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BHPA Preparation Checklist Solo Flying in England

Here is the BHPA's preparation checklist for solo flying in England following the relaxation on travel announced on Wednesday.

* Comply with any guidance from the local BHPA club, who you must contact before visiting any area with the intention of flying;

* Ensure that the landowner's permission has been gained before you go to a flying site;

* Be aware that Mountain Rescue cover may be limited or not currently available in some areas;

* Try to minimise travel distances, and travel in a private vehicle only with members of your own household;

* Maintain social distancing and don't share unsterilised equipment;

* Be alert to the risks of touching locks and gates; use a suitable hand sanitiser before and after contact;

* You may approach one other person from outside your household, but only if you maintain 2m distancing;

* Other than this one person, you should maintain a significant separation from all other people (to avoid any suggestion of creating a gathering);

[These distancing requirements do not apply in an emergency situation]

* Do not fly XC.

* Be safe, and aware of the risks that your own lack of currency creates, and remember that you may be sharing the air with other pilots who are at least as rusty;

* Wash your hands before and after you go.

These arrangements only apply to England. In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the devolved administrations have not yet altered their advice, or the law, which does not include flying as a necessary reason for travel.

Posted: 16 May 2020
By: Paul Dancey


Coronavirus – Covid-19 Update

Prior to the Prime Minister's announcement on Sunday 10 May 2020 it became clear that there was likely to be a relaxation of the restrictions upon outdoor sporting activities. I therefore wrote to the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) asking that our sports be amongst those to benefit from such a relaxation.

Once the Prime Minister had made his announcement, all airsports began to press the Department for Transport and the CAA to change their stance that the guidelines precluded Recreational General Aviation. That change is coming, but simple operational problems within the Department have meant that they have not been able to publish them yet.

In the mean time the DCMS replied, confirming that all forms of outdoor sport were now permitted without limit.

The BHPA Executive Council take the view that this now allows us to resume our flying activities.

We set out below the guidelines which we believe will allow flying to take place without further spreading the virus.

Copies of the letters between the BHPA and DCMS can be downloaded below.

BHPA Letter 6 May 2020

DCMS Letter 4 May 2020.pdf

Pilots might consider carrying a printed copy with them when out flying, just in case they find themselves facing a zealous member of the public or police officer

COVID 19 - BHPA recovery plan for flying activities.

This recovery plan sets out guidelines which the BHPA believes will allow a resumption of the sports of Hang Gliding and Paragliding, including powered variants.

It must be borne in mind that initially it only applies to flying within England. With 4 governments over the home nations, together with the smaller islands with their own forms of Parliament, it is inevitable that flying will be possible in the different parts of the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies before it is possible in others.

It is imperative that pilots do not try to cross national borders in order to fly. Travel into or out of England to fly would likely constitute an offence under the national regulations of the other country.

At this stage, even in England, flying is possible in some regions whilst not in others. In particular, Cumbria, being mountainous, has problems with its Mountain Rescue Teams coping with casualties who potentially carry the Covid-19 virus. As is always the case, the BHPA defers to the local clubs to open their sites as and when local conditions allow. Pilots should confirm whether a club's sites are open before travelling to an area.

The BHPA anticipates a three-phase restarting of its activities, beginning with an initial phase of flying activity by qualified pilots only (Club Pilot and above) in any form of launch environment ( Hill, tow, Aerotow, Power ) - Phase 1. Phase 2 will be solo training at BHPA schools. Phase 3 will be dual air experience flights and dual flights for passengers who are not members of the pilot's household. Phase 3 will only be authorised upon the issuing of guidance on proximity between members of the public that can be applied effectively to dual flying.

In England therefore, we are now entering Phase 1.

OVERARCHING PRINCIPLES

• Stay at home if you are showing symptoms of Covid 19, or should be self-isolating having had contact with someone suspected to be infected with Covid 19.

• If you are in a high-risk group consider carefully if you wish to risk infection through joining others, even though it is outdoors and with special measures in place.

• Bear in mind that you may be asymptomatic - act accordingly, maintaining social distancing and be vigilant with hand hygiene when touching surfaces.

• In general, a two-metre distance must always be maintained. Only in specific situations can this distance be

reduced. In these situations, effective measures must be taken to ensure the protection of those involved.

SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR INDIVIDUAL PILOTS

General

• Every member carries individual responsibility for adhering to the rules to minimise the risk of infection or transmission of the disease.

• Maintain a two-metre distance in all situations, unless required to provide essential first aid.

• Carry hand sanitising gel.

• Inform yourself of your Club's - and any site-specific - guidance before travelling to fly.

Access to the flying site

• Club members should travel to and from flying locations individually in separate vehicles until Government advice changes to allow sharing. When this is not possible, club members must follow the guidance from UK Government on distancing in vehicles / on public transport.

• Before and after contact with any surfaces outdoors (stiles, gates and gate latches, etc), the BHPA recommends the use of hand sanitising gel.

On the site

• Only unpack and set up your equipment if intending to fly. On landing, immediately clear the landing area and carry your equipment to an appropriate unoccupied area to pack up.

• Use your own equipment. Try not to come into contact with another pilot's equipment. If you are required to touch a piece of equipment that comes into contact with others, the BHPA recommends the use of hand sanitising gel applied before and after use (however this may not be appropriate for application on certain types of equipment).

• Providing assistance to a pilot - hang check. Avoid “hands on” contact and check remotely from a two-metre distance, allowing extra time to perform the checks.

• Providing assistance - e.g. pull-starting another pilot's paramotor. Do not undertake this activity as it is not possible to maintain a two-metre distance.

• Dual flights are only allowed if both pilot and passenger live in the same household. In the current situation, dual pilots are strongly advised not to operate in conditions where a launch assistant may be needed.

• Providing assistance - launch assistant for dual paragliding. It is impossible to undertake this role and maintain a two-metre distance. As well as the usual requirements for launch assistants, the launch assistant must be a member of the same household as the pilot and passenger.

• In general terms, you should not be flying cross country - any “retrieve” journey may not adhere to Covid 19 travel guidelines. For the time being, only undertake flights local to your site.

• Do not share food and drinks and dispose of waste at home.

After flying

• Upon arrival back home, decontamination should take place by washing hands and quarantining any equipment for as long as possible, either outside or in a dedicated separate space indoors.

Protect the NHS

The inherent risk to aviation participants has not changed because of Covid 19, however there are measures that individuals can take to further reduce the risk of an incident whilst allowing activities to re-commence.

• Undertake any flying activity at a level well within your ability. Normal springtime conditions and currency precautions apply.

• Low airtime pilots and those recently qualified are advised to seek advice from a Club Coach before re-commencing flying.

• All pilots are advised to re-acquaint themselves with their flying equipment by setting it up in an isolated outdoor space and checking it (e.g. in garden), before resuming flying.

• All pilots are advised to initially undertake flight activity in light winds to minimise the need for another pilot to intervene.

GUIDELINES FOR GROUP ACTIVITIES SUCH AS TOW AND AEROTOW GROUPS AND FOR COACHES AND OPERATORS

Any club member organising a coaching session / towing activity is advised to inform club members who are planning to take part about these guidelines at least one day before the start of the coaching / activity.

Any club official or licence holder organising a coaching or training session must ask club members at the beginning of the coaching session if they feel ill or have symptoms of Covid 19. If necessary, they must be excluded from the activity.

If a club member who has taken part in the coaching session subsequently falls ill, he/she must immediately inform the club official / licence holder who conducted the coaching / activity. This official will check which other persons in the coaching session he/she has been in contact with and will inform these people immediately.

General

• Maintain a two-metre distance in all situations, unless required to provide essential first aid.

• Be aware of positioning - avoid standing directly upwind/downwind of a pilot (even when briefing from two metres away).

• Carry hand sanitising gel.

• Physical intervention on launch / landing should be avoided unless required in an emergency to prevent an incident.

• Restrict access to club buildings to essential personnel only.

• Where a qualified first-aider is required to enable an operation to take place, the first-aider should update him or herself with the latest advice from their certificate provider or NHS advice for first aiders. The Resuscitation Council has specific advice on risk of transmission of Covid 19 and performing resuscitation.

Specific guidelines for Coaching

• First refresh your coaching basic skills by using guidance material / coaching resources.

• Encourage Club Pilots you are coaching to undertake tasks that involve flying in the local area (do not undertake supervised cross-country flights for Club Pilots for the foreseeable future).

• Encourage Club Pilots you are coaching to initially undertake flights in light winds to reduce the need to physically intervene.

• During briefing/de-briefing use a “hands-off” manner. Allow extra time to conduct demos, and brief/debrief maintaining 2m distance.

Specific guidelines for tow / aerotow operations

• Segregate the launch queue to allow social distancing to be maintained.

• All winch / tow vehicle controls and ancillary equipment (e.g. signal bats, radios) to be thoroughly sanitised before and after use. Avoid user changes if possible. If the user changes, the equipment must be appropriately sanitised when changing user.

• If radios are used they should be sanitised with suitable wipes when changing user.

• The Launch Marshal should conduct verbal checks from at least two metres and to the side of the pilot.

• The Launch Marshal is advised to hold the end of the hang glider keel instead of the nose (for example to position the glider on the aerotow trolley).

• Tow groups must agree and write down a procedure to minimise person-to-person contact via the tow rope, connections and glider launch trolleys, ensuring that appropriate sanitation is carried out on all surfaces to minimise risk of transference of Covid 19. The procedure is to be circulated and followed by all pilots, operators, tug pilots, launch marshals and coaches involved in the activity.

Guidelines for solo training and dual flights will be released in due course.

Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman, May 15th 2020

Posted: 15 May 2020
By: Paul Dancey


Unlockdown caution!

Now we have been given a tentative green light on flying in England, subject to a number of stipulations, we need to temper our enthusiasm with a note of caution.

Should you find yourself on the hill or the tow field, and not in conflict with advice from any UK national government, please recognise that you will not be current. The powerful thermals of spring will mostly have passed us by; nevertheless you will be about to commit aviation after a long layoff. Some pilots may not have flown all winter.  

This will be an unprecedented situation. Even those who were lucky enough to get an overseas trip in before the shut-down won't have flown for a couple of months. So pick a calm day when the conditions - gusting winds, off-the-hill winds, difficult terrain, heavy traffic, etc, etc - won't be adding further layers of difficulty.

And take it slowly. Assemble your glider and gear carefully; concentrate on the task in hand rather than nattering to folk you haven't seen for a while; brief yourself initially for a short and simple flight; don't skip the Will Gordie Have His Cat Aboard Today mnemonic.

You will have had plenty of time to overhaul and update your gear. If you will be flying with something - anything! - new, remember that you will be unfamiliar with it. Check your instruments and radio and that you can remember how to operate them. 

When lacking recent flying practice, all pilots need to be extra careful in assessing the conditions and give themselves wider safety margins than usual. Acknowledge that you will be rusty and take things slowly.

Resist the urge to fly if conditions aren't suitable, and land if you're uncomfortable. The only way that you will regain currency is by flying, but pick another day if conditions are not ideal.

Finally, bear in mind the increased risk of mid-air collision from the mix of hang gliders and paragliders, all with rusty skills and none heading off XC, particularly on light-wind days. Be vigilant. 

Posted: 12 May 2020
By: J. Schofield


Coronavirus – Covid-19 Update

In anticipation of the Prime Minister's Statement to the Nation this evening and in the almost certainly forlorn hope that the announcement will allow the resumption of flying, we have prepared some guidance as to how you should behave when flying. This guidance pre-supposes that the Clubs are able to reopen their sites in the light of any changes to lockdown:

COVID 19 - BHPA recovery plan for flying activities.

This recovery plan sets out guidelines which the BHPA believes will allow a resumption of the sports of Hang Gliding and Paragliding, including powered variants, in the UK.

Pilots should be aware that it only becomes effective when the prohibition on non-essential travel is lifted and consequently, the CAA directive to cease recreational general aviation is also lifted.

It must be borne in mind that with 4 governments over the home nations, it is entirely possible that flying will be possible in some parts of the United Kingdom before it is possible in others.

The BHPA will make an announcement at that time that flying can be resumed if conducted in accordance with these guidelines.

The Association anticipates a three-phase restarting of its activities, beginning with an initial phase of flying activity by qualified pilots only (Club Pilot and above). Phase two will be solo training at BHPA schools. Phase three will be dual air experience flights and dual flights for passengers who are not members of the pilot's household. Phase 3 will only be authorised upon the issuing of guidance on proximity between members of the public, that can be applied effectively to dual flying.

OVERARCHING PRINCIPLES

• Stay at home if you are showing symptoms of C-19 or should be self-isolating having had contact with someone suspected to be infected with C-19.

• If you are in a high-risk group consider carefully if you wish to risk infection through joining others, even though it is outdoors and with special measures in place.

• Bear in mind that you may be asymptomatic - act accordingly, maintaining social distancing and be vigilant with hand hygiene when touching surfaces.

• In general, a two-metre distance must always be maintained. Only in specific situations can this distance be reduced. In these situations, effective measures must be taken to ensure the protection of those involved.

SPECIFIC GUIDELINES FOR INDIVIDUAL PILOTS

General

• Every member carries individual responsibility for adhering to the rules to minimise the risk of infection or transmission of the disease.

• Maintain a two-metre distance in all situations, unless required to provide essential first aid.

• Carry hand sanitising gel.

• Inform yourself of your club and any site-specific guidance before traveling to fly.

Access to the flying site

• Club members should travel to and from flying locations individually in separate vehicles until Government advice changes to allow sharing. When this is not possible, club members must follow the guidance from UK Government on distancing in vehicles / on public transport.

• Before and after contact with any surfaces outdoors (stiles, gates and gate latches, etc), the BHPA recommends the use of hand sanitising gel.

On the site

• Only unpack and set up your equipment if intending to fly. On landing, immediately clear the landing area and carry your equipment to an appropriate unoccupied area to pack up.

• Use your own equipment. Try not to come into contact with another pilots' equipment. If you are required to touch a piece of equipment that comes into contact with others, the BHPA recommends the use of hand sanitising gel applied before and after use (however this may not be appropriate for application on certain types of equipment).

• Providing assistance to a pilot - hang check. Avoid “hands on” contact and check remotely from a two-metre distance, allowing extra time to perform the checks.

• Providing assistance - e.g. pull-starting another pilot's paramotor. Do not undertake this activity as it is not possible to maintain a two-metre distance.

• Dual flights are only allowed if both pilot and passenger live in the same household. In the current situation, dual pilots are strongly advised not to operate in conditions where a launch assistant may be needed.

• Providing assistance - launch assistant for dual paragliding. It is impossible to undertake this role and maintain a two-metre distance. As well as the usual requirements for launch assistants, the launch assistant must be a member of the same household as the pilot and passenger.

• In general terms, you should not be flying cross country - any “retrieve” journey may not adhere to COVID 19 travel guidelines. For the time being, only undertake flights local to your site.

• Do not share food and drinks and dispose of waste at home.

After flying

• Upon arrival back home, decontamination should take place by washing hands and quarantining any equipment for as long as possible, either outside or in a dedicated separate space indoors.

Protect the NHS

The inherent risk to aviation participants has not changed because of COVID 19, however there are measures that individuals can take to further reduce the risk of an incident whilst allowing activities to re-commence.

• Undertake any flying activity at a level well within your ability. Normal springtime conditions and currency precautions apply.

• Low airtime pilots and those recently qualified are advised to seek advice from a Club Coach before re-commencing flying.

• All pilots are advised to re-acquaint themselves with their flying equipment by setting it up in an isolated outdoor space and checking it (e.g. in garden), before resuming flying.

• All pilots are advised to initially undertake flight activity in light wind to minimise the need for another pilot to intervene.

GUIDELINES FOR GROUP ACTIVITIES SUCH AS TOW AND AEROTOW GROUPS AND FOR COACHES AND OPERATORS.

Any club member organising a coaching session / towing activity is advised to inform club members who are planning to take part about these guidelines at least one day before the start of the coaching / activity.

Any club official or licence holder organising a coaching or training session must ask club members at the beginning of the coaching session if they feel ill or have symptoms of COVID 19. If necessary, they must be excluded from the activity.

If a club member who has taken part in the coaching session subsequently falls ill, he/she must immediately inform the club official / licence holder who conducted the coaching / activity. This official will check which other persons in the coaching session he/she has been in contact with and will inform these people immediately.

General.

• Maintain a two-metre distance in all situations, unless required to provide essential first aid.

• Carry hand sanitising gel.

• Physical intervention on launch / landing should be avoided unless required in an emergency to prevent an incident.

• Restrict access to club buildings to essential personnel only.

Briefing / debriefing.

• Use a “hands-off” manner. Allow extra time to conduct demos, and brief/debrief maintaining 2m distance.

• Be aware of positioning - avoid standing directly upwind/downwind of a pilot (even when briefing from two metres away).

Specific guidelines for Coaching.

• First refresh your coaching basic skills by using guidance material / coaching resources.

• Encourage Club Pilots you are coaching to initially undertake tasks that involve flying in the local area (avoid supervised cross country flights for Club Pilots for the foreseeable future).

• Encourage Club Pilots you are coaching to initially undertake flights in light winds to reduce the need to physically intervene.

Specific guidelines for tow / aerotow operations.

• Segregate the launch queue to allow social distancing to be maintained.

• All winch / tow vehicle controls and ancillary equipment (e.g. signal bats) to be thoroughly sanitised before and after use. Avoid user changes if possible. If the user changes, the equipment must be appropriately sanitised when changing user.

• If radios are used, they should be sanitised with suitable wipes when changing user.

• The Launch Marshal should conduct verbal checks from at least 2m and to the side of the pilot.

• The Launch Marshal is advised to hold the end of the hang glider keel instead of the nose (for example to position the glider on the aerotow trolley).

• Tow group must agree and write down a procedure to minimise person-to-person contact with the tow rope, connections and glider launch trolleys, ensuring that appropriate sanitation is carried out on all surfaces to minimise risk of transference of COVID 19. The procedure is to be circulated and followed by all pilots, operators, tug pilots, launch marshals and coaches involved in the activity.

Guidelines for solo training and dual flights will be released in the forthcoming weeks.

Posted: 10 May 2020
By: Paul Dancey


CAA leans towards compulsory EC

At a CAA GA Partnership meeting in March the head of Airspace and Air Traffic Management outlined moves towards mandating Electronic Conspicuity for all UK aircraft, with a view to widespread adoption by January 2024.

The CAA's ambition is for all aircraft to provide EC transmissions on protected common frequencies. This is to facilitate the refashioning of UK airspace in line with their Airspace Modernisation Strategy, mitigate mid-air collision risks and enable the safe integration of UAS (drones) within UK airspace.

The CAA believes the 2024 deadline gives manufacturers, and those required to comply, time to develop and purchase the technology. They appear confident that an approved device can be made available for around £500, and that they would be able to offset the cost by around 50% per aircraft, as was (sort-of) done with the recent introduction of 8.33kHz VHF radio spacing.

The BHPA response so far has been - at every opportunity - to present our facts: approximately 7,500 pilots with their own aircraft, flying from hills, fields and airfields anywhere in the UK. And at least 1000 pilots that are not BHPA members. Our open cockpit aircraft cannot carry the large batteries needed by the majority of currently available transponders. One device, SkyEcho 2, may be compatible for free fliers but has not been tested. Finally, the projected cost is prohibitively expensive for a device of limited usefulness.

The proposal to mandate EC on our aircraft would throw up compatibility, licensing and signal-saturation issues, inevitably driving some pilots to operate 'rogue', ie. without a transponder. This reasoning has been conveyed to the CAA and the Department for Transport.

Posted: 23 April 2020
By: J. Schofield


Colin's microlight record is ratified!

Colin Fargher's microlight distance record ratified by the FAI.BHPA member Colin Fargher's microlight distance record set last September has been ratified by the FAI.

Colin now holds the weight-shift two-seater (RWL2) record for straight-line distance at 783.9km.

With his son Louis aboard and doing some of the flying, Colin flew his Air Création Skypper from Vesoul in eastern France to land, after nearly eight hours in the air, at Plobannalec just 3km from the Atlantic coast.

Colin has been interviewed for future video transmission by FFPLUM and the the story has been published on the FAI website. Respect is due!

Posted: 23 April 2020
By: J. Schofield


Coronavirus – Covid-19 Update

A number of members have asked, in the light of the guidance issued by the College of Police in respect of The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 and what constitutes a reasonable excuse for going out, whether the BHPA intends to change its stance on members going flying.

We can confirm that the Government Guidance on the lock down has not changed.

The CAA guidance on Recreational GA flying has not changed.

And as yet, we are seeing no change in public perception of people engaging in what they perceive as risky activities.

The BHPA stance therefore remains unchanged.

BHPA members must refrain from flying, including ground handling, for the time being.

See College of Police Publication
See UK Government Publication

Marc Asquith
BHPA Chairman
17 April 2020

Posted: 17 April 2020
By: Paul Dancey


BHPA Mock Pilot Exams

With flying suspended during the Coronavirus pandemic, it's important to try to stay positive and look forward to a future when hopefully we will all be able to go flying again.

In the meantime the BHPA Flying & Safety Committee (FSC) would like to encourage members who are Club Pilot (CP) rated to use this downtime to think about their flying aspirations, build their knowledge and work towards obtaining Pilot rating.

To assist CP rated members online mock Pilot exams have now been published and can be accessed using the following link:
BHPA Mock Pilot Exams

These mock Pilot exams will enable you to test your knowledge, understand the subject areas that you need to revise, and prepare yourself for sitting the real exam. Having had a go at the mock exam, we hope you will be encouraged to contact your club or school and make plans to obtain your Pilot rating.

With Pilot rating you are seen as being fully qualified and able to plan and execute cross country flight with the necessary skills and knowledge.

Posted: 12 April 2020
By: Paul Dancey


Skywings news last updated: 18 May 2020 at 10:17:05 AM

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