The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has once again delayed announcing a formal light sport aircraft category, dubbed the European Light Aircraft or ELA. The agency is currently reviewing a notice of proposed amendment for initial airworthiness prepared by the MDM.032 working group. (See details in my column from last November.)
The proposal is that aircraft will be split by weight into two categories. ELA I will refer to aircraft below 1000 kg (1200 lb), meaning that manufacturers of two-seat aircraft weighing up to 750 kg (900 lb) with stall speeds of 45 kt or less could bypass traditional design-organization approval processes and use ASTM standards to replace certification. This effectively means they could start to sell their products at home, as well as in the U.S. ELA II applies to aircraft (excluding rotorcraft) up to 2000 kg (4400 lb).
EASA says that it will hold a workshop on initial airworthiness at Aero Expo in Prague on April 25. The next MDM.032 meeting is July 1 and 2 in Paris.
Eurocontrol is to look at the possibility of implementing automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) in 70 airfields across Europe. ADS-B is a cheaper alternative to the emerging Mode-S transponder technology, which is being rolled out across the region.
Eurocontrol has announced that Spain's Malaga and Gerona airports are under consideration for ADS-B, but Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Moldova, Romania, Scandinavia, Turkey, Ukraine, and the U.K. are also tipped as having possible sites under consideration. According to Eurocontrol, most of the airports they are looking at lack surveillance-based air traffic control and to install radar would be difficult and costly. ADS-B would allow controllers to handle air traffic more efficiently.
The U.K. CAA is to postpone its 2007 General Aviation Safety Awards. Apparently there are so few suitable nominations that the CAA has decided to carry to the 2007 nominations forward and add them to those for 2008. The GA Safety Awards are an annual event that honors good airmanship.
IAOPA continues to show its merit in several pieces of good news this month. European IAOPA reports that AOPA-Germany's court victory that has given every German pilot a fuel-tax rebate on flying for business-related activities could have a far-reaching impact on the wider aviation community in Europe. AOPA-Germany's lawyer and tax expert Prof. Gustav Real took German customs to court and defended a pilot who had been refused a fuel-tax rebate. The pilot won and had his claim paid in full. AOPA-Germany is now lobbying politicians to extend the concession to private flying. Several other European AOPAs are now consulting with tax experts in their own countries to see if similar rebates can be won.
Meanwhile, AOPA-Denmark is continuing to battle for the Danish GA industry. The country currently charges no value added tax (VAT) on aircraft imports, which means that many aircraft coming into Europe are routed via Denmark and noted as VAT paid when transferred on to other countries in the EU. The European Commission (EC) would like to raise this VAT to 25 percent, which would decimate the industry. Last month the Danish tax minister presented the latest draft of a VAT law amendment in Denmark, which postpones any change until Jan. 1, 2009.
Finally, IAOPA-Europe, along with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), is staging a peace rally to the Middle East in September. The rally will take in 18 countries Sep. 1-15 and will involve participants from Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey and Greece as well as other European countries. Details here.
The British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) has presented its latest in the fight against unfair penalties on GA in the country. The British government has presented a paper called "Aviation Duty: A Consultation," the result of the commitment made by prime minister Gordon Brown last year to end air passenger duty (APD) and bring in a per-plane tax. This move would be highly disadvantageous for GA operators in the country, because previously aircraft less than 10,000 kg and 20 seats have not been subject to APD. Key areas of concerns are:
The BBGA is challenging the legality of the document under EU law, pointing out that many operators will be forced to close up shop and move abroad. They also highlight that the costs (operator and government-admin combined) associated with collecting this tax from GA/BA users far outweigh the income derived. Other unfair points they raise are that airlines pay APD and also receive enormously preferential treatment in terms of slot allocation. Also, as business and general aviation gets pushed out of U.K. airports by scheduled traffic, flights will frequently have two takeoffs per passenger movement.
BBGA chief executive Guy Lachlan is calling for comments.
As fly-in season starts in earnest, the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, U.K., has announced its annual series of Bonus Days for private pilots, kicking off with a Safety Day on April 12. This will entail informal presentations and chats. Steve McKie of National Air Traffic Services (NATS) will also be on hand to talk about airspace Infringements and show radar replays of controlled-airspace infringements. The themed Bonus Days throughout the year offer a half-price landing fee of £7 ($14) and discounted admission (also £7) to the museum facilities. Phone for PPR and briefing (01223 833376) and visit their Web site for more details.
The world's only formation wingwalking team, Team Guinot, has added a fifth Boeing Stearman biplane to create a five-ship formation display, launching on the U.K. circuit this summer. There has been a growing demand for wingwalking displays and the team has also added a v-formation to its repertoire.
You may have read on AVweb earlier this month that the U.K. Distinguished Flying Cross was given to a female aviator for the first time. On that note, I am writing a book that puts together the Top 100 female aviators of all time. I've already had several nominations -- it's a topic that is causing heated debate. I'd appreciate your input.
For more aviation news and information from Europe, read the rest of Liz Moscrop's columns.