Then there was one – Cameron closes Lindstrand Balloons Oswestry
After what can only be described as a few years of uncertainty Cameron Holdings Ltd, not of course to be confused with Cameron Balloons Ltd who merely share the same registered address (and not a few Directors), pulled the plug on Lindstrand Hot Air Balloons Ltd on Monday 13th April. In fairness there probably isn’t the capacity to keep two high-end balloon manufacturers going and quite why Cameron Holdings elected to support two rival companies was always a puzzle however it is understood that orders and sales at Lindstrands had been quite good but clearly Cameron Holdings Limited’s take on the figures were different and one of them had to go. This is the third hot air manufacturer that has been taken over and closed by Camerons over the years. Sky Balloons and Thunder & Colt both eventually passed into the history books after they were ‘acquired’ by Camerons. Fortunately Cameron Balloons Ltd came to the rescue and still support both marques and they have promised to do the same with Lindstrands. What was very apparent was the lack of information from Cameron Holdings Ltd as to the action they had taken until well after the event (not Cameron Balloons Ltd as Don Cameron was quick to point out as they had nothing to do with the closure and were not, nor had ever been share-holders in Lindstrand Balloons Ltd.). Most of the dealers, it seems, found out through the note put out by Lindstrand US which should be able to continue to operate unhindered.
It is very important to realise that all is not lost and despite all the rumours flying about at the moment all the relevant paperwork that ensures Lindstrand Balloons can be flown and that their Continued Airworthiness maintained remains in place. Cameron Balloons have, through Cameron Holdings presumably, promised to ensure that support for the Lindstrand product will be maintained just as they did for Thunder & Colt and Sky Balloons so, for all Lindstrand owners, so, wherever you are, Lindstrand systems can still be operated and an official response should be expected from Cameron Balloons Ltd shortly. Inspectors can inspect and release Lindstrand Balloons and equipment just like they always have. It is also hoped that the spare parts will continue to be available through Cameron Balloons if they can do a deal with Cameron Holdings Ltd.
Lindstrand Balloons staff and customers have always remained very loyal to the company, which led the way in larger Ride Balloons that are now operated in many countries. The loss of jobs and the support of the Oswestry Team will be missed by owners and operators alike. Everyone hopes that the promises made by Don Cameron that the staff will not loose out is honoured. By opting for voluntary liquidation they at least stand a chance but it will be inevitable that many will probably lose out. It is also very unlikely that Lindstrand will be sold on as the company apparently sold all its design and intellectual property to either Cameron Balloons Ltd or Cameron Holdings (or maybe someone else) so any chance of an employees rescue buy out would be a hiding to nothing. Despite that here’s hoping that the skills and knowledge of the staff can be turned to another venture perhaps maintaining existing Lindstrand equipment.
We released three updates which are lurking in the archives. One on 14.04.15 which has the Lindstrand US take on the closure, one on 15.04.15 explaining that Cameron Balloons Ltd were not involved in the closure and the Official Notice on 17.04.15 which is reproduced below in case you can’t be bothered to click onto to now sort of closed Lindstrand website or the earlier article. The creditors meeting is to be held on Thursday 23rd April at BAWA, 589 Southmead Road, Filton, Bristol BS34 7RG at 10.00am.
Quite what remains in the factory and what will be sold off is not yet known. Talks are ongoing between Cameron Balloons Ltd and the CAA concerning the Continued Airworthiness subject and, as part of this, along with their responsibilities the CAA will be visiting the Oswestry factory to carry out an audit next week.
Herewith is the ‘Official Notice’:
Lindstrand Balloons Official Notice and appointment of Liquidator
Private Limited Company Registered at Companies House Number 04058541
Creditors' Voluntary Liquidation - 13 April 2015. Lindstrand Hot Air Balloons Ltd has ceased trading and has now been placed into Creditors' Voluntary Liquidation following a Directors meeting on 13 April 2015. The liquidator, who will deal with all affairs, is Mr Graham Down, Licensed Insolvency Practitioner
Burton Sweet Corporate Recovery
15 Pembroke Road
Bristol BS8 3BA
email@example.com tel. 0117 914 2068
A meeting of creditors will be held on 23rd April; further details will be announced by letter. Further notice: Lindstrand Hot Air Balloons Ltd Liquidation 13 April 2015.
Lindstrand Hot Air Balloons Ltd. has been a stand-alone company since its inception and no other company is involved. Cameron Holdings Ltd. (CHL) is the parent company of both Lindstrand Hot Air Balloons Ltd (LHABL) and Cameron Balloons Ltd. (CBL). In 2000, CHL invested in a share of Lindstrand Balloons Ltd. However, in 2003 the company was further divided, leaving CHL in 100% ownership of LHABL. The day-to-day management of LHABL was left to existing staff who continued to run it as a totally independent business. There was never, at any time, a company merger. LHABL and CBL remained unconnected and were even competitors. The products, trading style and business ethos of each business continued as before.
Hot air ballooning has become much more difficult when the regulation of balloons was passed from the British Civil Aviation Authority to the European Aviation Safety Agency. Badly designed rules have made ballooning much more expensive without any improvement in safety and many participants have given up. A further problem has arisen from the rise in the value of the pound against the Euro by 21% over 18 months and this has set the company at a disadvantage against its European competitors. Mounting losses at LHABL have made the liquidation unavoidable. There is great regret that others; customers or suppliers, have also lost goods, services or funds. Claims for losses should be addressed to the liquidator (details above). There is also great regret that most of the existing staff of LHABL will lose their jobs although all will receive their payment entitlements in full. Some posts in Bristol may be available, although it is understood that most may not be able to consider moving their homes.
For balloons in production at LHABL at the time of liquidation, CBL will, endeavour subject to the agreement of the liquidator and the client, finish, approve, certify and organise delivery and to minimise losses. Some years ago, to raise funds, LHABL sold all its balloon intellectual property, type certificates and trade marks to CHL, these remain current and in force, despite the LHABL liquidation. It is intended that these will be assigned to CBL which will become the type certificate holder and will support the continuing airworthiness of Lindstrand equipment. The airworthiness of existing Lindstrand hot-air balloons is not affected at this time.
This notice can be found at http://www.lindstrand.co.uk/
Big Welcome to new Inspectors
We are really chuffed to report that Steve Burden, Tony Gould, Malcolm White and Colin Wolstenholme have joined us as Inspectors. Between them they offer a great range of services and a wealth of experience. Steve is based in Germany but commutes weekly to Holland and happy to travel anywhere in Europe. He also runs a Proof Pressure Testing Station. Tony has been around balloons since the birth of time and we are currently working to get him appointed as an ARC signatory. Malcolm White is based in Eire and apart from running a Ride Business operates a repair station there. Colin is well known to many and is happy to travel. He also has a PPT Station. Malcolm, Colin and Tony are also Instructors and Colin an Examiner. In addition to this they all have a keen interest in old and rusty stuff so definitely tick all the boxes. We are really happy that they have joined us and their help will ensure that we can continue to provide a very comprehensive service. Contact details will be up soon in the ‘pages’ bit.
The Met Office still tidying up the weather
The Met.Office changed their web based Ballooning Forecast product about a year ago. Overall, the changes (offering more detailed forecast information at each of the spot wind locations and moving away from forecaster intervention) were well received by the ballooning industry, but there has been ongoing concerns about the perceived over-forecasting of surface wind gusting and the under-forecasting of surface inversions. Its fair to say that they have been a tad inaccurate to be honest and most regard the ‘gust’ as the upper wind speed but the Met Office have taken note and will try harder. Nice one.
In the case of ‘Gusts’ they acknowledge the concerns and are currently working on a revised automated gust dynamic, however this will not be ready for testing until the middle of the summer. As such, in order to provide the best possible gust information in the forecasts in the interim, the Met.Office has amended the Ballooning Forecast template and will be producing surface wind gusting forecasts manually until the automated gust diagnostic is ready. This will be in the form of an area based summary. The forecasters will of course try and provide an appropriate level of detail in this part of the forecast, though it should be noted that this element is (until the new gust stuff comes in) an area forecast, and as such will not capture detail at a specific site or very local level. With ‘Inversions’ they explain that the inversion algorithm was analysed by the Met Office in depth last year and amended as a consequence. Noting the continuing lack of confidence in this particular element of the forecast, the Met Office has also amended the forecast template to produce inversion information manually. Again this will be in the area summary section. The above has already been implemented with immediate effect. They appreciate that, as with any part of the forecast, clarification or amplification may be sought by users, along with the other aviation forecast products provided on behalf of the CAA. Beyond this, bespoke forecasts may be obtained by commercially available services such as Talk To A Forecaster (TTAF).
New General Aviation Met Office web product remains as previously announced with the new Met Office GA website, which will host (amongst other things) UK Ballooning Forecasts, is planned to be introduced during the coming summer months. A small balloonists working group was expecting to be given the opportunity to beta test (whatever that means) the new product, but that opportunity has not proved possible. They do not have a revised date for this implementation, but will endeavour to keep balloonists informed of development progress. In the matter of changes to spot wind locations they a number of changes were agreed with the ballooning industry last autumn. The Met Office has now accepted these changes, but are currently “awaiting resources” to implement them. It is disappointing that this was not possible before the start of the main 2015 ballooning season, but the CAA are continuing to press for implementation at the earliest opportunity.
Black Horse Easter Meet success
Thanks to the efforts of the Met Office service the Black Horse mob managed to get flying slots on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I had arranged to fly with the intrepid Mr Usill in his pretty Ultramagic Window on the World balloon but sadly the field was deemed to wet and muddy and as he was about to depart to Vietnam in a day or two it would have meant leaving a wet balloon in the bag for four weeks. Never mind we managed to catch up a fair cluster of balloonists some of who managed a flight later in the day and watch Mark the Nice Estate Agent warm up some hot cross buns in the traditional manner. Hilight of the meet was Mr Dowlen trumping everyone and landing, allegedly, by the doorway of the pub declared goal. Sadly we had a rather large family gathering over the weekend so missed the fun, and nearly forgot Alice produced a Grandson on Easter Monday….Next year.
On parade - long sleeves please
From the CAA came a reminder, aimed primarily at Commercial Pilots but of equal importance to all relating to the use of long sleeved items of clothing when flying.
Operators are alerted to a recent complaint, made by an experienced UK balloonist, stating that there are photographs on social media of a UK commercial pilot flying a passenger balloon with bare arms. Please do remember that it is an Operations Manual requirement to offer advice to all company pilots about appropriate clothing for balloon pilots. This normally includes a strong recommendation of the wearing of long sleeved clothing made from natural fibres and the wearing of gloves at all times whenever possible. In the event of a fire in the air, fire on the ground or propane leak, balloon pilots should be well aware that this will facilitate the best possible opportunity of being able to follow the balloon Flight Manual emergency procedure. Operators were requested to issue a reminder to their company pilots on this subject. No bad thing.
David Bareford retires as BBAC Medical Advisor
For many, many years David Bareford, best known for his skilful competition flying and World Champion more times than most people have toes on their feet, has decided to stand down in his role as BBAC Medical Advisor. It was through his efforts that we were, and to a large extent, still are able to enjoy simple medical certificates. Even when EASA stomped in he campaigned behind the scenes to keep things as simple and affordable as possible. It has been confirmed that David Bareford’s membership of the British Medical Association expires in August so he has decided to stand down and hands the reigns to Marcus Green who is a whizz on knees. Marcus has already completed the aviation medical course which is a prerequisite for the role. David has provided exemplary service to the BBAC in his capacity as medical advisor and UK pilots owe a big thankyou to this unsung hero. Now he will be able to spend more time trying to beat his kids who seem to have inherited his flying skills!
Under the radar - EASA slides in the changes to licensing
The recent changes or rather hold put on the licensing requirements now has some Consultation stuff to go with it. The British Balloon and Airship Club have made representations and along with some strong voices within the CAA a UK prescence is clearly involved in the proposed changes to the legislatiuon but if you fancy putting in your tenpenence woth then this is how it appeared on the EASA noice Board. Regulation 1178/2011 is the one that will partly affect affect balloonists so needs responding to. To read the next bit take a very deep breath first and be ready to scratch your head and furrow your brow.
Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011Aircrew Regulation - Annexes I to IV - Flight Crew Licensing (FCL) and Medical (MED) Requirements laying down technical requirements and administrative procedures related to civil aviation aircrew pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council.
Please note that according to Article 6.5 of Management Board Decision No 01-2012, the consultation period of NPA 2014-29 (B) 'Amendments to the Acceptable Means of Compliance & Guidance Material to Annex I (Part-FCL) to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011' has been extended until 17 May 2015.
Please note that according to Article 6.5 of Management Board Decision No 01-2012, the consultation period of NPA 2014-29 (D)(1) 'Amendments to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 (the Aircrew Regulation) Learning Objectives (LOs)' has been extended until 17 May 2015. Please note that according to Article 6.5 of Management Board Decision No 01-2012, the consultation period of NPA 2014-29 (A) 'Amendments to Commission Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011 (the Aircrew Regulation), as amended Cover Regulation, Annex I, Annex II, Annex III and AMC & GM to Annex I (Part-FCL)' has been extended until 17 May 2015. To place comments, please use the automated Comment-Response Tool (CRT) available at http://hub.easa.europa.eu/crt Thank you for your interest in and contribution to the European Aviation Safety Agency's rulemaking activities.
Sackville Number One
Bang on target the ever enthusiastic Tim Wilkinson has managed to cut up a balloon, make patterns, cut new panels and sew the whole lot back together again in four weeks. Faster than the manufacturers. The balloon he chose to rebuild was G-BLCH an existing Annex 2 jobbie a one-off Colt 65D eight gore number. Now really he couldn’t have picked a trickier one as a first go. He and Barry Newman bought it down for a check over and we were most impressed. John’s eagle eyes picked a few bits and bobs that needed a bit of attention but that was expected. All in all he has made a superb job of it. We ran through how to adjust the parachute and off he went. Sackville is now becoming a centre for home-built balloons and Tim’s determination to go down the Annex2 route has galvanised a few others into sewing late into the night. Next up he will be mainly building a brand new, tapes and all, Airtour from the original patterns and, we understand, Carol Howes has offered to help.
Irish Championships on track
It has been confirmed that Waterford area will again host the Irish Championships this year and invitations to attend are being sent out. The dates are 20th-25th September. This is a great place to fly and visit and if you didn't get to attend last year you will be made especially welcome. It is hoped that some Ferry offers can be arranged soon. Full details of the venue, launch sites and sponsors will be published following a formal media launch very soon. For more details please contact
Joe J. Daly tel +353872559238 mobile 0872559238 or through his website www.joedaly.com
EASA Safety Information Bulletin issued following Alpine Airbus crash
After the tragic disaster in the Alps when the co-pilot responsible for Germanwings Flight 9525 deliberately crashed it in the French Alps killing 150 people EASA published Safety Information Bulletin SIB 2015-04 - Safety Information Bulletin: Authorised persons in the flight crew compartment. Obviously it doesn’t apply to balloonists however it may well be the case in the future that, as it is claimed that the co-pilot had hidden an illness from his employers, there may changes or tightening in the medical both at the initial application stage or renewal. To see the SIB go to http://ad.easa.europa.eu/ad/2015-04.
Andy Rawson shows his legs
Now here’s a thing Mr Rawson of Wickers World fame proving that little has changed really when it comes to alternative attire. When he was trolling round the circuit with the Maltesers balloon he and his valiant crew were always smartly turned out in plus-fours and smart jackets. Actually he was at his son Charlie’s wedding held at the right posh St Andrew’s Golf Course where he married Kacey Goodrich on March 28th and very big congrats them both. Now I hadn’t had Andy down as a golfer but he enjoyed himself so much he stayed an extra night. His missus loved it as they had an in-house hair salon so she was able to get her hair redone as soon as her hat came off and before she sat down to the celebration dinner.
Stolen Basket and Trailer - Mantis gets robbed
Following an initial break-in to a barn the thieves returned the following day and despite heavy chains, padlocks and clamps took David Usill’s trailer away on a low-loader from a field in Essex. Fortunately the trailer only contained a Cameron 77 Basket, leg leathers and flexi poles stolen. David explained that he reckoned the thieves must have thought there was something very valuable in it to go to so much trouble. The trailer is (was) a white, tidy, single axle Indespension box trailer with security bolt in the tow hitch and special feature roller bar for loading heavy baskets. The basket was a Cameron 77/90, 130x107x124 with a red suede top and identifiable by a ‘slight lean to the left’. Please contact David Usill on 07831289190 if you have any information that could help.
AOC Expiry dates - CAA reminder to AOC holders
Operators are reminded that all AOC (Balloons) are valid for a period of time as detailed on page 1 of the certificate. The AOC holder is responsible for monitoring the AOC expiry date (perhaps within the important dates tracker) and applying to the CAA for AOC renewal. The CAA no longer sends renewal reminders and Operator’s should note that ensuring their AOC remains valid is now their responsibility entirely.
The AOC renewal application pack (form SRG 1312) may be downloaded at: www.caa.co.uk/srg1312. An AOC variation pack may be obtained by substituting “SRG1312” with “SRG1311” and an AOC initial application pack with “SRG1310”. The current scheme of charges may be checked at www.caa.co.uk/ors5. Operators are reminded to allow at least the minimum time period specified in CAP 611 ( www.caa.co.uk/cap611 ). The CAA also advise AOC Holders to remember that no commercial flights may be undertaken if an AOC expires, until renewal has been achieved.
Aerosaurus Balloons - surrounded by houses
I was lucky enough to be asked by Arthur Street to carry out his TRE check flight the other week. It did involve a very early start mind but with empty roads and a fine morning it was almost a pleasure to beat the sparrows out of bed and hurtle down the M4 and M5 in the miracle Corsa. I was warned that I probably wouldn’t recognise the area surrounding his once idyllic location and that proved to be correct. Arthur’s Seat is close to Exeter Airport and the area surrounding it has been designated to become the largest new build town ever. Known as Cranbrook it already has outline permission for 2,900 homes with more to follow. They are actually really building a new town all round his house. Arthur explained that this is the main reason he has sold the business and I can see his point. As one affected by HS2 I can sympathise with his plight. Aerosaurus will continue to operate from his House for the next year and Arthur will continue to fly for Bristol-based Bailey Balloons. We flew from a rather lovely Devon farm ignored by a less than dis-interested flock of sheep. From the air the size and scale of the new build becomes very apparent. Devon is a lovely area to fly and after a few impressive step approaches we plopped down on and were met by the friendly farmer who had guided Marianne in. Following a fine bacon butty we headed back to base and after a bit of maintenance I headed back to the mayhem of the now busy motorway and as I tucked in between a couple of National Express coaches in the fast lane thought back to the adventures we’d had flying from the Devon Show and taking the Radio One balloon around the county. If you ever get the chance to fly in Devon I can’t recommend it enough.
To give with one hand and take away with the other - EASA has a vision
Yes its true Patrick Ky head of EASA we think has had a vision and its official as he has just released his latest newsletter EASA On Air Issue 7 (revision 1) and kicks it off with a piece called ‘EASA Vision for 2020’. Here, for your delectation, we reproduce it:
Following the consultation of stakeholders organised between May and September 2014, for which the Agency received some 6000 comments (70% coming from industry at large), EASA prepared an opinion which makes a certain number of proposals for the future of the aviation regulatory system. This opinion will be an input for the European Commission proposal for the revision of EASA’s founding Act, to be made in 2015 Autumn.
Among the different themes proposed, the Agency reaffirms its commitment to move to a proportionate, performance and risk-based environment which will gradually replace the prescriptive approach taken so far. This cannot be done without a significant change process, in the Agency, the national authorities and the industry, which has already started.
The level of resources and expertise in the national authorities is also an area of interest, since some authorities are struggling to maintain the appropriate level of expertise to perform their duties. EASA proposes that national authorities should be able to delegate some of their oversight functions to other authorities or to EASA, in order to make sure that no safety risks are overlooked. In the same vein, EASA proposes that State aircraft (excluding military) can, if a Member States chooses to do so, be part of the EASA scope, for initial and continuing airworthiness, as well as for operations.
EASA proposes also to extend its scope of intervention to new domains, such as airport ground handling, RPAS, and security, in order to cover in a holistic manner all aviation safety pertinent topics. EASA also proposes to strengthen its international influence, in particular in ICAO.
We believe that these proposals are providing a good basis for a reliable, efficient and effective safety system for European aviation, fit for the new challenges ahead.
Patrick Ky. EASA Executive Director
Well what do you make of that? Best I leave it a while before responding.
Splish Splash - Caught on camera
Featured on the ITV News site is a rather nice bit of footage of the Bristol balloon making a splash and dash in the famous floating harbour to the delight of a large crowd. Fortunately the press managed to refer to the pilot having a ‘near miss with the water on several occasions before finally landing with splash…. But all was not lost as the skilled crew managed to swiftly raise the balloon after the wicker basket dipped into the water. As it came out of the harbour, people cheered as water poured from the bottom of the basket, before the balloon disappeared once more into the sky’.
Exam success celebrated with a selfie
Big ones to visitors from Bristol who stole a day out of the weekend to sit their exams. The three spent a long day re-taking some and sitting others. Mandy and Richard Simpkins along with Phil McCheyne successfully passed the lot with very respectable marks. Big signs of relief and a toast followed. Hopefully they will all check out in the near future. I did offer to take the picture but me and phones meant I wasn’t allowed! Congratulations to them all.
Ghost in the Machine
Nick Godfrey is clearing out all his excess ballooning stuff including a barn load of cylinders. Now they haven’t been out since we last tested them and some put a right old fight up when trying to get the jackets off. A couple though had the remains of some really old and rusty large J&B bottles on them plus tape from the old heating coils. Time has meant they have gone somewhat like the remains of ghostly shop signs still just visible that were once painted onto the brickwork. In the half light they really had a distinct eeriness about them. If you are short of a Worthington cylinder or two then there are seven up for grabs all Rego slaves. All passed their 10 year Proof Pressure Test but three needed new gauges and one a new valve.
Basket Case of the month
Now we bang on all the time about looking after baskets. They don’t just get covered in stuff unpleasant from time to time but many spent the season collecting Wurther original wrappers, dental floss and redundant batteries so come their inspection the following year require a fair degree of biffering out, much like a teenager’s bedromm. On top of this as the years go by they dry out and many eventually simply fall to bits throiugh neglect which is right sad considering how many adventures they have been responsible for. So we are not afraid to give the owners a good ticking off from time to time if we feel a basket is being badly treated or neglected. Care in the community and all that. It is then with a sense of pride that we have so far seen a number of former wrecks turn up looking really splendid and their now proud owners beaming. Hardest work and best so far has been Rupert Stanley’s old T&C jobbie of unknown vintage. Do you know what it looked absolutely minted and now Rupert takes it everywhere. Shame we unknowingly swapped his cylinder jackets during the inspection but they were all the same colour! Sorry but to compensate, our basket case of the month goes to Rupert Stanley’s basket.