
“Secondly, I am not dogmatic – I see a requirement to amend our touch to accommodate the needs of the market, and this is already changing. In the first ten years, the priority was to establish the Agency’s technical and professional competence, and EASA did that in the face of quite strenuous opposition, particularly from Britain, France and Germany. Happily, there is now a new generation of leaders in aviation in some European countries, and old attitudes are fading. Some of the leaders of national authorities are very impressive people. Andrew Haines at the UK CAA is one of them. Patrick Gandil of the French DGAC is another – extremely competent, pragmatic, able people, backed up with the resources to do the job. On the other hand, some national authorities tell us that they simply don’t have the ability to regulate general aviation, so introducing an element of regulatory flexibility that fits all 32 EASA countries is even more difficult than you’d imagine. If you look at the Baltic states, some have a national authority of say 50 people and they have a real lack of resources.”
Can EASA change enough to meet the needs of GA? “EASA is at the same time a young lady and an old lady,” M Ky said. “Young because it’s established only ten years. Old because there are a lot of habits that have become part of the culture. How am I to be able to act against the bad habits? I don’t know – I haven’t yet tested the resistance of the Agency to change. Perhaps if you come back in a year the picture will be clearer. For now, I am looking to see whether the Agency is willing to change and to address new challenges. Ten years is a significant time, and if I find that the way of working is set in stone, it will be difficult for me. I believe the Agency comprehends the new needs and challenges that we face, and there is a degree of commitment to change. But the EU legal framework and staff regulations are very rigid.”

EASA – mending fences

Relations between EASA and national authorities, the European Commission and IAOPA look set to improve under Patrick Ky. In particular, M Ky’s former jobs in the Commission should help take the heat out of the fractious relationship between the two bodies. Unlike Patrick Goudou he understands how the Commission works and knows how to press its buttons. “The EC has its own laws and obligations, and EASA has too,” he said. “Sometimes they have not been synchronous, sometimes there has been conflict between the Agency and the Commission, but I believe we’re in a good position to keep conflict to a minimum.”
M Ky has also worked for Eurocontrol and the French DGAC, and he has moved quickly to mend fences with the NAAs. As at EASA, there has been a recent generational change in the leadership of some of the major NAAs, and the ‘turf wars’ of yesterday are over. “We have formed a group of leaders of national aviation authorities, just the top men, and so far we have 13,” he says. “I sit on this group for EASA, the EC is also there, and we are chaired by Trafi, the Finnish CAA. The level of enthusiasm shows a willingness in this partnership to work together.”
Mr Ky also headed SESAR, the hugely ambitious project to modernise European air traffic systems, and that job brought him into frequent contact with Dr Michael Erb of AOPA Germany and IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson. “I’ve known Michael and Martin for many years and I consider them not only to be work colleagues but personal friends,” M Ky said. “Our relationship is excellent on a professional and personal level. We have spent a lot of time working together, with Michael Erb on technical problems at SESAR, with Martin on different projects. Relations with IAOPA are good, and that can only benefit both sides.”

No exemption for general aviation

M Ky does not see any possibility of GA being removed from EASA’s remit. “Complete removal, no,” he said. “A lot depends on definitions, what you call private, what you say is general aviation. I believe EASA is responsible for all aircraft, big and small, but that its approach should be more flexible than it currently is. We are already looking at Part 23 certification rules with a view to making them more performance-driven rather than prescriptive. We need to discuss continuing maintenance with the member states, to find out where they see our influence starting and stopping. At the end of the day, protection of the public is the goal.
“I am a private pilot, I know what the life of a private pilot is, and I know there is a need to be certain of your aircraft. If you own your aircraft, that’s okay, but if you are renting an aircraft, you are entitled to know it has been maintained to a certain standard. There’s a need for rules that say the same whether you are renting in Spain or in Poland. We need a homogenous system, but it’s a matter of where you draw the line. You cannot exempt all of general aviation.”
You can download the full interview with Patrick Ky in General Aviation magazine from the IAOPA-Europe website www.iaopa.eu

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Cessnas saved as EASA supports AOPA

EASA is supporting IAOPA’s campaign to have national aviation authorities across Europe recognise that Cessna’s Supplemental Inspection Documents – SIDs – are not mandatory, thus saving thousands of older aircraft in Europe from the scrapheap.
At a meeting with EASA staff on November 8 it was agreed that EASA will publish a Safety Information Bulletin declaring the Cessna SIDs to be a recommendation rather than a mandate. EASA was represented by its Director of Rulemaking Jules Kneepkens, his deputy Eric Sivel and seven other experts. IAOPA participants were Martin Robinson and George Done from AOPA UK, Hans-Peter Walluf and Dr Michael Erb from AOPA Germany, and Dan Akerman from AOPA Sweden.
The problem centres on SIDs published by Cessna covering 100 and 200 series aircraft built before 1986, which require inspections for corrosion. In some cases this involves the removal of the wings, a process which can cost more than the value of the aircraft. Some countries such as Germany – where maintenance companies have been quoting almost €10,000 to inspect a Cessna 150 – have said the SIDs are mandatory. Others, like Britain, say they are only advisory. A mandate would mean that many aircraft would have to be written off, even if no corrosion was found. (No accidents have been caused, and the FAA treats the Cessna’s SIDs as advisory.)
At the November 8 meeting EASA agreed that the SIDs were advisory, and it will be publishing a Safety Information Bulletin shortly declaring them to be a recommendation. IAOPA technical experts from the UK and Sweden were invited by EASA to be involved in the process of developing the Safety Information Bulletin, which we expect to go out this month. Unfortunately, member states still have authority for approving maintenance programmes, and the German LBA is sticking to its guns. Dr Michael Erb says: “We hope that the publication by EASA of a Safety Information Bulletin is going to resolve the situation, because Article 20 1) j) of EASA’s Basic Regulation authorises only EASA to react on safety issues and to publish safety-related information. The aviation authorities of the member states do not have this power any more.
“Some maintenance organisations appear to abuse the Cessna SIDs to squeeze money out of their customers, offering flat rates for the inspections of between €5,000 and €10,000, exclusive of fixing anything. This appears to exceed the cost for the required effort by far.
“EASA intends to host a workshop on the issue beginning of next year in Cologne. In case some member starts continue to be stubborn, a solution could be to bring the aircraft from unfriendly states into the register of friendly states like the UK. We will update members on any further developments.”

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One small step for Chinese GA

With the AOPA World Assembly scheduled to be held in Beijing next year, the Chinese military has announced a relaxation of rules governing general aviation to reduce the time required for approval of flights from days to hours – a move characterised by AOPA China as a step in the right direction, at the beginning of a long road.
The People’s Liberation Army general staff department and the Civil Aviation Administration of China have decided that most GA flights in China should operate under a significantly simpler planning process, with military approval for such civil flights no longer required. GA operators will still have to file flight plans, and flights in sensitive zones such as border areas and prohibited zones, or aerial photography operations, will continue to require prior approval and the use of transponders. But the move towards greater freedom for GA is long-awaited, positive news.
Fang Wen, Director of AOPA China’s International Department, says that the move is welcome and looks forward to more liberalisation. Oversight of general aviation involves the army, local and central governments and several ministries and commissions, and achieving broad consensus and co-operation is difficult. Other obstacles to the development of general aviation, he says, include lack of ATC facilities, shortage of pilots, maintenance technicians and GA airports, high taxes and low profit margins. Market forces need to play a greater part in GA development, he adds, if the infant industry is to grow.
“Most GA aircraft suppliers are from outside China, and in construction and management of GA airports, we have not found the operational model,” Fang Wen says. “Developing GA airports is the key to the success of GA in China, and without such airports, talk of a successful GA industry is hot air.”
Chinese enterprises have been sedulously buying up GA businesses across the world, including Cirrus, Mooney and Brantly, but home-grown GA aviation has barely got off the ground. The country’s vast extent and poor ground infrastructure would seem to make it ideal for GA development, while being able to start almost from scratch with a satellite-based air traffic system means it faces none of Europe’s SESAR problems.

Flying restrictions around nuclear summit

The global nuclear summit to be held in The Hague at the end of March means that much of the airspace in the south and west of the Netherlands will be closed to VFR and non-scheduled IFR traffic. Airspace within a radius of 50nm of the Hague will be affected, and the restrictions will be in place for the three days of the summit – March 23 to 26. AOPA Netherlands is working on a limited number of VFR routes to be available, but it is not possible to say at this point how much freedom there will be to fly in the area at that time. The AIS can be seen on the AOPA Netherlands website here

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AOPA Netherlands establishes manual templates

This month, the collaborative AOPA Flight School Foundation in the Netherlands will be established. All Registered Training Facilities in the Netherlands are free to join, and to date 24 have signed up – 40 percent of the total. AFF offers standardised management manuals and syllabi for PPL and LAPL training. The Dutch CAA is positive in its support of this initiative and is offering an 80% discount on the registration fee for non-complex ATOs for members of the AFF.

AOPA Iceland fights to preserve Vatnsmyri Airport

AOPA Iceland is in the forefront of the campaign to save Reykjavik City’s airport, BIRK, from a massive housing development which is opposed by the vast majority of the people of Reykjavik.
There are huge profits to be made from the destruction of the airport and its replacement with 7,000 apartments, and despite public opposition the developers have politicians and city officials on their side.
Haraldur Diego of AOPA Iceland reports that when the airport was built by the British during World War II it was on the outskirts of town, but Reykjavik has since grown to encompass it and it is prime development land. It has been the subject of a long-running political dispute, with some of the oldest documented debates being over 70 years old, almost as old as the airport itself.
In 2001, a non-binding referendum revealed that the population of Reykjavik was split 50-50 on the issue, but in recent years more and more and more people have been leaning towards the retention of the airport in its current position. Now, 73% of the inhabitants do not want to relocate the airport.
But the current governing parties in the city are blunt about their opposition to the airport. Almost all development within the airport has been halted for decades. The domestic terminal is housed in a barracks built by the US army, and no new hangars have been permitted in the last 25 years, despite a growing need.
Grass-roots aviation organisers have been active in promoting support for the three-runway airport, and a petition to protect the ‘Heart of Vatnsmyri’, as the campaign was called, gathered 69,753 signatures. City officials, however, wish to ignore the voice of the people and let the developers loose on the land.
Over the last few months AOPA Iceland has been prominent in discussions with government and city officials, having political candidates meeting with the aviators on Saturday mornings at the airport clubhouse. These initiatives have been beneficial in terms of having been able to voice concerns over the development proposals, but the master plans have been passed by the City Council, with a massive residential development planned in Vatnsmyri by 2030. AOPA Iceland is hoping that upcoming elections will put in place a pro-airport party, willing to listen to the people of Reykjavik.

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AOPA Romania VFR Flight Guide 2014 Project

AOPA Romania has started the process of gathering information for the first-ever local VFR Flight Guide for 2014. This VFR Flight Guide will fill the existing void and will offer pilots, Romanians or foreign, the much needed information to fly safely VFR in the country. The Flight Guide will contain detailed information, both graphic and text, about all usable airfields in the country. This project is aiming at improving flight safety but also at increasing air tourism inside Romania.
A special partnership with a quality VFR navigation software provider is also under way so the data will be included into an electronic VFR chart for use in flight planning. The data-gathering phase will be over at the end of December 2013,  and the final product is due to be ready in March 2014, just in time for the flight season. More information can be found here

Southend airspace proposals

Proposals for controlled airspace around Southend Airport cover a large swathe of the south east of England and will affect many pilots flying into the UK as well as British pilots flying in the London area. Consultation on the proposals ends on December 19 and members are asked to consider registering their concerns.
Under new ownership, Southend us attracting an increasing number of commercial flights. AOPA UK understands the need to protect the flying public, and the airport’s need to assure easyJet that it is safe to operate into and out of Southend, but believes the amount of airspace they are claiming in order to provide that assurance is too large, and the shape needs to be altered. The affect on neighbouring aerodromes like Rochester is undesirable. And while AOPA can accept class D airspace, as it permits VFR operations, we cannot accept it at Southend without cast-iron guarantees that the level of ATC service will be sufficient at all times to handle all traffic.
AOPA UK Chief Executive Martin Robinson says: “It will be necessary for Southend to employ enough controllers to service the airspace in a way that does not restrict access for VFR operations. The CAA is required to balance the needs of all airspace users. Given the commercial benefit to Southend airport of having controlled airspace, there is a duty in my opinion for Southend to guarantee GA VFR access through a service level agreement.”
The proposals can be seen here

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