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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
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.
Posted: 17 April 2020
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:
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
BHPA statement – Coronavirus (COVID-19)
In these times of difficulty, the BHPA acknowledges that our schools and instructors are part of the life blood of the sport. Without new pilots the sport would waste away and die. It is therefore imperative that the BHPA offers the maximum support to the schools and their instructors right now. Some of us were involved during the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001 and I am pleased to say that this time round we believe we are able to offer even more support than we did back then.
Before I set out what we plan to do, one of the difficulties we face, is not knowing how long the shutdown will last. It could be the 3 months suggested by the Prime Minister, it could be much longer. Just for the purposes of a working hypothesis we have planned for a 6 month shutdown, with provisions to be made in the event that it is shorter. If it turns out to be longer, we will revisit the hypothesis and change our plans.
Exec has agreed that the following measures can be put in with immediate effect.
- Schools that are due to pay their renewal fee of £400 from now on during the shutdown can defer paying anything until the shut down is finished and they start teaching again.
- For ease of administration, we do not intend to change a school's renewal date, so when a school eventually renews and starts teaching again, it will pay a proportion of the £400 depending on the number of months left in its membership year. So if you were due to renew on 1 April 2020, and the shutdown ends in September and you start teaching again from 1 October 2020, your renewal fee will be £200 for the remaining 6 months. (Assuming a wonderful Autumn !)
- If you have already renewed we will give you a discount on next year's renewal - equal in cash to the discount allowed to those schools who were due to renew in the next few months. This highlights the problem of not knowing when it will all be over, since we don't know how long this will go on for, at this stage we don't know how much of the value of your last renewal has been lost.
Individual Instructor Renewals
- All Instructor Supplements will be waived for this calendar year (2020). If you have already renewed your membership and licences in 2020, you can seek a refund of your supplement. You will temporarily lose your Licences and revert to a full flying membership.
- Licences will be automatically returned if you start teaching again within a 6 month window with no need to show currency or competence, so long as you have retained your full annual membership during the period.
Tandem Licences (Non Instructors)
- On your next renewal, Tandem Licences will be renewed automatically, whether or not you have achieved the normal currency requirements, again so long as you remain a full annual member in the interim.
Finally, new members joining the BHPA for the first time as annual members before the shutdown, in anticipation of undertaking their first training course, that has now been disrupted by the shutdown, will have their membership extended by 6 months at no cost to allow them to undertake the training next year if necessary. Please contact the office with confirmation of your booking on a course.
We should emphasise that during the shutdown, if your licence has lapsed or been suspended - you are not insured to undertake any of the licensed activities - so if your instructor licence has lapsed - you cannot teach students who would otherwise require an instructor.
We do not intend to make any reductions for normal full flying members. We would emphasise that if we are to survive this period we need everyone to renew as normal and provide the cash flow to support our schools. Once all this has passed, with all the waivers etc, BHPA reserves are going to be seriously reduced. We hope not to have to make any of our staff redundant and plan to use the government schemes to keep them all employed. However, it is inevitable that some of the Tech Staff and Office staff will be furloughed and cease to work for us during the shut down. We hope that we will be able to deploy them as usual once the crisis passes. Members who delay their renewal simply enhance the risk that our staff who have worked for us for so long, face redundancy. We must all pull together at this time. My own membership renews on 1 April 2020 so I feel your pain !
Should you need to contact us during this shutdown, the office phone is diverting to the mobile phones of those office staff who are not furloughed. The BHPA Office email accounts are being monitored and dealt with. For the Tech Staff, Mark Shaw is the first point of contact. Snail mail post is being dealt with.
Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman, March 30th 2020
Posted: 30 March 2020
BHPA statement – Coronavirus (COVID-19)
This advice is being written on 24 March 2020. Over the previous week the BHPA has sought to preserve the ability to fly of those pilots who could safely and sensibly do so whilst remaining within the Government guidelines.
The Prime Minister's statement at 20.30 last night has made it clear that we are essentially in lock down. Our efforts to keep the door ajar for a few pilots have therefore come to an end. There is no way that BHPA Exec. can support the concept that any travel in order to go flying is in any way necessary.
Many clubs have closed their sites and we require members to abide by these closures. The BHPA centrally has always maintained that the clubs know what is best in their locality, and this is perhaps the most important time for us to abide by that belief. Please follow the Government guidelines and stay at home.
The BHPA Office is now closed and those staff who can work from home are doing so. The Association itself is like many of our hang gliding and paragliding small enterprises, entirely reliant for its existence on people participating in our sports. There will be difficult times ahead. We will be supporting our staff in the same way as the other SMEs by accessing any Government schemes open to us. Should you wish to contact the office, the phones are being manned remotely and the staff have remote access to our database and emails.
Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman, March 24th 2020
Posted: 24 March 2020
BHPA online shop closed
With the BHPA office now closed, and staff working from home, it will no longer be possible to despatch anything ordered through our online shop.
We have therefore reluctantly decided to close our shop until further notice.
Posted: 24 March 2020
BHPA OFFICE CLOSURE
Due to the current coronavirus pandemic the BHPA's Leicester office is closed until further notice.
The BHPA staff team are working from home and can be contacted by e-mail at the usual addresses.
The team can be also contacted by phone at the usual number but e-mail is preferred for routine enquiries.
These changes will remain in place for the foreseeable future; any alteration to these arrangements will be posted here.
Posted: 24 March 2020
BHPA statement - Coronavirus (COVID-19)
As I wrote in our statement published just 5 days ago on 18 March 2020, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents us with a fast-moving situation.
I am therefore issuing this update on our previous advice. This should be regarded as being in addition to the previous advice and not in substitution of it.
Unusually, I would comment that the contents of this statement were agreed by a small majority of the BHPA Executive Council. There was a significant minority in favour of recommending a complete ban on flying, rightly pointing out that travel to any flying site would constitute 'unnecessary travel' in contravention of the government guidelines.
The recommendations of the Government's medical advisors, and those of the Welsh and Scottish Governments, remain that people should stay fit and get out and about whilst maintaining social distancing.
The problem for the BHPA in issuing a single statement of advice is that we cover such a wide range of sports and locations. These range from paraglider pilots gathering en masse on extremely busy hill sites, to individual or very small groups of paraglider pilots flying on remote coastal hillsides, to tow groups where the pilots lands back at take-off, and on to powered pilots flying from airstrips or private fields over remote and deserted areas such as moorlands and beaches. There are also a significant number of pilots, mostly powered paraglider pilots, who are not BHPA members and who may choose not to follow any BHPA recommendations ad who are statistically more likely to have serious accidents.
Decisions are therefore best made by individual pilots who know their personal circumstances, or, if it involves access to sites under a local agreement, clubs.
We would generally recommend that:
• Pilots should maintain social distancing whilst on the ground.
• Pilots may consider that attempting to fly in places where significant numbers of members of the public have gathered is not sensible.
• Pilots may consider that gathering together in large numbers on particular sites may be detrimental to the sport generally, simply due to our visibility.
• Pilots should bear in mind that flying where the local Mountain Rescue team would have to turn out in the event of an accident, it is likely to attract seriously adverse publicity generated by that Mountain Rescue team.
At this stage, the BHPA is not issuing a general recommendation not to fly to all pilots who fall within our remit. We would recommend that pilots bear in mind the above issues when deciding to fly or not. We would also ask pilots to bear in mind that the issues that affect their group of pilots, for instance hill launched HG Pilots, may have a much lesser effect on another group of pilots, such as tow launched parascending pilots.
We anticipate that it may well be necessary to further update this advice in the future.
Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman
23 March 2020.
Posted: 23 March 2020
last updated: 11 May 2021
Visiting Overseas Hang Gliding & Paragliding Pilots please read this...