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British Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association

CAA Mode S Transponder Consultation - 2006

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The 2006 CAA Consultation is now closed. The following information is therefore "historical", and simply provided as background to the 2008 CAA Mode S Transponder Phase 2 Consultation.

The proposed introduction of Mode S transponders for all UK aircraft

As some of you may be aware, the UK CAA is carrying out a consultation into making it compulsory for ALL aircraft to carry a working Mode S transponder when flying anywhere in the UK. The change is due for implementation in 2008.

The consultation does talk about exemptions, but when viewed against the real world they are pretty impractical and show a poor understanding of our type of flying.

One lightweight transponder does now exist at prototype stage, even though the CAA has yet to issue a specification for manufacturers to work to. This manufacturer expects a retail price of £1,000 - £1,500. It has a battery life of 4 - 5 hours. An annual licence fee and servicing costs will also be payable, possibly in the region of £300 - £400 per annum.

The BHPA was originally planning to submit an official response on behalf of all its members but a recent change in the consultation process has meant individual responses from the membership are now VERY important. To that end the BHPA is preparing a set of guidance notes which will be published on the BHPA website, hopefully by Friday 11th August 2006. As the consultation closes at 17:00 on Tuesday 29th August 2006 this will allow just over two weeks for members to get their responses to the CAA.

It is critical that you take time to read the consultation document and respond in your own words on the official response form. Guidelines on issues to be raised will be published on the BHPA website. In the meantime background information can be found on the BGA & PFA websites.

Make no mistake, this could well signal the end of cross country flying as we know it in the UK. If even you aren‘t an XC hound you WILL also be effected.

Please read the CAA proposal carefully and submit a reasoned response on the proper form by the deadline of 17:00 on 29th August.

The CAA change has made the time scale unreasonable but the CAA will not consider changing the closing date.

If things do not go our way we may yet be asking you to contact your MPs, but not yet. Thank you.

FSC Airspace Panel and Martin Heywood BHPA Chairman
3rd August, 2006

CAA small business presentation - 15 August 2006

The presentation for GA user groups and small businesses at the CAA in London was unfortunately poorly attended by BHPA schools and dealers who will be severely effected by the proposals. Please take time to consider the burden of transponder costs to a new pilot, tugging operations and indeed demand for wings and equipment.

CAA transponder presentation Lasham - 17 August 2006

Very well attended with an estimated audience of 320 pilots of mainly a gliding background, many familiar faces from the hang gliding community of old.

Well chaired by the BGA and well presented by the CAA in the face of obvious disagreement.

A very useful evening where the CAA were left in no doubt that they have grossly misunderstood the nature and extent of soaring flight of all disciplines in the UK. As such many of the suggestions and presupposed exemptions were shown to be flawed. The CAA also found it difficult to explain a proposed 50% reduction in the current GA/CAT accident rate which in the UK has been zero since 1946.

The BGA fielded a series of questions also pertinent to us and we corrected the CAA on the nature of our flying as well as querying their recent strategy of deterring responses from individual BHPA members.

The short response period, the lack of second stage consultation and lack of qualifying safety data were also criticised.

Analysis of the responses received by the CAA to date suggeststhe GA community agree there is a need to improve collision avoidance measures although 77% believe a transponder will not improve safety. A worrying 17% support airspace segregation - in other word supporting the idea of "flying reserves" for GA rather than an integrated airspace usage.

Thanks to all members who attended, especially Justin Needham for his valid point about EMC interference with our unshielded, uncertified instrumentation which may well be damaged by a 20-30 or even 70W transmission burst from a transponder.

Transponders update - 18 August 2006

Feedback from members

Thank you to all the constructive criticism and feedback received by the airspace panel and the many copies of individual responses already sent to the CAA.

We actively encourage ideas from members that we may have missed in our draft response which is already being re-written for a fourth time (!) by Tom Hardie in light of recent developments.

At the moment we don't have time to read individual ROA responses so please let us know by Wednesday 23rd by separate mail if you think we've missed an important point. Our formal response will be sent electronically to the CAA on 29 August but we need time to incorporate feedback!

Individual responses to the RIA not required?

Not so! Some CAA staff have responded to a number of BHPA members that individual responses are not required and they are well aware of the BHPA position already. They have been corrected by their boss who has issued us with a full apology. Individual responses are relevant and encouraged by the CAA. All narratives will be included in the CAA report to the DoT so do take time to consider a reasoned Response 10 - it will count!

As of early this week around 200 responses have been received by the CAA from BHPA members. Whilst some members are waiting for further guidance please ensure you do reply by the 29th.

We accept some members do not have computer access and hope that local clubs will provide assistance to their members in this situation.

Exemption for Paragliders (and hang gliders) or Stay of Execution?

Again, Max Seaman at the CAA has been trying to defuse concerns of BHPA pilots by stating in emails that paragliders (and hang gliders) will be exempt from the proposals. His exact wording is "Until a certified LPST is available commercially for use within UK airspace, all paragliders will operate under a blanket exemption". In other words, an exemption of indeterminate time until the CAA see fit to cancel it because equipment they consider suitable has come to market. No mention of costs and obviously an attempt to deter criticism of the current RIA from the foot launch community.

The section F exemption offers no such qualification and does not include hang gliders. We have to assume that all foot launch pilots will be expected to carry a transponder at some time in the future if the proposal becomes law, especially now they've realised we fly cross country (as they state on the legend of their airmaps!).

Transponders update - 22 August 2006

The RIA is very technical in its nature and has drawn much criticism from BHPA members (often flagged up by solicitor members!) that completing the response form is difficult when they don't understand either the question or the implications of their answer. This concern was shared by BGA members at the Lasham presentation.

If you don't feel suitable informed to be able to answer the questions in the response document please flag this up in the Response 10 section, adding any other constructive comments you feel appropriate.

We understand from market research experts for on line returns where questions cannot be stuck through with a pen it is best to put an 'X' in all possible response boxes if you feel unable to give a reasoned response.

Please be aware the on-line response form does not allow the sender to save a copy. The CAA have been advised!

BHPA Airspace Panel

CAA presentation Barton - 23 August 2006

An opportunity to hear about and add your views on the CAA's plans for all GA aircraft to carry Mode S equipment. The meeting will vbe held at Lancashire Aero Club Barton Airfield, Manchester, and the speaker will be Andy Greenwood, an aviation consultant, working for the CAA's Surveillance and Spectrum 4 Section

Based on the quality of the CAA presentation and their receptive attitude at Lasham, the meeting at Barton should be well worth attending. Mark Dale will be representing the airspace panel.

Post Partial RIA consultation update - 30 August 2006

The consultation period for the CAA's Partial Regulatory Impact Assessment on the mandatory carriage of Mode S transponders has now closed.

Many thanks to all members who responded to the CAA alongside our own formal submission. It will be very evident to those analysing the responses that there is not only considerable criticism of the proposal but also of the consultation process itself.

Many BHPA members provided valuable feedback to the Airspace Panel on pertinent issues for which we are grateful. These have been considered by the airspace panel and our official BHPA response amended accordingly.

Please be aware that the BHPA were sent notice of the Partial RIA on 2 June but in common with other air sport governing bodies we were unaware that there would be no public consultation for the subsequent Full RIA document to be presented to the Department for Transport. Hence our plea for member assistance some way into the 12 week Partial RIA consultation.


Official BHPA response

The official BHPA response was submitted by the airspace panel on 29 August. Our narrative response to Section 10 "Additional Comments and Feedback" stretched to 15 pages.

BHPA formal RIA response

BHPA narrative response to section 10


It is obvious, in common with members of other sporting aviation groups, that BHPA pilots found the RIA documentation difficult to understand. Members were concerned that they didn't have sufficient knowledge to give an informed answer to (mis)leading questions or the implications of a selected answer. The airspace panel shares these concerns and has raised them in our formal return to the CAA.

We will also be raising these and a number of issues concerning the nature of the consultation with the Department for Transport who commissioned the partial RIA. They are obliged under the Cabinet Office Code Of Conduct for Consultations to allow a feedback channel for complaints and concerns over a Consultation Process. The Partial RIA fails numerous recommendations in the Code for Consultation.

BHPA letter to Department for Transport - 16 October 2006

Read the full text of the letter sent by Martin Heywood, BHPA Chairman, to Andrew D. Price, Consultation Co-ordinator, Department for Transport. This highlights the BHPA's concern over the consultation process for the CAA partial ria proposal.

Some BHPA members have already copied us their own letters written to the DfT, should you wish to do so the contact details are on page 2 of the Partial RIA.


What happens now?

Section 4.3 of the Code For Consultation states that the consultation document should state the date when, and the web address where, the summary of responses will be published. As far as possible this should be within three months of the closing date of the consultation. Those without web access should be able to request a paper copy of this summary. It is unclear at the time of writing whether this refers to the Partial RIA (which makes no mention of time-scale for processing responses), or the Full RIA which the CAA are now preparing for the DfT.

The consultant employed by the CAA who prepared the Partial RIA document and response form has already commented that the unprecedented level of response has meant that analysis of responses is likely to continue into the Spring of 2007. This in itself makes the implementation of the proposal in 2008 unlikely.

There is no planned public consultation for the Full RIA (contrary to what we were originally told by the CAA) but as a result of the unprecedented public concerns all air sport governing bodies hope and expect to be further consulted during analysis of the partial RIA responses and the drafting of the full RIA.

In common with other air sport associations should we not be further engaged in consultation and the Full RIA recommendations be against obvious public opinion then the possibility of a Judicial Review will be explored.


Partial RIA

For those members wishing to review please see the Partial RIA.

BHPA Airspace Panel
30 August 2006

Page last updated: 07 June 2019