IAOPA-Europe e-newsletter, August 2006

Welcome to the monthly e-news of IAOPA-Europe, which goes out to 23,000 AOPA members across the continent of Europe. This e-news is made possible by our lead sponsor ExxonMobil Aviation Lubricants, whose Elite 20W-50 is the first aviation oil formulation for piston-engine aircraft to appear on the market in more than a decade. (See below)


Mind your language

Europe may go its own way in order to circumvent new ICAO rules on language proficiency which require all pilots to attain a good understanding of everyday English.

Citing safety, ICAO intends that pilots should acquire at least a ‘Level 4’ knowledge of English which would enable them to “fluently communicate on common topics”. They would be tested on their English every three to five years.

The rule would require pilots and air traffic controllers worldwide to undergo language courses lasting weeks or months before they got their licences. IAOPA believes there should be less onerous requirements for private pilots and has been opposing the new rule at ICAO without success.

Now, Dr Michael Erb, managing director of AOPA-Germany, has been told by EASA’s head of rulemaking Claude Probst that the sub-ICAO licence currently being fashioned by EASA’s MDM.032 working group could be flexible enough to get around the problem.

In a letter to Claude Probst, Dr Erb said: “All attempts by the German DoT, IAOPA and others to relax the ICAO requirements have not borne fruit. It will become a very high hurdle for pilots and ATC personnel to show at least a Level 4 in English language proficiency, or in the respective national language used by ATC.
“This is especially the case for those who are not professional pilots but fly as private pilots, and who can’t invest in language courses going over weeks or even months, which are necessary to achieve this Level 4.”

In his reply, Claude Probst says there is a legal basis for flexibility with the new EASA licence and adds: “As we always said – but did not yet convince all (national) regulators – we are envisaging sub-ICAO licences in the EU with the RPPL (Recreational Private Pilots Licence). We do not envisage, however, flexibility for the other licences. I expect that the MDM.032 or a sub-group thereof will be able to articulate proposals for mitigation measures when holders of an RPPL do not master enough English. This could lead to restricted privileges in the licence.”

Like Germany, many states already test their pilots on aeronautical English, but they do not require re-tests every few years.


RPPL takes shape

The MDM.032 working group has not yet discussed the language issue, although it will be raised at the next meeting. The group, on which AOPA-Denmark’s Jacob Pedersen represents IAOPA, has been beavering away on other matters, and the future European entry-level private licence – the RPPL – is taking shape.

The sub-ICAO RPPL will have classes such as glider, ultralight, single engine piston, balloon etc. It can be combined with ratings such as a night qualification or a simplified instrument rating. The training will be competency based, so that a glider or ultralight pilot may use his or her already acquired competencies to step up to a single engine piston or to get a conventional ICAO PPL. The medical would require a General Practitioner’s sign-off, and the licence may be issued by an approved assessment body rather than a national authority.

Based on the latest feedback from the European Council, the upper weight limit for the licence is looking increasingly like 2,000 kg, instead of the 5,700 kg originally proposed by the Commission. Jacob Pedersen says: “The definition of non-complex looks like ending up as 2,000 kg and six or fewer seats, but it may include a turboprop.

“What concerns us is that aircraft between 2,000 kg and 5,700 kg should not be subjected to the full requirements of a management system, operations manual, rest time system and so forth. Also, the fact that the upper limit for the RPPL licence will probably come down underlines the need for a thorough revision of the existing JAR-FCL system. EASA has already recognised that JAR-FCL is too demanding for the Private Pilot Licence and in the A-NPA (Advance Notice of Proposed Amendment) the MDM.032 working group recommends not only to introduce the new PPL, but also to revise the current JAR-FCL regulations.”

Although the EASA licence is referred to as a “recreational” licence, nobody likes the name and it is almost certain to change. Objections centre on the fact that it trivialises the licence and makes its holders an easy target for those who would ban or prevent flying.

The A-NPA is due out in the next week or so, and you will have two months to respond with your comments. Contact your national AOPA for details.


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New deal for GA

The UK Civil Aviation Authority has concluded two separate reviews of general aviation which AOPA-UK hopes will mark a new beginning for the industry in Britain. Other European countries may benefit from the information in the reviews, which are available online, and all AOPAs are invited to download the documents and pass them to their governments.

Most of the general aviation organisations in the UK participated in one or other of the reviews, and AOPA was heavily involved in both of them. The results are influenced by the CAA’s need to paint a positive picture of the health of GA – they have wilfully blinded themselves to many of the facts which point to an industry in decline – and the review chairmen, both CAA executives, have finessed many of GA’s problems in their reports to the CAA Board.

Nonetheless, AOPA believes the reviews provide a baseline from which to take forward an action plan to kick-start the regeneration of GA in Britain. AOPA UK CEO Martin Robinson says that whatever the merits of the reviews, they represent an opportunity for industry, the government and the regulator to take positive action to boost GA. “Let’s forget what’s gone before – let’s use what leverage we now have,” he says. “There’s a lot in the reviews that is positive and welcome.”

Relations between GA and the UK CAA have been disastrously low because of the CAA’s decision to make massive increases in all its charges, and to rebate most of that money to British Airways. Uniquely in the world, the UK CAA is required to claw back 106 percent of its costs from the industry (the extra six percent is “return on capital”) which leads to ludicrous charges – for example, up to 15,000 euros for a licence for an FTO to operate a simulator, plus an annual fee of several thousand euros – and contributes heavily to the continuing export of flight training from the UK. Some UK GA companies are paying almost ten per cent of turnover to the CAA in fees, mostly for ‘services’ they don’t want.

But the CAA needs industry backing to help it fight off the perceived threat of EASA, which opens up opportunities for GA to negotiate a better deal. The Authority now appears to accept that it should have a responsibility to foster the interests of GA, on top of its responsibility to further the interests of the airlines. It has agreed to the establishment of an advisory body, the General Aviation Strategy Forum, for which AOPA is providing the secretariat. Martin Robinson says: “The first positive sign from the review is the CAA has agreed to examine the impact of JAR-FCL on the private pilot and has set up a working group. Our support is contingent upon positive action. It’s pointless having a Regulatory Review that changes no regulation, and a Strategic Review that plans no new strategy. We must have real change.”

The two reviews can be downloaded from http://www.caa.co.uk/default.aspx?categoryid=224&pagetype=87


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Italy moves on VFR safety

After years of complaints someone has shown interest in VFR flight safety in Italy, reports AOPA-Italy’s President Massimo Levy. The Italian National Safety Agency ANSV has published five safety recommendations, which it has sent to the Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC), air traffic control (ENAV) and the Italian Air Force, which provides ATC in military airspace.

The recommendations are simple but at the same time very important. ANSV recommends ENAC, ENAV and the IAF firstly establish a general review of the national airspace structure with a view to reducing the horizontal and vertical size of TMAs and CTRs (Italy has the largest ones in Europe) and, possibly, of their classification (Italy makes ample use of A and C class airspace) in order to make VFR flying safer.

They recommend that it be made easier for transponder-equipped aircraft to cross controlled airspace, limiting the use of compulsory VFR routes only to cases where these are required for the safe and efficient co-ordination of VFR and IFR traffic.

The third recommendation is that compulsory VFR routes should be based upon geographical features that are easy to identify and follow, taking proper account of the topography of the region and of the relevant climate situations like localised fog or haze.

Fourthly, clear and simple reporting points should be identified along these routes, and logical identification names should be established on them, such as N for north and S for south. Everyone flying in Italy knows that reporting points use local geographical names which can be very hard for foreign pilots to pronounce.

Lastly, the recommendation is that different flying altitudes be established for different headings in order to ensure adequate separation from terrain, and to express these altitudes with reference to sea level rather than to the ground level – in Italy, most VFR routes are quoted as 1,000 feet agl.

The relevant authorities must now comply with the ANSV’s suggestions, or explain why they can not. Massimo Levy says: “It has taken a long time, but perhaps now we can begin to make VFR flying in Italy safer.”


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New hope on ELTs

ICAO may revisit its insistence on the mandatory installation of ELTs in general aviation aircraft as a result of representations by IAOPA.

ELTs – emergency locator transmitters – were to have been made mandatory on all aircraft by 2009. But IAOPA has been concerned at their seemingly poor in-service record when set against the cost and difficulty of installing them in every aircraft.

IAOPA’s position is that ELTs are of limited use because they go to the bottom when an aircraft ditches, and preliminary studies seem to indicate that in crashes on land they tend to suffer damage which stops them working, or their transmissions are masked by terrain. IAOPA argues that PLBs – personal locator beacons that remained attached to a pilot or passenger – are a better option.

Although there is a strong body of opinion at ICAO favouring mandatory ELTs for international flights, there is a chance that they will be prepared to allow PLBs as an alternative for non-commercial general aviation aircraft. ICAO will be discussing the ELT issue again at an ELT system performance group meeting in September.


Eurocontrol charges workshop

Eurocontrol is holding a Workshop to discuss the impact of the draft Regulation on a common charging scheme for air navigation services on Monday September 4th at its headquarters in Brussels. If you want to go, register online at www.eurocontrol.int/ses/public/standard_page/wks_registrations_home.html

A presentation of the findings of the written consultation and of the results of a quantitative analysis will be made during the Workshop. Unfortunately (and typically) the questionnaire which formed the written consultation was on the Eurocontrol website for a relatively short time, and was scheduled for removal on August 1st.

For more information on the common charging scheme see www.eurocontrol.int/ses/public/standard_page/sk_chargingschemes.html


Polish Air Rally

There’s still time to take part in the 2006 International Warsaw-Olsztyn-K´trzyn Air Rally, which runs from August 4th to 6th.

Blazej Krupa of AOPA Poland cordially invites any IAOPA member to participate in this, the fourth event of its type, for which an exciting line-up of events is promised.

Pilots are expected at Olsztyn Airport (EPOD) on Friday 4th, and the rally proper begins with a navigation competition from Olsztyn to K´tryzn Wilamowo Airport (EPKE). There will also be an Aviation Fair and an evening social event at the Aviator’s Tavern at K´tryzn Wilamowo Airport. On Sunday there will be individual tour flights over the Mazurian Lakes District.

For a late entry contact Blazej Krupa on +48 602 556 061 or email b.krupa@ktlaopa.pl.


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