Thanks to everyone who has written to me with appreciative comments and suggestions. To the writer who questioned my use of "gotten" last time, I can only say I've "gotten" a great deal of pleasure from the feedback. Keep it coming!
The British government is to conduct a strategic review of the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). Led by Sir Joseph Pilling, the report will cover "... the structure, scope and organization of the authority -- i.e., looking at how it can perform most effectively in future." Regulation and law making are under scrutiny, attempting to find the best practice in corporate governance and the regulatory framework which now exists in the EU with the creation of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Single European Sky.
The reviewers will be seeking the views of the aviation industry and other stakeholders. The review is expected to conclude in 2008.
Also in the UK the Light Aviation Airports Study Group (LAASG) earlier this year proposed that the current aerodrome license requirement for flying training be removed. The group further proposed that flight training at non-licensed aerodromes be conducted in accordance with a code of practice, for use under either an industry-led, or CAA-designated and enhanced flight training organization (FTO) regulatory regime. A draft code of practice, prepared by the group, can be found here.
LAASG was formed during 2005 to discuss and develop proposals relating to the regulation of light-aviation aerodromes and operations and, in particular, the aerodrome licensing and regulatory arrangements outlined in Article 126 of the Air Navigation Order 2005. Membership consisted of CAA and industry groups.
LAASG reported its findings in January 2006, which included three recommendations to the CAA, all three of which the CAA accepted. LAASG proposed that the requirement for flying training to be conducted at a licensed aerodrome be removed and that alternative arrangements be put in place -- e.g., a code of practice or enhancement of FTO approval -- to maintain safety levels for flying training to supplement the requirements in JAR Flight Clearance Letter (FCL). LAASG also noted that the current UK requirement for certain types of flying training to be conducted at a licensed aerodrome was at variance with a number of regimes in continental Europe. There was no evidence to suggest that the absence of such criteria would adversely affect the safety of training flights, since accident and incident data show that flying training is not a significant aerodrome-related risk. The proposals resulting from the review have been drawn together into a consultation letter.
If you wish to comment, there is an online questionnaire, which can be completed and returned electronically. The closing date for comments is Jan. 3, 2008.
British pilots will also benefit from Air Traffic Services Outside Controlled Airspace (ATSOCAS). Flying outside controlled airspace in Class F and G airspace has caused confusion for many GA pilots, particularly flying around highly congested airspace such as near London in the U.K. The CAA has initiated a review to clarify matters. The new Airspace and Safety Initiative (ASI) is an initiative proposed between the CAA National Air Traffic Services (NATS) and the Ministry of Defense The ASI Web site aims to become the major destination for airspace information. The consultation process ends on Dec. 14, 2007, and the new procedures should come into effect in April 2008. The CAA is soliciting comments.
The are a great many developments originating within EASA, a key one of which is finding a means of better regulation for the lighter aircraft within GA. The MDM 032 working group has been set up to progress this work and it is nearing publication of its results after some 18 months of work. An Advance Notice of Proposed Amendment (ANPA) was published in late 2006, which resulted in an unprecedented response, with some 4,000+ respondents making more than 7,500 comments. EASA has had to develop new database systems to allow it to handle this volume of data and the Comment Response Document (CRD) should be published before the end of the year.
A subgroup is looking at the introduction of a simplified private pilot's license to be adopted across the whole of Europe. This work recognizes that the qualifying criteria of the Joint Aviation Authority Flight Crew Licensing have discouraged new entrants to light aviation. This work is building on national licenses such as the U.K. National Private Pilots License (NPPL) to develop a new European Light Aircraft Pilots License (LAPL). The LAPL is likely to have similar criteria to the U.K. NPPL and allow holders to fly aircraft of up to 2000 kg maximum weight. A number of issues are still to be finalized, including medical criteria.
Tecnam's new light twin aircraft, the P2006T, flew for the first time last month from the company's manufacturing base at Capua Airport in Italy. The company says that the Rotax-powered aircraft is aimed as direct competition to the single-engine Cirrus SR20, Piper Archer and Arrow, Cessna 172 and Diamond DA-40.
Until recently, there has been a sketchy knowledge of ultralight accidents in Spain, since accidents were only voluntarily reported and not investigated. This shed no light on the major causes of most accidents. Safety awareness and knowledge within the ultralight community plunged. Two years ago AOPA-Spain proposed to the Commission on Investigation of Accidents and Incidents of Civil Aviation (CIAIAC) to work with the ultralight community to investigate ultralight accidents and incidents. CIAIAC has now signed an agreement with Royal Aeronautical Federation of Spain (RAFE) to collaborate on determining causes of ultralight accidents. Eventually, other air sport activities will be covered under this agreement, including gliders and other types of air sport aircraft.
AOPA-Spain president Marlies Campi said, "This is a very important achievement for AOPA-Spain, one that we have been working on for two years. Prior to this, CIAIAC would only publish an annual report of accidents that had been reported. This agreement will mean that for the first time in Spain's ultralight history, accidents and incidents will be reported, studied, and safety recommendations made."
In yet another instance of AOPA working for GA pilots, IAOPA and the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) have asked ICAO to modify their language-proficiency standards for VFR pilots. The joint working paper noted that "... the requirement for a pilot to meet the high levels of language proficiency specified in the new standard while operating under VFR and in non-complex airspace is unnecessary for the safety and efficiency of the air traffic control system. The high costs and time required to meet this requirement cannot be justified for the few times a VFR pilot may be required to contact an air traffic control facility."
Level 4 language proficiency would require thousands of dollars in training and testing for the hundreds of pilots who may only occasionally use ICAO Standard English in their brief international flights.
Seems the last few times I've written my column, I've done so on the hoof. This time is no different. I'm in Hong Kong again, courtesy of Oasis Hong Kong Airlines. Not a GA story, but a father and son pair, Chris and Richard Humphrey, flying the aircraft from London to Hong Kong for the airline's first anniversary. I'll be back next month with more GA news from Europe. Drop me a line if you hear something good!
For more aviation news and information from Europe, read the rest of Liz Moscrop's columns.