Content and readability
There has been loads of stuff issued in the past year by EASA, the CAA and the BBAC that arrived during our absence. Sorry, but we didn’t keep up to speed and report it all. Our shortfall. A lot may be deemed dull but we have tried to summarise and publish the more salient stuff that has spewed from the Authorities various and that you may find of use. So if you’ve seen it before, apologies but at worst a lot of the items are worth a re-visit before the season starts. Don’t fret though, there is lightly buttered stuff mixed in and an interval followed by a plea for younger folk to stand for election that forthcoming BBAC General Election. Be quick mind as entries need to be in before 20th January. Now I reckon that is a bit short notice but blow their minds and just do it. The piccie is the newish British balloon Museum & Library balloon, a Colt 77A built in 1987 and now registered G-MUSM, that will be attending events here and there in the coming year. Smashing jobbie. Going through the stuff collected up during the year there is more but we’ll sort some of that out for next time in case January goes quiet!!!!
Turning the Pages bit
During our absence we have more or less kept the Pages up to date but have just had another go through to ensure all is pukka-wallah. We will be making up the events page for this year in the next few days. Apparently the TCDS and AD/SB Pages get referenced quite a lot and thank you to those that are quick to point out a change we may have missed. It is welcomed and appreciated.
Cameron Balloons Hose Life - Service Bulletin 27 issued
As you may have already heard Cameron balloons have issued SB27 concerning the replacement fuel hoses that are over 10 years old. This is Highly Recommended, which means it isn’t Mandatory. This also includes manifolds and vapour hoses. At present replacement is mainly governed by the hose passing the annual/100hr inspection. Dave Boxall of Cameron Balloons offered some guidance on the SB stating:
Service Bulletin SB27 Propane Hoses: Additional Calendar Life Limitation has just been issued and is now available on the Cameron Balloons website. This bulletin Highly Recommends the replacement of propane hoses that have exceeded 10 years of service. Service Letter No 7 - Identification of Propane Hoses, has also been issued. The aim of this letter is to help highlight information to enable users to identify the correct replacement hoses.
Why did we issue this bulletin?
Cameron Balloons has now been building balloons for over 45 years. It is probable that some fuel hoses supplied in the 1970s are still in use and certain that a significant number of fuel hoses supplied in the 1980s are still in service. Fuel hoses degrade with age and visual inspection cannot detect the condition of the steel braiding or the rubber liner inside the hose. If you are still not convinced then ask yourself the question; Do I think that having 30 year old fuel hoses on a balloon carrying 32 passengers is a good idea, and would I be happy to take responsibility for it?
The Compliance (Category) of the bulletin is Highly Recommended. Do I have to change my hoses?
Highly Recommended is the highest Category that Cameron Balloons can put on a Service Bulletin; only EASA can make a bulletin mandatory by issuing an Airworthiness Directive. Owners of EASA balloons not used for commercial purposes who wish to accept the responsibility and risk of flying with propane hoses older than 10 years may continue to do so by use of a declared maintenance programme. Commercial Passenger Balloons will need the agreement of their CAMO in order to continue using older hoses, and so are more likely to be required to change their hoses. Non-EASA balloons should check with their maintenance organisation.
Are Vapour (pilot light) hoses covered by this bulletin?
Yes. Vapour hoses are included in this bulletin.
Dave Boxall’s statement to consider, ‘If you are still not convinced then ask yourself the question; Do I think that having 30 year old fuel hoses on a balloon carrying 32 passengers is a good idea, and would I be happy to take responsibility for it?’ is, in our opinion rather sensationalist and ill-considered. Now, it turns out that the hoses they currently use have a shelf life of 8 years. Not a problem as the ‘life’ is from the date of fitting but we have discovered that some of the vapour hoses currently being supplied were made in 2007. That makes them 12 years old so in 10 years time they will be 22 years old! So, Dave, would you be happy fitting a 12 year old hose that is expected to last another 10 years? Fortunately that nice Craig Moore at Camerons is on the case. Historically, we have not come across hoses on ride balloons operating in the UK that are over ten years old, however this may not be case overseas. There are however, hoses over 10 years old on many private balloons. As far as private balloons are concerned we have found that most hoses seem to last between eight and ten years in the natural course of things so 10 years probably isn’t an unreasonable period but use, and the way the burner and hoses are stored all contribute to the life of a hose and that should always be borne in mind. Once we see what Camerons' response to the original shelf life of hoses is we will reconvene.
As we understand it the issue of SB27 is not the result of any failures linked to hoses over 10 years old. The subject is not a new one and was raised during the discussions concerning the lifing of cylinders, however, other manufacturers already life hoses. Easy Balloons already look very closely at older hoses during the inspection, or when a burner comes in for inspection or repair. Amongst the normal faults we fail hoses on, we do look very closely at older hoses and do consider their age as a reason for failure but, it has to be said, failure is almost always the result of a fault. Stiff shiny hoses that don’t pull out straight always catch the eye. One old and rusty pilot came to us and when we told him that the hoses really needed replacement, as they were nearly 30 years old and you could climb up them, he declared that, “They were only changed a few years ago!” We explained they were made in 1986. “How do you know that”, he asked. “Well the date is on the hose.” “Goodness me doesn’t time fly, best change them then.” came the considered response. If you don’t fly very often always leave the hoses as loosely coiled as possible, don’t weave them in and out of the burner and always ensure that you don’t leave them in a way that will allow them to become trapped under a cylinder or end up with them under the burner itself. Bit late now, but a decent burner bag for Christams is a must have. Put it on your next Christmas List. Zebedee do a decent, reasonably priced one. Hoses on Ride Balloons generally last about six or seven years if the basket is transported rigged. Cracking and splitting occurs up at burner frame where the hose goes into the burner itself.
We will write something up more thoroughly over the next week or so, after Camerons have sorted the age problem of new hoses, but our present stance is that we will continue to inspect hoses according to the Cameron Maintenance Manual and schedule. Although currently Highly Recommended the SB will most likely become a requirement in the future, possibly at the next CBL MM issue.
End of an era - Grass Roots Founder retires
Sad news indeed that Rob Cross has hung up his organising boots in connection with the much-loved Grass Roots Balloon Meet. From its outset it has always been a fantastically laid back meet for the private balloonist. Sadly it has become a victim of its own success and following a couple years of anti-weather he has now decided to knock his part in it on the head. In a note sent out to those involved. Rob says:
“Firstly, I'd like to thank you all for your support with this meet over the past 10+ years. Much has been achieved from nothing but after considerable thought, I've decided that I no longer want to be involved. I simply don't enjoy running the event anymore and want you to be aware of my position as we enter 2019. Something like this should not be a burden, it should be fun. I therefore see 2 options:
1. Reimburse all entry fees and sponsorship monies and effectively wind down the Limited company. Bear in mind some of these entry fees have been rolling for 3 years. I'm not prepared that these should simply be pocketed.
2. Pass the organising and Limited Company to someone else. Richard at Ultramagic has already been reimbursed with his £1000 sponsorship so based on the current finance model this amount would need to be raised elsewhere for the event to break even (just). Best wishes Rob Cross.”
A true gentleman.
Easy Balloons, has been involved, in one guise or another, with Grassroots from the outset and are sorry to see it go but fully understand Rob’s decision and support it fully. Thankyou very much for all the hard work and dedication you and your team have put in over the years and for all the fun, laughter and good times it has brought. Also to the huge opportunity that it brought to training pilots and those who completed their checkout or got their mandatory tether in. Waking up in the beer tent, or the back of the car was, on occasions, quite entertaining as well. Here’s to the next adventure. Thanks Rob.
And another… Folly Dog Leg is no more
Folly Dog Leg is probably known to more Old and Rusties than any other launchsite. It has been used extensively for more years than anyone can remember and probably more balloons have launched from there than anywhere else. It has also helped keep the Tally Ho on the Hungerford road going. We’ve done more than a few check flights and inspections there but now it has been sold. Maybe the new owner will be sympathetic. Fingers crossed. We’ll ask Pete Bish to write up a bit of history on it for next time.
To the Swan - The Christmas Ride
Christmas Day has been celebrated in various ways over the years but one of the most enjoyable is always ride down to the village from Wellwick Farm. Some weeks before, on a Pork Pie Friday if I remember (which I didn’t), son Peter suggested that we ride down and have a port. Well our Peter does not do horse riding. Truth is that last time he got on a horse he vanished down the road hanging under Bandit, a sprightly old New Forest pony, at the age of four (Pete not the pony). It clearly had an affect and he hasn’t been near one since. I’m not sure what prompted this declaration of intent but it was agreed that he would go on a leading reign to avoid catastrophy. I have to say that I haven’t laughed so much for along time and the ride down mainly involved warning him about the effect an approaching dogs, horses, cars and bits of paper would have on his mount, Cary. We hadn’t been out long before we met Claire on Dan, a fine grey Connamara, who asked if she could come along. No problems, someone else to encourage Pete. His better half Stephanie boldly led him there and back but on the odd occasion she suggested he have a go on his own he declined quite vocally. Also joining us were daughter Mary and Nicole who also gave Pete sound advice which he chose to ignore. On arrival at the back door of The Swan our landlord Paul, the tallest man in Wendover, supplied a well received large port. We raised a glass to everyone we could think of and a happy, merry band headed back, the port not diminishing Pete’s fear factor, possibly because we were joined by Farmer Jay and dog, Big Bear.
Balls and valves- EASA SIB No 2018-14 issued
SIB (Safety Information Bulletin) number 2018-14 was issued on 06 September 2018 and refers to the use of Quarter-Turn Ball Valves on Liquid Gas Cylinders in Balloon Operations and is aimed at all hot air balloons and hot air airships, as referenced in the EASA Balloons products list, or Airships products list, as applicable. The SIB is as follows and worth a read. It is not a directive, or in any way mandatory so don’t panic. Historically the discussion on the type of valve used has never gone away. The cost difference between quick shut off (quarter turn to open) and gate (multi-turn to open) valves has always been the over-riding factor for many. Personally I’d have quick shut-off any day. EASA’s take on the subject is below:
Propane fuel cylinders used in hot air balloon and hot air airship operations are most commonly equipped with either a multi-turn to open or a quarter-turn to open valve for the main liquid gas outlet. Both types of valve are airworthy and approved. However, in-service experience, as well as results of investigations of severe accidents with fatal injuries due to the outbreak of fire, have shown that an easy and quick shut-off of the main liquid gas outlet increases survivability. Several air accident investigation reports concerning balloons refer to propane leaks and subsequent fires. Common causes of propane fires were fuel hose ruptures or leaks. In these cases, quarter-turn valves, allowing a quick shut-off of the main liquid gas outlet, would have possibly prevented the outbreak of a fire, or at least would have likely reduced its effects and increased the survivability. The advantages of quarter-turn valves compared to multi-turn valves are the quick and unambiguous operation by a 90° rotation and the obvious indication of the valve’s position.
At this time, the safety concern described in this SIB is not considered to be an unsafe condition that would warrant Airworthiness Directive (AD) action under Regulation (EU) 748/2012, Part 21.A.3B. This is information only. Recommendations are not mandatory.
EASA recommends operators of hot air balloons and hot air airships to use already existing approved quarter-turn valves for propane fuel cylinders, for commercial and non-commercial balloon operations. Furthermore, EASA recommends operators to include the emergency use of these valves in the pre-flight briefing of passengers. The operation of these valves is obvious and self-explanatory. In case of emergency, even passengers could close them. In case of unauthorized usage by a passenger, the obvious indication of the valve’s position is apparent to the pilot.
For further information contact the EASA Safety Information Section, Certification Directorate. E-mail: ADs@easa.europa.eu. For anyone interested to install a quarter-turn ball valve, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or the relevant type design approval holder for assistance and further information on available approved installations.
The two interesting points that this SIB raises is that operation of the valve could be easily explained to a passenger as part of the pilot briefing and that the ‘Lever down for off’ and ‘Up for on’ should be universal. Now before you go talking about the direction of the take-off fitting and the universal ‘Across is Off’ for a lever valve the liquid take-off dip-tube is always vertical, regardless to what happens after the valve. The exception are horizontally operated levers fitted to Ultramagic cylinders but they have a horizontal take-off and following the logic ‘On’ is in line with the fitting and ‘Off’ is across. The other good people that should be briefed is obviously the crew. As not everyone has quick shut offs, screwing gate valves shut is also worth a mention. You never know when the information may save the day.
CAA Survey on Maintenance Programmes and the SDMP
Not a Social Democrat MP but a thing called a ‘Self Declared Maintenance Programme’ which actually we reckon is not all bad, but more on that later. Historically, back in April 2018 pilots were hit with the announcement that the CAA had launched a survey through Monkeychops, or whatever the company was called, enquiring what type of Maintenance Programme balloons are using. The survey was sent to individual owners and did not identify the balloon and was not mandatory. It appeared to warn that that if balloons did not transfer their existing Maintenance Programme to an SDMP then they would be grounded. The phone didn’t stop ringing for a day or two. Of course it was all a big misunderstanding but there were moves afoot to introduce the new ‘Self Declared Maintenance Programmes’ (SDMP) for private balloons up to 120,000 cu ft by the end of May 2018. Easy Balloons has been issuing the ‘new style’ SDMPs for quite some time for recent transitions, new balloons and when the original ‘Approved Maintenance Programme’ (AMP) needed updating (or had gone walkies). An SDMP is actually not that different from the old MP but puts the responsibility for the Continued Airworthiness firmly on the owner/pilot if the balloon operates outside of a CAMO (Continuing Airworthiness Maintenance Organisation). When it comes to Ride Balloons and those in a CAMO it is still a bit muddled and the existing MP may still have to used. The advantage of having an SDMP is that it permits the pilot/owner to carry out ‘Pilot Maintenance’ as defined in the appropriate Maintenance Manual and release the balloon after the work has been completed. Up until now, unless you had an SDMP, then, for example, replacing karabiners without the action being signed off by an inspector was not technically permitted. Having issued well over 100 SDMPs last year we are pretty open minded about them and reckon they are a good idea.
For our customers, unless we have specifically informed you that you have an SDMP then you have the old AMP. Almost all the private balloons we have inspected have been issued with the new SDMP. By the end of January all our inspectors will have a copy of the SDMP and can issue one if they, and the owner, wish. The current situation, with regards to the CAA, balloons and SDMPs is confusing to say the least and although we are awaiting clarification from the CAA we will continue to replace AMPs with SDMPs should an update be required. Please note that they must be signed to be valid and without a correct Maintenance Programme, of any type, your Certificate of Airworthiness could be invalid. Production of an MP is part of the annual inspection. They must be produced at the annual inspection in the same way the old ones were. No SDMP (no MP) no CofA renewal. The whole question of Maintenance Programmes for balloons has been a bone of contention for years and the BBAC has been trying hard to get private balloons up to 120,000cu ft exempted from the EASA regulation but that has always been a tad unlikely but we can still hope. The BBAC is recommending no action be taken for the moment. We are inclined to err on the side of caution and will continue to issue new SDMPs as we go. Any problems please drop me a mail to email@example.com
The nothing to do with Lindstrands Meet - well maybe a little bit
Alexander Harris dropped us a line reminding us that following the success of the first Telford Balloon Meet, by popular demand the Telford Balloon Fiesta 2019 has been given the green light for 11th & 12th of May in Telford Town Park. Free camping and breakfast (Bacon roll with tea/coffee) are being provided for all pilots and crews flying at the event. The event is being administered in partnership with Lindstrand Technologies & registration is open until 30th April 2019. For Pilots interested in attending please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Air Navigation Order 2016 updated
At the end of September 2018 the fifth edition, amendment 28 September 2018 of CAP 393 ‘The Air Navigation Order 2016 and Regulations’ was published. Best check it out as and when you need. Amendments to the Air Navigation Order are shown in paragraph 1.4 of the foreword of CAP 393 The Air Navigation Order 2016 and Regulations and can be accessed through;
David Liddiard Obituary - Pete Bish
David Liddiard was born into a Berkshire farming family and whilst at school in Newbury, at age 14 was suddenly needed to work on the farm and so ended his formal education. Both of David's brothers also farmed around Great Shefford, whilst David later took on tenancies at Ashmansworth, Hants and Marsh Benham Berks. He drove the Monte Carlo Rally with fellow farmer David Rabbits in 1954. He was a founder member of Great Shefford Young Farmers and became the (then) youngest Chairman of the Newbury Show Committee in 1963.
Although David had first seen a balloon hopping over the airfield at Weston-on-the-Green in the late 1960s, realising afterwards that this was 'Bristol Belle' on an early test flight, it was when The Dante Group's Alec Jenkinson made contact to ask if he could fly his balloon from David's field that the second half of his life commenced ! So it was on 'Bloody Sunday', 30th January 1972 that Alec took off on a training flight with Peter Langford from Bradford's Farm, Marsh Benham so introducing David and his family to our sport, not knowing what would follow. Thanks to David's immediate generosity, he offered Dante a shed for balloon storage and a loft to make their clubhouse. Following David's own first flight in May 1972 with Phil Dunnington, David soon became Dante's 11th member - and living on site he qualified for his PPL(Balloons) in the November of that year, checking out with Mark Westwood and flying a whopping 1 hr 45 mins on his solo the same day !
The Marsh Benham site quickly became popular, thanks to David's welcome, the installation of a bulk propane tank and the fact that the M4 was soon to be extended to the area. A couple of informal balloon gatherings lead to the idea of holding an 'Icicle Meet' on the first weekend of January 1973 where newly formed Thunder Balloons from London flew their prototype and soon made the farm their launch field of choice. In all, the Icicle Meet was based at Marsh Benham for 20 years, prior to transferring to David's late son James' farm at Savernake for another 21 years.
David was a practical, 'soles of his feet' flyer, proving on many occasions his accurate control of a balloon by landing in tight spaces, perhaps the most impressive being on a logging road in a huge forest in Alaska, where missing the road would certainly mean a landing amongst the trees, a damaged balloon and a chain-saw retrieve ! After slowing up by brushing the upwind treetops he 'planted it' on the road, the envelope touching the trees on both sides as it stopped. He often came up with ideas in the early days, one being a contraption made out of a bit of farm machinery, pulled by a tractor, that he thought would make cold inflations easier than the then usual flapping/'Cremation Charlie' method of the time. It sort of worked but was too big and immobile to be of regular use. Of course just a few years later smaller, manageable fans became standard equipment. In those early days David was a regular smoker and often lit up whilst airborne (!), proclaiming that by holding his fag over the edge of the basket, he could use it as a VSI. 'If the smoke goes up, we are going down' and vice-versa...Instruments were not for him !
In the period 1975-2001 Dante operated a succession of five balloons in the ever changing liveries of 'British Airways', which involved us attending many overseas events promoting the airline at airshows, new route promotions, balloon meets, a pop concert and other events. Thanks to David having no formal 'leave book' at the farm, unlike the rest of us, he was always available, often at short notice for the trips, completing some 71 of these around the world, in every continent save for South America in that period. Highlights included the first known free balloon flight in Grand Cayman in 1978, winning the Philadelphia Balloon Race in 1979 and 'tethering for the Queen' the same year during the Royal Visit to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He even managed to combine 'work' and ballooning by appearing at Agricultural shows in France, Bermuda, Hobart (Australia) and Zimbabwe...! These trips were usually a team of four people with paid for flights and hotels - sometimes even beer money too! David, always 'one step ahead' kept us amused with his antics on such trips, all of us being able to recount stories many years later...
Meanwhile, when at home he was not known for standing still. In the same period he became a founder member of The British Balloon Museum and Library, helping us to get an 'in' at Newbury District Museum for early displays, to lift Ken Messenger and his hang glider to 20.000 ft over Dover before releasing him for the first successful Channel crossing by hang glider - followed by David in the balloon. One day a local 'scrappy' friend called to say he had a trailer containing the gondola of a hot-air airship - yours for £150, which David accepted - and the very same day traced and acquired for free the Zanussi envelope to go with it, agreeing to remove (some) of the artwork. Who else would realise that minimal unpicking would leave 'ANUS I' on the side, David joking that many people call me one, but now I am advertising it...! Cameron's restored it back to airworthiness and David succeeded to get his hot-air airship rating. He also made a vice-president of the BBAC in 1992, was involved in Rotary and Probus, as a local town councillor with a particular interest in planning - often controversially - sitting on the West Berks Planning Committee, before becoming Mayor of Hungerford in 1993. The list goes on...
When David was 'bought out' of Bradford's Farm in 1990, he took it upon himself to find an alternative launch site in the area and negotiated with the late Gerald Ward to use a field known as 'Folly Dog Leg' on the Chilton Estate at Hungerford. This arrangement lasted through to 2018. Another skill that David possessed was in refurbishing houses. With no formal training he could see the potential in a building, squeezing the most out of available space, although practicality was on occasion more important to him than aesthetics...! All this was 'in his head' - no plans - others had to make these around his ideas. Over the years the 'DL' treatment was applied to three houses of his own, for his sons Richard and James, modernising the family farmhouse at Northfields for daughter Kate and for masterminding the conversion of a pair of derelict cottages in less than 6 months at 'Hayward Cross' into our home and Zebedee HQ, for which we will be eternally grateful. In his later years he took many cruises on the great liners of the day including QM2, often treating family members and carers to these trips. Even then David still talked his way into bargains... On one trip he saw the curtains being replaced in one of the lounges - 'what's happening to the old ones ?' says David. Suffice to say a bundle was waiting for him on the quayside when he disembarked and they are now hanging at 'Cornerways' !
During the 'noughties' David was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, which he fought with typical humour and drive to the end, even organising his final house refurb for Jo and himself in that period so that they could be in Hungerford itself. On resigning from Dante, he was made our Lifetime President, taking a keen interest in our affairs. His final couple of months were spent at The Brendoncare nursing home in Froxfield where he died peacefully on 14th November. Our condolences go to Jo, his wife of 66 years, to Richard, Kate and David's 9 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren. He will be remembered as generous both with money and time, jovial, a well meaning 'Mr Fixit' type of character, always able to offer an idea usually with his enduring catchphrase, 'What you want to do is...' He often remarked 'bringing that balloon down to Bradford's changed my life'. Yes, David, it certainly changed ours too - and Thank You.
Pete Bish Chairman Dante Balloon Group
[Pictures courtesy Pete Bish]
UK AOC renewals reviewed
Ahead of changes in the way Balloon Ride Operations will be run in the future the CAA have announced that with immediate effect, all UK AOCs (Balloons) will be renewed until 31 March 2019 rather than for a full 12-month period. Therefore, you will be charged for the number of days (from renewal date until 31 March 2019) divided by 365 of your calculated renewal fee. Therefore, AOC(B) holders are strongly recommended to lodge their 2018 renewal several weeks prior to their current expiry date. At that time, please contact GAU Admin, Adam Leen or Sue Duncan (01293 573207 or 573227) to organise correct payment. Please remember that if a CAA base audit has not been undertaken during the past 12 months, the Return of Operating Data questionnaire must be completed and submitted. During March 2019, all existing UK AOC(B) holders will be invited to renew for the period 1 April 2019 to 8 October 2019. This will facilitate UK AOC operators to decide whether they wish to transition to the Declaration system on 8 April 2019 or to continue with their UK national AOC until 8 October 2019 and then to transition to a Declaration. We believe that this is the best solution for the UK Commercial Passenger Ballooning sector, in considering the timing of Brexit in March 2019 and the implementation of the European Commission Balloon Regulation, Air Operations. There is now a lovely little book called The Balloon Rule Book, an EASA document that contains the consolidated Balloon Air Operations rules, implementing rules, acceptable means of compliance and guidance material. This will be regularly amended and will also eventually contain chapters on balloon licensing, continued airworthiness and initial airworthiness. For now, operators are recommended to concentrate on Chapter 1 and to be aware that both subpart BAS and subpart ADD apply to commercial passenger ballooning (CPB). Naturally you will be questioned on it in due course. Accountable Managers are recommended to set aside appropriate resources to plan for their transition to the Balloon Air Operations rules and the new declarative system during 2019. Quite what the change in operations for AOC holders to the Declaration will be as regards safety and CAA oversight will be remains to be seen.
Interval - Just Back
So here we are, just back from a five mile walk with me dog, Stewpot and Bazzer. Life and all that stuff along with great deal of irrelevant nonsense was discussed, debated over and washed down with a pint or three of very palatable HSB. A very fine pint. Tomorrow, it appears is devoted to walking over the hill and far away to Tring to finish off the beer( reportedly Tring Brewery ‘Death & Glory’ 7.7%) deemed for the nosh up at Godders’ on Saturday but not drunk. What could go wrong? So, after this interlude we continue with more stuff, mainly Authouratative and nonsense which I hope you understand, or at least pass understanding glances at. Forward Ho Carruthers.
Best bogwash notes from EASA 2018
Best thing to start with after ale. We continually get notes from EASA on procedural stuff, Airworthiness Directions and Bulletins. Most are understandable although, based on the number and frequency of ADs applying to Airbuses. I have a good walk round before boarding one. Out of this jungle came some crackers in 2018 . Of them all these were our favourites:
Please note that the final deliverable 'Unintended or inappropriate rudder usage “rudder reversals”, as well as the related CRD to NPA 2017-18 , have been published on the EASA website. Thank you for your interest in and contribution to the European Aviation Safety Agency's rulemaking activities. Careful with those pedals captain.
Details on Birmingham airspace infringements and how to avoid them are now available at airspacesafety.com. See Infringement updates for more information. https://airspacesafety.com/ Just don’t fly into it, surely? On a slightly more serious note the UK Airprox Board (UKAB) does issue a monthly newsletter publishing the details of recent Airprox incidents (including wayward balloons. A monthly review is also published which focuses in detail on one particular incident, to ensure that lessons can be learnt by pilots and air traffic controllers for the benefit of air safety in the future. In conjunction with this the UK CAA has launched a dedicated portal for proposed changes to UK airspace, which will provide communities and other interested stakeholders (I didn’t write that!!!) with a one-stop shop of information about designs of UK airspace that might impact them. Links below
Best of all was NPA 2018-12 which we read all wrong. ‘Reduction of Runway excursions’. This was described as ‘The objective of this NPA is to address the safety issue of runway excursions that occur during landings. This NPA proposes to require the installation of a runway overrun awareness and alerting system on new large aeroplane designs (CS-25), and on certain new large aeroplanes operated in commercial air transportation (CAT), and manufactured after a predetermined date (Part-26/CS-26). The proposed regulatory changes are expected to increase safety by supporting the flight crew during the landing phase in identifying and managing the risk of a runway excursion. This should reduce the number of runway excursions that occur during landings. Now I reckon this is so wrong as written, but hysterical. Must be in the German translation. You are Ok in a 737 but not so in a Dreamliner or, worse still, an Airbus double-decker as the pilot has no idea how big it is. Really? Quite how you can support the flight crew during a runway excursion I have no idea. “Never mind matey it was bound happen sooner or later. Do you need a tow?” would be a good starting place. We get it most nights with ‘Pavement overrun that takes us into the Swan!’ Love it. Moving on.
Its Metz year again
In case you’d been caught up in all the Brexit stuff and not noticed that this is Metz Year here’s a reminder. Massive event held Chambley Aerodrome in France attracting loads of balloons from everywhere. Most of the UK balloonists seem to make a pilgrimage to this long running event, now in its 30th year. This years event is from 26 July to 04 August 2019. Details from the website www.pilatre-de-rozier.com or contact email@example.com. Early booking rates apply until 24th February and registration closes on 14th June 2019.
Government support for airfields announced
General aviation supporters in Parliament have welcomed a pledge from housing, communities and local government secretary Sajid Javid to review planning policies relating to airfields. Sajid Javid said that, “Local plans should take account of the role of airfields.” In a letter to attorney general and MP for Kenilworth and Southam Jeremy Wright, the country’s top legal officer, Javid re-inforced a previous commitment made in January to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on general aviation, noting that the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the government’s Aviation Policy Framework and the General Aviation Strategy “acknowledge the significant contribution that aviation makes to economic growth”, adding: “Local plans should take account of the role of airfields in meeting business, leisure, training and emergency service needs.” Grant Shapps, the APPG chairman, said, “The group is very pleased to see Mr Javid reaffirm his commitment to review planning policy relating to airfields, to ensure it is meeting the needs of the local community and properly reflecting the contribution general aviation makes to economic growth. I know the parliamentary members of the group are keen to see the outcome of this review, and we will work closely with Mr Javid’s department and the Department for Transport to ensure the balance is right for this critical sector and the £60.6bn aviation economy.” Good, but let’s wait and see, he’ll probably get moved on anyway.
Access to Government Aerodromes Aeronautical Information
This recent notification updates the information sent on 12 March 2018 as SW2018/038. The CAA has been in dialogue with the Military Aviation Authority (MAA) regarding open access to all users wishing to acquire aeronautical information relating to government aerodromes. Resulting from these discussions the MAA has now made available for download, free of charge, the latest version of the UK Military Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP). This can be accessed at: https://www.aidu.mod.uk/Milflip/milAipLink.php. Please, note that no ”New User” sign up is necessary. Please be aware that the CAA and MAA are currently in the process of reviewing the civil and military AIP to ensure the quality and consistency of the provided information. Once this activity is completed, the MIL AIP will be referenced on the NATS AIS portal as part of the State IAIP (cripes that’s a lot to take in all in one sentence). So there you have it, all our military secret aerodromes are now online.
Lost your personal logbook? - New procedures
Those darlings at the CAA have only gone and changed the rules and procedures if your logbook is lost or stolen and you want your licence, rating or certificate re-validated or the extension (or removal) of restriction of privileges. Lot of ‘ors’ in there I’m afraid. In the past, the CAA have accepted the submission of a sworn affidavit along with any application as the primary means of accepting hours. Just to simplify things (remember the Red Tape Challenge?) you will now have to arrange to attend an interview with the CAA to assess what information you will need to provide and then, when you have the required information, you will need to attend another interview. Did we mention the privilege of having the interviews will set you back £200? Having said that our old boy lost, as in misplaced his license, but I am pleased to report that it was remarkably straightforward to get a replacement and no interview was required. The replacement license rocked up quite quickly (relatively). So at the moment there seems to be no change. Hopefully, weather permitting he will get an actual, practical, re-validation.
Sagrantino Cup dates confirmed
This very popular Italian Balloon meet based in Umbria is confirmed as running from 26 July 2019 – 4 August 2019. Last year there were 90 teams and this year only the first 100 teams only will be confirmed, so best hurry! This year will also see the re-introduction of afternoon/evening flights for those that need an overdose of flying! Over the years there have been some exceptional flights from this meet, some flying home, and generally most of the slots get flown. Details through the website www.sagrantinocup.it.
Third time lucky? - BBAC Annual General Meeting No 54c
Wrote this with the intention of going into the April News but lack lustre attention meant it didn’t happen just like the 2018 BBAC AGM. Never mind. The original British Balloon & Airship club’s original Annual General Meeting, to have been held on 4th March 2018, was postponed as a result of the Beast from the East causing very large snowdrifts in and around the venue. After a bit of due deliberation by those that do in the BBAc a new date, 18th March 2018, was set. On the day by 13.30, when kick off was due, the meeting was deemed not ‘not to be quorate’, or for us simpler folk, not enough people had turned up. After waiting a required further 30 minutes, in case there were latecomers, the meeting was still not quorate. Bummer. Chairman and legal beagle, Ian Hooker, swung into action, consulted his tomes and, referring to the Constitution, which stated that, in such circumstances:
‘the meeting shall be adjourned and reconvened at a later date, between 28 and 56 days after the adjourned meeting, to discuss the business of the AGM, whether a quorum is present or not’. Well, there you go. Apparently 50 members have to be present to meet the requirement. As a result the BBAc gave notice that the AGM would therefore be held on Saturday April 14th 2018 commencing at 13.00 in The Wellington Room, On Track Aviation, Wellesbourne Airfield. The AGM would thus be held during the BBAC Inspector Symposium and would only intended to cover the annual business of the BBAC. There would be no other presentations, awards or a President’s speech after the main business. All Members were entitled to attend the AGM for the duration of the meeting. So come the day there were loads of inspectors who wandered off to look at the Wellesbourne Vulcan and a couple of folks that sat and listened to the AGM. Numbers were thus massaged and so all was well. Well? Clearly not as attendance was very poor. Does this mean members are somewhat disallusioned or can't be bothered. Not good either way. The BBAc does a tremedous amount of work behind the scenes to ensure the likes of yea and me can go flying, unmolested by EASA and the CAA.
Fast forward and this year the 55th BBAC AGM is forecast to be on 24 March 2019 at Stoke Orchard Community Centre, Cheltenham GL52 7SB kicking off at an advertised 2:00pm. Its advertised as being, ‘A brand new event, by our members, for our members’. For us its just down the A40, so cushty. Be there or be bonkers. The Ultramagic Friendship Balloon will be there. Tales featuring Exclusive Ballooning’s antics, EASA Operations for Private and AOC Ballooning, a Pilot Licensing update, Flying the Beech (or maybe off the beach), The Declared Training Organisation, Meet the Examiner and much, much more! We should all go and support the event. There are six vacancies on the board so if you are younger than most of us, energetic, (immune to abuse) and see a future in ballooning please put yourself forward. Nominations should reach the Secretary before end of 20th January 2019. Short notice I grant but time enough. This is your chance to help ballooning move forward. Don’t fritter it away and don’t moan next year when you don’t reckon the BBAC are doing all they could. Me? I’ve been there and reckon new blood is the answer! See the December Aerostat for full details. Seriously, if ballooning and the BBAc is to move forward they need a good shake up. Anyway Bishy will be there selling stuff and he needs supporting. An icon we reckon.
Cameron update boogie news
Not so hot off the press came news of the latest bits and bobs of scribble from Dave Boxall of Cameron Balloons. Ignoring his recent hose stuff what came before this follows. Although still remaining at Issue 1, as it hasn’t exactly been re-issued, Lindstrand Service Bulletin No 2, ‘Cloudhopper Bearing Replacement’ a useful addendum has been added allowing affected bottom ends to be identified by burner serial number as well as by envelope serial number. Presumably this is on account that lots of Lindstrand bottoms have left their envelopes and moved on. Service Letter Number 5. ‘Use of the Cameron Hot-Air Balloon Flight Manual with Lindstrand and Sky envelopes’. All of a sudden two Service Letters have been issued. For a long time there were no Service letters issued but in the past couple of years they have become the method for giving advice and reminders. Service Letter number 5 provides information about the use of the Cameron Hot-Air Balloon Flight Manual with Sky and Lindstrand envelopes. I thought this came out last year but maybe it is to remind you that it came out last year? Service Letter Number 6 ‘Balloon Operations and Refuelling: Inappropriate Use of tools’. This is to remind Operators and Pilots that no tools are required for the normal operation of any balloon components, such as Molegrips to do up karabiners, or pliers to tighten bleed valves. If you need to use force to operate it or use tools to open or close it then it is broken and needs replacement, love or servicing. Obviously if you bend or damage a karabiner you can use Molegrips to undo it! Following Sky Balloons being moved into the Cameron TCDS, Sky envelopes have moved to Flight Manual Supplement 10-8.12 ‘Out of Production Envelopes’ and that old favourite 10-8.47, ‘Sky Envelopes’ has been deleted. A sad day for all. Finally, from the secret files, FM supplement 10-8.51 Issue2 ‘Stratus Neo Burner’ has just been published. Quizzed about Issue1, Dave Boxall tapped his nose like and said, “You didn’t miss issue1, it was only available on a ‘need to know’ basis, if you know what I mean my son.”
Don’t drink and fly - Safety Information Bulletin 2018-07 issued
Following the findings of several air accident investigations where the consumption of alcohol before flight has been discovered, which directly contributed or related to the ensuing disaster, EASA has issued Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) 2018-07 ‘Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits for General Aviation Pilots’. Incidents of incapacited pilots or crew being reported for flying following a ‘night before’ session are often reported in the press and the offenders usually arrested. The aim of this Safety Information Bulletin (SIB) is to provide guidelines on blood alcohol concentration levels which should not be exceeded by operating pilots in General Aviation, including non-commercial aerial work. At this time, the safety concern described in this SIB does not warrant the issuance of an operational directive under Commission Regulation (EU) No 965/2012, Annex II, ARO.GEN.135(c).
Alcohol (ethanol) is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and small intestine, and transported by the blood throughout the body. The majority of adverse effects produced by alcohol relate to the brain, the eyes, and the inner ear. Brain effects include impaired reaction time, reasoning, judgement, and memory. Alcohol decreases the ability of the brain to make use of oxygen. This adverse effect can be magnified as a result of simultaneous exposure to altitude. Visual symptoms include eye muscle imbalance, which leads to double vision and difficulty focusing. Inner ear effects include dizziness, and decreased hearing perception. If other variables are added, such as sleep deprivation, fatigue, medication use, altitude hypoxia, or flying at night or in bad weather, the negative effects on the individual’s performance will be significantly magnified. It should be noted that the impairment evolves more than linearly with alcohol quantity. According to the Basic Regulation, ‘A crew member must not perform allocated duties on board an aircraft when under the influence of psychoactive substances or alcohol or when unfit due to injury, fatigue, medication, sickness or other similar causes’. The related implementing rules are provided in the Air Operations Regulation* and in the Rules of the Air Regulation**. In addition, the pilot-in-command shall comply with the laws, regulations and procedures of those States where operations are conducted. National legislation exists in some EASA Member States, which stipulates maximum limits for blood alcohol concentration levels for operating pilots.
The following provisions in the Aircrew Regulation are also applicable:
1. The effects of alcohol on a pilot’s performance are included in the syllabus of theoretical knowledge for the Private Pilot Licence
2. It is the responsibility of licence holders not to exercise the privileges of their licence at any time when they are aware of any decrease in their medical fitness which might render them unable to safely exercise those privileges.
3. The competent authority shall limit, suspend or revoke a pilot licence if the pilot is exercising the privileges of his or her licence when adversely affected by alcohol or drugs.
A pilot must not operate an aircraft when under the influence of alcohol. This Basic Regulation requirement should be understood as follows:
1. The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) should not exceed the lower of the national limit or 0.02%, which is 0.2 grams of alcohol per litre of blood, whilst performing duties related to operating an aircraft, including flight preparation.
2. The breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) should not exceed the lower of the national limit or 90 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, whilst performing duties related to operating an aircraft, including flight preparation.
3. Alcohol should not be consumed within eight hours of performing duties related to operating an aircraft, including flight preparation. However, it should be noted that 8 hours ‘from bottle to throttle’ does not guarantee that the individual’s BAC/BrAC will be below the above-mentioned limits. It is, therefore, recommended to abstain for longer than eight hours, as appropriate, in order to take into account the quantity of alcohol consumed.
4. Alcohol should not be consumed whilst performing duties related to operating an aircraft, including flight preparation.
Recommendations are not mandatory. Pilot training organisations and aero clubs should consider these recommendations under their risk management responsibilities. Competent authorities should consider these recommendations in the context of their oversight of General Aviation pilots operating under their responsibility.
For further information contact the EASA Safety Information Section, Certification Directorate E-mail: ADs@easa.europa.eu. To see the details of this Publication go to https://ad.easa.europa.eu/ad/2018-07
2018 - Year of the Balloon Meet
Although the year started somewhat disappointingly weatherwise it did eventually rally and as a result most of the balloon meets that were held ended up with glorious weather and a record turnout, especially the larger ones. One of the most unexpected and successful meets was the inaugural Midlands’ Balloon Meet. Based on what you said it seems that, blessed with near perfect conditions, James McDonald’s (at the tender age of 23) first ever crack at organising a balloon meet, the Midlands’ Balloon Meet held at Ragley Hall, was deemed ‘brilliant’ with so much flying they wore the sky out. Hot on his heels was the incredible Longleat Sky Safari Meet which, not only attracted 170 pilots but saw 200 different balloons over the weekend, which filled the park, ending up with outstanding prizes being awarded, such as a fully paid trip to Albuquerque (including a balloon to use), through drones (hmmmm!), to a brand new car. Now I reckon the 2019 Safari will probably outdo 2018 numbers-wise. Organiser, Andrew Holly and his team have shown how it can be done. The general concencus was that, although clearly a commercial event, that didn’t detract from the great fun had by all and, in its 10th year, bigger than Bristol! Top of meets though was unquestionably, Chatsworth, organised by the East Midlands Balloon Group’s Jeff and Rachael Percival. Now if you’ve never been to this meet it has always set the benchmark however, this year with all seven slots being flown and 58 balloons turning up along with ample opportunity to simply mess about in the estate itself, it was about as near perfect as you can get. Highlight of the meet was most likely the appearance of the Household Cavalry parading with David Usil’s balloon taking centre stage. Now that doesn’t happen every day! 2019 then, has a lot to live up to. Here’s hoping. Best get your entries in now.
Be Safe Fly Safe - Tiredness
Great events have loads of flying. For ride pilots they have things called Flight Time Limitations, private pilots don’t so here’s a gentle reminder that came from the CAA during the hot spell and sometimes extended flying periods of last year. Although aimed primarily at Ride Pilots and Operators it is worthy of a read.
Attention all Balloon Operators and Balloon Pilots
We have received several whistleblower reports and MOR submissions that would seem to indicate during this period of prolonged good weather, Commercial Pilots are breaching Flight Time Limitations (FTL). Please communicate to all Pilots the need to comply with FTL, and to ensure that appropriate rest periods are taken. Given the unusually high temperatures keep a wary eye on your load calculations, recent audits have revealed declared underloads in single figures. Pilots and Crews undertaking a series of flights in a row, at a Fiesta etc, are asked to bear in mind their fitness to fly or drive as tiredness will add serious risk. Many thanks for your assistance in communicating these vital messages.
Occurrence Reporting and what to do
Seems the latest CAA trend of demanding Occurrence Reports has being somewhat ignored. Like most, I’m sure, we have shied away from what appears a kiss and tell but it does have a purpose and we have now issued two and had one against us. It is actually a very good way of bringing to attention shortfalls in procedures that would otherwise go unreported. Downside is that effective measures to address the problems reported are not dealt with quickly nor is follow up action always taken quickly. Biggest sticking point is the CAA form involved and scope of what are actually worthy reportable incidents not being very well defined. We now have two more pending which ought to be ORs but, you know what, what will be the outcome? Please don’t be put off though as following discussions with John Davies, a new simpler form for balloonists is on the cards. In the meantime if you have issues and want to submit one then don’t be put off. Just write the incident or failing out as best you can and send it to John Davies at the CAA. John.Davies@caa.co.uk.
Schroeder Flight Cylinders - possible problem to watch
Here you go, an example of how an Occurrence Report can disappoint. We inspected and Proof Pressure Tested three Schroeder V70 flight cylinders in accordance with Schroeder Maintenance Manual on 18/12/2017. Prior to the inspection an external and internal inspection was made and nothing untoward found. The cylinders were tested to 30 bar and left for 15 minutes. The cylinders were dried externally and stood on a dry floor. No pressure drop was recorded and no signs of weepage from the cylinder body, welds or fittings were found. Following drying and re-fitting the cylinders underwent a 100psi air test. No leaks were detected using leak detector fluid which was applied to the fittings and welds. The cylinders were released to service in the aircraft logbook and collected by the owner. A message was left on our answerphone sometime after 05/06/2018 asking us to contact the owner which we did on 07/06/2018. He explained that he had re-filled the cylinders on 18/05/2018 at The Black Horse bulk tank in Gt Missenden. Until that time they had been stored empty and un-pressurised. On arriving home he was aware of a smell of propane but said that it wasn’t significant and he put it down to the adaptors he used for converting the Rego fittings on the refuelling hose to Tema. The following day a smell of propane was detected where he stored the cylinders and, after some protracted testing, including individually isolating the cylinders, micro-leaks were found in the lower dome below the horizontal weld on two of the cylinders. The two leaking cylinders were emptied and removed from service. We advised him that an Occurrence Report would be raised and it was mutually agreed that he would bring the cylinders to us for further examination and testing. On 12/06/2018 the three cylinders, now all empty, were brought to our workshop for further inspection. The covers were removed from all three cylinders and a visual inspection made. All three cylinders were pressurised to 100psi and a further proof pressure test carried to one cylinder. Visual inspection showed a row of small brown marks visible just below the lower horizontal weld on the lower dome. These could be reduced by vigorous rubbing of the finger. It was then pressurised to 100 psi. Applying leak detector very small leaks were seen in about ten places coinciding with the brown marks. The cylinder was then vented and the gauge removed. An internal inspection revealed no marks, noticeable pitting or damage in the affected area. The was no evidence that the cylinder had held contaminated fuel nor was there any evidence of moisture. Internally the cylinder was extremely clean. It was then prepared for a Proof Pressure Test. The pressure was increased in small increments and at about 10bar slight weeping was detected in the affected area. After a few minutes a small damp patch appeared on the floor. A second cylinder was similarily tested. There was a similar row of small brown marks visible just below the lower horizontal weld on the lower dome. These could also be reduced by vigorous rubbing of the finger. The 100psi air test revealed one very small leak from one of the marks. Despite agitating the other marks no others were detected. An internal inspection revealed no anomalies. A 30bar test was not carried out as we reckoned the result would probably be the same as that found on the other one. With the third cylinder a row of brown marks, but less intense, were found in a similar position to those on the first two cylinders. These marks too were easily reduced by vigorous rubbing with a finger. Leak detector was applied and no leaks were We did not carry out a pressure test however the cylinder was also removed from service.
We are confident that at the time of the original Proof Pressure Test, and air test that followed, no leaks were detected. The lower welds were tested with the cylinder on its side and detector fluid would have run into the affected areas. We do not recall any significant discolouration or anything that would make us suspect the integrity of the cylinders visually. For the second test we elected not to run the pressure any higher or indeed test the apparently sound cylinder lest the opportunity was lost to carry out further tests by the manufacturer. This second test confirms the findings of the owner, who is himself an inspector for Easy Balloons. Using an electronic gas detector that detects down to 20 parts in a million one cylinder no leaks were detected but on the other two it matched our findings. A2431 and TS A2430. Although we are confident that no leakage was detected when we tested the cylinder more attention needs to be paid to discoloured areas. This is problematical though as it isn’t uncommon to find discolouration on stainless steel cylinders from foreign bodies that get trapped between the padding and cylinder wall or as a result of contaminated stainless steel that goes undetected in the manufacturing process. In future where a clear run, or line of marks are found, close attention must be paid and, in the case of doubt, we will now refer them to the manufacturer or design holder. The only other cylinders that we have failed in any numbers (very low) as a result of corrosion are Cameron CB497s. Schroeder said that they have inspected cylinders in the same ‘batch’ and found nothing however they haven’t checked cylinders close to the serial numbers we have. The owner got two new replacement cylinders from Schroeder. As far as Schroeder and the German Authority are concerned the matter is closed. We would advise that if you find discolouration on Schroeder cylinder in the region of serial number A2430 that you fully investigate them or refer them to the manufacturer.
Grade 2 well listed – The Chateau retires
Back in August we nipped out to Chateau Balleroy to inspect the Globe and the Chateau. Now last time we looked at the iconic Chateau Balloon it was getting pretty mildewy especially in the West Wing. Grab testing didn’tproduce any failures but it wasn’t what it was. It last flew at Metz a couple of years ago and was then not behaving as well as it might. Although we couldn’t break it anywhere it was definitely a lot more porous here and there and the mildew a lot more widespread. It lives in one of the old garages round the back of the Chateau itself along with the Harley which is very poorly these days so much so that when inflated last summer so much heat had to poured into it that smoke appeared above the tank! Coming back to the Chateau the cold inflation seemed to go quite well but the hot inflation although as gentle and steady as possible and with the wings hanging down in true Chateau style the West wing stayed grounded. Loading the basket made no difference except make the East Wing rise to the skies. Within a minute of the burner going off the West wing sunk down again. The time we decided had come and the Chateau was deemed no longer airworthy. This is the second Cameron Chateau Special Shape. The first was G-BKBR and was built in 1982 and replaced in 1991 by G-BTCZ. Malcom Forbes created a whole series of special shapes the Chateau being the best known and a replica of Chateau Balleroy itself. Over the years many balloon meets were held there and the Chateau itself contains a vast amount of artefacts relating to balloons both gas and hot air and also has a fine balloon museum which is open to the public. Hopefully we will continue to see the Chateau on inflation days in the future but it is really the end of a rather splendid era. As the Chateau said, the Chateau’s roof is in rather more need of attention than either rebuilding or having a new Chateau shape built.