Balloon Repair Station

News 05.08.14

Updating the updates-inclusion solution
For the more regular visitors we usually include the news updates in this bit in case you missed them but there is only so much good news that a balloon pilot can take here so as it involved the EASA muppets deciding that they had produced more then the normal red tape mountainous paperwork and legislation so that a trainee pil0t could demonstrate that if a balloon gets hot it goes up and if it cools down it drops, something everyone apart from EASA seemed to understand then if you want to read the official stuff that the CAA produced then please check the last news update 12.07.14. There’s enough groveling ‘let’s make it sound more complicated than it is’ stuff from the House of Brussels which follows to keep you happy.

Licensing – Brussels Spouts, the official EASA blurb
5 brussels-sprouts-940x626Brussels have now issued the following information note which is, as you would expect is full of ATOs, MS, RFs and various other abbreviations but thoughtfully, or probably by accident, they have used the full notation so when you can’t for the life of you remember what an RF is then if you go back it will say so. They have bombed out by using the term ‘stakeholder’ though. I would have a use for a stake. `it is worth a read through and does more or less parallel what the CAA have said. The fight though isn’t over yet as is clearly demonstrated in the last paragraph thingy. As and when the next ‘consultation’ in the form of an NPA comes out then it will need to be responded to. The best way forward is probably going to be convincing all the balloonists in other Member States to oppose any change. Time will tell but come 2018 the statement in the last part is the most worrying ‘The training will have to follow the national rules and procedures until the end of the transition period or until the training organisation is approved as an ATO under Part-ORA.’ Now quite what that means in the case of the BBAC already having an approved ATO (look it up!) is anybodies guess but it does indicate that the system that they had proposed to be in place by April 2015 will reappear in similar form with an ATO being required to train towards an EU licence which, incidentally, you can still apply for if you have a current UK licence and meet the EASA requirements. Blinding. We have declined to re-publish the News Update 12.07.14 – EASA which is the CAA interpretation but invite you to have a look at it if you haven’t already done so. It does demonstrate that the CAA are on the case.

Information note for Member States and Industry on the proposal to amend Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 (Aircrew) relating to training organisations

1. General
The aim of this note is to provide further information regarding some of the details and the consequences related to the proposed changes to the Aircrew Regulation which have been developed by the European Commission (EC) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and which were presented to the EASA Committee on 9 July 2014. All Member States (MS) agreed in principle to the approach presented related to certain non-complex ATOs and the training for certain licences and ratings between 8 April 2015 and 8 April 2018. The proposal will be formally voted upon by the MS in October. As the proposed changes are supported by the MS it is reasonable to expect them to be in force early 2015.
It should be highlighted that the Agency has also presented a proposal to the EASA Committee which aims on developing a complimentary solution for conducting training towards an LAPL, PPL, BPL or SPL outside of ATOs. This task will be launched in the coming months and the Agency intends to explore all the options given for future rule changes (not part of this proposal) in order to simplify the situation for training towards non-commercial pilot licences and associated ratings and certificates. The purpose of this note is however, only to inform all MS and the Industry about the amendments being currently proposed and their possible consequences in order to allow them to assess the impact on their planning and to better prepare for the proposed changes.
The current proposal for amending the Aircrew Regulation was initiated based on strong feedback from MS and General Aviation (GA) stakeholders stating that the requirements for transferring the former Registered Facilities (RFs) and other national training organisations (mainly for balloons and sailplanes) into non-complex ATO’s according to Part-ORA by 8 April 2015 latest, seem to be disproportionate for the activity and the associated risks and places unnecessary burden on MS and stakeholders. Furthermore it might not be feasible for all these organisations and the MS approving them to conclude the certification process by that date. The proposed amendments therefore focus on this specific issue.
2. Proposed regulatory changes
The Commission and the Agency are proposing the following changes to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011:
– Article 10(a)(3) to be amended in order to allow JAR compliant registered facilities which have been registered before the application date of these rules to provide training towards the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence (LAPL) and the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) until 8 April 2018.
– Article 2 of Regulation (EU) No 290/2012 amending Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 specifies so far that MS may decide not to apply the requirements of Annex VI and VII (Part-ARA and Part-ORA) to training organisations providing training only for the LAPL, PPL, SPL or BPL until April 2015. The amendment proposed will allow an additional derogation until 2018 unless otherwise requested by a training organisation.
– Article 12 will be amended to allow MS not to apply certain provisions of Annex I until April 2018. This includes the provisions related to balloon and sailplane licences and the requirements for some of the new ratings / certificates.
3. Consequences for training organisations
Introducing the changes indicated above will have the following consequences for the different type of training organisations and for the MS approving them.
3.1. Former JAR-compliant training organisations certified as ATO towards Part-ORA
Former JAR-compliant training organisations (FTOs/TRTOs) are already grandfathered by Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 as an Approved Training Organisation (ATO) according to Part-ORA. The privileges of these organisations are limited to the privileges included in the approval issued by the MS (Article 10a(2)). An additional transitional period until April 2014 was given to them for adapting their management systems, training programmes, procedures and manuals. These ATOs are not affected by the proposed rule changes.
3.2 Registered facilities and other training organisations certified as ATO towards Part-ORA
Former JAR-compliant registered facilities (for aeroplane and helicopter licences) or national training organisations (for sailplane and balloon licences) which have been certified or will be certified according to Part-ORA as an ATO under the new system will have the full privileges given by the certificate for providing training towards Part-FCL licences including courses for the new ratings (e.g. the en-route instrument rating, mountain rating, instructor courses, etc.) if these privileges have been given.
3.3. Registered facilities not certified as ATO towards Part-ORA
JAR-compliant training facilities registered in a MS before the regulation applied which have not been certified yet towards the new rules will receive the privilege to provide training towards the LAPL and the PPL in the respective aircraft category. The privilege will also include the associated ratings which were included in the registration before. This will include in most cases the associated class (Touring Motor Glider and Single Engine Piston) or type (Single-engine helicopter) ratings and should also cover the night rating for those registered facilities which provided training for the night qualification before. 8 April 2018 is proposed as the end date for this extension of privileges without complying with Part-ORA. As a consequence these JAR-compliant registered facilities will have until 2018 for adapting their management systems, training programmes, procedures and manuals in order to receive an ATO certificate according to Part-ORA.
Apart from training towards a LAPL, these JAR-compliant registered facilities will not be allowed to provide training for additional Part-FCL licences or ratings which had not been included in their privileges under the JAR registration. In order to extend the privileges and to provide training for additional Part-FCL courses for other licences or ratings, these training organisations have to be approved in accordance with Part-ORA.
3.4. Other national training organisations for sailplanes and balloons
Based on Article 2 of the Regulation (EU) No 290/2012, MS may decide not to apply the requirements of Part-ORA to training organisations providing training only for the LAPL, PPL, BPL and SPL until April 2015. The amended text proposes an extension of that period until 8 April 2018, and no longer as an opt out.
Consequently training organisations for sailplanes and balloons will only be allowed to provide training for national sailplane and balloon licences and associated ratings and certificates. The training will have to follow the national rules and procedures until the end of the transition period or until the training organisation is approved as an ATO under Part-ORA.
MS may in this case continue issuing national sailplane and balloon licences during this extended transition period. These licences can also be converted into Part-FCL licences based on the conversion reports established by the MS. The changes proposed for Article 12 of Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 (new paragraph 2a) will allow MS not to apply the provisions for balloons and sailplanes contained in Annex I until April 2018.
Brussels, 18 July 2014

Phil’s Hurricane takes to the skies
1 Finished hurricanePhil Lawton’s Hurricane finally took to the skies after its long and very thorough rebuild. It underwent a series of test flights before getting all its necessary paperwork. Unfortunately I ended up in Northern Ireland and missed the event but Jane joined his brother Jeff and a few others to witness it being put through its paces. All painted up in its Finnish markings it will be off to Finland in the next few days to take part in a couple of air displays. Should be a piece about it elsewhere.

Anthony Smith – All gone quiet not quite.
On the face of it all seems to have gone quiet on Anthony Smith following his sudden and rather unexpected death a few weeks ago but what has happened since is that his son Adam arranged a small family cremation in Oxford and all is well. For his followers, and to celebrate his life more fully and formally, and for those that wish, there will a humongous memorial service in St Bride’s in London in October. We are liking this as it means a trip to Londinium. In the meantime that old Sky God and seriously rusty carer Robin Batchelor has been asked to scatter his ashes from a balloon. Various interpretations of this request have already been discussed and details will be formulated in due course. Watch this space. There is a great Obit at

CAA visit to sunny Wendover – New GA Section features large
6 manuel-belgranoWell finally we got to meet our new Surveyor or at least that is what we think he is but are not really sure of his title. It is Mark Shortman who has been around ballooning for years and years. Mark was keen to explain that he wanted to learn as much as possible about the way ballooning ‘worked’ and would be having similar meetings with the other CAMOs, Camerons and the BBAC. Ian Chadwick came along to both support Mark and defend balloonists and the over the top legislation that has befallen us especially with reference to the proposed licensing requirements which have all now been put thankfully on hold. They explained that within the new GA section both of them, along with Alan Carter, will be the contacts for all things balloons. Alan Carter has been involved in all things approvals balloony, mainly the technical stuff that affects the manufacturers, for many years and is a fine fellow. He used to work very closely with David Lelliott who has now retired. It does seem, on the face of it, that Mark is very keen to do all he can to get balloons deregulated or only get gently hammered by EASA as much as that is possible. I do think his heart is in the right place but we will have to be a bit patient and see how much influence he actually has and how much we can get achieved before casting any further nasturtiums.

As for Technical Licensing following the NPA which briefly covered Part 66 licensing and balloons it had all gone rather quiet. That isn’t to say someone at EASA isn’t itching to stamp their identity on more pointless legislation but from the moment the existing arrangements seem likely to stay. There were rather refreshingly no ‘whatifs’ or ‘maybes’ discussed. Nice one.

We spent a lot of time having a bit of a rant about how badly perceived the CAA currently is, how less than helpful they often appear, especially at higher levels and the inconsistencies in the various mountains of paperwork required when applying for Certificates of Airworthiness and initial ARCs. This was received quite well really, all things considered, and several key points will be addressed not least the really rubbish on line forms and service not currently provided by the CAA. The word ‘stakeholder’ was banned and Mark, to his credit, used the word ‘customer’ which pleased us deeply. Sadly there are other words that have crept into CAA speak like ‘roadmap’ and ‘transformation’ and a host of ‘consultants’ have been brought into Gatwick with job descriptions that make no logical sense. Made us chuckle none too subtlety.

The subject of getting smaller balloons into a Annex II group was debated at great length. There were several valid points and counterpoints raised. The microlights under 300kg have been deregulated by the UK CAA. In ballooning terms that would take in balloons upto 31,000 cubic feet. The criteria for microlights was that single-seaters meant that the only risk was to the pilot. This seems fair enough on the face of it but there are already Annex II 77,000 cu ft balloons flying which have no oversight so that argument doesn’t quite stack up but having said that they have a point and if the microlight boys realise Annex II balloons are floating about with more than one person aboard they may press for more alleviation from the regulations. Best drop them a line then. Quite how balloons could be de-regulated if they are currently under a TCDS was also pondered over. It seems that provision would first have to be made to remove, or work out a way that ‘series’ balloons that hold Type Certification could be exempted from the current legislation, then a way would have to be made to get them de-regulated with specific requirements. As we see it the only difference between the two states would be that under true Annex II status the balloon would not require an annual inspection (or ARC thankfully) so if the annual inspection was made part of the requirement than it may be possible to maintain the status quo. It seems the most likely limit would be 42 or hopefully 56,000 cu ft which I think is what we should initially go for. Of course you could home-build any size balloon you like and it would currently be Annex II but you have to bear in mind that, being realistic, EASA will probably eventually remove Annex II as a group and include it in the EASA experience. The CAA are already looking at creating some new groups such as ‘Experimental’ so oversight, one way or the other, is likely sooner or later. It is possible that a National CofA could be issued for the balloons which would be good as we don’t want to fall into the Permit to Fly trap, not to be confused with the stage play but a bit like it really! Although in an ideal world we would like to see privately operated balloons upto 105,000 cu ft being included we would be happy to initially fight for balloons up to 56,000 cubic foot being used privately to be removed from the legislation. In the case of the microlights having been de-regulated they are prohibited from flying over congested areas, something that you could not apply to balloons, however balloons landing in congested areas, historically, have caused diddly squit damage. It seemed that there were probably more points in favour of some sort of deregulation and the prognosis for getting something sorted, especially for small balloons, seems promising. No time scale was offered or discussed but once a proposal is on the table then obviously a ‘roadmap’ would be drawn! Don’s assertion that in ballooning we have the results of a very extensive field trial which proves conclusively that balloons are categorically not only not aircraft but intrinsically safe will go a long way in the argument for de-regulation. No time limit was discussed but it will be progressed as fast as possible probably at the end of the current season. We have already had talks with Camerons on this subject and will be speaking with Lindstrands in due course.

The second most heavily discussed topic was the purpose of the Airworthiness Review Certificate. We think it serves absolutely no useful purpose (certainly in the case of private balloons) and should go. There is nothing in it that isn’t covered by the annual inspection. If the paperwork isn’t correct then you can’t release a balloon to service anyway! We explained that, in the deep dark past, there was only a Release Note (IR4) then in 1989 it was upgraded becoming a combined Release Note (CRS-Certificate of Release to Service) and a CMR (Certificate of Maintenance Review) which is essentially the ARC but without the bollix paperwork. Both expired on the same day in the same way Easy Balloons run things for Private Balloons but it was one piece of paper and simply a declaration. I got the impression that both Mark and Ian appreciated that the ARC may not necessarily be applicable to balloons. Its probable that the thing may have to be retained for balloons operating under an AOC though. As it currently stands, when the ARC is extended it is done without any sight of the aircraft and is based solely on the premise that the CAMO has been informed of all the maintenance, repairs and changes of equipment. In the short time that it has been around as far as balloons are concerned then it has become quite evident that this is not always the case. Bit pointless then?

Mark reported that the response to the recent CAA Consultation was very disappointing. We explained that few, if anybody we knew, had the faintest idea of risk assessment and that was how the Consultation was perceived which he acknowledged. The discussion did move onto the way, in his view, the new GA Department would work. He was keen to ensure that the CAA stopped trying to find reasons not to do things and concentrate on why they should look at amending legislation that they had control over and how they can better influence and stand upto EASA attacks and, to be fair, a bit does seem to be coming back to the CAA. Again it appears that following the bad image they have for creating pure bollix EASA may now be turning back towards simpler requirements, like what we have, as a result of the strong objections from many in the Industry, including Don Cameron’s strongly worded piece which did get published throughout Europe and of course, possibly, France and the hundreds of small flying clubs and training centres for saying that the training requirements were rubbish and they wouldn’t be able to comply in the time allocated (even if they wanted to) and many would simply pack up. EASA doesn’t seem to understand job creation outside of their organisation then. The EASA Consultation that was currently looking at changes to The Regulation also seems to have been overtaken by events as far as balloons are concerned as EASA have now taken it upon themselves to try and resolve some of the issues.

All in all we felt that Mark does seem to have a good grasp on the complaints levelled at the CAA and EASA by the Balloon Industry and balloonists. He has been a member of the BBAC and involved with balloons since the early eighties when he started crewing so does have some serious experience. Like Ian Chadwick he does seem to be on ‘our side’ (collectively) and committed to the cause. This is of course our first meeting with him but the depth and duration of the discussions we had certainly demonstrated his enthusiasm and determination to ensure he fully intends to get as many problems resolved as he can.

Australian Homebuilt Coming over
Rock and roll all you Annex II homebuilt fans. The UK register will soon have another Annex II homebuilt balloon on it. It is former Australian registered VH-UGG, a Smudger 77, built by Tem Smith. Tem is the daughter of Chris Smith a venerable Dante member and former commercial balloon pilot. Tem lived for many years in Australia but now is back in the UK working for Thomas Cook Airlines. Maybe it will turn up at Sackville.

Lancaster departure delayed
7 canadian lancaster groundedLast-minute engine problems have delayed the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Lancaster from starting its journey to England to join the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster for a tour round the airshows.
Hamilton’s Lancaster was due to take off around 10 a.m. on Monday from the Museum but Number 2 engine wouldn’t start and required mechanics to take a look. It is thought it may have had something to do with the fire truck spraying the aircraft with water as part of the farewell ceremony! Latest update is that as we went to press the old girl got airborne and was enroute to Goose Bay. The problem lay in the magnetos and they are now all mended and happily sparking away merrily. From Goose Bay it heads to Iceland arriving in the UK on Friday. Update 11.08.14 as this has gone to press like!! Having arrived all tickety-boo the 10 August-September 22  Lancaster Tour starts on August 14th with an appearance at Eastbourne. The two Lancasters will be attending events throughout the country including a visit to Jersey. The Canadian Lanc heads back home from Coningsby Lincolnshire on 22 September. All the current dates are listed on the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Site at

Mini Me homebuilds courtesy of Camerons
Cameron Balloons have put a very comprehensive guide to build your own mini balloon on their website and jolly fine fun it appears to be. They say that ‘many of today’s very active balloonists, started off making their own model balloons. They are great advertising tools, can be engaging for education demonstrations and can even create wow-factor at night-glow events as they can dance tethered and shining in the dark. A mini balloon, really is a delight, perfect for those that want to pilot a balloon but are not quite ready for the real thing and as an education resource for school science days when children are studying flight they are perfect.

Model balloons, really can be as simple or as accurate as you like, anything from a tissue-paper indoor model whose lift is provided by a fan-heater to an accurate to-scale model suitable for even the most exacting model enthusiast. Cameron Balloons hope you enjoy this step-by-step guide to building a mini-working hot-air balloon and they are hoping to build a gallery over time of all those models built using their guidelines.

North Western Region August Bank Holiday Meet
It’s handy that this August has the unusual property of having five Fridays, Five Saturdays and five Sundays in it something that we won’t see for another 823 years so my mate Noel tells me but he didn’t know that the North Western Balloon & Airship Club and are knicking one of each to put towards their annual balloon meet over the August Bank Holiday Weekend. Now we would loved have to gone to this but we are having a bit of a farm party so won’t be able to make it. The Meet will be based at Black Beck Farm, Bouth near Ulverston, Cumbria where camping is available and will run from 22-25 August. Bouth is in South Lakes situated just south of both Lake Coniston and Windermere. With an alternative launch site to the north you will hopefully experience some spectacular and challenging flights over either or both lake should you decide to go. Just in case you thought you would sit about drinking Snecklifter then you will have to earn it as the Club will also arrange various walks dependent on weather in and around Bouth, ending up in a local hostelry for lunch. There is no entry fee but please see the link for more details.”

Is this the next new kid on the block.
4 ignis burnerWe have just got to inspect a complete Kubicek rig and it was a bit of an eye-opener to be honest. We do look after a few Kubiceks but envelopes only on existing UK built bottom ends but this was the whole shooting match and it was very nice indeed. Their older burners, it has to be said, were quite agricultural but the new ones are very presentable. There are a few points we found puzzling but on the whole it seemed like a very nice bit of kit. Anyway, we’ll do a piece on it presently.

Talking of Job Creation – EASA vacancies
8 lovely yummy brussel sproutsNow here’s a thing. EASA were ‘Looking for Independent Experts (Remunerated positions)’. If you can con them into thinking you are an expert like they have done to general aviation then it shouldn’t be that hard to get a job. Bear in mind though that reading between the lines they are recruiting people to write exam papers. So, ‘Do you have high-level expertise in one or more of the following theoretical knowledge subjects? Air law, Aircraft general knowledge, Flight planning/performance, Human performance, Meteorology, Navigation, Operational procedures, Principles of flight or VFR / IFR communication’. They go on to say;

‘The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is seeking to establish a database of independent aviation experts for a number of tasks including the development of exam questions for the European Central Question Database (ECQB). This work is remunerated and offers an exciting opportunity for individuals to support the Agency in important projects to ensure the continuous improvement of the safety of the European aviation system. Depending on the tasks to be performed, contracts shall be assigned to the most suitable external experts on the basis of competence and experience and in accordance with the principles of non-discrimination, equal treatment and absence of conflict of interests. Experts are entitled to competitive, fixed daily rates. Travel costs and subsistence expenses, where necessary, are covered in addition. Interested? If you have any immediate questions, please contact with “Call for Experts” in the subject of your email.’

Now here’s the EASA bit. Applications must be submitted using the on-line application form. Oh No! Then a first review of applications of interested candidates will be carried in early August 2014. Left that a bit late then? Jobs for the boys? Decisions already made? Sound familiar. They advise that you apply today to qualify … But its probably too late already.”

Bits that nearly got away
3 richard simpson basketBasket of the month went to Richard Simpson. He had been out of ballooning for quite a while but finally got re-validated back in May. When we inspected his kit he was well and truly advised that his basket needed love. After pressure washing it, applying wood-worm treatment and then giving it a serious dose of Danish Oil one can only say it is truly lovely now. It was nearly Chris Wood that got the accolade but
as he always looks after his kit and although his basket all lardy-darred up did look the wotsits he would have done it as a matter of course.

2 penguin bagWe had a visit from the Ultramagic penguin balloon operated by Exclusive Ballooning as it was having problems deflating its appendages. John calmed it with a bit of fish and put in a couple of Velcro panels. Now what did impress was that it is a lightweight special shape. Very lightweight for a balloon of its size never mind a special shape and better than that it arrived in the boot of Richard Penney’s car! How things have moved on. Just to prove how light it is and how small it packs away here is the famous Debbie Day and her 9 Really Little and Large retrieveother half Mike Scholes picking it up.

Defining little and large, well this surely must be as extreme as it gets. When Ian Chadwick was invited to fly alongside the Virgin Balloon flown by his son Gavin it all seemed to be a jolly fine idea apart from the small matter that Ian had forgotten to arrange a retrieve for his balloon. “Never mind,” said Gav, “We’ll do a double retrieve.” So there you have it a proper little and large retrieve. Smashing.