Ho, Ho, Ho! It's that time of year again when aviators keep an extra lookout for unidentified flying objects traveling fast enough to circumnavigate the globe while landing a few billion times en route, and traffic controllers receive reports of old men in red suits whizzing around the skies who aren't retired fast-jet display pilots.
Too much festive cheer at the clubhouse can lead to some strange hallucinations ...
Whilst there are always circumstances that cast a dampener over General Aviation, there are some things we can be cheery about over here in Europe. New products are cropping up and it looks as if EASA is seeing sense over creating more flying instructors. There is also a smattering of sponsored cadetships evolving, which is essential considering the costs to young students of obtaining an ATPL.
As an increasing number of airlines clamor for pilots, schools in Europe are at long last waking up to the fact that wannabees have to fund their way through training somehow. British airline Flybe and Oxford Aviation Training (OAT) -- also based in the U.K. --announced at the recent Flyer Professional Flight Training show that they have created a new ab-initio sponsorship scheme.
As the largest regional airline in Europe, Flybe will need a strong supply of well-trained pilots. OAT also recently entered into a bizjets training scheme with NetJets Europe. Although OAT has reportedly supplied new pilots to Flybe in the past, both the flight training organization and the airline say this new relationship will allow more suitable candidates to train for an ATPL.
Selection for the new scheme will happen at the beginning of next year, and the first four students will start training at OAT's Kidlington base in April 2008. They will join Flybe as first officers on the Bombardier Q400 in autumn 2009. Flybe has said it will contribute "significant financial assistance" to help with training costs.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has said that it is considering removing the requirement for PPL instructors to be CPL rated in addition to having to an instructor's license. In future, instructors teaching the mooted new EASA leisure PPL may not need to have a CPL. This would certainly ease the pressure on a European-wide instructor shortage.
Over in Portugal, Portimão Airfield is still out of action, possibly until the end of the year. The airport is the only GA airport in the Algarve region and has been closed since mid-October. It has suffered a series of delays and setbacks to refurbishment work, disrupting flying for many local pilots. AOPA Portugal reports that the floor is being recovered and the facility repainted. The President of the Portimão Camara (Chamber of Commerce) has written to AOPA guaranteeing that the Camara will push for the reopening of the aerodrome as soon as possible.
AOPA Spain reports that October's International Air Meeting (IAM) in Sabadell took 100 million ($148,226) in revenues. IAM was important for Spain with Sr. Joan Clos, Minister of Industry, Tourism and Commerce opening the inaugural event, which was deemed to be a great success. Local Mayor Manuel Busts said that he would like to see the event become an annual fixture.
Also in Spain, the Spanish National Institute of Meteorology is asking AOPA members to let it know how satisfied they are with its aviation weather services. It has created an online form that can be accessed to add your voice to an initiative that will benefit all GA pilots in the country.
As I mentioned last month, British pilots will 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 is soliciting comments for a new Airspace and Safety Initiative (ASI) that it is working on in conjunction with National Air Traffic Services and the Ministry of Defense. The consultation process ends on Dec. 14, 2007, and the new procedures should come into effect in April 2008. Do log on and share your views.
If you are looking for a little nifty giftie for just shy of $100,000, a light sport aircraft under "The SmartPlane Concept" banner could be just the thing. AveoEngineering a joint venture between U.S. and Slovakian teams -- is building two aircraft named the Phantom and the Shadow, which were launched at the Sports & Leisure Aviation Show in the U.K. last month.
Apologies for any confusion I may have caused last month for the paragraph entitled "Aerodrome Rules for LSAs in the U.K." I was rebuked -- and properly so -- by the editor of a British aviation magazine for misleading people. The story referred to work performed by the Light Aviation Airports Study Group (LAASG), which should have been the acronym I used. My apologies ... the jet lag gets to me sometimes.
Finally, I dug out a festive European video on YouTube. I'm lost after the first couple of minutes, but I reckon you might enjoy the opening sequence. Happy Holidays!
For more aviation news and information from Europe, read the rest of Liz Moscrop's columns.