Click here for print-friendly edition

IAOPA Europe eNews February 2016 - Welcome to the IAOPA Europe enews which goes to 23,000 aircraft owners and pilots in 27 countries across the continent

What Lies Ahead for IAOPA in 2016?

IAOPA senior vice-president Martin Robinson wrote to IAOPA representatives last month predicting that 2016 is going to be an even more challenging year than 2015. The following is an abbreviated version of his report:

The primary role of IAOPA in Europe is to work with the national AOPAs on issues we face from Brussels and Cologne - lobbying for the right solutions for all our members. So what’s on the agenda for 2016?

First and foremost is the proposed amendments to the Basic Regulation, EU 216/2008. The amending text will have two readings in the European Parliament and one in the Council. The Dutch have the presidency of the EU (for six months) and they will focus on the timetable for the process. 

The earliest the amending text can be adopted is during the first part of 2017, with an effective date in 2018. The first of the changes is for Risk Based Proportional Regulation (Article 4), which extends to Implementing Rules too.  

I recommend that you speak with your government representatives to make sure your views, if you have any, are known. I will keep you informed on key issues so that IAOPA can coordinate the various views.

Through AOPA Germany’s efforts we hope to have a meeting with parliamentarians where we will have an opportunity to raise our views in relation to the amending legislation. Michael Erb (AOPA Germany) and Jacob Pedersen (AOPA Denmark) continue to represent our interests on EASA through the GA Road Map work.
Nick Wilcock have a full agenda in relation to the work being done on licensing/pilot training.  

The way in which the aviation industry is consulted is also changing. The EASA Advisory Body (EAB) is changing its name to Stakeholder Advisory Body (SAB) and where the Safety Standards Consultation Committee (SSCC) reported to the Agency, it will in future work through the SAB. The GA Sub SSCC will remain unchanged.  

I have some concerns about the future ability of the aviation industry in Europe to influence proposals through these new reconstituted groups. We will have to see! Although the rulemaking directorate in EASA was removed it does not mean that EASA will not develop rules in the future. However, with the 216 Regulation being amended to focus on Risk Based Proportional Regulations, our hope is for a more effective rulemaking process.

IAOPA will also continue to support the work of the Industry Consultative Body (ICB), which advises the Commission on Single European Sky (SES) matters.

We continue to monitor issues such as user fees and equippage. 8.33 KHz radios are on our agenda as well as funding. We continue to push for better policies on airspace as it affects our members and we also continue our relationship with SESAR, which from mid-2016 moves from SESAR Phase 1 to "SESAR 2020." 

Through the ICB we have raised our concerns in respect of the lack of recognition of GA in the ATM Master Plan, and I plan to raise this issue with the Commission directly.

The Commission, through the acting head of aviation, has informed us that the April 2016 deadline for operators of ‘N’ registered aircraft will, in all likelihood, see the deadline extended again for another 12 months (to April 2017).

Overall, there will be more effort than ever required throughout 2016.

Finally, after discussing the matter with Craig Spence, IAOPA director general, the dates for the next regional meeting will be 15-17 April 2016 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The following week AERO Friedrichshafen will take place. IAOPA, as well as AOPA Switzerland, Austria and Germany will again be at the event. Tell your members to come to see us!

2016 has a packed Work Programme including the IAOPA World Assembly. We cannot do this work without your commitment. Thank you for your support, hard work and dedication on behalf of all our members.

EASA Developments: Following the Roadmap

Following its ‘GA Road Map’ initiative, EASA has been moving ahead with a couple of important topics which will soon affect GA pilots.  These topics follow lobbying from industry groups such as IAOPA (Europe), among others, so it is only fair that AOPA members should be aware of what’s currently going in Cologne, writes Nick Wilcock (of AOPA UK).

Training Outside an ATO

The first topic concerns ‘Training outside an Approved Training Organisation’.  As most will know, PPL-level training in the UK has traditionally been conducted at ‘Registered Facilities’ such as small flying clubs. However, European Regulation does not recognise ‘registration’ of pilot training organisations, requiring instead that they must be ‘approved’.  

Originally it was intended that all RFs had to become ATOs by April 2015; however, the requirements which they would have had to meet were both disproportionate and burdensome. The UK CAA tried to ease the impact by producing a template approval document, but EASA finally realised that their existing regulations simply had to change.

After a workshop meeting in May 2014, IAOPA (Europe) worked with the UK CAA and others to develop lighter requirements, which eventually led to Notice of Proposed Amendment 2014-28.  However, at around the same time EASA’s

GA Road Map group had floated the concept of ‘training outside an ATO’, but without giving industry much idea of what they meant by that.  

This all caused complete and utter confusion to an industry already struggling to keep up with the changes, so EASA then blocked its own NPA and decided to set up a Task Force which was to come up with suitable proposals for simpler regulation of PPL-level training.

That work has now resulted in the release of NPA 2015-20, the main thrust of which is to create ‘Basic Training Organisations’ very similar to our existing ‘Registered Facilities’, with very much lighter oversight requirements than are required for full-fat ATOs.  The Task Force looked at four options, one of which was to ‘do nothing’ and another of which proposed to remove all regulation. The latter was assessed as having a negative safety impact and posed serious risk to the viability of existing RFs, so was discounted.  Which left two others, broadly the same except that one would have required an amendment to the Basic Regulation, which would be unlikely to be achieved by the end of the opt-out period.  Hence of the options presented, Option Two is really the only one which stands any guarantee of being able to be adopted by the end of the current opt-out period in April 2018.  

The ‘BTO’ proposal is not as broad in its scope as EASA originally proposed in NPA 2014-28; for example, MEP training would still need to be conducted at an ATO, as would IR and FI(A) training. Nevertheless, AOPA UK has now reviewed the NPA and generally supports Option Two.  We have noted, however, that the scope of BTO training does not currently include training for the GA Road Map’s ‘Easier access of GA pilots to IFR flying’ initiative, proposals for which another Task Force is now developing.  So our recommendation to IAOPA (Europe) is that we should object to the non-inclusion of such training in the NPA’s proposals.  Stakeholder responses to the NPA may be made in the usual way through the joys of the EASA Comment Response Tool.

However, the UK CAA is ‘soon’ to release an Alternative Means of Compliance which will fit in between the BTO and the full-fat ATO, to suit ‘non-complex Approved Training Organisations’ which might wish to provide PPL/LAPL training including all associated ratings and certificates rather than just the narrower scope of the BTO privileges proposed in the NPA.  This will be released in CAP form and will include a template for RFs to convert to non-complex ATOs, should they wish to do so.  So even in the unlikely event of NPA 2015-20 being rejected, the UK at least will still have a lighter non-complex ATO option available for RFs.

The "Basic IR"

Of perhaps greater interest to most GA pilots is the second topic, the publication of the Concept Paper for Rule Making Task 677, concerning ‘Easier access of GA pilots to IFR flying’.  This does NOT require any stakeholder response at this stage, it simply summarises the concept of the Basic IR (BIR) on which the RMT.0677 Task Force has been working. 

The next stage of the process will be to draft the proposed Aircrew Regulation rule changes necessary to facilitate the BIR, which will probably be included in Subpart I ‘Additional Ratings’ as a new FCL.835. 

The main reasoning behind the need for the BIR is simply that the Competency-Based Instrument Rating (CB IR) is still out of reach for many, due mainly to the theoretical knowledge requirements and overall cost in terms of both time and money. 

Initial take-up of the En-route Instrument Rating (EIR) has been minimal; at the December EIR Review Board meeting, it was revealed that to date the UK has only issued one EIR, as has France. 

EASA will be calling for data from all Member States, to indicate how many instrument qualifications each has issued in a specific 12-month period, as that information will probably strengthen the BIR case.

Of course in the UK we are fortunate in being able to include the Instrument Rating (Restricted) in Part-FCL pilot licences. Our legacy of 40+ years of the IMC rating and IR(R) has shown that it is perfectly possible for relatively inexperienced pilots to be able to gain the necessary skills to fly safely in IMC, and to fly instrument approaches to the recommended minima, in relatively few hours of training. Such pilots may have neither need nor interest in ‘flying airways’ and are probably perfectly content with their IR(R) limitations, but others would also like to use the IR(R) outside the UK or to add the privilege of flying en-route under IFR in controlled airspace.  

However, current requirements mean that it is quite a jump from the IR(R) to the CB IR or even the EIR.  Incidentally, although the CB IR grants privileges to fly instrument approaches to much lower limits than those recommended for the IR(R), is there really much appetite for flying a typical PA28 or Cessna 172 in such poor weather conditions?  So a key feature of the BIR proposal is that it should be sufficiently flexible in structure to meet the differing needs of the GA community.  

For example, towing a sailplane up to within 1,000 ft of the cloudbase in many parts of Europe would, under FCL.600, requires the pilot of the towing aeroplane to hold an IR even if in gin-clear VMC – although, paradoxically, there is no such requirement for the sailplane pilot as FCL.600 only applies to aeroplanes, helicopters, airships and powered-lift aircraft.  

It would clearly be totally disproportionate to require pilots towing sailplanes in such conditions to hold even a CB IR, whereas something akin to an IR(R) would be far more reasonable.  However, other pilots who simply wish to use the European ATS route system, on days when the weather is relatively benign at the departure and arrival aerodromes, should be able to do so without having to meet the disproportionate requirements of the EIR.  

The RMT.0677 Task Force has adopted a modular concept as a fundamental BIR feature to achieve this flexibility, as will be noted from the Concept Paper.  Some of the main points of the paper are:

• Simpler ‘FAA-level’ theoretical knowledge requirements aimed at supporting the flight training rather than the ‘learn once and forget thereafter’ memory exercise of current EASA exams.  Exam administration should be as for PPL exams, under whatever arrangements apply in a particular Member State.

• The BIR training is proposed to be modular in concept:

1. ‘Core IF flying skills’
2. ‘Applied - IF departures / approaches’ (to more restrictive limits than the CB IR, ensuring as far as possible that a visual bad-weather circuit will always be an option from instrument minima);
3. ‘Applied - en-route IFR in controlled airspace’.  

• BIR privileges are intended only be available for flights flown within the scope of PPL privileges on single-pilot aeroplanes for which a Class Rating is required, excepting High Performance Aeroplanes or those identified by Operational Suitability Data as requiring mandatory additional differences training.

• BIR applicants should to be able to choose to hold either full or partial BIR privileges - e.g. ‘full privileges’, ‘no approach privileges’ (similar to the EASA En-route Instrument Rating) or ‘no en-route IFR in CAS’ (similar to the UK’s Instrument Rating (Restricted)) - with the option to upgrade to ‘full privileges’ later if they so wish.

(Under SERA.5025, en-route IFR is permitted outside controlled airspace with just a basic requirement to be able to communicate with a flight information service if necessary, whereas under SERA.5020, en-route IFR inside controlled airspace is far more demanding, requiring mandatory compliance with an air traffic control service and increasingly high levels of navigation system accuracy and pilot proficiency.  Hence there should be no need for IFR pilots who do not wish to operate under SERA.5020 to complete the third module).

• BIR training should be permitted at a BTO.

• No formal ‘hours’ requirements are currently proposed, instead the emphasis will be on competency.  However, both the EIR and IR(R) currently require 15 hours of instrument training, 10 of which are common to both ratings. 

Thus it should be reasonable to expect that the whole BIR could be completed in as little as (15 x 2) - 10 = 20 hours of instrument training, given suitable continuity.

Instructors and Examiners

Simpler requirements are proposed for BIR instructors and examiners, broadly in line with those already accepted in the UK for IR(R) training.

A process for upgrading from the BIR to the CB IR will also be proposed.

The RMT.0677 Task Force has a lot of work to complete before a draft NPA can be proposed to EASA, but EASA aims to release the NPA for the BIR in June 2016.  This will then go through the usual EASA processes before the BIR can come into European Law, probably in the last quarter of 2017.  

All possible ways of speeding up the neo-glacial pace of this process will be sought; it goes without saying that strong stakeholder support for the BIR should encourage Member States towards acceptance of the BIR proposals without lengthy debate and delay.

Effect on IR(R)

Members might query how the BIR would affect the UK IR(R). Currently the IR(R) is regulated by Article 4(8) of the Aircrew Regulation which expires in April 2019, provided that favourable reception is given to the CAA review which is required to be presented to the European Commission by Apr 2017. Of course AOPA (UK) will be protecting the rights of existing IR(R) pilots, instructors and examiners to ensure that no IR(R) privileges are lost.  

We also aim to propose a 'national conversion report' which would enable current IR(R) holders to upgrade to the BIR, should they wish to do so.  Such an upgrade could also include privileges for en-route IFR flight in controlled airspace under SERA.5020, provided that the necessary additional training and testing was also completed.  

So for once there does actually seem to be some rather good news coming out of Cologne – watch this space for future developments!

Guide to Completing the EASA Instrument Flying Survey

As part of rulemaking task RMT.0677 concerning the Basic Instrument Rating, EASA has launched a simple online survey which we strongly recommend all those interested in instrument flying should complete.  

The link to the survey is:

In order that EASA receives clear information concerning the level of interest in the current UK IR(R) / IMCR, we recommend that pilots should answer the survey questions as follows:

Pilots who hold an IR(R) / IMCR:  

Question 2 - answer ‘YES’
Question 2a - leave blank
Question 2b - answer ‘National IR’ with the relevant date option
Questions 5 and 6 refer to IR and EIR instructors / examiners, so IR(R) / IMCR instructors / examiners should answer ‘NO’ (unless, of course, they also hold IR instructor or examiner privileges) as that will then enable them to answer supplementary questions 5a and 6a.

Under ‘Any other comments’, enter as applicable:

My replies to Question 2 refer to the UK Instrument Rating (Restricted).
(If applicable) I also hold instructor and examiner privileges for the UK IR(R).
(If applicable)  Provided that the requirements are proportionate, I fully intend to upgrade to the Basic IR as outlined in the RMT.0677 Concept Paper.
(If applicable) I intend to upgrade to the CB IR using credit for the IR(R).

Pilots who are under training for the IR(R) / IMCR:

Question 3 - answer ‘YES’
Question 3a -  leave blank

Under ‘Any other comments’, enter as applicable:
I am currently under training for the UK Instrument Rating (Restricted)    (If applicable) Provided that the requirements are proportionate, I fully intend to upgrade to the Basic IR as outlined in the RMT.0677 Concept Paper.    (If applicable) I intend to upgrade to the CB IR using credit for the IR(R).

The link to the RMT.0677 Concept Paper is HERE.

The survey should be completed by 1 March 2016 (according to the survey page).

Look Out for Skyüber!

Skyüber has created an app which allows those wanting to go on private flights with private pilots to take a “jolly” and share the cost. Sounds like a win-win as long as it doesn’t get abused for profit.

Recent changes in the EASA regulations governing the sharing of the cost of private flights have opened up the possibility of actually promoting such non-commercial sharing.

This is an attractive proposition as it can offset the costs for the pilot/owner and provide a flying experience for the ‘cost sharing’ passenger.

Ian Sheppard met with Carlos Oliveira, who started ‘Skyüber’ – nothing to do with the Über taxi company, but it is in a sense the ‘Über of the air’ in that anyone can choose flights to participate in using the Skyüber App.

When Oliveira met with Aircraft Owner & Pilot the Skyüber ‘founder’ team were on a tour of UK aeroclubs and airfields – they’d been to Enstone and North Weald, Cranfield, Elstree, Cambridge and Oxford, and Fairoaks, and were about to head to Biggin Hill and later Stapleford. They wanted to spread the word to pilots that they could join the Skyüber community and attract potential flight sharers (“riders”) to come forward. On this round, they were visiting a total of 13 airfields.

“It’s good to talk about the Skyüber community,” said Oliveira, whose business partner João Paulo Girbal was also accompanying him, along with his wife Claudia. João Paulo (pictured right) said that he owned a flight school in Portugal.

Oliveira made no secret of the fact that “the new EASA regulation on cost sharing on private flights” was the trigger for his idea. “It will allow pilots to fly more because there are less costs,” he said. The rules state that you can share up to six seats and cannot make a profit but, as Oliveira pointed out, the main difference now is “pilots are free to publicise their flights.”

Not Air Taxi

“This is not a taxi service,” Oliveira stressed, “You can only go from A to B if the pilot is going to do it anyway.” With the Skyüber service, once you are verified as a pilot you can start to publish your flights, so potential passengers can see them via the Skyüber App. “The pilot can only share the direct costs such as fuel, oil and landing fees…and if renting a plane they can also include the rental cost,” said Oliveira. He said that he expected the community to grow steadily “with more pilots and more riders” and added that already shared flights arranged via Skyüber had been taking place.

In general he expects it to be focused on flights of up to two hours, “for example Elstree to Le Touquet for lunch.” Skyüber then takes 20% of any sharing sum charged but the pilot can cancel a flight at any time – so charges are only taken afterwards.

“We’d expect a pilot [who signs up] to publish every flight he does – and riders may go 3 or 4 times a year.”

So who are these riders? Oliveira said it is not really for the general public yet, but more for “aviation enthusiasts who want to fly in small aircraft…people who want to experience flying or go to a specific place.

“We handle everything once a flight is published and the rider requests to go…first we check their credit card has enough credit and lock that. Then the pilot gets a chance to say if they’re OK to take that person on the flight. We only charge the rider when the pilot confirms that the flight has been completed. There is a rating system too for after flights, for both pilots and riders [to give feedback].”

Oliveira suggested that this system has the added advantage of “avoiding the embarrassment of the pilot having to ask for money.”

Skyüber can easily handle situations where there is more than one rider that wants to go on a flight. For example if there are four occupants including the pilot, the cost is £100 so the three riders pay £25 each. Sküber deducts 20%, in this case £15, and the pilot receives £60. “So the pilot recovers 80%”, said Oliveira. There is no management charge and no charge for signing up for either the pilot or riders.

If one of the other passengers fails to turn up or the seat does not get filled, the passenger(s) that do go on the flight still pay the single-seat fee they agreed to. So in the above example their share stays at £25 each. Skyüber takes its admin fee afterwards “but the pilot can cancel a flight at any time; charges are only taken afterwards,” Oliveira said.

He believes the system “incentivises pilots to call friends and say that they have a seat or two available…” He said that already since starting the service last July, 10,000 members have registered including 1,600 pilots across Europe.

The UK accounts for around one third of this number. The company targeted Oliveira’s home country, Portugal, first but the UK was a major attraction given that it has a far larger pilot community. “We also have pilots in Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Germany – they’re all starting to pick up,” he said. “But the UK, France and Germany are the three big ones.”

When Aircraft Owner & Pilot met with Oliveira last November, he said already more than 500 seats had been used, accounting for around 180 flights. “It’s good for pilots, riders and flying schools – who will rent out their aircraft more. So we’re really excited,” he said. For flying schools and clubs in particular, he pointed out that “they’re already paying the fixed costs [for the aircraft etc.] so it is really good for the GA ecosystem. The rest of the industry – such as maintenance [providers] – will benefit too.” He even suggested that with “fewer people interested in becoming pilots” it was “a good thing to get more people to fly.”

Later in the interview Oliveira said that “the low-hanging fruit is the enthusiasts but later the general public [may participate more]…but we are targeting the pilot community first.” He also said that the team was being cautious; “We don’t want to grow very big very fast, as it’s all very new…there are lots of questions that people have, such as ‘is it legal?’”

With the new EASA legislation it is accepted, although it risks blurring the definition between commercial and non-commercial – and there has been a lot of debate about this within AOPA and IAOPA.

Oliveira said (back in November) that they were waiting to see what the position would be as to the legality of a US flight-sharing site – Oliveira being hopeful that the FAA’s position would be overturned by the courts. He expressed interest in what could be the best market for such schemes.

However, the ruling in December supported the FAA and, for now at least, such publicised-sharing is not possible in the US (see below for Flytenow’s closing post).

Fortunately there has been no similar challenge in Europe, and in the UK the CAA has issued guidance on flight sharing – see next story (below).

Oliveira demonstrated the App on his iPhone. For those looking for flights to go on, he said: “You can see flights near you – there is a map, the name of the pilot and when the flight is taking place, the aircraft type, the seat cost, plus the pilot’s flying experience, reviews. You can also see alerts so you are notified each time a flight is created near you.”

He said that up until the launch in July 2015 it took around a year to set up the company and design the App, which is now working well having had several early updates.’s Last Blog: “The Beginning of the End”

On Friday, December 18, 2015 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied our request to overturn the Federal Aviation Administration’s ban on Flytenow and other online flight-sharing websites.

In the Opinion of the Court, Judge Pillard held that pilots sharing expenses on Flytenow were engaged in common carriage, making them the only common carriers (i.e., commercial airliners) in history to not seek a profit.

We started Flytenow over two years ago to share the joy of flying by allowing aviation enthusiasts to meet pilots and go flying together. Enthusiasts from Boston to San Francisco experienced private flight for the first time on Flytenow – some going on to obtain their pilot certificates.

The current state of the law is extremely deferential to regulatory actions, at the expense of innovation. The Court relied on that regulatory deference, and the result is less choice for consumers, and less innovation in general aviation.

Unfortunately, we are left with no choice but to shut down Flytenow. However, we are still fighting as pilots to make this happen. Our amazing legal team at The Goldwater Institute are looking into options to appeal and helped introduce a bill in Congress. Thanks to all of our supporters, mentors, and investors who helped us along the way.

The Flytenow Team

UK CAA Guidance on Cost Sharing and Introductory Flights

Changes to European air operations and pilot licensing regulations, which have been brought forward in the UK, allow some flights that would otherwise be subject to commercial air transport rules, to be undertaken as if they were

non-commercial. The changes apply to non-complex aeroplanes and helicopters, sailplanes and balloons (This means any aeroplane or helicopter that falls below the EASA definition of complex aircraft, which most GA type aeroplanes up to 5700kgs do).

They allow more freedom for PPL, NPPL and LAPL holders around:

• Sharing the costs of flights between private persons.
• Introductory flights.

Currently the changes only apply within the UK, so before leaving UK airspace pilots should be aware that other European states may not have implemented these changes yet.

After August 2016, the changes should apply to EASA aircraft throughout the EU. For non-EASA aircraft the applicability will always be dependent on implementation by individual member states.

Cost-sharing by private persons

The maximum number of people who can share the direct costs of a flight has been increased from four to six, including the pilot. Direct costs include fuel, airfield charges and any aircraft rental fee. Any other costs not directly related to the flight, for example the annual cost of keeping, maintaining and operating an aircraft, cannot be shared and no profit can be made.

The requirement for those costs to be shared equally has been removed. How much each individual person pays is not prescribed, but the pilot must pay something.

A flight can now be advertised in advance, but it should be made clear that it is a cost-sharing flight, and not commercial air transport under an Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC), since it is an offence to advertise the sale of a public or commercial air transport flight without being in possession of an AOC.

This aims to allow cost sharing between friends and colleagues and not to provide an air taxi service to members of the public.

Both EASA and non-EASA aircraft, including those on a Permit to Fly, may be used, although if the aircraft is being hired for the flight it must have either a Certificate of Airworthiness or be a type-approved permit-to-fly aircraft which is already permitted to be used for self-fly hire within the terms of the relevant exemptions.

Introductory Flights

Introductory flights are a new EASA provision designed to allow people to be taken on air experience tours in light aircraft. Provided the following conditions are met, it is not necessary for the pilot to be an instructor or for the flight to be operated under commercial air transport rules.

The flight must be performed either via an EASA approved training organisation (ATO) with its principle place of business in the UK, or through an organisation created to promote aerial sport or leisure aviation, on the condition that:

•  The aircraft is either owned or dry leased by the organisation;
•  Any profit made from the flights are kept within the organisation; and
•  If non-members of the organisation are involved, for example members of the public, the flights represent only a marginal activity of the organisation.

EASA and non-EASA aircraft may be used; however they must have a valid Certificate of Airworthiness, or be a type-approved, permit-to-fly aircraft which is already allowed to be used for remunerated training and self-fly hire within the terms of the relevant exemptions.

We would expect these flights to last around 30 to 90 minutes, although for gliders this may vary depending on the weather. In the case of aeroplanes and helicopters, they must return to the place of departure.

They are not designed, and should not be sold, to replace the traditional trial lesson in which a qualified instructor would typically give a demonstration of the controls and some flight training exercises with the participant handling the aircraft.

Flight time as a passenger on an introductory flight will not count as training towards the grant of a pilot’s licence.

While holders of private licences may conduct introductory flights, they may not personally receive any payment for doing so.


"An organisation created with the aim of promoting aerial sport or leisure aviation" means a non-profit organisation, established under national law for the sole purpose of gathering persons sharing the same interest in general aviation to fly for pleasure or to conduct parachute jumping. The organisation should have aircraft available.

"Introductory flight" means any flight against remuneration or other valuable consideration consisting of an air tour of short duration, offered by an approved training organisation or an organisation created with the aim of promoting aerial sport or leisure aviation, for the purpose of attracting new trainees or new members.

The term marginal activity should be understood as representing a very minor part of the overall activity of an organisation, mainly for the purpose of promoting itself or attracting new students or members. An organisation intending to offer such flights as regular business activity is not considered to meet the condition of marginal activity. Also, flights organised with the sole intent to generate income for the organisation are not considered to be a marginal activity.

Picture: Introductory Flights can also be performed by PPLs in microlights such as this Flight Design CT at Redhill Aerodrome. Mark Wagner (left) is currently doing his FI rating at Andrewsfield so he can also teach, up to LAPL, in microlights or Class A aircraft.

Technical Briefing: Cessna TTx

Ian Sheppard spoke to Cessna about the TTx for Aircraft Owner & Pilot magazine, before a flight test that was postponed to February due to soggy airfields!

Cessna is famous for its high-wing aircraft such as the C150/152, C172 and C182 which have proved hugely popular and long-lasting. The company has also developed a line of world-beating business jets – and you’d have thought that with its head firmly above the clouds it would have forgotten little piston-powered aircraft, referred to some as “spam cans”.

That is far from the case, however. While continuing to manufacture some high-wingers (not to mention the ill-fated 162), it also acquired Columbia Aircraft in December 2007 to fill a hole in its line-up for a low-wing, speedy single. Why let Cirrus have all the fun (although it has had a lot of it)! Last year of course it acquired Beech (Hawker Beechcraft), its neighbour and erstwhile competitor also based in Wichita (although Clyde Cessna and Walter Beech started their careers together at Travel Air with Lloyd Stearman!)

Columbia had developed its aircraft based on the Lancair 1990s kitplane, and was led by founder Lance Neibauer. The Lancair ES was fixed gear aircraft with a variable-pitch propeller, and was developed by a company created by Neibauer based in Bend, Oregon. This company declared bankruptcy in late 2007 with Cessna acquiring it and renaming the aircraft the Cessna 350 and 400, and later ‘Corvalis’. Production remained at Bend for a time but eventually the plant was closed and production was re-located to

Wichita, and then to Mexico. Following an FAA flight test a panel came off one wing and this event stalled production and led to a redesign effort.

So in 2015 the TTx was born with the T240 designation and a useful load increased to 1,000lbs, so it could carry 92 U.S. gallons of fuel and 450 lbs payload. This would allow three people usually (pilot and two passengers) but filling to tabs would mean a fourth person could be carried.

Aerodynamically it was similar to the original, sleek and fast-looking, able to fly 210 knots TAS at 13,000ft, which is faster than a Cirrus SR-22. The top published speed is 235 knots TAS (at 25,000ft), making it the fastest in its class – fixed-gear piston. It weighs in at 3,600lbs (1,600kg) MTOW with a max landing weight of 3,420lbs and max zero fuel weight of 3,300lb.

The aircraft’s ‘Intrinzic’ flight deck now has Garmin 2000 touch-screens (it is the first certified SEP aircraft with this) incorporating an ESP envelope protection mode that offers overbanking control. The screens are a pair of 14-inch LEDs, with 1280 x 800 displays. It also has a dual AHRS.

It has sidestick controllers with direct linkages for the control surfaces apart from the rudder, which is a pulley/cable arrangement. Cessna terms the technology ‘DirectControl’.

It has a hypoxia descent mode too for added safety, and overspeed protection. This amounts to what Flying magazine called “fantastic safety advances.” The G2000 has a GTC570 touchscreen controller and integrated navcom and transponder but Cessna claims it is easy to learn, especially for those familiar with the G1000 unit.

Engine-wise it is powered by a turbocharged Continental TSIO-550C delivering 210hp (230kW) at 2,600rpm. It is a 6-cylinder fuel-injected twin turbo with dual intercoolers. Max rate of climb is 1,400fpm at sea level, and coming back in the flaps-down vs is only 60 knots.

In terms of the performance Cessna claims 1,250nm maximum range, and a takeoff ground roll of 1,280ft. Furthermore, optional FIKI kit opens up far more possibilities to take airways in IMC. A range-map from Wichita shows with 45 mins reserve, a pilot and a passenger it can make Los Angeles or New York, Miami or even Mexico City. For Seattle and Boston the pilot would be on his own. List price is $733,950.

Full of Tech

Cessna invited AOP to fly the UK demo aircraft but due to the wet weather the grass runways at its Goodwood base were, unusually, completely unusable for the aircraft. Frustrating as this was the test was rescheduled for 5th February when with luck the aircraft will be relocated to Biggin Hill to compete the test flight.

Meanwhile we decided to split the article into two parts, this one acting as a preview with the flight test write-up being a follow-up. All being well this will appear in the April issue of AO&P.

Speaking to Kevin Schmitz, business leader for the TTx program, which is now based back in Kansas (Independence), said that being able to claim the TTx is the fastest aircraft in its class is “a pretty neat bragging point.” He said that “the G2000 is actually more closely related to the G3000 that is in our jets than the G1000.

“The sidestick is directly linked to the control surfaces, so there is no lag or hysteresis – it’s very ergonomic and the pilot gets real feel.”

He said that the aircraft that a 1,200 range “if you fly efficient…you can fly efficient or you can fly fast.” He added that it’s “a very strong aeroplane – and is certificated in the utility category. And we have added FIKI [Flight Into Known Icing], which is a wonderful addition.”

The ESP “nudges you back from approaching unnatural attitudes,” said Schmitz, “or approaching a stall or anything like that.” He said it’s “very aerodynamic” – even the exhaust outlets – so there are pilot-selectable (electromagnetically-actuated) speed brakes to help slow the aircraft and “expedite descents”. They are deployable at any speed, confirmed Schmitz.

Cessna likes to trace the type’s history further back than Lancair’s failure and instead pointed to that aircraft’s ground-breaking past – with NASA using it as a testbed in its AGATE programme in the mid-1990s. At the time companies such as Cessna and Piper had been suffering with liability problems which had decimated their industry (until the GA Revitalization Act came along). So NASA looked to a smaller, kit-built aircraft.

AGATE was after all about new materials and easier cockpits so the Lancair ES was a good starting point for testing out a lot of the new concepts.

Schmitz said: “A lot was given back to Lancair – which certified the Columbia 300 in 1998. The 350 and 400 (which had a glass cockpit) came along in 2003-4.” When Cessna came along in 2007-8, when Columbia was really struggling, it then tried to continue trying to produce the homebuilder design, which was not a great success.

“So Cessna retooled, looked at all the suppliers, tooling etc to see how it could really be mass-produced. They ended up with the TTx in 2012, a consistent aeroplane where the parts fit every time.” This then gained FAA certification in 2013, followed by FAA FIKI certification in 2014. The FIKI system uses TKS panels on the wings and empennage; the fluid ‘weeps’ out, and the system has a 10-gallon fluid capacity. The propeller uses a ‘slinger’ for fluid, while the wing also has inspection lights.

The next step, said Schmitz, would be to install a composite propeller, which is due to be achieved this year.

For the construction he said that Cessna now uses “a lot of fibreglass with NOMEX honeycomb over it. Certain areas of the fuselage we reinforce, for example the wing spars have unidirectional carbon-fibre. There is a fully integrated roll cage around the cabin “for safety.” The lower wing-skin is a single piece and there are two pieces for the upper skins.

“Essentially it has an unlimited airframe life,” said Schmitz – the airframe has so far been fatigue tested to 25,200 flight hours.

For the briefing Kevin had prepared a range chart out of Biggin Hill – which is where the flight demo/test is due to take place. With 102 U.S. gallons usable fuel it can fly to a number of places well into Europe, and in effect can be pushed almost as fast as a turboprop single if you don’t want to fly efficiently.


The cabin isn’t pressurised but the doors have inflatable seals, for noise attenuation to help make the cabin relatively quiet. The cabin is wide (over 48 inches) which is “very large for a piston aeroplane,” said Schmitz. It’s ergonomic, he added, with gullwing doors.

He said some customers have said its a real nice stepping stone towards the jets as well, as you have to balance the payload against fuel load and it has “closer to jet” avionics too. With Digicoms and 3D Garmin audio, XM Weather and radio, TAWS-B, integrated traffic advisory system (GTS800), ESP (on all the time apart from below 200ft AGL) and ADS B-Out, it is undeniably a very well-equipped aircraft – but with that Cessna has attempted to make it straightforward to operate. And for those that do want to go to 25,000ft and shoot along with the oxygen masks on, there is an ‘integrated pulse oximeter’ to guard against fumes to warn of potential hypoxia. “You want to be sure you’re getting the right oxygen,” said Schmitz. It gives oxygen saturation level (percentage) and heart rate by putting your finger on it.

The aircraft also has an integrated automatic climate control system, similar to that found in cars – with sliders for controlling it on the GTC 570.

Four paint schemes are available for the TTx – while the premium ‘Surge’ package also includes personalised parts, better paint etc.

Schmitz highlighted ways it outperforms the competition: shorter takeoffs; outclimb; save time and money; glide 50% further if required; superior handling; advanced avionics; better equipment; and stronger – being certified in the ‘utility’ category.

The in-service fleet is now “just approaching 90 aircraft,” he said – but none yet delivered into Europe. “We are working on EASA certification right now,” said Schmitz. “We are exchanging information and we fully expect to achieve [EASA certification] in 2016.” But there are already owners in the U.S, Canada, Mexico, Australia, one in Thailand and one in Singapore.

Schmitz said that the base price was $689,000 but with adding all options the top spec would be “into the upper $700,000s.”

The composite components are made at Cessna’s plant in Mexico but the final assembly takes place in Independence, Kansas. The first unit to have FIKI was Serial Number 2049 but now “almost 50 units” have been produced with FIKI installed. “We’ve had lots of positive comments especially from northern U.S. and Canada,” said Schmitz.

Continental Banner

Trip Report: Mission to Malta

Paula Carter (the writer of this article) and Tim Pierre flew their group-owned Cessna 172 to the beautiful and historic Mediterranean island of Malta last summer.

I have always fancied in idea of participating in the Malta Air Rally, as it struck me as a big challenge and an opportunity to visit some new places on the way there and the way back.  I had almost achieved it in the past, but been prevented by either poor weather, lack of free time or lack of an aeroplane.  But last year everything fell into place; I’d like to think there was some divine intervention, as I had another reason to go this year, following the death of my father in February.

The Malta Air Rally started in 1969, when I was still in primary school, and was the brainchild of Captain George Kissaun, who still personally supervises every element of the event.  I started emailing him back in February, and got regular updates from that point onward, shepherding me though every stage in the process.  He arranged for us to arrive on the Sunday after all the arrival competitions had been concluded because personal commitments (The Who playing in Hyde Park!) meant I could not leave the UK until the morning of Saturday 25th June.

I belong to a group of seven pilots who own G-EETG, a Cessna 172 based at Redhill, and an email to the group bought a positive reply from Tim Pierre, who wanted to accompany me on the trip.  We had a couple of meetings to plan the route, the first of which involved getting an atlas out and – with some trepidation – looking at the vast tracts of water we’d have to fly over. In a second session we plotted exactly where we could land and, most importantly, who could supply us with fuel. 

We had flown to Corsica together before, so decided we’d retrace our previous route, make an overnight stop in Cannes before an early start the next day and aim to get to Malta via a refuelling stop in Cagliari on the southernmost point of Sardinia.  We would have preferred to refuel in Sicily but were not convinced from anything we read that any of the airfields would be open for refuelling on a Sunday. Cagliari is a big international airport and would definitely have avgas available – but at a price, as we were to discover later.

In the cockpit we switched tasks after each landing. With one of us taking the easier role of flying officer “Captain” while the other become the communications officer and navigator. On the radio Tim’s thick Kiwi accent trying to communicate with Italian controllers was not always as concise as it should have been!

The trip to Cannes was straightforward with a refuelling stop at Troyes, which has a 1,600 metre long paved runway, good air traffic control in French or English, self-service fuel pumps taking credit cards, and a nice restaurant.  

We arrived at lunchtime, so got no reply from the tower, and I was just congratulating myself on remembering all the vocabulary to make a downwind call when I heard another pilot also announcing they were downwind, but in the opposite direction!  A quick 180®¨ turn and we were back on track and soon on the ground to refuel both ourselves and the plane.  

From Troyes (pictured below) to Cannes our route was straightforward, and at the weekend you avoid any problems from the low level military corridors that are scattered all across France.  

Lyon is happy to provide an air traffic control service through their zone if you keep to the west of the Rhöne and the city, and hence the airport, and there is a string of small airfields that are easy reporting points.

Once clear of the city (avoiding the power stations on the river to the south) we turned onto a south-westerly track and flew abeam the mighty Mount Ventoux, location for one of the lung-bursting mountain days of the Tour de France, then headed west for Cannes Mandelieu. The approach is well documented and involves reporting inbound over point WL, the southernmost point of Lake St Cassion, before joining the circuit with a spectacular view of the Cannes waterfront and the Croisette.

The next day our route took us across the Mediterranean to Corsica and down the westerly coast of the island.  The sight of Corsica’s 9,000 foot high mountains as we approached was truly stunning. We were at 6,000 ft off the coast looking at the mountains that appeared to climb almost vertically out of the sea. The mountains – shrouded in layers of moody mist – gave the island a beautiful, if not foreboding feel.

We then crossed the international border to Sardinia where the air traffic control switches from French to Italian as you cross a strip of sea about the same distance across as going from Portsmouth to Bembridge, Isle of Wight.  Our route then took us down the western coast of Sardinia as far as Oristano Fenosu before heading directly to Cagliari.  

After landing, we had our first taste of the Italian fondness for bureaucracy as they insisted on different forms for landing fees, handling fees and fuel, including a Sunday afternoon surcharge and a bizarre requirement for a personal insurance number after discovering that TG was not VAT registered.  

After a bit of head scratching I thought I remembered all the letters and numbers of my National Insurance number, which seemed to unlock the blockage in the departure.  After the €1.20 per litre which we had been charged at Troyes, a charge of €4.20 per litre at Cagliari made this easily the most expensive tank of fuel I had ever bought – and it’s probably more than you would pay to send a family of four to Cagliari on Easyjet!

The €208 handling fee on top of the pricey fuel added insult to injury, but needs must. We didn’t feel the least bit guilty eating the chocolate biscuits in the executive lounge.

With this trip taking place at the end of June 2015 we were unbelievably lucky with the weather, having clear skies the whole trip. We managed to miss the electrical storms and the 30⁰+ temperatures in the UK by being in Malta and Italy, go figure!

Although rather obvious in retrospect, we rediscovered the additional benefits of flying high over land. At around 7,000 feet it became pleasantly cool in the cockpit, certainly preferable to the furnace on the ground and at lower altitudes. In addition, at that height the air was non-turbulent, allowing for a nice smooth flight. This was particularly noticeable as we approached Cagliari.

Having flown for a few hours over the sea at 7,000 ft, as we descended to around 2,000 ft into Cagliari the warm turbulent air rising off the land was throwing us around quite violently. It made controlling the aircraft hard work, not to mention unpleasant for the occupants. It’s a good thing neither of us suffers from air sickness.

The leg from Cagliari to the west coast of Sicily was the longest trip over water, and the haze that so often seems to hang around over water meant I was flying on instruments most of the way, which made it quite a tiring session. 

Once we were south of Trapani we were soon handed over to Malta approach, who then guided us all the way into Luqa.  We enjoyed a beautiful approach over the Grand Harbour, which is every bit as grand as the name suggests, to land on runway 23 at around 5.30pm on Sunday evening.  

We were too late to take part in the timed arrival or spot landing competitions which would have involved arriving at a given time over the Gordan lighthouse on the north coast of Gozo.  

Speaking to other participants it sounded like the spot landing was especially challenging due to a brisk crosswind the previous day, so we were happy to arrive in more benign conditions. We were met by Captain George, who guided us through arrivals and drove us to our hotel.

The next day I headed into Valetta to find out more about HMS Wolfe, the destroyer that was home to my father for nine months in 1945. He had often talked about this short contribution to the war effort as he had been called up while still at university and, as a result of this period in service, had never returned to Oxford, embarking instead on a highly successful career as a teacher.  The family had agreed that this would be a fitting place to scatter some of his ashes and I wanted to pick the right spot for this very personal task.  

The gentleman on the entry desk at the Maritime Museum could not have been more helpful and pointed me in the direction of Torpedo Depot Gardens, now the site of a peaceful little marina, which was where HMS Wolfe in her last role as a supply ship had been berthed.  

The next day we spent planning our return trip, which involved getting every chart we had between Malta and the UK and laying them out on the floor of Tim’s hotel room.  We had thought we might go back via Tunisia and Spain, so we could add North Africa to our logbooks, but the terrorist attack in the resort of Sousse the week before we left ruled out that option.  Instead we decided to fly over the east coast of Sicily to get a close-up view of Mount Etna, cross over to the east coast of the Italian mainland and find somewhere in Croatia for an overnight stop before flying up the Dalmation coastline.  

Tim wanted to land on the Venice Lido, and a stopover here would position us nicely for the crossing over the Alps into Austria.  This route would add several new countries to our respective logbooks as well as taking in what we hoped would be some spectacular scenery en route.  Over the final dinner in Malta we found ourselves chatting to a crew from Germany who recommended we visit Portorož in Slovenia, to add yet another country and take advantage of keenly priced avgas.

After the Mount Etna flypast, we had a refuelling stop in Reggio Calabria, where more Italian paperwork turned a refuel-only stop into several hours of administrative nonsense, only terminated by the magic NI number being produced yet again.  From Reggio we flew up the western coastline of Italy to Salerno and then crossed over to Foggia.  

Here the refuelling was really quite quick and the staff were extremely helpful in getting our flight plan filed over the phone with Rome for the hop over the Adriatic to Brač, in Croatia.  This is a tiny island about an hour from Split by catamaran which has a decent sized paved runway 1,700 feet above the harbour town of Bol, which has clearly been developed as a tourist destination.  There are weekly scheduled Croatia Airlines flights into Brač from Zagreb and we were told there are also international flights in the summer from Scandinavia. The airport is on the edge of a very steep cliff and the runway points directly out to sea, making the takeoff suitably spectacular as you shoot over the side of a cliff in a style reminiscent of James Bond films.  

The service at Brač was terrific, as an army of people swarmed over our plane, refuelling her and tying her down for the night.  We took a taxi down through the olive fields and vineyards to the tiny boutique Hotel Bol, where my room with private balcony cost just €80 for the night.

Spectacular Croatia

The flight the next morning completely lived up to expectations.  I had seen the Croatian coastline from 39,000 feet some years ago on a scheduled flight but at 1,500 feet we could see every boat sailing around the hundreds of tiny islands, and the water was clear enough to see to the bottom of each sandy bay.  

With some reluctance we turned north-east just before Pula to track to Portorož, which is a challenging 1,500 foot circuit around a sea-level airfield surrounded by high cliffs on three sides.  I decided to stay high on the base leg as there were several masts on top of the cliffs and then attempted a HALO approach that had Tim looking a bit alarmed. The air traffic controller advising a go-around as I swooped down towards his runway at considerable speed and the second approach was less dramatic but more successful, although we were disappointed to discover that the restaurant was closed for refurbishment and lunch was two packets of crisps and a chocolate bar from a machine.  

We both have SkyDemon on iPads and a laptop which made flight plan filing a doddle at every stage - even in the absence of WiFi we could hook up iPad to iPhone and use the 3G or 4G to send flight plans, which we now did to cross back into Italy.  

We considered but ultimately dismissed landing at Pula. The logistics and time involved in landing for no other reason than me getting an entry for Pula in my logbook (Paula lands at Pula!) seemed a tad over indulgent.  
The short hop from Portorož to Venice was uneventful and the approach to Venice Lido, which is a small grass airfield, was magical – with the Adriatic Sea on one side and Venice on the other. It doesn’t get any better than that – what an experience!

However, on final approach we heard a loud vibrating sound as Tim lowered the flaps to land, which turned out to be a loose plate in the housing of the flap where the wing root joins the fuselage.  

We called David Hockings, who maintains TG, and sent him a picture, which meant he could make an instant diagnosis and advise us that it was perfectly safe to fly and that duct tape should prevent the plate from vibrating until he could find a more permanent solution. We duly taped up the plate, after an interesting trip to a hardware store where I had to engage in a round of charades to communicate “duct tape” without knowing how to ask for it in Italian.

We spent that evening planning our options for the next day – either to fly over the Alps via one of the GAFOR routes to Salzburg or, if the weather meant these routes were closed, fly east until we could cross at a lower level.

The GAFOR routes follow the natural contours of the mountains and take you through the valleys, which mean you can fly below the mountain peaks if necessary while having a reasonable chance of landing in the event of an engine failure. They are clearly marked on Jeppessen charts and appear as grey dotted lines on the SkyDemon charts.  

We planned to use the Austrian GAFOR routes 42, 62, 61 and 60, which would take us over the Alps from Villach, north of Trieste, to just south of Salzburg. On SkyDemon the routes are colour coded (blue, green, amber and red) according to the actual and forecast conditions (cloudbase and visibility) and each route has a three letter code: O means open; D means difficult; M means marginal; and X means closed). You can easily scroll ahead to see how the conditions will change by using the time tool in SkyDemon’s weather menu. Three Os plus the route showing blue at our proposed time of flight and we were off, climbing eventually to 10,500 feet and weaving our way through the mountains with the peaks above us, and winding roads and rivers a long way below.

We had been warned to expect bumpy conditions with possible extreme up- and down-draughts, but actually had a relatively smooth flight apart from one five-minute period of bumpiness. The perspective when you are near the top of mountains takes some getting used to, and finding the right valley is surprisingly challenging, but we soon settled down and enjoyed the views.  

Salzburg Airport is a busy international hub and we were held in several different orbits before finally being vectored onto a very short final to land.  We were met by a follow-me truck, parked very efficiently and refueled promptly before being given directions to pay our landing fees. 

Imagine our surprise on returning to find the plane had moved, as we had locked up and the park brake had been engaged.  The mystery was solved when we spotted a grab truck capable of lifting and repositioning a small plane, bringing a whole, new meaning to the term “Handling Service”!

Through Germany

The afternoon flight was to another airport recommended by the German crew, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, in the Franconia region of Bavaria, Germany. It is north-east of a walled medieval town and you can enjoy the long paved runway and refuelling for a mere €7.50 landing fee. Although the tower was strangely silent as we approached and landed, the radio crackled into life once we were on the ground to direct us to the best place to park for our overnight stay.  

We arrived on possibly the hottest day of the year and made the mistake of choosing a traditional wood-clad hotel without any air conditioning, an error compounded by deciding to eat in the hotel restaurant where the menu was short on salads and long on stew and dumplings.  

The next day we planned to refuel in Spa in Belgium, which we chose because it had customs facilities, but on arrival were told we would have to land in Calais to file our flight plan to the UK. This was the only day when the weather looked anything other than perfect, with thunderstorms forecast in northern France and Belgium. In the event these were very localised and while the METARS showed thunderstorms in Oostende, and we could see some towering cumulus in the distance, there was nothing on our route and the flight back across the Channel was in the same CAVOK conditions we had enjoyed for the entire trip.  

Our eight day trip saw us fly 14 legs, land in nine countries and fly almost 3,000 nm with a total of almost 30 hours. It was the longest journey either of us had made in G-EETG, which flew beautifully the whole way.  Thinking about what we learned from the trip, here are our top tips for long distance flights:

• Always carry duct tape in the plane.
• Be prepared to change your plans and have some back-up options ready to go.
• Take any spare food from breakfast in the plane - your next meal may be a long time coming.
• Ask other pilots for advice and recommendations.
• Fly high over land in the summer for cool smooth air.
• However long you think airport officialdom, refuelling, aircraft prep and fluffing will take, add on half again. It always takes longer than you expect!

This article is published in full in February’s Aircraft Owner & Pilot magazine. Please see the printed version (also available on the AOPA and IAOPA websites soon) complete with all the pictures.

IAOPA Members Compare PPL Fees

Recently conversation broke out online, as it sometimes does about important issues, about PPL fees around Europe. It started when a IAOPA representative from Holland noted the high fee in his country. Following a few other responses, another rep summarised the fees that we'd been informed of in a table:


Startpac Groundpower Banner

Medical Rule Clarification, and Success!

According to Jacob Pedersen of AOPA Denmark, EASA has now confirmed that it will fix a problem in the  medical regulation that he has been working for three years to get them to recognise.

Here Pedersen explains the problem: “With the current rules the holder of a commercial licence is forced to convert his license into a PPL if his Class 1 medical temporarily expires and he wants to fly non-commercially. Even if he/she has a valid Class 2 medical he cannot fly legally a non-commercial flight unless he first converts his commercial licence into a PPL.

“When his Class 1 medical is then renewed the pilot has to go through a conversion again to get their CPL back. A lot of bureaucracy and two licence-conversion fees, with absolutely no safety benefit. On the contrary, it creates unnecessary obstacles for a commercial pilot who is temporarily without a job and who wants to stay proficient by doing some non-commercial flying. Also it goes against the whole idea of the medical system where a Class 1 medical automatically downgrades to a Class 2 medical.

“So the good news is that EASA has now recognised the problem and will fix it in the next update of Part-MED.” 

Here is a more detailed history of this issue, as provided by Jacob:

“Back in 2013 the FCL.002 group was working on a revision of FCL and medical issues. One of the items was a problem in MED.A.030 which the group agreed needed to be fixed.

Since then, according to the group member I have been speaking with, the FCL.002 group has not met and therefore the problem remains unresolved. I would like a status on what is being done to rectify the following problem:

FCL.305 CPL states: 
The privileges of the holder of a CPL are, within the appropriate aircraft category, to:
(1) exercise all the privileges of the holder of an LAPL and a PPL

The wording in the physical license according to 1178/2011 Annex 1 is:

 'The privileges of the licence shall be exercised only if the holder has a valid medical certificate for the required privilege.'

But MED.A.030 requires: 
(f) Applicants for and holders of a commercial pilot licence (CPL), a multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) or an airline transport pilot licence (ATPL) shall hold a Class 1 medical certificate.

Now, the problem here is the quite common situation where the holder of a CPL or ATPL temporarily is not flying commercially but only exercises the PPL privileges of the license and holds a valid medical for that (Class 2). According to the wording in the license and according to the intention with FCL.305 this is intended to be possible.

Also, the Class 1 medical automatically downgrades to a Class 2 when the Class 1 privilege expires, so all other regulation is made to support the exercising of the PPL privileges of the commercial license with a Class 2 medical.
 However this is violating MED.A.030 which does not seem to properly deal with this situation that the other regulation supports.

The only 100% legal solution right now is for the pilot to send in his CPL or ATPL license and have a PPL issued. Then when his Class 1 medical is renewed the pilot must send in the PPL and have the CPL or ATPL license reissued.

This involves a lot of bureaucracy and two license issuance fees but has absolutely no safety benefits and I don't think it was ever the intention.
 Of course, as stated in the license, 'The privileges of the licence shall be exercised only if the holder has a valid medical certificate for the required privilege,' so there should be no problem with allowing the holder of a CPL or ATPL license to exercise the PPL privileges with a valid Class 2 medical.
Is far as I am informed this was already agreed on by the FCL.002 working group, but apparently the fix has never materialised."

NATS changes position with regards to flight plans

AOPA UK has been receiving complaints from around the UK as aerodromes receive bills for £1,995 plus VAT by UK from air traffic service provider NATS for filing flight plans.

Previously it was agreed that GA aerodromes could file up to 20 messages per day free of charge, but now NATS has introduced a charge for any facility that has any commercial activity.

It has been reported that NATS claims that GA has been abusing the 20 messages per day allowance.

Martin Robinson has raised the issue with the CAA which is aware of the matter and at the time of writing Martin was waiting to speak with a NATS representative, who will explain further the reasons for the change.

“However, I get the feeling that NATS does not want to return to the 20 free messages per day,” he stated. We will keep you informed on how this matter progresses.

UK Airfields in Planning Crisis

Airfields in the UK find themselves under constant threat from housing developers these days, with the UK government under huge pressure ease planning laws even further. A presumption that they are “brown field” sites and therefore fair game seems to have crept in in UK planning legislations.

The following aerodromes in the UK are either under threat or already closed. It is hoped that other national AOPAs will choose to publish similar lists of threatened airfields in their own countries in future editions of IAOPA Europe eNews. As you will see, the situation is dire (list courtesy of John Walker of AOPA UK).

Bourn: Site earmarked for 3,500 homes in current draft Local Plan by South Cambridgeshire District Council.  Planning Inspector requested further information on alternative sites and the Council has submitted a revised Plan for public consultation ending on 25 January 2016.  The Plan, as amended in the light of the consultation, will then be submitted to the Inspector in March 2016.

Dunsfold: Site owner submitted plans to Waverley Borough Council for mixed development with 1,800 homes on aerodrome.  Site is in planning Core Strategy for employment purposes.  Council expect to submit final draft Local Plan for examination in July 2016.

Halfpenny Green (Wolverhampton Business Airport): Bobbington Estates has sold the aerodrome to MCR Property Group, an investment and development company focused on commercial and residential real estate, resulting in much speculation about the future of the site.

RAF Hullavington: Airfield now being sold by Ministry of Defence along with sites currently occupied by USAF at Alconbury, Molesworth and Mildenhall.

Kemble: Commercial Estates Group (CEG) proposal to build a 2,000 home sustainable village on this ‘brownfield’ site as an alternative to the draft Local Plan proposal for a greenfield site near Cirencester. Full Planning Inquiry into the draft Cotswold District Council Local Plan and alternatives to it scheduled for late 2016.

Manston: On legal advice, Thanet District Council rejected proposal for a CPO of site in conjunction with River Oak who wish to retain the aerodrome. River Oak has given notice of intent to apply for a Development Consent Order for the aerodrome as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. The current site owners have proposed a mixed use development with no aviation facilities.

Nottingham City (Tollerton): With the support of the land owner, site earmarked for up to 4,000 homes in Local Plan Core Strategy adopted by Rushcliffe Borough Council after approval from Planning Inspector.

Old Sarum: Site owner’s proposal for housing development and 10 additional hangars amongst other work, objected to by various parties as detrimental to the site’s heritage and potentially limiting use of the airfield. Planning application was due to be determined by Wiltshire County Council on 9th October 2015, but has been delayed several times since then.

Panshanger: Site earmarked for some 700 houses in draft Local Plan by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, with final Plan open for public consultation in Summer 2016 and Planning Inquiry to be held in early 2017. One of the three site development plans has provision for a new runway to the north of the previous runway 11/29.

Plymouth (Pictured Left): Central Government has commissioned a study into viability of reopening the airfield, with a report now due in early 2016. FlyPlymouth, a local social enterprise aerodrome support group, plans to reopen the airfield by 2017 and start regional airliner services by 2018.  Sutton Harbour Holdings, the site lease holder, has proposed a mixed-use development of the site although the current draft Local Plan retains the site for aviation. The Plymouth City Council Local Plan will be the subject of a Planning Inquiry in July 2016.

Rochester: Judicial Review into Medway Council approval of hard runway, three new hangars and new control tower, postponed from November 2015. Council to review planning decision at special meeting in February 2016 in light of grant of Enterprise Zone status for site.

Wellesbourne Mountford: Gladman Developments in conjunction with the owner have proposed a housing development with 1,600 homes on the site although the Stratford-on-Avon draft Local Plan has earmarked Long Marston as the preferred housing development site. Local Plan Core Strategy hearings in progress. Tenants notified by owner that flying activities will cease on 24th December 2016.  The District Council has agreed to fund a feasibility appraisal of the site to try and secure the future viability of the airfield for local businesses.

Wycombe Air Park: Site lease holder (Helicopter Aircraft Holdings Ltd) in prolonged discussions with the land owner (Wycombe District Council) about expanding the aviation facilities at the aerodrome.  Draft Local Plan provides for an industrial / warehousing complex on south-eastern part of the site potentially resulting in loss of a runway and cessation of gliding activities.   Council expect to submit final plan after public consultation to Planning Inspector by January 2017.

RAF Wyton: Airfield up for sale. Defence Infrastructure Organisation and local property developer Crest Nicholson proposal for 3,750 homes on site. Site earmarked in draft Huntingdonshire District Council Local Plan for mixed use development including housing.

Reprise for Reykjavik Airport?

Politics is a funny game at times, as it has turned out in Iceland (writes Haraldur Diego of AOPA Iceland). As many may remember, the City Council has wanted the airport gone for quite some time, to make room for property

development. Last year, the City allowed building contractors to move in on residential development in the airport’s closest proximity, fully knowing that building cranes and, later, buildings would obstruct the approach for the shortest runway, 06/24.

The runway, sometimes called the emergency runway, is the one least used for landings and takeoffs, but as weather goes in Reykjavik at times, it is the only suitable runway for both domestic passenger flights and emergency missions during high wind conditions. 

The Minister of the Interior sent out a letter to the City stating that the building permits had been issued prematurely, and that the runway would not be closed. A few days later, and not related to the minister’s letter, an overseeing committee decided to declare the main organisational plan for the airport invalid because of technicalities. That result came because an aircraft hangar owner decided to file a complaint against the plan.

Now, the City Council faces the possibility that a new version of the plan will not be passed through as easily as the former, because of opposing parties and the view of the majority of people in Reykjavik, that do not want to demolish the airport.

AOPA Iceland has fought the tendencies of the City Council hard throughout the years and will continue the battle for all the nation, to which the airport is essential. 

AOPA UK: “The Next 50 Years…”

The following was written for the February issue of Aircraft Owner & Pilot magazine by AOPA UK chairman, George Done:

Fifty years ago, in January 1966, at a meeting held at the Royal Aero Club, it was resolved to establish the British Light Aviation Centre Ltd. The aim was to subsequently take over the Association of British Aero Clubs and Centres Ltd (ABAC) and the Royal Aero Club Aviation Centre (Aero Proprietary Nominees Ltd) – the unit that looked after the pilot and aviation related membership of the Royal Aero Club. This would leave the RAeC to devote its attention to its long-standing social activities.

Prior to this happening, and beyond the shores of the UK, the pilots and owners in AOPA US and others were raising concerns about the neglect of general aviation at ICAO in establishing International Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS). International AOPA (IAOPA) was thus formed in February 1962 in order to gain influence.

IAOPA approached BLAC in 1967 to become a country affiliate member, which was welcomed and agreed. This in turn led to BLAC Ltd trading as AOPA UK, which is the arrangement to this day.  To cut a long story short, AOPA UK is to celebrate its 50th birthday this year!

The occasion will no doubt stimulate a great deal of reflective thought, looking back over the past fifty years, and forward as far as is reasonable.

My own contribution to the formation is minimal as, by 1966, having gained a PPL via a flying scholarship several years before, I had already stopped thinking about personal flying, and the pressures of pursuing a career and family life had taken precedence.

However, there is plenty of archival material to research, particularly in the house journal Light Aviation, initially jointly shared by BLAC and the RAeC.

For example, a random scan of the magazine for February/March 1969 reveals the decision to withdraw the auto-triangulation service and emergency frequency 121.5 kHz by the Military ATC, a service that BLAC, with others, lobbied strongly to retain. It’s quite alarming to think that the preservation of this essential service had to be fought for!

Looking ahead, there are areas of technology that have shown continuous progress over the past five decades and will undoubtedly continue to do so into the future. Some of these include: lighter and stronger structural materials, such as the carbon composites now being introduced into GA aircraft designs; more efficient aerodynamics, aided by accessible computer programs of enormous power (compared to those of only a couple of decades ago); and motive power that now includes viable small jet engines and compact battery pack/electric motor and powertrain combinations.

The latter, from simple observation of current hybrid and electric cars on the road, does not yet appear realistic for larger GA aircraft, but the Formula E race cars in the motorsport event which took place in Battersea Park, London, in June 2015 are in a different league, with 270 bhp available.

Current drone control technology, even as demonstrated by the recreational end of the market, has moved so quickly that it is practically impossible to predict how it might impact on future general aviation aircraft design, its operation and regulation. It may even take away some of the challenges we enjoy in our flying, such as pulling off that perfect landing!

I wish you safe and enjoyable flying in 2016. Long may it continue!

Consolidated (and therefore useful!) EU-OPS Document

EASA recently published a consolidated version of the European OPS Rules (consisting of 1,600 pages!):

Michael Erb of AOPA Germany said, “With this document it is much easier to read the OPS-regulations, which could only be found in various regulations before. Unfortunately it’s only available in English.”

Flight Fever Forecast for Guernsey!

The Guernsey Aero Club will be holding the 44th Guernsey International Air Rally on 17, 18 & 19th June 2016. The extremely popular rally will follow a similar format to other years but with some fine-tuning. Last year’s event was a total sell-out for all events and included the maximum permissible numbers of aircraft.

The Saturday night decorated hangar extravaganza event this year will have the ‘Saturday Flight Fever’ theme. It will be compared by Tony Barton, and will include a meal, presentations, raffle and Disco with a well-known local DJ. Fancy dress is encouraged to suite the fun theme. Book early to avoid disappointment! The Aero Club says it already has 25 aircraft booked. Application forms are on the web site along with full details.

And Finally… Wake Vortices: It’s not just the Big Jets!