Across the Pond #23: Report from Europe

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Across the Pond

IAOPA Concerns On NPA for Crew Licensing

An influential industry voice is expressing concern about some of the new proposed regulations for flight crew licensing (see last month's report). IAOPA, the European branch of the Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association warns that although some of the suggestions make good sense, there are also truly "dreadful" ideas. Jacob Pedersen of AOPA-Denmark said that there's a lot of good in the EASA proposals, especially in the ICAO medical requirements, abandoned by the JAA. People who fell foul of JAR medical requirements would be able to retain their licenses under EASA. Also worthy of commendation, IAOPA says, is that the new proposals reintroduce the PPL instructor, eliminating the requirement to demonstrate a "CPL level of theoretical knowledge" before you can be paid to instruct. However, the proposals mean that it would no longer be easily possible to base an N-registered aircraft in Europe and fly it on an FAA license. IAOPA's says many pilots in Europe fly on FAA licenses and ratings because European regulation is so full of flaws. IAOPA has several key concerns with the EASA FCL proposal: including more paperwork, the safety of the new Leisure Pilots License, the recurrent check ride proposal, and no simplified instrument rating.

Socata Sale

In a piece of good news for new product development, European aerospace giant EADS has sold its Socata division to Daher. The new venture is planning to develop a twin-engine business aircraft. Daher has taken a 70 percent majority share. Patrick Daher, CEO of the Daher Group, said, "With Socata, we are aiming to strengthen our group's presence in the aerospace sector. Socata's expertise in aircraft manufacture will give us a highly beneficial new perspective that will enable us to better meet the needs both of aircraft manufacturers and of the business jet customers we are trying to develop." Daher has pledged to build on the commercial success of Socata's flagship product the TBM 850. The takeover is due to l take place in January 2009.

Even Stronger Showing For Germany's Top Show

Speaking of which, if there's one place in Europe to see what's new in the industry, Aero Friedrichshafen is it. The organizers are pulling out all the stops for the show next year (April 2-9) and are already marketing the event heavily. The show will include a special feature especially for electric powered aircraft - E-flight-expo will showcase environmentally friendly aviation. According to the organizers the 'E' stands for "Ecological, Electrical, and Evolutionary."

Tempelhof Bows Out

Despite much campaigning and tears, Berlin's historic Tempelhof Airport finally closed last month after almost a century of service. The last aircraft to leave the airport were a Junkers Ju-52 and a DC-3 belonging to Air Service Berlin. German authorities are concentrating commercial services at Berlin's other two airports, Schönefeld and Berlin-Tegel, which is also due to close in 2011.

Princely Ambition

In the UK, Prince Harry has followed his big brother into the cockpit, The prince has volunteered to be a helicopter pilot with the Army Air Corps. He will attend "Grading" at Middle Wallop in Hampshire to assess his suitability for a career as an operational helicopter pilot. The four-week program will determine whether he makes the grade. He has already passed the initial Pilot Aptitude Tests at RAF Cranwell. If successful he will start his training in January on a Gazelle, Lynx, or Apache.

Blind Pilot Guided To Safety By The RAF

Britain has a good run of stories this month. Cessna pilot Jim O'Neill had a lucky escape. The 65-year-old was flying solo from Scotland to Essex when he suffered a stroke that put pressure on his optic nerves, causing instant blindness. He broadcast a mayday call and attempted to land at Full Sutton Airfield. He could not land, so RAF Linton-on-Ouse scrambled a Tucano trainer to help him. The RAF pilot flew next to him and guided him to the base via voice instructions over the radio. Station Commander Grp. Capt. Mark Hopkins, said to BBC News: "Shepherding aircraft in this way is something we do from time to time, but this is a very strange case. I'm proud we could get him to the ground safely." Mr O'Neill said: "I should not be alive. I owe my life - and those of dozens of people I could have crash-landed on - to the RAF. It was terrifying. Suddenly I couldn't see the dials in front of me".

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Finally, you've seen it on AVweb already, but I can't bypass the opportunity to write about anything that features a landmark I can see out of my window. British manufacturer Parajet is about to embark on a spectacularly crazy journey. Its "flying car", the two-seater Parajet Skycar can both drive on the road and fly in the sky. Looking like a dune buggy, the vehicle boasts sporty performance and a paraglider wing. It comes from good stock. The team that produced the paramotor that took UK TV explorer Bear Grylls over the Himalayas is working on the Skycar. In 2007, Grylls broke a world record by flying a paramotor over the Himalayas, coping with temperatures of −60 °C and dangerously low oxygen levels to reach 29,500 feet, almost 10,000 feet higher than the previous record. The Skycar's first flight will take it from London to Tombouctou in Mali – a 6,000km maiden voyage through the heart of the Sahara. The expedition team will leave London in January 2009, and travel through France, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Mali to Tombouctou, returning home via Senegal. According to Parajet, the Skycar will reach airspeeds of up to 100mph. The ParaWing can fold into the boot of the car.

Stocking fillers

I can highly recommend two new excellent books by British helicopter pilots this month. Both would make wonderful gifts. "The Helicopter Pilot's Companion" is by author and instructor Helen Krasner and written in her warm and practical style. Helen is one of the UK's most popular helicopter instructors and has a regular column in Flight Training News. Both skills are evident in this easy to read book It costs £12.99 and is published by Airlife. The second is by record breaker Jenny Murray and is an account of her amazing Pole-to-Pole trip. It is not only a breathtaking read, but is also beautifully photographed and would make a wonderful coffee table book. It costs US$49.99. Both are available on www.amazon.com.
For more aviation news and information from Europe, read more of Liz Moscrop's columns, available in AVweb's "Across the Pond" index.