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Coronavirus – Covid-19 Update
England entered into a four week period of lockdown restrictions on Thursday 05 November.
The Regulations covering this latest lockdown period in England can be found on the UK Government website, and the associated guidance from the Department of Transport (DfT) can be found on the DfT Website.
The basic principle is that in England, we should stay at home. That is set out in Regulation 5. However, there are exceptions to Regulation 6 and these are set out in Regulation 6. The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed Regulation 6(2)(d)
to visit a public outdoor place for the purposes of open air recreation—
This exception would appear to allow hang gliding and paragliding. Indeed, elements of the previous guidance are not contained in the Regulation, such as the requirement to remain local when exercising and undertaking open air recreation. I have raised the discrepancy between the DfT position and guidance and Regulation 6 with the Officials from the DfT and received the following response:
Whilst I regard the veiled legal threats against the BHPA as entirely laughable, I think the only advice the BHPA can give is to obey the law.
Posted: 5 November 2020
UK Low Flying Booking Cell reduces opening hours
Due to restrictions on personnel numbers imposed by COVID19 measures, the UK Low Flying Booking Cell has reduced it's opening hours. And from Monday 2nd November will only be manned Monday to Thursday 7.00am - 5.00pm and Friday 7.00am - 3.00pm.
The reduced opening hours will be in place until further notice, but will be reviewed on 30th Jan 2021.
NB. CANPs should be submitted one hour before closing time to ensure publication.
Posted: 4 November 2020
Coronavirus – Covid-19 Update
Following the Prime Minister's announcement on Saturday 31 October, England will enter into a four week period of lockdown restrictions commencing on Thursday 05 November.
Whilst the initial announcement outlines the Government's intention, the details of how this will affect hang gliding and paragliding in England is not yet clear.
The BHPA is engaging with the relevant Government departments and awaiting further detail.
We will update our guidance for BHPA members, clubs, schools and instructors within England as soon as we have further clarity and ask for your patience at this time.
The advice and guidance for Scotland will no doubt be updated by the SHPF to reflect the new tier system. There are no changes to the guidance for Wales and Northern Ireland.
Please be assured that we will continue to work with the relevant authorities to represent the interests of the free flying community.
Posted: 2 November 2020
CAA EC Rebate Scheme - Update
Prior to the EC rebate scheme launch (5th October 2020) the CAA advised the BHPA that devices transmitting FLARM would be eligible for rebate. FLARM is incorporated into several free flight devices from Naviter, Skytraxx, XC Tracer and Flymaster. When the scheme launched on October 5th we were surprised to see no mention of FLARM in the CAA's landing page. Only Power FLARM, more suited to aircraft with cockpits and power supplies, was mentioned.
The CAA has since confirmed that the FLARM-transmitting Skytraxx Beacon is eligible for rebate under the scheme. Further, the general rule of thumb is that if a device transmits FLARM, Pilot Aware or ADS-B it is valid - any other functionality is a welcome addition. As we go to press we await the CAA publishing a Q&A document to clear up many of our queries.
Having processed a rebate application, we now know what is involved. After purchasing an EC device from a retailer you must register an account on the CAA portal, linked from the rebate scheme page. Submit your identity details (e.g. passport and driver's licence scans). An 'account approval' email should follow - current indications are that this takes about a week.
You then log into your account. Under the 'Your Services' section fill out the online form to apply for a rebate for your device, providing your bank details, a scan of the EC device receipt and your BHPA membership number and rating (Pilot or above). Assuming you meet the eligibility criteria and your application is successful, you can expect a payment to your bank account after 28 working days.
Note the 50% rebate is on the ex-VAT amount. The rebate on a £500 device is thus about £208 - a substantial discount on the cost of an EC device. Further details are available on the CAA website.
Posted: 13 October 2020
Rebate scheme for Electronic Conspicuity devices
The Department for Transport (DfT) rebate scheme for purchasing an Electronic Conspicuity device goes live.
As we have previously reported in Skywings, there is growing evidence that transponders - Electronic Conspicuity (EC for short) - are going to play an increasing part in our sports, and the DfT is intending to make it even easier for all aircraft to be "electronically visible" by helping UK flyers purchase an EC device. Earlier this year the CAA announced a scheme to assist pilots holding CAA licences with the cost of adopting EC. The criteria have been expanded to include current BHPA "Pilot" rated members.
The scheme went live on the 5th October 2020. 50% of the cost of an EC device (up to a maximum rebate of £250) can be claimed from funds made available by the DfT. You need to hold a current BHPA rating (minimum "Pilot" level) or an appropriate national pilot licence to be able to apply for the rebate. The CAA website does not yet make it clear that BHPA members applying must hold "Pilot" rating or above - an update of its page is anticipated.
What can you buy?
ADS-B is the CAA's preferred EC system. There are very few ADS-B devices that are small and light enough to be potentially compatible with our ultra-light aircraft, the "SkyEcho 2" being one that is readily available in the UK. Some FLARM devices (for example the FLARM equipped "FANET+ Beacon") can easily be carried on a hang glider or paraglider. The CAA has confirmed to us that devices such as the Beacon are eligible for the rebate scheme, even though they are not specifically mentioned on the CAA's EC rebate scheme page.
Who is it for?
If you are encouraged to purchase and use an EC device, make sure you understand its limitations. If you are using a screen to avoid mid-air collisions with other ridge soaring hang gliders or paragliders, you are at greater risk of hitting another pilot by not practising good visual situational awareness using your Mark-1 eyeball. An EC device may be an additional tool for your awareness of other types of aircraft, but the greatest benefit is likely to be in broadcasting your location to faster moving aircraft that can display potential conflicts on their screens, and have the ability to manoeuvre quickly to avoid a collision.
Of course, you not only become visible to other aircraft with a compatible EC system, you are detectable to ground stations. An infringement into controlled airspace is likely to be seen and acted upon. Aerial infringements (depending on their seriousness) usually require the infringer to attend an aerial version of a speed awareness course for the initial infringement. Subsequent infringements will undoubtedly incur more severe penalties.
The aspect that hasn't yet been fully addressed is what will happen at the time when all of these EC devices are switched on. The BHPA continues to highlight the unique nature of our sports in meetings with CAA and DfT, however, some in the aviation industry struggle with the concept that we don't fly in straight lines. It is yet to be seen whether chaos will ensue if 8000+ HGs and PGs go "live" and start flashing on aircraft and controllers' screens. However, cross country pilots may see this rebate scheme as an opportunity to acquaint themselves with a system well in advance of any requirement to be electronically visible.
We recommend a thorough reading through of the information on the CAA's website, in particular the section on maintaining the correct WTA licence to use an EC device.
Further news of the CAA's EC rebate scheme (and a link to the rebate application form) can be found on the CAA Website
To apply for the rebate, you will need to register for an online account with the CAA. This involves providing a scan of identify documents, for example a passport and driving licence.
Posted: 6 October 2020
Insurance for Sub-70kg PHG training
A reminder to all who fly Sub-70kg wheeled SPHGs: insurance is a mandatory legal requirement. This includes powered hang gliders such as PeaBees, Snakes, etc, and wheeled paramotor variants too.
At present no BHPA schools offer tuition on Sub-70kg powered hang gliders, and a would-be BHPA Sub-70kg pilot without CAA or BHPA power qualifications would need to undertake dual flexwing microlight training with an established CAA microlight school.
Whilst the school's insurance will cover you to fly the school's own tandem wing, it will not usually cover you to fly your own wing under instruction or supervision in a school setting.
The BHPA has therefore taken the decision that a CAA flexwing microlight instructor can supervise BHPA student Sub-70 hang glider pilots in the same way that a BHPA Instructor can instruct and supervise a non-powered student. In that way the student pilot is insured under the BHPA Policy.
This process has to be signed off in advance by a BHPA Technical Officer or, during the pandemic furlough, the Chairman, Marc Asquith.
Once considered fully trained and fully capable by their CAA instructor, the student pilot will be awarded a restricted CP (Power) rating. The student will then be expected to sit the BHPA Pilot exam prior to the award of a BHPA Pilot (Power) rating.
The above route applies both to existing hang glider pilots and those from a paragliding - or even a non-flying - background.
All pilots should be aware that this process must be a) signed off by a member of the BHPA Tech staff, and b) temporary in nature. If the BHPA is not aware of the agreement with a CAA Instructor, the pilot is not covered by BHPA insurance.
Posted: 24 September 2020
Free flights at Green Dragons!
Exemplary neighbour-relations from Green Dragons at the end of August.
Mindful of the nuisance that events at their flying base can generate, Andy Shaw wrote to all his near neighbours offering a free tandem flight during their Open Weekend over the bank holiday.
Andy also invited local residents to bring a picnic and join in the festivities. We like it!
Posted: 24 September 2020
Robin Hamilton's Class 2 record falls
Ex-pat Brit Robin Hamilton's Class 2 hang glider 100km triangle speed record, set in Texas 53.73km/h on an Aeriane Swift 18 years ago, has finally been broken.
On August 7th US pilot Armand Acchione pushed the record to 60km/h from Brussels in Ontario, Canada, aboard a Swift Light, subject to FAI confirmation.
Posted: 24 September 2020
last updated: 12 July 2021
Visiting Overseas Hang Gliding & Paragliding Pilots please read this...