Balloon Repair Station

Welcome 24.01.2024.

Crikey! After many months of running silent this is becoming a weekly event! Up next is the CAA’s best selling ‘Balloon Working Group Recommendations Paper – Work Strand 2: Instructor and examiner requirements for instructing and examining pilots seeking the Balloon licence and/or ratings’.

The title itself is puzzling as it doesn’t read proper. If you are an instructing and examining pilot, presumably you have the licence or rating? The CAA have pulled all the plugs out on this one demonstrating pretty clearly the shortcomings in the whole proposed legislation. There are also some pretty good bloomers in it. If you thought the term ‘Dissenting Views’ was rather terse and smacked of ‘not towing the line’ then this one has some even better inappropriate phrasing.

It also seems to demonstrate very clearly that they really want to hammer this through. On the one hand the CAA claim that the purpose of these Working Strand papers is to further discuss and plan out quite which questions should be asked but the word ‘Final’ and the impression that the SMEs have now been stood down suggests that there is unlikely to be much change in the proposed questions and answers. Where there should be change, the choice of question, presuming Part BFCL is what is going to happen, still does take into account the practical workings of this proposed legislation. One good example is the actual way the Assistant Instructors will be appointed, audited and whether or not the rating is gong to be annual, when it requires renewing, who is going to be responsible for the renewal and who will be approved to carry out an actual renewal. Will it involve a flight or attendance at a ground school and, most importantly, how much will it all cost?

The other thing that has clearly been overlooked is the role of the Declared Training Organisation (DTO). Now I hadn’t fully appreciated how little consultation (if any indeed) has taken place in the area of the DTO. Once we have Work Strand 4 (there is a WS5 snuck in there somewhere) out of the way then we will turn our attention to the DTO which, whatever happens, happens will become a part of licensing even if we go back to the old system.

Talking of which…
Back in July last year there was a press release that didn’t seem to get sent anywhere or was widely advertised from the CAA in relation to licensing and the British Gliding Association (BGA). Now it is widely known that early in the Licence Simplification Programme (the first year when everyone apart from two appointed BBAc members were allowed in) the BGA were actually asked the very question that Ian Chadwick pushed the CAA very hard to ask balloonists. “Do you want to retain your existing licensing system”. He got short thrift. Strange, is it not, that the two CAA appointed SMEs (who were leading members of the BBAC) at the time failed to get this across to either balloonists, or question the CAA, as to why balloonists could not be asked the same thing and thus offer Ian, and balloonists, their support? Sold down the river? I don’t know the full story but it doesn’t seem right. Well now, following a very thorough and powerful presentation by the BGA to the CAA, the CAA announced:

‘The purpose of the UK Civil Aviation Authority approval is to approve the British Gliding Association as a Qualified Entity under Article 69 of UK (EC) Regulation No. 2018/1139 (the Basic Regulation) and ARA.GEN.205 of UK (EU) Regulation No. 1178/2011 as retained (and amended in UK domestic law) under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, to make recommendations to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for the issue of Part-SFCL Sailplane licences (SPLs), complete with appropriate privileges, ratings, certificates and authorisations.’

This isn’t a million miles away from what we want. You will note it refers directly to the ‘EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018’. As a result we are looking very closely at alternative ways to try and retain the UKPPL and CPL. It is in its early stages and we will let you know as soon as we have something that doesn’t run to 80 pages. Before you go getting all excited the BGA are quite a way in front of the BBAc especially in infrastructure and member numbers. If we are going to progress this then we need to sure we can back it up with sustainable facts and figures, which we can to a certain degree already, and also demonstrate that the BBAC can actually step up to the mark.

Please have a gander. As an advisory though, if you wish to just enjoy floating through the skies and have no desire to become an Examiner or Instructor then don’t fuddle your mind with this, as it has mine! If, however, you want to continue training your crew, friends or relations then if the BPL blossoms in its thistle-like way then you may have to become an Assistant Instructor and, as this is actually about the route to getting such a rating, you best have a read of the paper and the proposed questions and answers. Thankyou again from all of us for the huge support in trying to get the CAA to look again.

Chris, John (Chief Sewing Examiner), Polly (Squirrel Catching Instructor) and Jane (EB Chairman)