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

Rebuilding the foundations

International AOPA has filed its response to the European Aviation Safety Agency’s consultation on the Basic Regulation, the foundation stone of EASA’s rulemaking and something AOPA has been campaigning for almost ten years to change. The full AOPA response to the consultation can be read on the International AOPA Europe website here. The consultation, which has now closed, offers the only opportunity general aviation is likely to get for many years to influence the wording of the most important document in aviation regulation. The Basic Regulation was handed to EASA by the European Commission and can be described as EASA’s job description – EASA then writes the rules that are designed to achieve the Basic Regulation’s intent. But the prescriptive and inflexible nature of the Basic Regulation has caused many problems. This is the first real opportunity to change it. In its response AOPA seeks fundamental change to reflect the fact that EASA is making hunch-based regulation with no data to underpin its decisions. We also seek the revisiting of definitions in the Basic Regulation, such as the definition of commercial operations, and the thrust of AOPA's case is to promote a move towards proportionate, risk-based regulation for general aviation rather than seeking to impose a one-size-fits-all system on both commercial air transport and GA.
EASA is already moving in the right direction with the GA Roadmap, and there is a recognition at the Agency that a new approach is needed. Modifications of the Basic Regulation are a prerequisite for that work to go ahead. The full AOPA response to the consultation can be read on the International AOPA Europe website here.

Getting China off the ground

The International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations met in Beijing in September for its 27th World Assembly as guests of AOPA China. IAOPA, the world’s biggest pilots’ association with some 400,000 members, meets every two years to plan strategy and make resolutions for presentation to governments, ICAO in Montreal, and national aviation authorities around the world – the only aviation organisation to do this. To see the full slate of resolutions passed by the Assembly, click here and look at the World Assembly report.
This year, the emphasis was very much on what global GA can do to help China. There’s never been a boomtown like Beijing. Leave for a year and you’ll hardly know it when you get back, the pace of progress is so furious. Capitalism red in tooth and claw bulldozes bureaucracy like fire through ice, the world’s most expensive real estate abuts dire poverty, the quick make billions while the pedestrian lose their shirts. China now uses more energy than the United States, spends more on e-commerce, and produces twice as many cars – all from a standing start in  a single generation.
For the Chinese, GA growth is hampered by lack of airfields, problems with access to airspace, inability to train pilots, and bureaucratic inertia. Last year Chinese GA increased the number of hours flown by only 8%. The number of GA aircraft in the country increased by more than that, which means aircraft are sitting on the ground for want of permissions to fly, pilots to fly them, and airfields to go to.
But the potential is fantastic. The number of super-rich Chinese – with personal assets over £10 million – has topped 70,000. Those who would fly are young, passionate about aviation, and they have their own ways of dealing with logjams. International AOPA’s President Mark Baker used the World Assembly to bring home to the Chinese authorities just what they’re missing by failing to give GA a fair wind. “General aviation in America supports 1.2 million jobs and pumps $150 billion into the economy every year,” he said. “That’s a country of 360 million people – just imagine what is possible in China, with 1.3 billion people!”
The Assembly made a number of resolutions asking the Chinese government to allow GA more freedom, relaxing restrictions on airspace access, allowing fuel to be made more widely available, keeping taxes and fees on general aviation in check. There are signs that the government is listening and wants to see GA succeed in China – the World Assembly coincided with the Fourth Annual Low Altitude Economy Summit, to which some 350 Chinese aviation enterprises came to hear news of official encouragement. The investors are certainly not jumping ship – the potential is mind-boggling, and the benefits will spill out around the world.
For the non-Chinese delegates, there was also heartening news on the regulation and restriction which is stifling the industry almost everywhere outside North America. ICAO Secretary General Raymond Benjamin said it was clear that GA regulation had not been done well, and there was a mood for change. This awakening has its genesis in Europe, where national authorities and EASA are making positive changes that are aimed at reversing the decline of GA, the cause of which is over-regulation and over-taxation.

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China's chicken-and-egg dilemma

Chinese interests already own a significant part of the world’s GA industry, including companies like Continental, Cirrus, Mooney, Enstrom and Brantly. There is a huge passion for flying, and it comes from young professional men and women with the means and the desire to fly. The World Assembly adopted a raft of resolutions aimed at helping to get general aviation established in China, urging the authorities to adopt Class G airspace, to allow avgas to be made available without restrictions, and to impose only reasonable taxes on aircraft. And it sought to encourage all governments to recognise the benefits that general aviation can provide to the economy if accompanied by minimum state intervention and control.
The first day of the IAOPA World Assembly incorporated China’s Fourth Annual Low Altitude Economy Summit, to which some 350 representatives of GA-related industries in China had come. China has 129 GA companies, and there are 1,092 GA aircraft with 1,655 pilots, including 458 PPLs and 507 LSA pilots. According to the Civil Aviation Authority of China, the industry flew 510,000 hours in 2013, 75 percent of them in training. More than 90 percent of GA companies, however, are unprofitable.
China has come from nowhere to be the largest car producer in the world, now making over 22 million cars a year, twice as many as the USA. It had surpassed the US with $300 billion in e-commerce sales, a growth rate of 99% per annum since 2006. China is already the world’s largest energy consumer. Some 25 million people are moving from the country to the cities each year – equivalent to the creating of a new New York annually. The number of high net worth individuals is increasing exponentially. There are 400 executive jets in China, up from 80 in seven years, but one third of the fleet is based in Hong Kong and Macau. The number of airports had grown, but remained minuscule compared to the population.
Strong policy signals are issuing from central government to loosen up the skies to facilitate general aviation, but there are chicken-and-egg problems – for instance, you can’t have an industry with no pilots, and you need an industry to train pilots.
AOPA China is working hard to promote ‘air-mindedness’ among the youth. Director Chen Wei, the first Chinese private pilot to fly around the world – a successful entrepreneur, he used his TBM700 to visit 40 cities in 21 countries in 2011, and was the first person to land a single-engined aircraft at Beijing International Airport – is behind a prize of one million RMB for the first female to emulate his achievement and fly around the world. In time, China is determined to become the world’s pre-eminent GA nation.

GA flying in China

Delegates to the 27th IAOPA World Assembly in Beijing were able to go to a private airfield and fly in a private helicopter over the Great Wall of China – something that would have been thought impossible only a few years ago. Visibility was less than 5km but Beijing’s notorious air was relatively pollution free. Height varied from 1,000 to a couple of hundred feet. The private airfield at Badaling is owned by the company that built the Birds Nest Olympic stadium. Chinese pilots are also trained at Badaling, where the fleet includes a number of Robinson and Eurocopter helicopters and Cirrus fixed-wing. It is difficult to fly outside the 16km square training area, but a start has been made.
*A full description of flying in China appears in this month’s AOPA UK magazine General Aviation, available in page-turner form on the IAOPA Europe website here

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Meet the President

The World Assembly afforded international delegates their first opportunity to meet Mark Baker, who for the last year has been President of AOPA US, a position which effectively carries with it the Presidency of International AOPA. Mark Baker is a businessman through and through, having held executive positions in some leading American corporations, including Home Depot. Most recently he was Chief Executive of the major national retail chain Orchard Supply Hardware.
He’s also a near-fanatical aviator. Since selling his van as a student to buy an elderly Cessna 150 he has owned more than 100 aeroplanes and helicopters and has flown over 7,500 hours.
Heavily consumer-focused, he is a relentless optimist who sees opportunity where others see obstacles, and he has no time for the defeatism that creeps into general aviation. And in China he sees the greatest opportunities of all. “I’ve been travelling in China since the mid-1980s, doing business with Chinese companies, and it’s difficult to describe the phenomenal progress I have seen in that time,” he says.
“It’s hard to look out at Beijing now and imagine the streets full of bicycles, where just occasionally you’d see a car, maybe a truck. In just one generation the Chinese have become by far the biggest manufacturers of cars in the world. When I talk about optimism for general aviation, I think of two guys making bicycles in Ohio 110 years ago, and of what that has led to. General aviation has a bright future – and when I talk about a bright future, I mean in China and across the world.”

A friend to GA?

There are fears that the aviation industry, and in particular general aviation, will not prosper from the appointment of a Green as Chairman of the European Union’s Transport Committee.
Michael Cramer is a former teacher who decries car ownership and has travelled only by bicycle or public transport since 1979. During his time as Chairman, he says, he will be “focussing on green matters”. As a Green leader he was instrumental in forcing through flawed emissions regulations which had to be watered down when they were shown to be unworkable. He is on record as having said that the European aviation industry pays €14 billion too little tax.
He was responsible for introducing the Berlin Wall Trail, a 90-mile cycle path along the route of the Wall, and is in the process of developing a 4,000 mile cycle trail along the full length of the old Iron Curtain. 

GA progress continues in Greece

The Regional Meeting of IAOPA Europe was held in Greece at the end of September, coinciding with Athens Flying Week. The show attracted thousands of spectators even though the weather was bad. Last year’s record of 50,000 tickets sold was not surpassed, but Athens Flying Week remains the biggest air show in South East Europe and the organisation, in which AOPA Greece is heavily involved, has improved to put the show on a similar footing to any other in Europe. Among the VIP visitors of were Craig Spence, General Secretary of IAOPA, Martin Robinson, Senior Vice President of IAOPA, and AOPA delegates from many countries. Greece has made enormous strides in general aviation in the last ten years, although there is some way to go before it can achieve its objective of becoming “the Florida of Europe” for GA. Airspace classifications must be adopted, and bureaucratic requirements for flight must be relaxed.

EASA loosens up on ATOs

International AOPA has reiterated its advice to Registered Facilities – providers of basic flight training in many countries – to hold off from applying for Approved Training Organisation status until EASA has sorted out problems dogging the conversion.
Many registered Facilities (RFs) have already done the work and spent the money required to attain Approved Training Organisation (ATO) status, but changes now in train mean that time and money may have been wasted. There is a broad acceptance at EASA and among national authorities that the system is too complicated and expensive, adds no safety value and must be changed.
Jacob Pedersen of AOPA Denmark told the Regional Meeting: “Metres of documents on a shelf do not a good flying school make, and the thrust now is to reduce the paperwork, delegate more, simplify administration, empower the instructor, collect data that shows what’s important, and make the rules more understandable.”
An extension of the transition time for RFs to ATOs is up for a vote shortly. The proposal is that the deadline should be moved three years forward from April 2015 to April 2018. During the delay period, RFs will be allowed to train for the EASA Light Aircraft Pilots Licence as well as the PPL. The changes could be radical; EASA may even reanimate the whole RF system.
The general aviation sub-group of the EASA’s Safety Standards Consultative Committee, which is chaired by AOPA Germany’s Dr Michael Erb, has the task of presenting EASA with a list of urgent action items by January 2015. “In EASA terms that’s very quick,” Jacob said. “The Agency is also establishing a Focal Point Network internally, so one person in each department is dedicated to GA, which will be a great improvement. They are also moving to empower individual staff so they can make sensible decisions rather than sticking to rigid procedures.”

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Changes on maintenance and more

EASA is expected shortly to issue ‘opinions’ to alleviate some problems. On maintenance, the Agency will soon publish a list of standard changes and repairs to make life easier for those who want to install new equipment. On certain items there will be no need for consultation or Design Organisation involvement, which should keep costs down. There is also an opinion in the works on licences for GA aircraft mechanics, making it simpler for engineers who work with larger aircraft to get GA tickets – up to now, it’s not been worthwhile for them because of all the additional training. EASA is looking to simplified programmes and airworthiness reviews where an owner can self-declare his maintenance programme, with no approval required by the national authority. This is expected to be adopted in the near future.
EASA seems to be rethinking its contention that business-owned clubs will be less safe than member-owned clubs because of the profit motive, so they should be regulated more heavily. There is no evidence to back it up. 

Licence conversion delay?

It is proposed that the deadline for adopting EASA’s third-country licence plans for non-commercial pilots be extended by a year to April 2016 to allow problems to be addressed. There is a proposal that any European member state will be allowed to validate a PPL for up to 28 days so pilots can accomplish a “task of specific duration”. More clarity is needed.
EASA has made a subtle change in its requirements for credits towards the new instrument flying qualifications – instead of IFR time, applicants are required to log ‘instrument flight time’, the time spent flying solely with reference to instruments. But over the years they have not been logging every minute they flew through a cloud. The difficulties of addressing this are compounded by the fact that in the UK, thousands of IMC rating holders log only ‘instrument flight time’ and cannot log any IFR time. So a simple reversion to IFR time is meaningless.
EASA’s split between ELA 1 and ELA 2 aircraft is another problem. A Cessna 172 can be ELA1, a Cessna 182 is ELA 2. Martin Robinson told the Regional Meeting: “Just as the JAAs killed off multi-engine ownership, we will further damage to GA as people are driven down to avoid more onerous, expensive and pointless over-regulation. I don’t understand why EASA needs to make differences for 450 kg, 1200 kg, 2000 kg or 5400 kg aircraft. The system must be simplified. If they want differences for maintainers, it should be on the basis of composites, wood and fabric, relevant physical differences. At the moment it’s completely arbitrary.”

Some you win, some you lose...

Many AOPAs had stories of small victories, and small setbacks, in their relentless campaigns to improve the lot of general aviation in their countries.
*AOPA Switzerland has scored a major coup by saving the Dubendorf airbase for aviation. With six partners including the Swiss Air Ambulance and the Swiss Aero Club AOPA founded a joint stock operation and the government has agreed to put them in charge of Dubendorf. Jan Karbe of AOPA Switzerland said: “There is still a lot of work to do. The 2,300 metre concrete runway must be shortened to provide space for an innovation centre and other major works are in prospect.”
*Jacob Pedersen reminded members that using the AOPA Aircrew Card could result in discounts of up to 80 percent, especially on airport hotels – but you had to call ahead and ask what the aircrew rate was, then make a booking on that basis. Simply turning up and producing the card was not the best option.
*Billy Costa of AOPA Greece said clubs in Greece were prevented from selling avgas because of the non-profit rules. This led to a situation where they were giving fuel away, while charging €200 or €300 for a cup of coffee.
*In Lebanon, a long-running campaign by AOPA to get the country to adopt the FAAs had not produced the desired result; Lebanon is to adopt EASA regulations.
*In Spain, AOPA has worked with airport operators to improve GA facilities to the point where they can be designated as ‘GAFA’, or GA Friendly Airport. Charts will in future reflect which airports have attained this status.
*Iceland has built its relationship with the CAA to the point where it is now consulted at the first opportunity when changes are proposed – a significant improvement from the old situation. This helped the country avoid the Cessna SID problem that Germany is experiencing.
*AOPA Sweden is fighting the case of a member who may have his pilots licence revoked for refusing to pay crippling Swedish fees. Members have been told they may obtain their licences in the Czech Republic, where they cost €20. AOPA-Sweden is designing guides for flagging out and has launched one for licensing in Denmark. The next will cover the Czech Republic and Poland. They are also close to issuing a guide for new aircraft registration, looking at some Baltic states. Sweden is also working on getting GPS approaches accepted.

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Speaking in tongues

ICAO’s Language Proficiency requirements are causing havoc across Europe, where they have been introduced in an ad hoc fashion and nobody understands what is required of them. In some countries companies are making obscene profits from this mess – a language proficiency certificate costs €400 in Austria – and it desperately needs to be cleaned up.
Philippe Hauser of AOPA Switzerland is International AOPA’s lead on this, and he is meeting with officials at ICAO’s European branch office in Paris to try to foster some understanding of the problems that have been caused. IAOPA has maintained all along that the requirement for all pilots to attain Level 4 ‘conversational’ English, while possibly workable for Commercial Air Transport, was hopelessly unsuited to GA operations.
A survey by Philippe Hauser sought to find out how European countries interpreted ICAO’s rules. Twenty countries provided answers. Questions and answers included the following:
Q: At small airfields, is it allowed to speak in another language than stated in the pilot’s RT endorsement?
A: Yes (5 countries) No (15)
Q: Is a language proficiency Level 4 in English required for radio communications at small airfields?
A: Yes (14) No (6)
Q: Are pilots allowed to talk in English at small uncontrolled airfields?
A: Yes (17) No (3)
IAOPA points out that in ICAO’s Annex 10, Volume II, it is stipulated that RT communications shall be conducted either in the language of the station on the ground or in English, and that English shall be made available when pilots are unable to use the language of the station on the ground. Furthermore, ICAO provisions do not in any way limit the use of a national, regional or local languages but recognise the practical requirement for English to be available for the many pilots who do not speak the national language of a particular state.
Having fought throughout ICAO’s processes on this issue to have non-commercial aviation exempted from the requirements, IAOPA is now requesting that beside any national languages, English should be allowed at all stations. And Level 4 conversational English certification should be required only in Class D airspace and above. There is some evidence that ICAO now realises its requirement is detrimental to both aviation and safety.

AOPA Russia's new Tracker

This summer AOPA-Russia has introduced a new software service for the Russian aviation community – AOPA-Tracker.
Satellite tracking devices such as SPOT or Delorme InReach are already used by thousands of pilots worldwide. These trackers can provide much-needed help when the pilot is able to press the ‘SOS’ button, but they lack automatic alerting capability for when the pilot can’t press the button or the device becomes inoperative because of an accident.
Russia, with its vast territory and lack of adequate SAR services, needs the very best alerting system, which AOPA-Tracker provides. With AOPA-Tracker, flight progress is monitored and rescue procedures is activated when necessary, even if the pilot is unable to call for help.
AOPA-Tracker monitors flights by logging moving tracking points, and expects an ‘OK’ message to be received after a successful landing. If the tracking points disappear, or are transmitted repeatedly from a single location, AOPA-Tracker first attempts to notify the pilot by sending an SMS message to a mobile phone. The pilot can reset the warning by replying by SMS, clicking on a web link or sending an ‘OK’ message from the satellite tracker. If that does not happen, in 20 minutes SMS messages will be sent to emergency contacts.
The service is currently free for anyone to use. AOPA-Russia membership is not required. The service and all messages are Russian-language only. If you want to try the service and are ready to deal with Cyrillic letters, check it out at http://aopa.ru/index.php?id=73 (you may also try google translate at http://translate.google.com).

Airport manager to appear in court

The airport manager of the island of Santorini in Greece has been summoned to appear in the local court after accusations from AOPA Greece that he was refusing landing permission to general aviation aircraft by claiming there was no parking space. When challenged he produced a list of light aircraft that were supposedly parked at Santorini on a certain date, occupying every parking space. AOPA Greece noticed that most of the aircraft on the list had Swiss registrations. With the help of AOPA Switzerland they contacted their owners and pilots, who said they were not at Santorini airport on that date. As a result, AOPA Greece has appealed to the court. The case is scheduled for January 28, 2015. This is the first time in Greece that a GA organisation has sought court action to protect pilots’ right to fly. Anton Koutsoudakis of AOPA Greece adds: “It should be noted that cooperation between various AOPAs in Europe may produce important results.”

Bromma lost to most of general aviation

AOPA Sweden reports that Bromma Airport in Stockholm is now closed to General Aviation except for large business jets. Airport authorities want to upgrade the status and have said there is no more space at airport for GA. Stockholm is worst capital in Europe for GA. The city doesn’t have an airport with hard runways for small GA aircraft. AOPA Sweden has appelead the upgrade decision and expects to get its day in court soon. The closest IFR-airport after Arlanda is now 100 km from downtown Stockholm.
AOPA Sweden has also launched an Airport Watch Network program with the objective of staying ahead of any thoughts of airport closures or limitations for GA. This is a joint programme with the Frivilliga Flygkåren, an organisation like the US Civil Air Patrol but with more responsibilities for relief missions. Together they have representatives at more the 50% of Sweden's larger airports.

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