Balloon Repair Station

Easy News 02.06.12

Easy News 02.06.12

Temporary staff at Easy Balloons
We’ve been watching a robin coming in and out of the workshop for a month or two but failing to discover what its been upto, or indeed, where it gets to. We staked out the place the other day and, thinking that it only came in and out when the door was open we closed it as soon as it exited and waited. In it came over the top of the roller shutter, demon tweek bit of flying, perched on the edge of our ’77 basket on the racking and flitted up into the loft space. A few minutes later it was out again and we nipped up the stairs quick smartish. We hunted and hunted but found nothing. The a couple of days ago Jane reported that the nest had been found in the bottom of a box of old Unipart shirts and six gaping beaks were visible. I suppose indoor flying lessons will commence in due course!

P&O Ferries ease restrictions
Having had a few hiccups reported by balloonists with P&O’s policy on taking cylinders on ferries the arrangements we are pleased to announce that they have reaffirmed their earlier requirement that all empty cylinders must be purged but will permit a maximum of 47kg in one cylinder. OK so its not much but it is one less cylinder to purge and it means you maybe able to get all your dregs into one cylinder. In case you’ve had a senior moment, or think you’ve missed something, as you get two litres for every kilogram we don’t actually have a cylinder big enough to take the 47kg permitted!
You are still advised to let them know at the time of booking that you are a balloon with purged cylinders. Make sure you have a purging certificate for the cylinders. No certificate no go. Certificates can be downloaded from the British Balloon & Airship Club website or follow the link (should be working in a day or two) in the Pages bit in Ferries & Transportation or look it up in the Technical Section. The P&O Freight Office at your port of departure should be able to clear up any misunderstandings with the Ticket or Booking Office but if all else fails ask them, politely please, to call the P&O Freight Office in Dover 01304 863875 and speak to the brilliant Sam Mariner. Please do not use this contact directly unless you really need to as last resort. This arrangement applies to all P&O sea crossings. Don’t forget though that despite this concession the Captain’s decision is always final.

Olympic Airspace Infringement policy Announced – serious stuff so take note
As the CAA and the Government seem to be taking this very seriously (See Ack-ack battery to replace Jubilee Beacon on Coombe Hill) we haven’t changed the contents of this. Before you fly ensure you follow the procedures (yet to be fully confirmed as they haven’t been tested yet) and check that you are not in or going to enter Olympic Airspace, including the areas covering the Para-Olympics (nothing to do with parachuting unless you get shot down by a Typhoon or the Coombe Hill battery).

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have confirmed the enforcement policy that will be in place to deal with infringements of this summer’s Olympics security airspace restrictions. The existing CAA policy of not generally pursuing a prosecution in cases when an airspace infringement is inadvertent, and the pilot has taken all reasonable steps to resolve the situation safely, will remain. However, as infringements of the security airspace are likely to have a significant impact on other airspace users, the licences of all pilots infringing either the Restricted or Prohibited Zone will be suspended pending an investigation of the incident.

The decision affects the Restricted Zone (marked on charts as R112), the Prohibited Zone (P111) and the smaller Paralympics’ Prohibited Zone (P114). The policy to suspend licences will not apply to the airspace restrictions covering the sailing events at Weymouth or other Olympics restrictions.

Phil Roberts, Assistant Director of Airspace Policy at the CAA, said: “We realise that the security restrictions being put in place by the Government will have an impact on General Aviation (GA) during the Olympics. By working closely with the GA community we have achieved a significant reduction in their length and have ensured pilots have as much access to airspace as possible. The UK’s GA representative associations have been doing excellent work to help us brief their members and we now believe that the vast majority of pilots are well aware of the restrictions and will aim to abide by them. However, we also know that infringements do occur and it is right that pilots know in advance what action the CAA will be taking.”

All infringements of the Restricted or Prohibited Zones will be reported to the CAA by the Atlas Control military air traffic control unit controlling the Restricted Zone. Serious infringements that the security services deem as being a potential security threat are also likely to be intercepted by the UK military in the air and met on landing. If the subsequent CAA investigation reveals that the infringement was inadvertent and the pilot safely dealt with the situation, by for example immediately contacting air traffic control and ensuring the aircraft’s transponder (if fitted) is on, then the suspension may be lifted.
Pilots not already in contact with Atlas Control or another ATC agency who believe they may have infringed the Olympics Restricted or Prohibited airspace should immediately contact the Distress and Diversion Cell on 121.5MHz. The controller will then ascertain their exact position and safely deal with the situation.

Matt Lee, Head of the CAA’s Aviation Regulation and Enforcement Department, said: “Over the past few years we’ve worked well with the general aviation community to ensure that the CAA’s reaction to airspace infringements is a sensible one that improves flight safety. We want to continue with that policy during the Olympics but we also have to realise that any infringement of the security restrictions could have a major impact on air traffic movements in the South East of England, causing costly delays. An infringement could also affect events at Olympic venues, and if military action is taken there will also be considerable cost. Given the wide consultation, notification and publicity in place for these airspace restrictions any pilot who subsequently infringes is unlikely to be someone displaying the attributes the CAA requires of a licence holder. It is important that we all play a part in ensuring the future reputation of UK aviation.”

Any pilots found to have deliberately infringed the security restrictions will be prosecuted under Article 161 of the Air Navigation Order. This is the same process that occurs today. Their licence will also remain suspended until the CAA’s investigation is complete.

Phil Roberts added: “We believe that it is vital that pilots are particularly vigilant during the Olympic period. If we see a number of infringements that result in military interceptions, and knock on disruption to major airports, then there is a real risk that the concessions that we have been able to agree to date will be rescinded and action will be taken to restrict access to airspace even further.”

The CAA also said that airfields that are within three nautical miles of the edge of the Restricted Zone that are given an exemption to continue operations and be exempt from the Restricted Zone requirements will be responsible for ensuring the rules of the exemption are adhered to. These airfields will be responsible for ensuring pilots are appropriately briefed and that the required daily liaison with Atlas Control takes place. If these requirements are not followed then the exemption may be rescinded.

Full details of the airspace changes being put in place for the London 2012 Olympics can be found at

Olympic airspace restrictions [PDF file]

Military interception advice launched for olympics flyers or ‘And when it all goes wrong and you are looking at a helicopter gunship’
Guidance on the procedures to be used by the military to intercept aircraft infringing the Olympics airspace security zones, has now been released by the Airspace & Safety Initiative (ASI). A ‘quick guide’ leaflet /media/7037/asi_intercept_leaflet_v5_lr.pdf
and a dedicated podcast are now available to advise pilots on what to do in the event of an interception. ASI recommends any pilot planning to fly close to the boundary of the Restricted Zone (marked as R112 on the Olympics airspace charts /charts ) should read or listen to the information in case they inadvertently stray into the zone during their flight. The podcast was recorded with the assistance of some of the actual RAF flight crews who will be scrambled to intercept aircraft infringing the Restricted Zone during London 2012. The Typhoon and Puma pilots give firsthand advice that could be invaluable during a genuine interception. Hmmmm.

Wanna buy a Chateau, John?
Here we are ten minutes back from Chateau Balleroy and just signed orf their balloons and we hear that it is now on the market. This is really sad news and we can only hope that the new owner takes up the hot air ballooning tradition. Any chance the BBAC could buy it with their reserves? Seems that we are getting a reputation for ending eras. Not content with reducing the BBAC’s coffers by a quarter of a trillion squid thus putting an end to grants we have now forced the sale of Chateau Balleroy to pay for the inspections! With all this extra lolly we are supposed to be earning how is it then I’m still trucking about in me 300,000 mile 1989 Hilux (original injectors and bulbs!) and John in his Volvo 340DL (new electric window motor mind!)?

EASA Pilot Licence Start Date Postponed – deep sadness (o:
You hear nothing from the CAA for months then blow me down two Press Releases come at once. Following the usual CAA mis-information over the past year or so it comes as no surprise that the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has now announced that the introduction of new EASA pilots’ licences in the UK has been delayed until 17 September 2012. The CAA said that, “Due to the complexity of the transition to the new licence format, and changes to the associated requirements and infrastructure, the original 1 July 2012 date was not achievable”. Which in normal speak means they don’t understand it either and don’t have the resources to impliment it anyway. Don’t worry, they’ll get some more temps in.

They go on to pontificate thus. ‘The deadlines, by which national commercial and private licences must be converted to EASA licences, which are fixed in European legislation, remain as April 2014 and April 2015, respectively. The CAA estimates that over 20,000 national licences will have to be converted during the period; this is in addition to the JAR licences that will have to be replaced with EASA licences on expiry or amendment’. They are probably hoping most will give up to cut the number of applicants. Campaign Against Aircraft wins again.

Ray Elgy, Head of Licensing and Training Standards at the CAA, said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused to pilots and organisations that were making plans based on the 1 July date, but we ask them to stick with us while we get this job done properly. It is disappointing that the timetable has moved in this way. However, it is vital that this transition is done correctly. The UK will still be one of the very first countries to introduce the new licensing regime and the extended period of transition allows flexibility for many operators and individuals to choose when to convert.”

So while the rest of EASAland decided to have a year off the CAA are once again charging in to adopt a system that may change anyway before it gets implemented. So the CAA have bollixed business plans based on their original launch date giving five weeks notice. That’s clever when industry told them it wasn’t an achievable date months and months ago. Nice to be reassured they are going to do ‘this’ job properly.

Bless them, the press release drones on….’The implementation of new rules for pilot licensing (including medical certification) across the EU is part of a process that has already seen EASA take responsibility for other areas of aviation policy, such as flight operations and airworthiness (both now under revue as they aren’t working are are too cumbersome for general aviation). Most UK pilots, private and commercial, will be affected by the switchover and will have to obtain new EASA licences to continue to fly aircraft that have EASA airworthiness certificates. However, some pilots, such as those who fly microlights, ex-military and kit built aircraft, will be able to continue to use their existing licences. This is because EASA does not regulate these categories of aircraft.

The new EASA licences will be valid for the owner’s lifetime (what no revalidation fee ever!!!). Pilots are advised to read the detailed information on the CAA website (but not expected to understand it)’. –

For updates follow the CAA on Be the first to read all the ‘what if’s’ and ‘maybe’s’ on your phone. For further media information and a good chuckle contact the CAA Press Office on: 00 44 (0)207 453 6030;

How to do it
With the recent power wire incidents we stood and watched open mouthed the other week as the National Grid (or whatever the nonsense they are called these days) helicopter surveyed our pet pylons. It had been beetling up and down from afar paralleling the lines for about half an hour then came in close for a better look. Initially we thought it was an HS2 reconnaissance jobbie so went and got the bazooka but after dancing round the pylon for ten minutes it shot off up the valley and over the hill.