Getting lighter – Finding the Ultramagic B-series
Ultramagic have added the B-70 to their range of Tekno envelopes, otherwise known as S-series. The B-series is a 12 gore horizontal cut with a maximum total operating mass of 600kg but that is limited by the basket type used. It is approved for use with all the smaller Ultramagic baskets. It appears at the end of TCDS BA.014 issue 17. A lightweight 70,000cu ft balloon seems just the job and with only 12 gores it should come out well under the weight of a standard ripstop version. There is a Maintenance Manual supplement for it which is Supplement 17 Issue 3 due out any moment. Reading through the MM Supplement it seems there are a whole lot of weight-saving measures in this envelope including lighter flying wires, tapes, rings instead of pulleys and rigging lines and the use of uncoated fabric in the lower panels along with an approval to use aluminium Karabiners. Maybe they took heed of our article ‘Lighter than Air? – You’re having a right giraffe!’ All annual inspections will be the standard C type as laid out in the Ultramagic Maintenance Manual and must include a Grab Test. A give-away at the top of the Supplement suggests that it would appear that Ultramagic Maintenance Manual Issue 04 revision 17 is about to go to revision 18.
Under the radar – Cameron SB21 in and out
Were we the only ones not to spot Cameron’s Safety Bulletin 21 issued on 29 October 2013 and seemingly closed moments later? We didn’t even get a heads up on their usually punctual via email information service. Worry not it was issued following what appears to be a failure of a hose swaging on batch of eight liquid hoses supplied to Schroeder Balloons. It covered balloons under TCDS BA.010, BA.013 and BA016 and was classed as ‘Highly Recommended before next flight’. All the hoses have been accounted for and the SB closed. The more adventurous of may have noticed that it follows Cameron SB19. Well SB20 was never issued so now you know. For Cameron balloon owners and operators or those that use Cameron equipment as it affects BA.013 then an entry in the back of the logbook should be made stating ‘affected hoses not fitted n/a’, unless you happened to be affected! It’s on the Cameron Website under ‘Support’ down the bottom and downloadable. www.cameronballoons.co.uk
BBAC AGM rocks the boat – President goes missing
We opted not to go to the BBAC AGM this year more to do with having to negotiate the M40 two days in a row rather than anything else but we did vote. Reports seem to indicate that the event was very well attended with over 90 members turning out which is actually a pretty good percentage all things considered. The trade stands were noticeable by their absence especially when compared to the Icicle Meet but the meeting itself was deemed a success. Ed Lubbock stood for election which meant that one of the established Committee would have to stand down should he be elected. He was and sadly Wyn Morgan who has stood on the Committee possibly since time begun didn’t get sufficient votes so stood down. Wyn has served the BBAC for many years, a large part of them on his own gallantly running the Technical Office and fighting the CAA whilst earning thousands for the Club through financial arrangements made with the CAA and Manufacturers through Certification, Approvals and registrations. I’m sure I join many balloonists in thanking him for all the hard work he has put in over the years, most of it going unnoticed. A special motion thingy that proposed that Committee members stand down after five years service was voted out. This isn’t that surprising as it has been muted before and the counter argument to a not unreasonable motion was that it was hard enough getting people to stand for election so if you kicked them out it would be nigh on impossible to find volunteers to take their place. Still this is the first time for a while anyone has stood for election so maybe things will change naturally. The club has a new Treasurer in Jan Mitchinson, who has offered to stand in for a year, but it seems that somewhere along the line the Chairman forgot to introduce her which was not good as she did turn up unlike her predecessor. Following the AGM-type stuff there was a presentation of the new EASA Licensing requirements which frightened most of the people there. Someone who did get voted back as the President didn’t actually turn up at all. It seems Anthony Smith who was to be presented with an award by some Dutch people managed to get lost and went halfway to Wales. His carer, Robin Batchelor, explained that “After much to-ing and fro-ing of emails in recent weeks, Anthony was red hot keen to meet Pamela Verheusen-Visscher and Hans van Hoesel at the AGM and receive the Boesman Trophy. He set off in good time with a road map of UK and a magnifying glass, but somehow he ended up half way to Wales and knew he had to turn around. John Baker was a great help on the phone (Air Traffic Control training) and helped Anthony find his way home once it was too late to give his famous closing speech at the AGM. I found him at home about 6 pm feeling very fed up and told him all was well, and that he had been re-elected. That cheered him up. Ian Hooker was a champion and played host to the overseas delegation in Stratford Upon Avon which very much maintained the ‘entente cordiale’ with our friends in Holland and Belgium.” Following the AGM the new reformed Committee held a meeting making it a very long day for some.
Carles leaves Ultramagic – Jordi new commercial manager.
What a bloke from Newcastle? We could barely believe it when the press release arrived courtesy of the UK Ultramagic representative Richard Penney. On closer scrutiny and checking the spelling it turns out that its that Jordi Díaz Casaubón who has been appointed as the new commercial manager following the retirement of Carles Costa. The ever popular and friendly Jordi, a qualified aeronautical engineer and balloon pilot, has been their senior technical chap for years. His experience with customer support combined with his detailed knowledge of balloon design and production places him in a strong position to help develop Ultramagic further as the world leader in hot air balloon design, production, sales and, first and foremost, customer service.
Jordi now takes over from Carles, the joint founder of the Ultramagic Balloons, who has previously held the position. Although he will no longer be taking an active day to day role within the company he will however, as a shareholder and member of the Ultramagic board of directors, continue to be supportive of the company in an advisory role in its future development. Carles leaves Ultramagic to become Managing Director of his family owned balloon events management company. Carles plans and expects his new company to help develop ballooning further as a world wide sport and attraction whilst working closely with Ultramagic S.A.
I’m sure that everyone that knows Carles including all those at Ultramagic offer their best wishes to Jordi and Carles in their new positions and ventures. ‘Ultramagic looks forward to this exciting new stage in the development of the company and world ballooning in general’. http://www.ultramagic.com/
Girlie pilot gets award
We were thrilled to learn that Debbie Day has won the coveted Adam Sparkes Trophy. This is basically the Pilot of the Year Award and is well deserved. She also won the Counties Challenge Trophy scoring 90 points and flying in seven counties, one twice. She also managed to steal Ian Chadwick’s claim to the longest flight in Sussex. Her enthusiasm for the sport seems unstoppable. Last year she managed 64 hours in seven months. Blinding.
Words of caution from the CAA – Are you current?
The latest words of warning from the CAA directed at all AOC (Balloons) holders, CPL(B) pilots and balloon examiners makes for interesting reading. They remind us that whilst the ground conditions remain very wet in certain parts of the United Kingdom and whilst many have their attention turned to the pending conversion of personal licences from UK National to Part-FCL, they would like to advise you to please be aware of the following bits of current legislation and impending confusion of the new licensing requirements. Not confused already? You will be soon. Take it away boys.
UK CPL(B) recency requirements are that you must have undertaken three flights, each of a minimum of 5 minutes duration, within the previous 90 days prior to undertaking a Public Transport flight in the UK or under a UK AOC(B). The three flights (or the balance required) must be undertaken on private flights if your recency has lapsed. To avoid any confusion, the three flights should be recorded on three separate lines within your personal flying logbook and a flight is from take-off to landing. (It is permitted to undertake intermediate full-stop landings in order to achieve more than one flight in a particular flying slot). The CAA has received intelligence that suggests that some operators may be considering Public Transport flights without having first ensured that their pilots have regained recency. This is illegal and will lead to CAA prosecution and possible suspension of an AOC.
On the nonsense that is the new EASA Licensing regulations they remind that the UK CPL(B) and PPL(B) will cease to be valid for the flying of EASA aircraft from 8th April 2015. Almost all balloons are EASA types. After that date all pilots will need to hold a Part-FCL Balloon Pilot’s Licence (BPL), which will be common throughout Europe. The BPL is, in reality, both a commercial and private licence rolled into one. It has four Group ratings as opposed to the current UK three Group ratings and the break points are different. The BBAC had already applied to the CAA to become a British Approved Training Organisation (ATO) and have now met the application requirements. The ATO paperwork will be issued by the CAA in the very near future and the BBAC ATO should be running by 1st May 2014. Meanwhile, the BBAC are currently working hard presenting on licence conversion to their members by visiting all the BBAC Regions, which all balloon pilots are recommended to attend.
However, whilst the Aircrew Regulation must be fully implemented by 8th April 2015, the Air Operations Regulation, in so far as Commercial Air Transport (CAT) passenger balloon flights (similar to the UK ‘Public Transport’), Special Operations (SPO) which is similar to the UK ‘Aerial Work’ and certain other activities, is not expected to be published until the spring or summer of 2014 with the option of a three year opt-out (derogation) which the CAA intends to fully take up. Therefore, Part-CAT AOC (Balloons) and Part-SPO Aerial Work operators Declarations are not expected to be mandatory until the spring or summer 2017. This means that potentially for a two year period (April 2015 to circa 2017) commercial pilots will need to hold the EASA BPL and fully comply with the Aircrew Regulation, whilst operators will need to continue to hold a UK national AOC and fully comply with the relevant parts of the UK Air Navigation Order and the Rules of the Air Regulations. In other words, everything that relates to pilot licensing will be considered in law to be Commercial Air Transport (an EASA term) and everything that relates to air operations will be considered in law to be Public Transport (a UK national term).
What then does this mean for AOC holders and as commercial balloon pilots? Firstly they need to keep themselves fully informed on licensing matters by listening to BBAC presentations and reading EASA, CAA and BBAC literature on the subject. At the end of this document there are links to the EASA Aircrew Regulation introduction; structure; then two that contain the Implementing Rules (first for licensing and medical, second for authority requirements and organisation requirements for aircrew (and also cabin crew requirements, which will probably not be of interest to you); then acceptable means of compliance and guidance material to the various ‘Parts’ of the ‘Aircrew Regulation’. Finally, a link to the CAA’s CAP 804 that attempts to cover all Part-FCL licences and UK National Licences. A lot of information, so do not be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to, but bear in mind that the BBAC have published a series of FAQs for their member’s information which can be found in the Member’s area on their website. Secondly, a full review of the company AOC operations manual will be required and a number of amendments needed before you will be able to use any pilot who holds a BPL, but not a UK CPL(B). Therefore, it may be beneficial for commercial balloon pilots to convert their CPL(B) licences at the end of the 2014 UK season, or remember that for a small additional fee (believed to be £35) they can request that their UK CPL(B) be re-issued for life alongside their BPL. After 8th April 2015 the UK CPL(B) will only be valid for Annex II balloons or for verification / validation purposes for foreign national aviation authorities (possibly in Africa, Asia or Australia). AOC holders will need to undertake appropriate risk assessments within their Safety Management System and, particularly for any future employment of BPL holders who have not previously held a UK CPL(B), provide a robust mitigation. CAP 611 is expected to be amended in the autumn of 2014.
Finally, be aware that the Aircrew Regulation replaces the 13-monthly Certificate of Test or Certificate of Experience for restricted (to Aerial Work) CPL(B)s with a bi-annual flight with an Instructor in the largest ‘Group’ of balloon that is listed on your BPL. There is also an additional Proficiency Check for having the non-commercial restriction removed from a BPL, but this will not of course apply to any current UK CPL(B) holder). The 13-monthly Base & Line Check is for the purpose of Air Operations and therefore it will still be required until circa 2017, when the Air Operations Regulation draft Implementing Rules (within a Part-ORO – Organisation Requirements for Air Operators) will require a 12-monthly Proficiency Check, which we believe will be similar in content to the current Base & Line Check.
An amendment to the UK ANO will deem that, post April 2015, a Part-FCL examiner may also undertake UK national examining to equivalent privileges therefore, during the period 2015 to 2017, the Base and Line Check will still need to be undertaken every 13 months, but with a Part-FCL examiner with appropriate examiner authorisations. Providing that they are also Part-FCL Instructors then the bi-annual Instructor flight requirement may also be achieved in the same flight. Clearly, only one candidate will be able to be examined on any such flight.
Sophie Sapphire spelt Safire – Production starts
Spotted on Camerons website in their newsy bit was this picture of bits and bobs that will soon be crafted into the now fully approved and into the market place Safire burners. Described by Camerons as ‘The supremely powerful Cameron Balloons Safire Burner’ they are now available as a retrofit to a large range of larger ride balloons already in service or can obviously be ordered as part of a complete balloon. Cameron Balloons claim that the Safire Burner not only produces more power than traditional hot-air balloon burners but following successful field tests it also demonstrated that it was particularly effective when fuel pressures were low. In fact the Cameron Balloons Safire Burner is actually so powerful that a twin configuration can be used instead of a triple burner, which means a reduced cost and of course less weight. The Double Safire is approved and certified for envelopes from 180,000cu.ft to 315,000 cu.ft (5,098 to 8,920 cu.m) with the Triple approved and certified up to 600,000 cu.ft balloon (21,238cu.m.)
SUP-AIR Ballon Egyesület – another Hungarian manufacturer goes EASA
Is it me or is this another new member of the TCDS pages on the EASA website? I’ve just not noticed it before but trawling through their approval BA.022 Ed 2 issued on 6 March 2014 and with a bit of background research SUP-AIR Ballon Egyesület based in Budapest, Hungary list quite a few variants of series balloons. Seems they are basically the national Hungarian Balloon Pilots Association whose main activity is providing balloon rides. They are keen to build and sell hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes. Their website is in Hungarian and the Whipwhap translation of the various bits is pure magic. As an example ‘In addition to the traditional shape of a hot air balloon on the preparation of the customer’s other hot-air balloon shaped as well we are able to undertake. The cooking time depending on the complexity of designs is approximately 4-6 months, life 5-10 years (500 to 700 flight hours)’. I seem to think the translation has also muddled up their price structure as the cost of a balloon seems to be between €5-10 million maybe that should be thousand, mind you they do make illuminated inflatables which come out at between 180,000 to 300,000 USD without the illuminated bits! A balloon ride however will only set you back $120USD. Best we drop them a line sometime. http://holegballonsetarepules.hu/az-egyesuletrol
Farnborough Controlled Airspace Concerns – How big will it be?
The operator of Farnborough Airport, TAG Farnborough, has begun the formal process of applying for controlled airspace. This will open up the airport to a much larger number of movements and is bound to affect private aviators that use the surrounding areas especially in the context of severly narrowing the air corridor between them and the Gatwick zone. The General Aviation Alliance (GAA) is resisting this encroachment of free airspace and Local Regions, groups, individuals and operators are all encouraged to make their own objections via the process as outlined. The proposals directly affect current controlled and uncontrolled airspace across a large area of southern England, not only in the immediate vicinity to Farnborough Airport. If approved, their airspace at the various levels would extend out as far as Reading and Aldermaston to the north west, all the way from Farnborough to the Solent and Southampton area to the west and south west, right down and off the south coast as far as the south part of the Isle of Wight then along the south coast to a point just north of Shoreham and well beyond Guildford to the east. The base of many areas of existing airspace would be lowered and large areas of new airspace would be introduced. Their plans represent the most substantial redesign and increase of airspace in the UK for many years. If TAG get what they want, the likely impact on general aviation would be significant. Pilots and airfield and airstrip operators will be affected. The impact would range from catastrophic for some groups, through to extremely disruptive for others. The impacts are not restricted to aviators and aviation. Many other local groups are also likely to be adversely affected.
At the moment, TAG’s proposals are out for consultation up until 2 May 2014. TAG will then formally submit their application to the CAA sometime during the summer.
It is vitally important that everybody that is part of the aviation community provides input to the consultation and makes their opposition clear. The main general aviation organizations, including the BBAC, are already working closely and will be providing information to help people understand the issues that are of most concern.
So please make sure that you read the TAG proposals, and reflect on how they might affect you as soon as possible. Keep a regular watch on the air sport or general aviation websites, forums and publications for more information and advice and expect more communications and advice to be available shortly and then on a regular basis. Be prepared to submit your formal response to the consultation process, but don’t do so until you are ready to, or have been advised to by your air sport association and you should plan on getting it to TAG in the early part of April. Please ensure your submission is well reasoned, well researched and factual. Don’t imagine for one moment that this will not affect you. It will. Don’t imagine for one moment that others will sort the situation out for you. They won’t be able to do that unless you play your part and actively support the campaign to oppose TAG. You can find the details of what TAG want to do through the following link: http://www.consultation.tagfarnborough.com
Spotting at Terminal 4 – New lounge opens
If you find yourself airside with time to kill in Heathrow’s Terminal 4 they have now opened a proper viewing gallery which is open to all travellers. Passengers at Heathrow can now enjoy some plane spotting as they wait for their own flight to depart. The new ‘View Heathrow’ platform at Terminal 4 is the first of its kind at Heathrow since the old Terminal 2’s viewing platform was closed along with the building itself. The new 270 degree observation deck has a view of the southern runway, the control tower and British Airways’ Concorde. Fixed iPads on the platform show live flight radars so that visitors can identify the aircraft movements in front of them, as well as binoculars to get a better view. Splendid news we reckon. Kathryn Leahy, Director, Terminal 4, said: “We are proud to be opening this viewing facility for passengers. We know that many travellers enjoy plane spotting and we are pleased to be able to provide them with the opportunity to do so once again.” The deck is located between gates 15 and 16 and was converted from an unused former airline lounge. The observation deck is open to all passengers in Terminal 4 during normal operating hours. Now we along with many others reckon its about time Heathrow really did something for plane-spotters in general and not continue to increase the height of the fences around the place. Much promoted is the idea that perhaps they ought to think about putting up a high grandstand in the park against the fence on Cains Lane and put a catering van there, where you an buy a cup of tea and some snacks. In response Heathrow have stated that they are looking at all possibilities of increasing the viewing opportunities at the airport without compromising security (of course!). We’ll we see then. www.heathrowairport.com
Hitting the road – BBAC Licensing Presentations
Following the BBAC AGM on 16th of April an intrepid team headed up by Dave Court the BBAC’s tireless Training Officer will be touring the various regions presenting an hour (or so) long explanation on the forthcoming European Licensing requirements and how they may or may really affect pilots be they under training, PPLs or CPLs. The talk is clear and concise and although there is a lot to take in it is well formulated and presented in a surprisingly straightforward ordered and clear way. You are strongly advised to go and hear this. Contact details of the various regions are in the Pages bit. By nature of the presentation questions are discouraged during the delivery and best left to the end as you will probably find the answer along the way. The BBAC has already developed a Question and Answer database on the subject (which is growing daily) and it is up on their website. You’ve missed the first which was held in Surrey on the 17th but the dates for the remaining ones are as follows.
25 March – Chiltern Region: Bull Inn, 9 Market Place, Olney, Bucks MK46 4EA (near Milton Keynes), 8.00pm.
26 March – London Region: Sekforde Arms, 34 Sekforde St, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0HA, from 7pm, talk at 8.00pm.
3 April – 3/4/40: Dog House, near Abingdon 7.45pm.
3 April – E. Midlands: Clockwarehouse Pub, London Road, Shardlow, Derbys. DE72 2GL, 8.00pm.
4 April – Mid Hants: Lasham Airfield, near Basingstoke, 8.00pm.
6 April – Pennine & North West: Broughton Hall, Skipton
7 April – Western Region: Bedminster Cricket Club, near Bristol, 8.00pm
8 April – Black Horse Balloon Club: Black Horse, near Great Missenden
9 April – W. Midlands: Chaddesley Corbett.
Got a Shape – Taitung wants you
The Taiwan International Fiesta which runs from May 30th to August 10th is on the lookout not only for participants but also especially for special shape balloons. You are free to join at any time during the mammoth event, two weeks seems to be the norm. Luye, Taitung, Taiwan. For more information contact Martin at the Taitung County Government Tel: +886-89-332334, Fax: +886-89-341118 or through their website http://tour.taitung.gov.tw/zh-tw/Home/Index wasn’t very helpful even when converted to proper writing.
Met Office forecast goes astray – apologies for delays
The UK Met Office has announced a delay (again) in the revised Spot Wind locations and revised charts due to a “blip” during offline testing. Blimey and I thought it was flooding. They are now quoting week commencing 8th of April for the operational deployment and apologise for the further delay. Despite this setback work is continuing towards the new enhanced balloon forecast product and it is hoped that this will be available on an internal test platform within the next month or two. At that time, industry representatives that have previously attended a Met Office meeting will be invited to visit Exeter to view the enhanced balloon forecast. Darren Hardy will directly issue invitations. You are of course reminded that where Met Office information is unclear and the information is not available from any other product than the Ballooning Forecast, you can telephone the Met Office and ask to speak directly to a forecaster for clarification. Finally, do submit an MOR (Mandatory Occurrence Report) if inaccurate Met Office forecasts lead to an incident or occurrence. That was full of of some quite industryplatformproductspeak don’t you think?