EASA Update 1: Training Outside an ATO
A link to the Notice of Proposed Amendment concerning training outside an ATO is available HERE; responses should be made using the EASA Comment Response Tool. However, the main thrust of the proposal is to create ‘Basic Training Organisations’ very similar to existing ‘Registered Facilities’, but with much lighter oversight requirements than are required for Approved Training Organisations. 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 training. Currently, though, of the options presented, Option 2 is the only one which stands any guarantee of being able to be adopted by the end of the current opt-out period in Apr 2018.
However, the UK CAA is ‘soon’ to release an AltMoC for non-complex ATOs, which will fit in between the BTO and the full-fat ATO, to suit organisations which might wish to provide PPL/LAPL training including all associated ratings and certificates rather than just the narrower scope proposed in the NPA for BTOs. (Report by Nick Wilcock).
EASA Update 2: Easier Access to Instrument Flying Qualifications
HERE is a link to the Concept Paper for Rule Making Task 677, concerning ‘Easier access of GA pilots to IFR flying’. This does NOT require any response at this stage. It summarises the concept of the Basic Instrument Rating (BIR) on which the Task Force, including the IAOPA representative Nick Wilcock, has been working. The paper’s content has been discussed at length at recent TF meetings and summarises the TF’s proposals.
The associated Aircrew Regulation rule changes to facilitate the BIR are currently being drafted by Nick, but the main points of the proposal are:
• Simpler theoretical knowledge requirements; BIR exam administration as for PPL exams.
• BIR to be modular in concept - 1. ‘Core IF flying skills’, 2. ‘Applied - IF departures / approaches’ (to more restrictive limits than the CB IR, to ensure as far as possible that a visual bad-weather circuit will always remain an option from instrument minima); 3. ‘Applied - en-route IFR in controlled airspace’.
• BIR privileges will only be available for flights flown within the scope of PPL privileges on single-pilot aeroplanes for which a Class Rating is required, excepting HPA or those identified by OSD 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.5021, 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 and requires mandatory compliance with an air traffic control service. 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; emphasis instead on competency.
• Simpler requirements for BIR instructors and examiners.
• Upgrade route from the BIR to the CB IR.
EASA aims to release the NPA for the BIR in June 2016, although the RMT.0677 Task Force expects to be able to deliver a first draft to EASA at the end of March 2016. Watch this space!
UK CAA Summarises EASA Developments
A summary of EASA developments and CAA activities covering the period 25 July 2015 to 3 December 2015 in IN 2015/112, which can be viewed HERE.
Note para 4.3 of the IN, which refers to CAA comment responses. The link leads, amongst other things, to this document , which is the CAA response to EASA’s UPRT proposals. The authority appears to support the re-introduction of spinning demonstrations during PPL training, something which IAOPA has indicated would increase costs to the UK training industry in terms of suitable aircraft and instructor competence. However, the CAA has since suggested informally that this will not be supported.
Project EVA Update
Several AOPA volunteer pilots have now flown with the Low Power ADS-B Transceiver (LPAT) prototype equipment as part of the AOPA activity under Project EVA. The results are good (Reports Bob Darby) - the LPAT provides useful information about the relative position and altitude of other LPAT aircraft at ranges well beyond visual acquisition. A lot of data has been gathered which NATS is still analysing.
The photos show how difficult it is to see another aircraft at two-miles range and, in contrast, how clearly the same aircraft shows up on the LPAT. This gives an idea of how effective LPAT can be for traffic situation awareness.
All participants have filled in detailed questionnaires about their experiences with LPAT and have made many useful suggestions. NATS has updated the LPAT specification and some changes will be made to the device because of this feedback.
The first phase of volunteer flights is over. So far we have mainly flown the LPAT device by itself, to see how well it can help traffic situation awareness in a GA en-route environment. For the next phase, we want to fly more in an aerodrome circuit environment. Accident and incident statistics show that the likelihood of an accident in the circuit environment is about ten times greater than en-route, so this is where LPAT and similar devices may ultimately prove their value in saving lives.
We would also like to see how well the NATS uncertified GPS-plus-Mode S transponder trials equipped aircraft will interoperate with LPAT. A first flight has shown promising results but we need to do more flights. We would very much like to hear from those AOPA pilots who have installed equipment as part of the NATS trial (which is currently limited to the UK), so that we can get under way with more flights once the weather improves in the spring.
There is a lot of interesting and valuable flying still to be done in Project EVA, including flights in a continental Europe environment as well as the UK. Expect to hear more through 2016.
This summary is to give you a brief idea of where we are. We could not have got this far without the support of volunteer pilots, so we would like to thank those who have flown for Project EVA very much indeed for their time and effort. We would also like to thank those who applied to take part but were not required for showing their interest.
SESAR Flies UAV in Controlled Airspace
Last September at West Wales Airport, SESAR partners flew a Thales Watchkeeper UAV in controlled and unsegregated airspace. The flight formed part of the SESAR demo ‘CLAIRE’, run as a collaboration between Thales, NATS, the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory NLR, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Additional funding was provided by the SESAR Joint Undertaking.
Florian Guillermet, executive director of the SESAR Joint Undertaking, said: “This is an important milestone for aviation and was made possible thanks to the pioneering and collaborative spirit of SESAR’s members and partners.”
Mark Watson, head of research and development at NATS, said: “Safety is always our top priority so a huge amount of work has gone into getting to this point and much more will be needed, but it’s a major milestone for the industry and shows that the UK and Europe are leading the world when it comes to the development of RPAS and its integration into controlled airspace.”
Pierre Eric Pommellet, Thales executive v-p, Defence Mission Systems, said: “Thales is proud to be involved in the Project CLAIRE flight demonstration and the challenge of safely integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems into controlled civilian airspace.”
New Regulation Means Changes for CAMO
On the 27th of July 2015 a new EU Regulation entered into force. EU 2015/1088 is related to the work put down by the General Aviation Task Force in Cologne. The regulation allows for some important alleviations for ELA11 non-commercial. Niklas Larsson, IAOPA representative from AOPA Sweden, recently provided some information for CAMOs and Maintenance Organisations on ELA11 – affecting non-complex aircraft up to 1200kg.
How does this affect a CAMO?
The regulation introduced the self-declared aircraft maintenance programme. This enables the aircraft owner to make deviations from TBO, Service Bulletins and other non-mandatory service recommendations. By doing so, the owner is also responsible for his/her decisions on deviations. The CAMO may not challenge the decisions nor become responsible for the consequences of the deviations. When conducting the airworthiness review a CAMO verifies that maintenance is done according to what is stipulated in the AMP, just like earlier.
To be able to review a self-declared AMP you will have to change your CAME (Continuing Airworthiness Management Exposition). It will be a minor change with added instructions for reviewing this kind of AMP. Ask your CAA for guidance if you are uncertain.
How does this affect a Part 145 or M.A. Subpart F Maintenance Organisation?
A maintenance organisation can obtain authorization to do airworthiness review and AMP review (only self-declared). Authorization requires compliance with certain conditions that can be found under M.A.901 point (l).
It requires changes in your MOE/MOM (Maintenance Organisation Exposition /Manual) and an application for extended privileges and change of the maintenance organisation approval certificate (Form 3).
The regulation introduced the self-declared aircraft maintenance programme. This empowers the aircraft owner to make deviations from TBO, Service Bulletins and other non-mandatory service recommendations. By doing so, the owner assumes responsibility for his/her deviations and your organisation may not challenge the decisions nor become responsible for the consequences of the deviations. When conducting the airworthiness review you should make sure that the maintenance is done according to what is stipulated in the AMP.
The competent authority must be notified if defects are found during the annual inspection and the airworthiness review that can be linked to decided deviations in the self-declared AMP.
There is no doubt that this is the future of light aircraft maintenance, the new Light Part-M, that hopefully enters into force during 2017, will most likely include further alleviations and more authority being transferred to independent certifying staff, Part 66.
IAOPA believes that these new rules will reduce the cost of maintenance without adding risk and hence increase the market for the benefit of the whole industry. More aircraft will become airworthy which gives maintenance personnel and organisations more work and a brighter future.
Jämi Airshow and Fly-In at EFJM
AOPA Finland attended Jämi Airshow & Fly-in with its own booth in co-operation with Wings magazine between 17th and 19th of July 2015. All pilots were joining the hangar talk around the booth discussing the current distressed state of GA in Finland.
EasyVFR was also hot topic because AOPA Finland provided free flight plans via EasyVFR for all that needed one. Dozens of FPLs were sent directly to the AFTN system without any need for back-up calls to the national ANSP, Finavia.
AOPA Pilot, Wings and Aircraft Owner & Pilot magazines were provided free of charge to all interested, thanks to support of AOPA US and AOPA UK. Some of the Jämi Airshow & Fly-in uncut feature clips are available for viewing at: https://bambuser.com/channel/smll_aopafi
About 5,000 aviation enthusiasts and interested people gathered to see this magnificent show, one we only could dream of. Robust radial engines, fantastic fighters, cooperation between ground vehicles and airplanes...all topped up with a touch of pyrotechnics to give the viewers something worthwhile for their ticket fee.
(Similar reports from the various national AOPAs are welcome throughout the year for this monthly eNews).
AOPA Finland Gives Opinion on Airspace Changes
AOPA Finland last year issued a statement on the second airspace change within one year, send to the CAA by 17 July 2015, only to see more proposals issued a few days later. Barely was the ink on this paper dry before the CAA announced (on 20 July) that they were well ahead in preparing a decision regarding ACC sectors, ATS routes as well as TMA, FIZ and CTA areas proposed by national ANSP, Finavia. The CAA was acting here merely following the ANSP’s lead and none of the proposed changes were taken into account in the earlier airspace change in 13 November 2014.
AOPA Finland’s conclusion is that the Finland government, the Ministry of Transport and Communication as well as the ANSP monopoly holder Finavia are all ignoring completely the agenda for a sustainable future for general aviation and business aviation that has been adopted in the European Parliament (in a resolution of 3 February 2009).
There is sufficient evidence of this, taking into account the decision of the closure of EFHF and the Supreme Court’s decision to allow a wind power farm in the vicinity of the EFRH airfield, as well as other negative actions towards GA.
AOPA Finland says that the CAA completely ignores EU recommendations about consultation period lengths for stakeholders, despite the Parliamentary Ombudsman stressing the importance of adequate consultation with stakeholders after AOPA Finland complained about it, in relation to earlier airspace changes in 2014.
One issue is 8.33 kHz channel spacing. It’s estimated that this requirement will cost Finnish aircraft owners about €500,000 (around €5,000 per affected aircraft), due to the age structure of Finnish GA fleet. Finnish GA is just picking the tab but no compensation or added value for service is expected.
According to Finnish AOPA the regulations were already agreed behind the scenes for the airspace change of 12 November 2015, with the related consultation “just an agility test for stakeholders”. It believes that EU regulation 1079/2012 will jeopardise the whole GA fleet of Finland, which will affect to 90% of GA aircraft in terms of upgrading their VHF RTF equipment by 1 January 2018.
EGNOS Services Ensured for the Long Term
The European GNSS Agency (GSA) announced last year that the SES-5 GEO satellite had successfully joined the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) operational platform, broadcasting the EGNOS Signal-In-Space (SIS).
SES-5 – which replaces Inmarsat-4F2 – will ensure reliable EGNOS services until 2026. It has been introduced through EGNOS System Release V241M, which will enable a range of performance improvements. In particular, EGNOS will offer even greater stability during periods of high ionospheric activity. [READ MORE]
“SES-5 is the first step of the complete renewal of the EGNOS Space Segment, securing the EGNOS services for the next decade and the future transition to the dual-frequency multi-constellation services. It will be completed by the introduction of the ASTRA-5B signals and the procurement of a new EGNOS payload which are both planned for 2016,” said Carlo des Dorides, GSA executive director.
SES-5, carrying EGNOS L1 and L5 band payloads, was successfully launched in July 2012. The integration of a second EGNOS SBAS L1/L5 band payload on SES ASTRA-5B GEO satellite is currently ongoing. The introduction of this second SES GEO satellite for EGNOS is planned at the end of 2016. SES won the contract following an open tender procedure.
“SES is looking forward to many years of successful operation in delivering EGNOS services to the European citizens and beyond,” said Ferdinand Kayser, chief commercial officer at SES.
EGNOS is operated by the European Satellite Services Provider (ESSP), under contract by the GSA on behalf of the European Commission. [/READ MORE]
Garmin GPS System Upgrade Adds LPV Capability
A Garmin GPS System upgrade has added LPV capability via EASA AML STC (Approved Model List Supplemental Type Certificate) for CS23 aircraft.
The approval of LPV capability is for the following existing Garmin GPS units: GNS530W, GNS530AW, GNS530W-TAWS, GNS530AW-TAWS, GNS430W & GNS430AW. The STC approves the operational use of these units for the LPV approaches in accordance AMC20-28 and other Performance Based Navigation (PBN) specifications.
The one-off authorised use of this STC just costs €300 per aircraft registration and includes a Certificate of Design, installation details and Aircraft Flight Manual Supplement. For further information please contact Barry Peat at GAMA Aviation: email@example.com.
TBM Hosts IAOPA Regional Meeting in France
As reported in the December 2015 issue of Aircraft Owner & Pilot magazine (the AOPA UK journal), the following is a report of the latest IAOPA Regional Meeting (RM) that was held in Tarbes/Lourdes on 2-3 October 2015.
When 30 delegates from 15 countries came to Lourdes for an IAOPA Regional Meeting the focus was on EASA, but a tour of TBM’s factory in Tarbes reminded the visitors what many private pilots aspire to. In addition, TBM head of design Christophe Robin (pictured) gave a presentation to the RM on the need for new, 'proportionate' design rules for light aircraft.
Martin Robinson, AOPA UK CEO and IAOPA senior v-p for Europe, opened the meeting by saying that the purpose of Regional Meetings was “to meet together twice a year to discuss common issues facing our national affiliates.” But IAOPA can’t do all the work by itself, he stressed. “We try to achieve a common position [but] this is not always possible. So the aim here is to take any IAOPA position back to individual States.”
Robinson said IAOPA needed to talk to regulators with the common position of IAOPA Europe, and added that IAOPA could “help you [regional affiliates] if regulators need further education/understanding.”
“Europe is not 100% harmonized,” he noted. “It does not have a common legal system or a common taxation system. And where there are Directives it is up to States to decide how to implement them – unlike Regulations, which are binding. But in the main over the years, we’ve done a good job.”
Robinson added: “We also need to be able to take information from you and to broadcast that information throughout Europe.” He noted that many had raised the issue of cost sharing. “There will be different national experiences as to what cost sharing is. There won’t be any right or wrong, just differences. So it will be difficult to reach a consensus on something like this. But we need to understand and communicate these differences.”
“In UK we have got the CAA to accept EASA Regulations without any change into national legislation. We call it “non gold-plating.” He invited delegates to use the UK as an example on the issue of gold plating. “Regulators should not embellish what EASA has to say. EASA does not have the power to stop States going further [than stipulated]. EASA conducts an audit of your State to make sure that it’s in compliance.
Robinson said that GA Roadmap work was “incredibly important...but we need to know when States are going beyond what EASA asks. EASA is also interested as it want to see rules applied uniformly. This is good for safety too. Whether you’re flying in Holland, Austria, UK, Germany, Greece, wherever – you know it’s the same. But in Greece there are still no airspace classifications, for example!”
“Myself, Michael and Jacob need to be kept informed where States are applying Regulation more than EASA intended,” underlined Robinson.
IAOPA secretary general Craig Spence gave an update on ICAO activities. “[We have] been able to get changes to say that R&FS is only required at commercial service airports. EASA is also looking at incorporating those changes. Basically this says that proportionality should be considered. Tragically, the burn-through time [for GA aircraft] is 17 seconds; for commercial aircraft it is 2.5 minutes. So unless fire service can get there in 17 seconds, it really doesn’t do anything!”
Spence noted that there had also been “a lot of work going on with UAS – which are outstripping the ability of regulators to legislate. One million UAVs are expected to be under Christmas trees this year! There are no standards on these aircraft BUT they are being considered part of GA By EASA etc! There are non-pilots with flying machines up to 50kg near airports that have the possibility of killing someone.” Martin Robinson noted that in China you have to register a drone to your mobile phone. Spence said every airfield and sensitive area should be ‘geofenced’. He said ICAO “is far behind… which is why we’re working with EASA, FAA and even the RPAS operators,” said Spence.
Guest speaker: Matthew Day, Haywards Aviation
Matthew Day, a director of Haywards Aviation, gave a presentation on aviation insurance, saying: “We’ve been concerned in recent years about the amount of liability insurance bought by GA owners. Traditionally you buy a policy for let’s say €3,5 million and have cover for 90,000SDRs for passengers – as insurers paying less for passengers you get lower premium but we think this is a dangerous route to go down i.e. policy with inner limits (of say 100,000 per passenger).
If your aircraft flies into a light airfield and into a hangar the physical damage could be $1m but the liability to the injured etc could be much more. If you have a combined limit and medical expenses go over 100,000 per passenger.
So the trend to purchase policies that limit cover, over the past 2-3 years, and could become personally liable for ongoing costs.
Also hull loss – only get what insured for, and if aircraft is over-insured, company may elect to repair it…. So would not advise you don’t under-insure. There is a danger of getting the wrong value. Better to be over-insured as it bites you more if you’re under-insured.
If organizing an air show, air meet, fly in etc be very aware of insurance cover, and alert to the possibility of incidents.
He said there was “lots more I planned to say but I’ve only got 15minutes! For example on instructors, drones etc.”
He said “Insurance follows the evidence… until we have an accident involving a drone the regulations won’t really kick in and insurance industry won’t be able to assess it.” But he noted that in the UK model aircraft flyers could get £1m of cover for only £10!!!
Martin Robinson notes that AOPA UK has “a close working relationship with Haywards. Unlike other brokers they do support the industry, help with safety campaigns… and in educating pilots about safety issues…”
A question was posed relating to examiner insurance, to which Day responded: “I’ve no idea why an instructor purchases instructor liability insurance, there is no need for it – as you are doing it for a commercial organization that will be liable and have cover. [In the US the situation is different, as there is non-owned aircraft liability insurance, he said].
“And if you are instructing a pilot who approves you personally to instruct them, and is happy with that, you are brought into their cover! So there are no circumstances in the UK where you would need ‘instructor’ cover.”
(Report of the IAOPA RM was first published in the December 2015 issue of Aircraft Owner & Pilot magazine. Please refer to that issue for pictures and captions – see the IAOPA.eu website).
UK CAA Explains New ‘E-Conditions’
On Sunday 29th November, Mark Shortman, manager policy and business delivery at the CAA’s GA Unit, gave a presentation to explain the ‘E Conditions’ for flying experimental aircraft in the United Kingdom.
His talk followed on from the launch of the E Conditions in London on 16th November, during the Royal Aeronautical Society’s annual Light Aircraft Design Seminar. Also at the seminar the RAeS launched a new aircraft design competition.
Shortman said the genesis of the E Conditions could be traced back to “way back in 2006…so it took quite some years to get traction.” He noted the key role played by the RAeS’s General (formerly Light) Aviation Group, and introduced its long-time chair John Edgley (of Optica fame).
“The 2013 Red Tape Challenge initiative gave the CAA some direction from government to start putting some thinking in.” In May 2014 a collaborative working group was formed (with Shortman and Edgley as co-chairs).
During this time the CAA formed its new GA Unit, “and since then we have been working tirelessly to change the face of GA in the UK,” said Shortman. “And one of biggest endeavours to date has been the E conditions.”
“This isn’t like FAA experimental category,” he explained, in that builders don’t have carte blanche freedom – “but it is a vast step forward.
In 2014-15 public consultations were held and the group published Comment Response Documents. Then came the formal unveiling on 16th November.
What are they?
The E Conditions open the door for flight testing of non-EASA aircraft with a Max Takeoff Mass (MTOM) of up to and including 2000kg (though the Single Seat Microlight (SSDR) category will still operate up to 300kg MTOM). This can include “new aircraft, 172s, helicopters, or whatever.”
The effort has to be overseen by a “Competent person” who has to sign a Declaration. This is the only thing that has to be sent to the CAA, which otherwise will have a “hands off” approach, said Shortman.
“We have eliminated for proof of concept flying the regulatory and financial burden of getting airworthiness and operational approval,” said Shortman. He added that it is open to both commercial entities and amateur builders.
If, following this stage, further development is planned, then thebuilder must move into the organization and type approval processes. “The E Conditions are not intended to replace the B conditions for getting final approval – so you have to move from E to B to go further.”
At the moment the E Conditions are available by way of an exemption but there is a proposed amendment to Article 16 of the ANO (Requirements for a C of A), said Shortman, which will introduce “a new definition of experimental aircraft of 2,000kg or less.” The exemption to the ANO (designated ORS4-1142) outlines the requirement for a Declaration, Competent Person, etc. and should be in place “hopefully by Autumn 2016,” he said.
The Competent Person must take responsibility for the safe conduct of flight testing. The ‘CP’ will be able to follow a new guidance document for E Conditions, CAP 1220.
The CP’s Declaration will outline the testing to the CAA but it is a declaration only, so no permission is required,” said Shortman. The CP must prepare a dossier for the proposed test programme and declare that this has been done (he said the CAA does not need the dossier).
Shortman said there were two distinct route to become a CP: A Member/Fellow RAeS and Chartered Engineer (CEng) will be recognized automatically as a Competent Person. Secondly, a Competent Person can be such having been authorised by the LAA or BMAA (which are A8-26 approved organisations). A8-26 will be changed to reflect this authority.
The Competent Person then receives a CP Registration Number (CPRN). CAP 1220, which is around 50 pages long, is “nearly a one-stop shop” on how to utilize the E Conditions, said Shortman.
He confirmed that third party insurance would be required, as the aircraft will be on the G-register. This is in accordance with EC Regulation 785/2004 which stipulates that any aircraft registered (in the UK as laid down by Article 3 of the ANO) must have insurance.
The Declaration must state the start and end dates of the endeavour, with the maximum period being 12 months. The Declaration states that everything done by the CP is as laid out in Chapter 8 of CAP 1220.
The guidelines state that the Dossier must be in 4 parts: the Declaration; Aircraft Design & Build; Flight Test Programme; Risk Assessment. “The Dossier has to be kept up-to-date,” noted Shortman. He said the form to submit is already available at caa.co.uk/EConditions, and the submission fee (for new or supplementary) is at present £51 (which he warned may go up after April 2016). Amendments are free.
Once the CAA receives the Declaration it will send an acknowledgement, “and once the acknowledgement from the CAA is received flight testing can start.” If the aircraft to be used for the testing already has a C of A, it will be “suspended to allow the aircraft to operate under the E Conditions,” said Shortman.
“There is definitely no enduring category so there is a 12 month limit,” he reiterated.” He recommended that the CP uses an existing code to carry out the risk assessment. Risk of serious injury to uninvolved third parties must be determined to be “extremely improbable” (basically similar to Part 23/1309) and risk of serious injury to pilot and ground crew “reasonably mitigated.”
“You need to declare information about the aircraft and test plan, test area, base airfield, test equipment fitted, imposed aircraft limitations,” he said, adding that the requirements were “deliberately vague” on the scope of the experimentation, so “for example it can include demonstration to customers and financiers.”
“All flights must be A to A within the recorded flight test area; ferry flights are not permitted at present but there is quite some debate about that. We didn’t want them flying over built-up areas or in congested airspace.”
Finally, he said that if it takes longer than 12 months, “we can accept extensions but there has to be a rationale from the CP.” More details of this will be in CAP1220, said Shortman.
He thanked the RAeS General Aviation Group. “Without John’s endeavour this would never have happened.” He also noted several other key contributors, such as LAA chief engineer Francis Donaldson. “So we did have the heavy hitters of the engineering community for GA in the UK,” he said.
“E conditions is very new, still in its infancy, so we will need to reconvene to evolve them – but at least we have passed a critical point,” he concluded, while adding, “We are by no means at the end of the regulatory overhaul of GA legislation in the UK.”
A short Q&A session followed. It was noted that EASA aircraft could be used but the EASA C of A and ARC would be suspended “transitioning it to an Annex 2 world.” Shortman said that you could do EASA Airworthiness Review under Part M at the end if to transition it back again after the period – but that “if aircraft has been operated outside its normal envelope that could be a challenge for the reviewer, to ensure the aircraft hasn’t been over-stressed for example.”
During the Q&A Shortman said that the CAA had briefed EASA on E Conditions. “EASA has now acknowledged that they need a pan-European experimental category,” he said. “So these could become redundant in a few years if EASA does that!”
He also said there were signs that if the CP had maintained a detailed dossier, that could be presented to EASA to reduce the burden of EASA investigating the mod.
Another question related to observers. “Generally you are limited to pilot only… there was lots of debate on this but if the CP wanted [an onserver] then it may be allowed, e.g. a flight test engineer. So the simple answer is if CP wants to do it, you can do it.”
A final question was about amphibians testing on water, so not being A-to-A test sorties. “We’ve never considered that but it doesn’t seem unreasonable.” He said the test would be whether the CP could show that the risk had been sufficiently mitigated.
Flight Test Report: Piper M350
James Wynbrandt was invited by a Piper dealer to fly the manufacturer’s new PA-46 M350. The aircraft, he reports, “seals the envelope with ESP.” This updated cabin-class single enhances safety in style.
The new PA-46 350 redefines Piper’s pitch to well-heeled pilots considering stepping up to a pressurized, cabin class aircraft, making its appeal not with increased power and performance but enhanced safety. It’s the definitive answer to concerns that flight proficiency experts, insurance companies and pilots have long raised about the challenges of transitioning to higher performance platforms, issues the original PA-46 helped spotlight.
Introduced in 1982 with a 310-hp Continental motor, the Piper Malibu created the modern cabin-class single. Over subsequent years Piper built out its PA-46 “M-Class” line, first transforming the Malibu into the Mirage with a 350-hp Lycoming TIO-540-AE2A turbocharged engine in 1988, then creating the flagship 500-shp PT-6A turboprop-powered Meridian a decade later, and finally the entry level, non-pressurized Matrix in 2007.
Sticking to that rough upgrade schedule, earlier this year Vero Beach, Florida-based Piper revamped and rebranded its marquee M-Class products: the Mirage is now the M350; the turboprop Meridian is the M500; and a new flagship has been announced, the M600, a 600-hp PA-46 turboprop with a new wing and boosted gross weight, expected to receive FAA certification this year.
The successful growth of the PA-46 family stands in contrast to its early history. A series of in-flight break ups and other accidents led the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to issue an Airworthiness Directive (AD) removing the PA-46 Malibu’s certification for flight into known weather. After further testing of the design, the agency withdrew the AD. The break ups were attributed largely to pilot error, and subsequent PA-46 models exhibited no such accident patterns.
Piper has now put all such ghosts to rest with the signature upgrade of the rebranded fleet: Electronic Stability Protection (ESP). Incorporated into the Garmin G1000 Autopilot Flight Control System, ESP, in concert with the newly added Underspeed Protection (USP) and Overspeed Protection, acts like an invisible co-pilot when the autopilot is off, ready to take corrective action any time the aircraft approaches the edges of its normal airspeed or bank angle envelopes.
Gordon Ramsay, Piper program manager at Columbia Air Service, a Piper distributor at Connecticut’s Groton-New London Airport (GON) in the U.S., invited AOPA UK to fly the M350 (and the M500) with him and experience the enhancements firsthand. On a sunny, blustery early autumn morning we walked across the ramp toward N350CS.
Sitting relatively high off the ground, its long wings uncluttered by engine cowls, the PA-46 has always had a sleek, eye-grabbing ramp presence. Beyond beefier landing gear and wings, and the three-bladed prop and LED lights, little has changed over the years on the Mirage/M350 airframe. Inside, interior enhancements are more noticeable. Piper has been upgrading the M-Class cabins in recent years, and recently hired Blokx Design, a consumer products design consultancy, to redesign cabin elements such as arm rests, cup holders and stowable table, creating a more integrated and aesthetically pleasing appearance. USB charging ports in the cabin and cockpit have also been added to the updated models.
The new Ms also offer a GSR-56 Global Satellite Datalink Iridium Satellite Transceiver. Piper intended the option primarily as a conduit for getting in-flight weather in areas without access to U.S.-based services such as XM, but has found 90 percent of all buyers want the Iridium system, primarily for telephone and text communication.
The cabin enhancements complement changing ownership demographics. Historically, about 90 percent of PA-46s have been owner flown, but today the figure is about 80 percent, with one of five buyers sitting in the back, where they can appreciate the cabin amenities.
Up front, the Garmin G1000 flight deck is dominated by the two 10.4-inch Primary Flight Displays (PFDs) and center-mounted 12.4-inch Multifunction Display (MFD). An Aspen EFD1000 standby instrument has replaced electromechanical backup gauges and wet compass, unifying the appearance of the panel, and more importantly, easing pilot workload in the event backup instruments are needed, as the data presentation is basically the same as on the Garmin screens.
With the Garmin powered up, the injected Lycoming startup is standard. Switches for the electrical system and engine are on an overhead panel, another sign of having stepped up. With the prop spinning and avionics running, the air conditioning is typically the first system engaged, a welcome piece of standard equipment on an ISA plus 11C day like this one.
We planned to fly to Plymouth, Mass. (PYM) via Martha’s Vineyard VOR (MVY), and programmed the flight plan into the G1000 using the GCU 476 keypad on the pedestal. The 96-nm journey would give us time to perform some maneuvers and check out the ESP en route. With the two of us and 85 gallons of fuel onboard, we were about 300 lbs. shy of the 4,340-lb. MTOW.
Taxiing at 1000 rpm develops enough momentum to steer without differential braking, though the pedals take some muscling. With flaps (ten degrees), pitch, and rudder trim set we took the active. If you’re transitioning from a less powerful platform, Ramsay recommends starting the takeoff by holding the brakes and powering up to 2000 rpm before starting the roll while continuing to advance the throttle, with rotation at 75 to 80 kts.
Before departure, we’d engaged the new Coupled Go-Around function. Activated by a button in a thumb-size hollow on the left side of the throttle, once airborne, it sets the flight director’s command bar in a seven-degree pitch up attitude, the desired climb angle for either takeoff or going around on a missed approach. Most importantly, Coupled Go-Around enables the M350 to fly a missed approach procedure without resetting the autopilot. USP makes the function possible, ensuring that should the pilot forget to add power on the missed, instead of pitching up into a stall, the nose will drop to maintain airspeed and provide time for recovery.
With gear and flaps up and climb power of 35 inches and 2500 rpm, the VSI tape bobbed around a positive 750 fpm and airspeed at 115 kts., while the Lycoming chugged some 35 gph. Scattered cumulus to the north stopped at the shoreline, and climbing eastbound over Long Island Sound the air was smooth. We’d be above the bumps by the time we turned back to the mainland from Martha’s Vineyard.
The autopilot leveled us at 13,500 – no need to climb to the 25,000 ft service ceiling to confirm the top cruise speed of 213 KTAS. Performance remains the same in the 350 as the Mirage. We set cruise power of 30 inches and 2400 rpm, and leaned to about 21.5 gph. TAS crept past 180 kts.
On such a day, in such a machine, you want to keep flying as long and far as you can. Calling up the handy range ring on the map revealed we could make it to Canada’s Cape Bretton Island, more than 500 nm to the NE, with the fuel we had onboard. We also had weather and traffic displays that put our mission capability somewhere in the airline category. The optional GTS 825 Traffic Advisory System and GTX 33ES digital transponder for ADS-B In and Out displayed conflicting traffic, vertical separation, and even showed ADS-B equipped aircraft on the MFD. The screen can also display returns from the optional GWX68 radar overlaid on Nexrad imagery, for finding optimum routes through weather at altitude. As Ramsay put it, “If you can’t get over it, under it, or around it in this airplane, you shouldn’t be flying.” And now we had protection from loss of control.
Piper isn’t the only OEM offering stability protection through a Garmin (or other) interface. It’s available on the King Air 200, the Cirrus SR-22 beginning with this year’s model, and experimental aircraft outfitted with Garmin G3X glass cockpits. Each OEM tweaks the system for their own aircraft. Piper’s ESP engages at 45 degrees bank, and the resistive force reaches its maximum at 60 degrees. USP and Overspeed Protection both react to pitch and airspeed.
The system can be manually overridden by overpowering the resistive force, and the ESP, USP and overspeed protection can also be disconnected, for training, for example, through the Garmin Aux page. But as the default mode, full protection will be restored whenever the Garmin boots up.
The combined systems seal the operating envelope when hand flying. Normal maneuvers are unencumbered, but as bank increases, or the nose is pulled up or pushed down beyond what you’d use for normal operations, the counteracting force serves as a reminder and assistant, augmented by aural alerts and visual caution warnings on the PFD.
The updated PA-46s also have an Automatic Level Mode, activated by a blue button – a panic button, if you will – in the center of the panel. When pressed, it engages the flight director and autopilot, and restores the aircraft to straight and level flight. Together, these safety enhancements add peace of mind, confidence, and a sense of lightened workload, easing passage for the upward transitioning pilot.
Hypoxia is another safety issue facing pilots in this class of aircraft, believed to have had a role in several recent fatal accidents of high performance singles in the U.S. The M350 has multiple lines of defense. First, the panel has a built-in pulse oximeter and CO detector. It seems a bit odd to stick one’s index finger into a socket in the panel, but you’ll feel the firm grip of the oximeter’s alligator jaws, and see your blood oxygenation level and heart rate displayed on the MFD. The M350 also has a Hypoxia Recognition System, activated when the autopilot is engaged should the cabin altitude rises above 14,900 ft, as would happen in the event of depressurisation. (Cockpit oxygen masks are stowed beneath the co-pilot’s seat.) If no pilot interactions are detected in these circumstances, the system engages Automatic Descent Mode, descending the aircraft to an altitude allowing recovery from hypoxia.
Meanwhile the integrated pressurisation system – yes, the Garmin runs that, too - simplifies regulating cabin altitude. Just turn it on before takeoff and input the elevation of your destination airport, and the system pressurises and depressurises the cabin en route automatically. At 13,500 ft, our vessel was a comfortable 300 ft msl.
We were now 27 nm and 8:57 minutes from PYM with more than 13,000 feet of altitude to lose. Quick descents are easy in the M350, without touching the power, another big assist to the transitioning pilot. We dialed a descent rate of 160 knots - gear deployment speed – into the autopilot, dropped the gear and popped the now-standard speed brakes, producing a 2,500 fpm descent. If you descend at the top speed with gear extended of 195 KIAS, you can lose 6,000 fpm.
Yet with the M350 you don’t always have to climb up in the first place, unlike the turbine-powered M500 and the forthcoming M600, where it almost always makes sense to fly at FL280 or FL290 for fuel efficiency, regardless of the winds. One of the strengths of the PA-46 line is the choice it affords pilots in the performance and price they’re comfortable stepping up to. The addition of ESP and the other improvements introduced this year give pilots additional reasons to step up to the M Class.
Plymouth Municipal’s ASOS automated weather was reporting winds from 310 at 14 kts, peak gusts to 18. Nonetheless, traffic was using Rwy 24 rather than Rwy 33. Here’s where things get easier for transitioning pilots: Its high wing loading and impressive rudder authority make crosswind landings less challenging in the M350 than in many of the four-place aircraft that buyers may be coming from. And pattern speeds are just a little higher than in today’s high performance singles: 110 kts. on the downwind, 100 on base and 90 on final, coming over the fence at 85 kts. If you’re not comfortable with the way things look, no problem: hit the Go-Around button and follow the command bars.
Vital Statistics: Piper PA-46 M350:
Standard Equipped List Price: $1,155,500
Engine 350-hp turbocharged Lycoming TIO-540-AE2A
TBO: 2,000 hours
Propeller: Hartzell 3-blade composite
Wingspan: 43 ft.
Length: 28.9 ft.
Height: 11.3 ft.
Max. Takeoff Wt. (MTOW): 4,340 lbs.
Max Ramp Wt: 4,358 lbs.
Standard equipped wt: 3,050 lbs.
Standard useful load: 1,308 lbs.
Max fuel capacity: 120 gal.
Max Cruise Speed: 213 ktas
Service ceiling: 25,000 ft.
Cabin Pressurization: Max Cabin Differential: 5.6 psid
45 Min. Reserve: 1,343 nm
Ground Roll: 1,087 ft. Total Over 50 ft Obstacle: 2,090ft
Ground Roll: 1,020 ft. Total Over 50 ft Obstacle: 1,968ft
Trip Report: Navigating Norway in a Duchess
Enthused by their trip to Iceland, Martin Cundey and Richard Berliand set off again for Europe’s frozen north, with spectacular results.
The experience of flying is often punctuated with trips that are truly memorable and the few days we spent in Iceland during July 2014 ranked high in this category. So, when given domestic leave of absence for a week’s flying at the end of May and first few days of June 2015, the question was whether we could make a trip that would live up to the standards of the previous year.
We decided that we would visit Norway – I had only landed there once, back in 1979 when en route for the Dawn to Dusk (we finished third out of three entries – flying a PA28R was not approved by the Tiger Club and the results reflected their distaste for modern aircraft). However, I recollect the rugged scenery and scores of small islands so it was time to get back there.
While researching where to land and what to see, we made a number of enquiries and Richard contacted Torkel Hasle, who he found via PPL IR. Torkel (who is also president of AOPA Norway) was very helpful with several suggestions; we also had ideas from two members of the Socata TB Users Group. One of them lived in Stavanger and wished to welcome us, so that seemed the logical landfall. The majority of surfaced airfields are run by the state-owned Avinor and offer a weekly take off/landing card (excluding Oslo) which is great value on an “all you can land” basis. Below 1,500 kilos it’s a bargain £80, but above that up to 2MT it’s around £200 – still great value when you are landing at larger airports, which abound in the country. Over 2MT you have to pay as you go! We also discovered that being members of AOPA qualified us for free parking so yet another reason to support the membership.
If nothing else, the convenience of the system is superb – you fly, land and depart later without any paperwork formalities. While on the subject, there was a suggestion that flight plans were obligatory but the reality is that when you make your first call for an internal flight, you add “negative flight plan” and are cleared accordingly. The Beech 76 is not the quickest aircraft but we decided it was ideal for the trip giving the reassurance of two engines over a lot of water, while the modest cruising speed would allow the sights to be enjoyed.
We planned to take full advantage of the landing card and spend 7 days in Norway, flying between 3 and 4 hours daily. The aim was to visit the southerly point of Kristiansand and the most northerly point of mainland Europe at the North Cape, giving us the opportunity to catch the “Midnight Sun.”
Day 1: And so it was at 08:00 on the 29th May we separately set off from Redhill to Gloucestershire. Well, Richard’s Cirrus needed maintenance so he decided to have that done at RGV while we were away. It also allowed us to have a big breakfast at the café and partake of their reasonably priced avgas.
We departed at 10:45 in pouring rain and trudged our way across the middle section of the country, coasting out into the North Sea around Kingston upon Hull. Gradually the weather improved and as the oil/gas platforms came and went, we were looked after by Anglian Radar who provided a comprehensive service before we transferred to Norway Control. It was surprising how quickly the journey over the water passed: we were soon handed over to Stavanger, clearing us to join downwind for Runway 18 with the landing being completed after a total of 3h:30mins. Customs formalities were brief and speedy so we were soon outside and making a rendezvous with Ragnar, who lives in the city and is a TB10 owner. He generously agreed to act as our guide and chauffeur so we were quickly checked into our hotel, which had been pre-booked, and took a tour of the area – a great start to our adventure.
Day 2: Ragnar returned us to the airfield where we accessed the aircraft through the flying club gate. We were shown how to use the self-service fuelling facilities and then he introduced us to the CFI, who recommended we take a slight detour on departure to see Pulpit Rock. It is one of the most visited attractions in Norway, towering 604 metres above Lysefjord. Despite a restricted view due to rain and drizzle, there were still plenty of people sitting on it!
We approached from the west along the fjord and then comfortably executed a 180 turn within the confines of the valley before returning to take photographs a safe distance from the spectacular formation, mindful of sightseeing helicopters operating.
Then we headed southbound to Kristiansand, crossing mountains and fjords. This being the first full day of Norwegian flying, we were open-mouthed with the dramatic scenery. and our camera was hard-pressed to keep up with all the pictures we were taking. After just over an hour we were on finals to land at our destination which has a backdrop of mountains on one side and the fjord on the other.
After a coffee we reviewed our planning as we had intended to continue east towards Sandefjord-Torp, which is not far from Oslo, but the sunshine we enjoyed with our refreshments would be replaced by drizzle so we decided to head north. Although our ultimate destination was Molde-Årø, we were hoping to route via Fyresdal Airpark which lies at the end of an large lake and in good weather has a fabulous approach.
A phone call to the airport failed to be answered and we started to wonder if flying into Fyresdal would not be possible in VFR today. Nevertheless we took off, optimistic that we might make it, but soon the space between the cloudbase and mountain tops diminished – and so did the viz – so we decided to climb out of it and levelled at FL070, where Norway Control were happy to have us on frequency.
Despite the size of the country the airwaves are relatively quiet and the R/T range is astonishing – probably due to transmitters and relays taking advantage of the high terrain. Norway Control is the default service and was a pleasure to work with. Once we had reached the west coast the cloud started to break up and we descended to 1,000 ft or below. It was then that we knew the future of our trip would be best served by staying on the west side of the country at low level where the viz was good and the scenery was at its best. We had read the cautionary warnings about cables spanning valleys which could literally spoil your day in a “flash” and so we proceeded with due respect for the risk.
We had the latest ½ mil topos (all three for Norway) and we also loaded Runway HD with the Norway charts along with SkyDemon, so we had a comprehensive moving map on which to track our progress. The paper charts were great for planning but the iPad came into its own enroute.
The flying duties alternated each day and the occupier of the right hand seat dedicated the time to verifying position, checking for obstacles and taking photos.
It was a truly memorable experience as we meandered up the coastline, cutting corners, passing through fjords and other openings, rarely flying above 1,000ft and seeing hundreds of small islands, many linked together with bridges and a scattering of houses on each – presumably used as weekend retreats.
After 2hr 50mins we were on finals to Molde-Årø where a welcome awaited and we were cleared to re-fuel. From now on we booked a hotel on arrival at our destination; being out of season, every request was successful. A taxi took us to our repose, which overlooked the fjord with views of its ferry traffic. We had decided to treat ourselves to decent dining experiences – and dinner that night certainly set the standard for the rest of the tour.
Day 3: Again it was overcast at dawn with light rain, so we departed at 09:35 local and retraced our track down the fjord for a few miles before heading north though a convenient opening between mountains. We revelled in the enjoyment and freedom of being able to journey at low level past isolated settlements, villages and a few larger towns set on the limited areas of land at the feet of the mountains which towered above both them and us. The topography is awe-inspiring and demands respect but while the clouds covered the mountains above the visibility beneath was good, even in the light rain.
We picked our way through valleys and fjords ensuring that we stayed on the windward side, always allowing sufficient room to execute a 180 degree turn should conditions unexpectedly deteriorate (at wind speeds above 15 kts turbulence can become both unpleasant and dangerous).
After a couple of hours we were back out on the western coastline with the Bronnoysund Traffic Information Zone (TIZ) approaching. A quick call brought a reply from a softly spoken lady controller who cleared us for a touch & go (T & G), which was duly carried out, and in return we received a compliment from her about our aircraft.
Another 20 minutes later we repeated the same at Sandnessjoen; the immediate approval of our request indicated that the controllers are pleased to hear from anyone passing by, and are not fazed to have strange English pilots taking advantage of their facilities.
A few miles later we crossed the Arctic Circle, and after a total of 3 hours we were speaking to Bodø, a combined military/civil airport with a vast runway. We approached from the sea and took advantage of the ILS to confirm all the avionics were functioning. Security was tight but not obtrusive as there was a contingent of Eurofighters parked on the far side of the field, and there were scheduled services operating.
We walked a mile or so to the town where we sat outside at the marina for a light lunch, observing the Great Gandhi Indian restaurant opposite – which at 67 degrees is rather further north than its counterpart in Reykjavik (making its claim to being the most northerly Indian eatery somewhat misplaced).
Tromsø and North Cape
Suitably refreshed we departed Bodø and after a T & G at Svolvaer-Helle being on our track we then overtook a naval frigate cruising beneath which reminded us that the battleship, and supposedly unsinkable, Tirpitz succumbed near our destination of Tromsø.
A short while later we were treated to the magnificent sight of a backdrop of snow covered mountains with the airport in front, where we landed after 1 hr 50. It lies to one side of the city, which is justifiably described as the “Capital of the Artic.” After refuelling the Duchess we were conveniently parked near the GA security area before we jumped in a taxi to our hotel.
Day 4: We were in the “Land of the Midnight Sun” and in the morning we reached the airport ready to leave for the North Cape. A snag arose however: the port mainwheel tyre was partially deflated. A quick check of the valve after removing the cap suggested it was leaking and after prodding it a couple of times, the seepage stopped so the friendly fire crew re-inflated it, and we were airborne at 09.30.
Another epic trip followed, flying along fjords and out between offshore islands under overcast skies with slight rain but light wind and no turbulence.
Eventually the North Cape at 71°10’21”N 25°47’04”E became visible but it was covered in a “flat cap” of cloud, obscuring it and the visitors centre.
Honningsvåg-Valan instructed us to orbit as scheduled traffic was leaving – arrivals and departures follow the same route in or out of the fjord, where the localiser has a 56 degree offset. When cleared to make our approach we soon found out why! At the start of the approach it appears that the fjord terminates in a wall of towering granite and it is not until the last few miles that the runway comes into view. Although R26 is downhill, with our modest approach speed this was our choice and we gasped in amazement as we turned from base onto finals with the prospect of the mountain ahead of us.
Touching down after 1hr 45 we were warmly welcomed by the fire crew and awaited a hire car which we had pre-booked for the day at an astronomical £110 – still, they only have a few months in the year to make a living out of car rentals and having come this far we wished to see all we could.
The island has a population of around 2,000 mainly centred in the town, which seemed very pleasant and provided us with an excellent fish soup lunch. Then we took the 20-mile foggy drive, passing mountain sides with reindeer grazing, to the visitors’ centre – which remained shrouded in low cloud. We were obliged to seek directions after parking only to discover the building, invisible in the fog, was just 200 yards away. The complex is extraordinary, having been cut into the cliff-face, and is a “must see” providing all sorts of exhibits and a great film show which compensated for being unable to see beyond the outside terrace.
The plan was to have a King Crab dinner in the town that evening and leave just before the airport closed at 22.40 so we could enjoy a daylight flight at midnight. Instinct prompted us to check the tyre and without going airside we could see that it was now fully deflated and so were we. A drive to the nearby garage revealed that they could supply a foot pump and tyre sealant – not ideal but at least it would overcome our immediate problems. Back at the airport we were met by the fire crew who were aware of our plight but greeted us with the heart-warming words “you are our guests and we will do our best to help you.” While not allowed to touch the aircraft they made their tools and workshop available – they even offered a brand new pair of overalls to work in as the weather continued to rain.
So a return to the garage and this time we came back with puncture repair kit, patches and talcum powder so we could set to work. Jacks lifted the wheel off the ground, which was soon removed. In the warmth of the workshop the rim was split and the tube removed to find the tiny but irritating leak. Patch applied, new valve inserted and all checked then re-assembly was accomplished and order was restored. All in time to get to the restaurant slightly later than our booking but the crab was all the more enjoyable as a result of the drama.
Shortly after 22.30 local time we prepared for our departure off 26 executing an immediate right turn to avoid the mountainous terrain ahead which has a continual flashing light as a timely reminder and we exited the fjord at low level the way we arrived. Once out to sea we climbed to 3,000 ft where we were greeted with the glorious spectacle of bright sunshine. As we made our way back the clouds melted away leaving showers over the land with beautiful rainbows, sunshine out to sea and the occasional ship cruising serenely below us. What a magical and unforgettable experience, each day we did not believe we could better the previous day’s experience yet this eclipsed everything.
A little after midnight we tracked towards Tromsø and the rainbow now just ahead of us described a complete circle, the city came into sight contrasted by the sun shining on parts and other areas in the shadow of the mountains. We landed, refuelled and had a taxi take us back to the hotel where words seemed inadequate to relive the experience.
Day 5: We started our way back south and although we were theoretically returning the way we arrived, there are so many variants that we never actually duplicated our track. Our destination was Trondheim and, at 4hrs 20, it was a long leg but once out of the fjords and following the coastline the sun emerged to give limitless visibility. We had the skies to ourselves and along stretches of open water we dropped to low level, revelling in the freedom we are so privileged to enjoy. To break the journey there were obligatory T & G’s at Engeloy/Gradussan and then Rørvik-Ryum: as we approached Tower advised of a single gull at the end of the runway which flew off as we commenced our climb out at the upwind end. The jovial controller gave our T & G time and thanked us for our bird clearance services.
The response to our first call to Trondheim was slightly stilted as, believing we had received a handover from the nearby military base, we provided our call sign and squawk only to be asked who what and where we were. Maybe not as a direct result of our impertinent initial announcement we were nevertheless directed to the furthest VRP from the airport which by coincidence was subject to considerable turbulence. Then after landing our request for refuelling went unheeded but eventually we were able to upload what we needed and took a bus journey to the city centre which is some 20 miles away. If our airport experience was less welcoming than our previous experiences, we dined in style with five memorable fish courses and the hotel was equally pleasant.
Day 6: Our last full day in Norway called for a 2 ½ hour flight to Bergen and after some post-breakfast exploring we departed at noon, our route taking us across the mountains to reach the western coast, passing near to our earlier destination of Molde. We chose to climb rather than risk transiting at low level and so sight-seeing was restricted until we descended out to sea before roughly following the coastline. We were rewarded with more spectacular than ever scenery.
Bergen-Flesland is a busy place with considerable traffic serving the oil fields, nevertheless we were quickly positioned downwind to land on the northerly runway and on arrival met by a “follow me” vehicle which escorted us to the GA parking area conveniently having its fuel farm adjoining. Our friendly escort whisked us to the coach station with advice about our return the following day and we were soon in the city and our expensive but less than salubrious hotel. Bergen is a definitely a “must see” with its World Heritage gaily-painted waterside timber buildings. The fish market supplied us with some marinated salmon to take home and our seafood dinner matched our Trondheim experience.
Day 7: We decided that we would make an early start as this time we would have to deal with the formalities of clearing customs and leaving the country. Additionally we realised that we had on our personage several items that would send x-ray equipment into meltdown.
On explaining our problem to a helpful official we were able to infiltrate the priority check-in section and presented ourselves defiantly at security. To our relief we were taken by a charming escort through all the channels and passed over to a driver who returned us to the aircraft. Departure was at 0810 local and 75 minutes later Shetland was on the horizon.
Soon we could see the lighthouse at quaintly named Muckle Flugga and made an orbit of both this and the remote Out Stack. Then we turned back along the east coast and located Unst, being the most northerly UK airfield which warranted an approach. It was a shame that time did not permit a landing on the strip as it looked in sound condition and very inviting. There was much to do and so we continued south with fly-by’s including Fetlar and Whalsay, before establishing finals to land on Runway 20 at Lerwick.
We were greeted with a warm welcome from Jim and his colleagues while formalities were minimal and landing fee acceptable. Our hire car arrived and we were on our way to explore the island. The good roads are traffic free so it was not long before we had reached the southern end at Sumburgh where the large airport is busy with oilfield traffic and the road closes when landings make it necessary.
We continued to Sumburgh Head which rises to a peak with a sizable lighthouse complex now run by the RSPB as the sheer cliff faces are a haven for seabird colonies. And what a haven! Even for those indifferent to nature’s aviators, this is a spectacle not to be missed, with birds wheeling and diving in all directions – but the stars of the show are the comical puffins putting on virtuoso performances for their viewers.
Lunch was taken at a nearby hotel which is next to the Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement. Our tour continued into Lerwick itself which was well worth a visit.
All too quickly the day had passed and as we bade our farewells to Jim and his crew, we commented that it was yet another highlight of the trip augmented by the warmth of our welcome.
We had been given the number of the lady manager of National Trust Fair Isle strip and were allowed to make a T & G on the promise that we would make a donation to NT so, having located the island, we positioned ourselves on the approach. This is a 500 metre strip and with rising ground beyond so we made our brief encounter before climbing away and heading south. Even then it was not all over as we crossed strip after strip ticking them off one by one as if we were working our way through Pooley’s. The controller at Kirkwall was far too polite to challenge our sanity – he had probably seen/heard it all before. Then we passed east of Wick, talking to Aberdeen and Leuchars before landing at Dundee.
The next day we made our way back to Gloucestershire where the SR22 was ready for collection and we parted company for our respective destinations. But what an experience! Such a multitude of sights with each day exceeding what had seemed unsurpassable the previous day.
We realised it was impossible to achieve all our objectives as the weather in Norway can be even more capricious than in the UK, especially in the mountains, but by keeping to the western side of the country we reached all the destinations on our itinerary.
Total flying time: 30 hours
Landings, 13; Touch & Go’s, 7
Fuel consumed: 1,744 Litres
Average price in Norway: £1.41 per litre
Lowest paid in UK: Gloucestershire, £1.49
Highest fuel price paid: Dundee, £2.30/ litre.
Average hotel charge: £121.57.
Most expensive (and least impressive): Bergen, £156.37
Cheapest: Stavanger, £93.33
Best value: Dundee, £95 – superb room and good breakfast.
Latitude difference between Kristiansand and North Cape: approx. 755 nautical miles.
(La Rochelle is a similar latitude difference to the south of Kristiansand).
Latitude Difference between Out Stack and North Cape: Approx. 617 nm.
Difference between Out Stack and Redhill approx: 567 nm.
(Porto is a similar latitude difference to the south of Redhill).
(First published in the December issue of Aircraft Owner & Pilot. Please refer to that issue for pictures and captions).
We would like to wish all AOPA members around the world, and all other readers, a very happy and prosperous 2016.
The next edition of the IAOPA Europe eNews will be published on 1 February 2016. Please send contributions for consideration to Ian Sheppard, firstname.lastname@example.org.