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

EASA promises change – but can it deliver?

The European Aviation Safety Agency has admitted its regulation of general aviation has been misguided, and its Executive Director Patrick Ky says it must change its whole approach to the industry. How that is to be done remains to be seen.
EASA’s general aviation safety conference in Rome – the best-attended event the Agency has ever staged – attracted more than 350 GA industry leaders from 29 countries who uniformly excoriated EASA for its handling of general aviation regulation. Some warned that much of the industry must collapse unless there is rapid and fundamental change.
During the opening session M Ky, perhaps thinking out loud, said: “EASA is not answering your expectations. We have the GA Road Map, but we must also change the mindset of the regulators. Their role is to regulate, and most of the GA regulations have a background in commercial air transport. How do we educate those regulators to have a more proportionate attitude to GA? This is one of the most challenging tasks.”
While European labour laws make it very difficult to make personnel changes at EASA, the fact that the man at the top is wondering how to effect change leaves a lot of questions open. A theme of the conference was the repeated assertion by industry figures that while there may be an appetite for change at the top, it didn’t seem to be filtering down to the people we have to deal with every day, who are as pedantic, bureaucratic and unreasoning as ever.
And outside the Agency, there is a desperation for a new deal. Every sector of general aviation is suffering, especially those like gliding and ballooning who have maintained an impeccable safety record but who now face new dangers and vastly increased burdens of bureaucracy and cost because they fall under EASA’s remit.

Criticism of EASA at every level

Some of EASA’s most trenchant critics are in positions of influence – Patrick Gandil, Executive Director of the French DGAC, Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the British CAA, and Grant Shapps MP, a general aviation pilot who is one of the most powerful men in the British government. They heard Patrick Ky say that while 250 fatalities a year in general aviation was too many, he did not believe that regulation could save them. Education and training were the key.
Patrick Gandil, pictured here with Patrick Ky, said: “Safety is a political decision. It is not the same for buses and cars, or very big boats and little sailing ships, and it’s impossible to ask private pilots to attain the same level as commercial pilots. We must accept what society accepts in every other sport. Skiing is unsafe. The problem is to be reasonable in the difference. We must begin with some hierarchy of risk depending on the activity.”
He blamed many accidents on regulators’ decision to make IFR flying qualifications difficult and suggested that the UK IMC rating should be made available across Europe. Over-regulation, he added, was a curse on the industry. “Every pilot must easily know the regulations. Now it is impossible for a pilot to know all the regulations, even a professional. Knowledge of general aviation is mainly in the parties involved, and we must delegate to the parties the management of GA.”
But the British were most forthright in their condemnation of the current regime. Grant Shapps MP said: “In Britain we have been literally killing GA for 30, 40, 50 years by coating it in a blanket of bureaucracy intended to drive up safety standards. But we have lost sight of the things that make the GA industry thrive. You can’t have an industry if you make it so difficult, complex and expensive to develop new aircraft, to train pilots, if you require so much paper-chasing that it becomes impossible for the average person to get involved. General aviation is the foundation of a thriving aerospace community, providing mechanics and engineers, avionics experts, training pilots, one of the most exportable skills in the world – and we seem to think that it’s good enough to be followers, so that if the FAA does something, a decade later we should do the same thing.
“After flying for 15 years, I was shocked to discover there was somebody called the ‘Head of Rulemaking’. The fact that we have people whose entire job is to make up rules tells you everything you need to know about regulation in Europe. It’s nonsense and it has to end – it makes no sense.”

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How safe is safe enough?

AOPA representatives from the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and Italy attended the conference where over two days, speakers of every nationality berated EASA for driving good GA companies out of business and imposing intolerable burdens on the survivors. IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson and AOPA Germany Managing Director Michael Erb were among the panellists in a series of discussions of aspects of EASA’s work, of which safety was the first.
Patrick Ky noted that 200 aircraft had been destroyed in 2013 and 600 badly damaged, while only 170 new aircraft had been bought. So the fleet is shrinking. “Why?” he asked. “Is it because of price? Is it because we are strangling the industry?” He added that America’s GA accident rate was 50 percent better than that of Europe. “Why?” he asked again. “Is it because the regulations are better, the weather is better, the training is better?”

Martin Robinson said part of the reason was that European GA pilots were not able to fly enough to maintain the level of proficiency of their American counterparts. The average UK pilot was flying less than 30 hours a year. “The CAMO system put maintenance costs up by 25 to 30 percent,” he said. “Pilots have a finite amount of money to spend. There was no evidence that the CAMO route would improve safety, but it reduced proficiency.
He added that safety should not be confused with absence of risk. “It’s difficult to find a definition, but the word ‘tolerable’ might be useful. We can’t be complacent, but tolerable does not mean acceptable. Rules need to be focused on where the risks lie, and they need to be proportionate, open, and transparent.
“Rules do not reduce fatal accidents caused by pilots’ attitude to risk. The biggest human factors are ignorance and arrogance. Ignorance can be addressed, arrogance is more difficult. We cannot legislate to protect people from themselves. But the best safety device is a well-trained pilot, able to appraise risk.”
Pekka Harttu, Director General of the Finnish Transport Safety Agency, said that Finland had a significantly worse safety record than other countries, yet its GA was more heavily regulated and it had outsourced no tasks. Finland looked enviously at the UK’s accident rate and noted that regulation was lighter there, and some tasks were delegated to aviation associations and other bodies. A change of emphasis was needed.
Finally, Grant Shapps questioned fundamental concepts of GA safety. “We can make GA 100 percent safe,” he said. “We can prevent every accident, and the way to do is regulate to the point where it is impossible to fly. That is too often the attitude of regulators. We believe individuals are free to take risks. They can rock climb, ski, base jump, ride horses… why do we have a different attitude to GA? It’s because we regulate GA for passengers, as we do for commercial aviation, and it is wrong.”

Haines’s seven-step programme

Nobody went further than Andrew Haines in calling for urgent, radical change. The UK CAA Chief Executive said: “I want to reject the idea that regulation equals safety – I do not believe it. But we’re going to have to be radical to get momentum. There are seven things we need to do urgently:
*We must delegate more back to national authorities. The pace at which EASA can work across 31 states is too slow. We cannot afford to move at the pace of the slowest, most conservative country. We are trying to stop things getting worse – that’s not a road to radical improvement.
*We need to raise the bar on regulation. The introduction of an age limit for ballooning was an absurdity. We had to produce all this evidence to remove a regulation for which there was no basis.
*We have to look at what we do as regulators. As an exercise, I decided to see how many PPL exams I could pass by simply skimming the revision notes at the back, without doing any work. I scraped through the first three exams. Are we really preparing pilots to fly?
*Martin Robinson took me to an airfield where there was an aircraft in a shocking state – my inspectors had never seen it. They never get out of the office. The paperwork has become more important than getting out and looking, particularly with regard to Part M. We have to make it easier to adopt modifications which have self-evidence safety advantages, for which the safety benefits have already been demonstrated.
*We need to delegate more to the associations, which is where a lot of the expertise lies. And the sector needs to be more ambitious to take this on.
*We must stop reinventing the wheel. There’s a lot Europe can learn from the US, but we seem to be insistent on developing our own regimes as a protectionist measure.
*And finally, I would love to have a competence and fitness test for suitability to fly. There are people who self-evidently shouldn’t be flying, but we don’t have the toolkit that allows you to take their licences away. I think it’s a reasonable trade-off, if you’re a persistent poor performer.”

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The dead hand of EASA

Few speakers were more eloquent than balloon maker Don Cameron and world gliding champion Steve Jones. Cameron said EASA had been a disaster for ballooning, with the increased regulatory burden, none of which had added anything to safety, threatening to kill the sport. “If the latest pilot licensing proposals had gone ahead, the cost of sport ballooning would have risen even more. It costs about €180 per hour to run a balloon. On top of that it would have taken €360 per hour to satisfy the regulators, a tripling of costs. This does not count the waste of time which would have been caused. Its cancellation is a relief.
“Balloons are simple devices – little more than bags of hot air controlled by a few ropes. They have been flying for 231 years and they do not resemble aeroplanes in any way. They have a lower fatal accident rate per million hours than any other form of sporting flight. They do not need regulations that have been developed for aeroplanes. Other sports like sailing, mountaineering and horse riding are more dangerous, but do not have to suffer aeroplane rules.
“We had voluntary airworthiness control in the UK for 40 years and there was no accident which greater control could have prevented. Most other European countries had compulsory airworthiness certification. The result was that most of the innovations took place in the UK and the safety culture evolved by the BBAC was the best in Europe. Most of the world records were achieved by British pilots or in British-built balloons. Special-shape balloons were first produced in the UK. Hot-air airships were first produced in the UK. Large balloons for passenger carrying were first produced in the UK. This is not because the British are more intelligent than people in other countries; it is because freedom allowed progress to take place.”
Steve Jones joked that he quite liked the EASA paperwork regime because it had put 25 percent of his competition out of business. “This reduction of competition is not healthy for the future of gliding,” he said. “I hope EASA are proud of their achievement. Any reconciliation begins with an apology, but I haven’t heard anything like an apology from EASA about this effect on my business.
“In the last ten years maintenance-related accident figures have not changed at all, but safety has got worse and EASA is responsible. Implementing change is nearly impossible – the time and the costs are prohibitive. If making these small changes is simplified down to a few internal changes, we might kill a few less people each year.”

We curse the darkness – only EASA can light the candle

How realistic are the prospects for the sort of radical change that is required? Patrick Ky talked in terms of slow change over years, while some of his senior men such as Maintenance Regulations Manager Juan Anton and Aircrew and Medical Regulations Manager Matthias Borgmeier seemed unconvinced that it was vital to change course right now.
M Ky has created a specific GA department which will handle all GA rulemaking activity, a big improvement over having rules made remotely by people who didn’t understand their subject. “I arrived 13 months ago, and we have made progress,” he said. “Let’s organise a conference in one or two years time, to look at two, three or four years of our activity to see if we have delivered. The way to increase safety in GA is to alleviate the regulatory burden we are imposing on this sector. It will take time, but I think we will get there – more slowly than the UK, but I think your initiative shows us the way. We can learn from your example.”
Those of us who hope to last in general aviation a few years more can only watch and wait.

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Finland’s second busiest airport to be closed 

Malmi Airport, EFHF, used by business aviation and aerial work operators as well as Border Guard base, flying clubs and several flight training organisations, will be closed down in 2016 to make way for houses development. The decision was made in the framework budget talks earlier this year as a part of an austerity plan to transform the area into housing for up to 30,000 people.
Consultants employed by the Ministry of Transport and Communication told them what they wanted to hear – that all Helsinki-Malmi aviation activities can be transferred to another uncontrolled airport outside the Helsinki area. They also say there us no need to construct a new airport, something the authorities have promised many times. The Ministry’s figures are wildly inaccurate. As an example, it says that there are only 5-10,000 GA operations, but Finavia statistics reveal that the correct number is 36,000.
Almost half of all Finnish pilots and nearly two-thirds of all Finnish professional pilots get their training at Malmi Airport. Finavia has been complaining that it is subsidising general aviation with enormous sums every year. Unfortunately there are no friends of general aviation in government. Those who understand GA are in the minority, and in opposition.

Airspace change in Finland and new aeronautical charts 

Finavia, the Finnish national airport, passenger and air navigation service provider, has produced training material for general aviation concerning an airspace update with effect from November 13 2014. The material is available on the AIS website here. The training material is only in Finnish.
The website contains information about the change and its effect, especially for general aviation. Its purpose is to ensure the fluent and safe introduction of the new airspace. The website aims to present the most important changes in a clear and easily understandable format. Feedback of the training package may be sent to this email address.
AIP AIRAC AMDT 02/2014, effective Nov 13 2014, can be downloaded here. AMDT contains 13 NOV 2014 valid airspace change as well as applicable parts of Single European Rules of Air (SERA) implementation. You can download of AIS Products and Services from here.

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Flying lessons... by Glen Burridge on

“I want to return to those who guide us along our way in aviation. For each new skill or legal right that can be conducted with an aircraft we will need to be tested. We call these people Examiners and we will meet a number of them at regular or specific moments. For our journey there, we will be accompanied by Instructors.” Read more