Government Guidance – Corona Virus and Recreational Flying
Government guidance on Coronavirus and General Aviation flying was published yesterday (31/03/2020) covering all categories including Air traffic control, Autogyros, Balloons, Flight training private, Gliders, Microlights, Private pilot aeroplane and Private pilot helicopter. It states that people should not take part in recreational flying during the current Coronavirus outbreak. This is in line with government guidance to stay at home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out.
Stay at home only go outside for food or health reasons or travelling to and from work, but only where you cannot work from home when outside, stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people and wash your hands as soon as you get home
The publication states that;
‘This is being observed in practice by the vast majority of the GA community, and we are grateful to them for doing so. The message we are receiving from the GA community is that they fully appreciate the need for these restrictions, and observing them is being widely encouraged throughout the community. Again, we are grateful for this. Because the directive to stay at home is being well observed, we do not perceive a need to introduce a specific ban on flying by visual flight rules (VFR) as seen in some European countries. This will have the significant benefit of allowing flexibility, and allowing GA flights to resume as overarching restrictions on movement are lifted.
The above does not apply to search and rescue operations, or where it absolutely necessary to fly to, or for, work. In all of these activities, we expect public organisations and businesses to be socially responsible in the decisions they make, and to apply social distancing guidelines.
Maintenance workshops which carry out essential maintenance are entitled to continue (in line with guidance regarding car workshops) provided PHE guidance is followed: follow social distancing advice, frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products
The return of business as usual. The general aviation sector is an important contributor to skills, jobs and growth. This government is committed to helping this important STEM sector back on its feet after restrictions are lifted. The GA team in the Department for Transport is well aware of the structural threat this period of non-activity poses to recreational GA, including with regards to flight training (given that training flights are not currently possible due to directions on social distancing). We are therefore ramping up work to mitigate any long term negative consequences. Similarly, we are taking steps to ensure that when it is safe to do so, we will continue to fully support the GA sector.
As an example of this, we are supporting various GA stakeholders in their dialogue with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regarding extending both pilot medical deadlines, and developing short-term exemptions for those who would have required a flight with an instructor. The CAA’s initial priority has been in developing these for professional pilots. They are now working on similar measures for private licence holders.
In some GA flights, the risk of transmission is undeniably negligible, for example where the flight is a solo flight, from a private airstrip, in which no ground travel is required to access the airstrip. Nevertheless, such flights should not take place, in light of the blanket nature of the directive above, and the risk of an accident resulting in the need for social distancing measures to be abandoned.
With regard to the present state of Air traffic management, prior to the guidance to stay at home if possible, a large number of GA pilots were active. This placed a strain on NATS, who are trying to limit the non-essential activities performed, including services to GA. This is to ensure the resilience of the critical air traffic management services while complying with current guidance by not having more people on site than necessary. While most GA activity occurs in uncontrolled airspace, and therefore does not involve NATS, it is important to remember that, when GA activity resumes, it is likely that some restrictions will still be in place, and pilots should therefore be mindful of the strain their activity places on other essential services.
The lower airspace radar services which NATS provide are also offered on a when possible basis, so could be turned off if necessary. Similarly, access to Class D could also be simply refused by the relevant air navigation service provider.
Really serious do it now stuff – Medicals – knew it, now updated
Typical, should have stuck by me instincts as in today this has been extended to 8 November 2020 so fair play to the CAA. In there latest missive they have also announced that the Ballooning fraternity stuff will follow shortly. Bit personal I feel . Anyway please note this applies to fixed wing and helicopters only but it will be applied to PPL(B) and balloon LAPLs in due course. The British Balloon & Airship club (BBAC) is in consultation to get a similar thing for balloonists as exactly the same problems now exist. You will need to keep an eagle eye on developments and we will let you know soon as what the requirements will be. When it’s the balloonists turn then you will need to act pretty post ockta proctor.
URGENT ACTION NEEDED by 8 APRIL. Not anymore but read on and you’ll be in the pound seats when it is applied to balloons and if you are fixed wing or thwacker thwacker may as well do it now rather than later. Significant change to UK Fixed Wing and Helicopter Flying Medical Requirements. IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A CURRENT MEDICAL, OR IF YOUR MEDICAL EXPIRES LATER THIS YEAR, YOU MUST ACT NO LATER THAN 8th November 2020 TO ENSURE YOU CAN RESUME FLYING ONCE COVID RESTRICTIONS END. (Fortunately the action you need to take is NOT difficult!)
The UK CAA is very concerned that the COVID restrictions will (has) greatly impact the availability of AMEs to conduct PPL (“Class 2”) and LAPL medicals this year, to the extent that urgent action is to be taken to ensure pilots flying on PPLs and LAPLs can continue to fly legally. Pilots whose PPL or LAPL medicals have expired, or will expire in the coming seven months are very likely, in the view of the CAA, to be unable to get a new medical issued before November, so without special provision all such pilots would find themselves grounded for many months after the COVID restrictions are lifted. To avoid such a catastrophic impact on UK private flying, the CAA have just issued a special exemption to certain regulations. The document, known as ORS4 1370, can be found at: http://publicapps.caa.co.uk/docs/33/ORS4No1370FINAL.pdf
Essentially, this special exemption allows pilots holding PPLs or LAPLs issued by the UK CAA to fly single-engined, UK-registered, EASA-certified aircraft within the United Kingdom under VFR WITHOUT having to meet the usual requirement of holding and carrying a current Class 2 or LAPL medical. However, this exemption only applicable to pilots who have made a PILOT MEDICAL DECLARATION (PMD) via the CAA Web Site no later than Wednesday 8 April. If you have not made your Declaration by that date, you will be grounded from the expiry of your medical until you can get it renewed, potentially not before November. The good news is that submitting a Pilot Medical Declaration (PMD) is FREE, EASY, and QUICK! And it does not impact on the validity of any current medicals you may have, nor on your ability to obtain medicals in the future (if you can get an AME booking to get one!), so there is no downside whatsoever to submitting a PMD.
To take advantage of this special exemption, go to the CAA Medical Declaration web page at https://apply.caa.co.uk/CAAPortal/terms-and-conditions.htm?formCode=PMD. From there work though the stages and submit your declaration. You will get a copy of your completed application emailed back from the CAA annotated with a CAA number as a simple acknowledgement of your PMD, that you should print and carry when you fly.
A final point: “EASA Aircraft” (EASA Certified Aircraft & EASA-Permit aircraft) vs “Annex 1 Aircraft” (CAA Permit Aircraft)? Parts of the CAA web site may appear confusing and contradictory in how the scope of the PMD is described in terms of the classes of aircraft it can be used for. This is because the situation has evolved over time and some statements are not in kilter with the latest situation. Originally the PMD was seen as ONLY covering flying aircraft that were on a CAA Permit-to-Fly. Any aircraft that were on an EASA Certificate of Airworthiness, or an EASA Permit to Fly were seen as outside the scope of the PMD. However, there was then an EASA Exemption which allows the PMD to be used for EASA CofA and EASA-Permit aircraft, but ONLY up to 8 November 2020. This latest CAA general exemption, ORS4 1370, extends this date to 8 November 2020, but this change has not yet been reflected in a change in the web site. The ability to fly CAA Permit aircraft with a PMD was not subject to the 8 April limit and will continue at least until 8 November. Whoopee. Thanks CAA for a bit of common. Go to https://apply.caa.co.uk/CAAPortal/terms-and-conditions.htm?formCode=PMD.
The Manufacturers and Corona Virus
Having checked the front ends of all the balloon manufacturers’ websites none give any indication on what they are proposing or have in place during the outbreak. Almost all balloon ride operations worldwide are no longer operating or have been grounded. In addition the vast majority of private ballooning worldwide has also ceased. Pretty much all the ballooning events until June have already been cancelled and around the world quite a few later events have also been scrubbed. We have checked round the manufacturers and from what we can gather this is what they are saying. If you know more please let us know and we will update the post.
Cameron Balloons Ltd
We managed to speak first hand to Cameron Balloons. They acted very responsibility and pretty quickly ensuring a responsible approach was taken to ensure that their staff were not compromised or put in danger. The factory closed following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 23rd March. First off they got Don out of his cupboard and sent him home. To ensure the day to day running of the company continued many of the staff are now working from home. One or two go in daily to check the printers, mail and messages but no manufacturing is taking place. If urgent, and available, spare parts are being sent out fotr the moment. Please contact email@example.com in the normal way, however be advised that currently no hoses are being produced. Craig Moore explained that all the staff were safe and well and that was the main concern. All the main staff are still contactable using their Cameron email address or on their mobiles (if you have their number) and are happy to help and assist with general enquires including quotes and assistance with artwork or design. For general enquires contact Craig via his email address at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not necessarily expect to get through on Camerons’ landline number.
Communication with Ultramagic is not that easy but their UK agent Ricard Penney is in regular contact. Ultramagic is currently closed down (since March 16th ) and will continue until at least April 12th. The situation is not good in Spain and parts of Catalonia are hard hit. he spoke with Neus yesterday (31st March) and in Igualada you are not allowed out of the house apart from food and emergency etc. They closed the factory for the welfare of their staff before it became mandatory in Catalonia. Most importantly all the staff are safe and well at this time thankfully. Ultramagic is well placed to weather the storm (so to speak), it is financially robust but of course it is painful for all if us. Richard Penney can service enquires as far as sales and visuals, quotes etc and we remain open for business in that sense, this sort of work is being done from our home offices. It is law they cannot open so spares are not available at the moment. Recovery will be slow in Spain but as and when this starts they will be ready and Richard will let us know as soon as he gets better news. Best way to contact Richard is via email email@example.com
In contrast Kubicek Balloons reported back that they haven’t had to close at all during the crisis and keeps on working. Obviously they have had to apply some measures to protect people and reduce risks so all office staff are working from home along with those at risk including some mums sewing masks instead of balloons for the factory, however production is still running. Every week they inflate new envelopes and send them to their owners. Freight is the major issue these days though. Kubicek’s UK agent Doug Hoddinott is in constant contact with Petr, Martin and Ondrej through Watsapp whilst office work is home-based so can get a quicker answer to enquires from them before any email filters through. Doug does recommend getting people to contact him initially if they have a query and then he can ask the questions on their behalf direct to the right person.
Doug explained, “I think we are the only Balloon factory running at the moment in Europe. We are quite lucky in that we have recently built a second factory next door for the inflatable division of the company but the bottom floor was empty, so to comply with social distancing some of the production has moved to the second factory. The inflatable division has switched some of the production to face masks to meet the strong demand at the moment required worldwide, I have actually got some coming for a local elderly care centre in Bristol which I’m going to donate after they looked after my nan in her last few months last year.
Kubicek like most businesses have had staff that were considered High Risk if they caught the virus and some with young families. In this instance these staff have been told to go and stay home for their safety, during which time they will be paid their salaries by the factory as normal. However wanting to do their bit some of them have decided to pull out their home sewing machines and started producing masks for the factory to continue to work and any job that could be done from home such as office work is now carried out at home. Amazingly factory production hasn’t been effected a huge amount. There has been some shifting about as you would expect but balloons are still being built and where possible if freight companies are able to deliver to the destination country are still able to hit deadlines. Contact Doug via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile 07891585503.
Schroeder Fire Balloons
Leo Ersfeld from Schroeder Balloons told us that they are still open and have a nearly normal situation with regards to production and spare parts. Yearly checks are available but no contact with the customer. They have to leave the balloon and pick it up later. Their Facebook page is active if you are on it which we aren’t but might have to in the near future. This is supported by the information on their website where they state that, ‘Due to the general recommendations we would like to ask you to keep the social contact with our employees as low as possible. Annual audits (inspections) will continue to take place. However, we would like to ask you to simply park the trailer. Unloading and loading is carried out exclusively by our team. Werner Wäschenbach is available for arrangements at the “drive in counter” at the open office window. Unfortunately you have to spend the waiting time of the airworthiness test on your own. For example with a car ride along the beautiful Moselle. In about 1.5 hours the balloon unit will be completely tested. Many thanks for your understanding and assistance’. https://schroederballon.de/en/hot-air-balloon-start/. Schroeder’s facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/Schroeder-fire-balloons-523890561124841/ and to contact them try Leo email@example.com
Easy Balloons and Wendover Trailers featuring The Balloon Repair Station
Easy Balloons stance remains unchanged in that, as already stated, we are closed as we don’t reckon there isn’t any ‘essential maintenance’ required in the present clime relating to balloons. Apart from the Ride Balloons all the balloons we look after are not in a CAMO. It is of no consequence that the CofA and the ARC expire provided the balloon is inspected and the required paperwork issued before its next flight. Soon as conditions allow we’ll be 24/7 on inspecting, tank testing and repairing (haven’t told John yet). That of course relies on the travel restrictions currently in place being relaxed. It is quite likely that social distancing may well remain in place so we’ll stand back while you pack your envelope away!! (o: We do have a reasonable selection of spare parts for Cameron, Ultramagic and Lindstrand Balloons Ltd kit which all come with a copy of the original Form1. If you need any help or advice or are trying to find a bit for your Hot Tom try the mobile 07973 510518 or email firstname.lastname@example.org in the first inst. Check the website from updates www.easyballoons.co.uk
Zebedee Balloon Services
Things in Bishy’s big barn are pretty similar to ours and it is undergoing a well overdue Biffa out and sorting so expect some unusual items in The List soon. Zebedee are still open as far as spares, parts, stuff of dreams and items for sale are concerned provided they can be posted. As the wonderful Clare is self isolating they are not in a position to manufacture anything, like burner bags and the like though so if it isn’t in stock they won’t have it. Overseas sales are still being serviced and no problems have been encountered with DHL and the like but beware shipping items to the States is very expensive. Celia is in daily contact with Pete and so orders are getting processed as quick as. No visitors please until national arrangements and conditions permit. The List will still be published but like the Barn maybe tidied up. To see what is on offer check out the website www.zebedeelist.co.uk. Best way to contact them is through the website or email email@example.com or phone 01488 681527
We have tried to get some news from Per Lindstrand’s LTL in Oswestry but to no avail so we know not. If you need to contact them try calling them on 01691 671888 but everytime we’ve called its rung out or email firstname.lastname@example.org but we haven’t had reply yet. That’s about that. Jolly good, trust they are all safe and well.
‘Ere does this EASA Consultation include checking fan tyre pressures?
Right, no joke this look it up and let’s respond to it for laugh in these troubled times. Spread the word. Latest stuff that is of great importance to come from EASA is thing on checking tyre pressures. Please note that according to Article 7.5 of Management Board Decision No 18-2015, the consultation period of NPA 2020-05 ‘Tyre pressure monitoring’ has been extended until 26 Jun 2020’. Best we take advantage of that. We have put together a paper on monitoring tyre pressures on fans. Imagine if we got a directive that all fan tyres should be to the max psi? Should the recommended tyre pressures be displayed on the frame or petrol tank? Should there be a logbook for the fan? What do you call your fan when it won’t start or the tyres are flat? Opinion is split between 25-30psi and flat, depending on if you have a swivel axle model that locks the wheel or fixed axle or have sufficient crew to hold the fan and stop it trundling off across the launch field. Consideration must be given to ground conditions obviously. The checking of tyre pressures is also tricky on some models as a large washer covers the valve. Simple solution is to take the wheel off and turn it round so the valve is on the inside. I think that would be pilot approved repairs. Our kick off the year with a smile Rob Fuller’s annual inspection always features tipping out the fan to see if it will start and blow the tyres up. He’s a 25psi type. Just for good measure we check the trailer tyres. I wonder if they were included in the Management Board Decision? Best check. https://www.easa.europa.eu/document-library/notices-of-proposed-amendment/npa-2020-05
Last call for UK PPL versus LAPL training – Hard luck, probably too late
Dave Court, Training Officer for the British Balloon & Airship club, as of end of March, reports that only 48 PUTs have registered to continue UK PPL(B) training after 8 April 2020. Of those only 26 have sent in their flight details to date. Personally speaking I’m actually pleasantly surprised that there are 48 pilots under training. If you want to continue training for the UK PPL(B) you do need to register with the BBAC Declared Training Organisation (DTO). You don’t have to be a member of the BBAc to do this. The registration form is in the shop bit of the non members area at https://www.bbac.org/shop/Item/p_dto_membership. Sadly, but maybe sorted sometime, the details of how to scan the pages of the log book are in the members area https://members.bbac.org/system/files/DTO%20Records.pdf. There are no details on the charges for using the BBAC DTO if you are not a member. Hang on I’m a member. Wait a second. How to complete your paperwork.
HOW TO SEND YOUR TRAINING RECORDS TO THE BBAC DTO
1. Write your BBAC membership number in the top right hand corner of
every page you send.
2. PILOT TRAINING RECORD BOOK. Scan every page of your Pilot Training Record Book that has been written on. The Flight debrief and assessment must be scanned as a pair and be presented on A4. The easiest way if you don’t have, or access to, an A5 copier is probably to photograph them. However you do it both pages must be included in each scan
Send each scan as a single A4 page by e mail or Dropbox. Identify the scans with your SURNAME followed by the Flight Number as in Nobby F1, Nobby F2 etc.
SURNAME F1, SURNAME F2 etc
The Tether page should be your SURNAME followed by a T
The Recommendation page – SURNAME R
Exercises completed to date page – SURNAME E
Landowner Relations page – SURNAME L
Written examination page – SURNAME X
3. PILOT LOG BOOK. Scan every page that has been written on, and in the same way as for the Training Log the pages must be scanned (photoed) as a double page and sent as an A4 page.
Blooming brilliant – How to carry out a test flight
Get this for a great idea, Airbus Industries are currently clocking up test flight hours on the new Airbus 350-1000. As it has to complete so many thousand hours before it gets a chitty what better than chuck all the seats out and fill it full of facemasks from China. The hold is easy enough to fill but the cabin has to be hand filled and hand unloaded but fair play to everyone involved, its working pretty well and clocking the hours up in a meaningful way. This isn’t the first test aircraft to be loaned by Airbus. Struck me as a really nice thing to do when they started using a tanker conversion (less the tanks).
Airbus is continuing its medical supply shuttle operation between China and Europe, adding an A350-1000 test aircraft to the list of types recruited for the effort. It has previously used other types from its production line in Hamburg and Toulouse including the A330-800 test aircraft, an A330 tanker, and the military A400M to ferry similar supplies from China as its very novel response to the coronavirus crisis. The A350-1000 (MSN59) operated from Tianjin to Hamburg, before flying on to Toulouse on 5 April. Airbus says the twinjet, flown by a flight-test crew, was transporting 4 million face-masks which are being distributed mainly to the governments of the Airbus home nations – France, Germany, Spain and the UK. Brilliant.
We go around the various balloon meets’ websites to see if they are still on or what, if anything, they are planning. Had to chuckle at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta’s webblypage. This years Fiesta will hopefully run from 6 August until 9 August, if all goes well, and we can all mix together at close quarters sort of thing but the image they are using did fair make me chuckle. Is this the de-rigeur for visitors this year? Our John used to drink with Darth Vader in the Lord Clyde and I bet he didn’t realise how useful his facemask helmet thing would become. Nothing on the Fiesta website to suggest that it isn’t happening but be sure they will probably be keeping an eagle eye on worldwide events and react accordingly. Expect updates meanwhile Darth will dowhat he likes wherever he likes albeit with a fair bit of wheezing as he has hayfever. Not good in August.