A week or so ago I went to a press conference at EASA. The invitation said that the subject would be 'A better regulation for GA' with about half-an-hour set aside for a brief presentation, which would be followed by some lunch and a Q&A session. It struck me that half-an-hour wasn't long to cover both EASA's efforts so far and their plans for the future.
Once inside the building, I was shown to EASA's reception where I chatted for a while with other European aviation journos while we watched everyone in the meeting room waiting for us in an office on the other side of the atrium and one floor down. There seemed to be an issue with letting them know we were all somewhere else; somewhat unkindly I found myself muttering something about drinks parties and breweries.
We were eventually taken to the room and introduced to eight or so EASA employees responsible for looking after different aspects of GA. Eric Sivel started by explaining that of EASA's 500 employees, 100 had PPLs and so they were well aware of the issues facing GA. He went on to say that back in 2004 he and others had realised that GA needed help, and that something had to be done to give it a boost and make it sustainable. I just about muffled a scream at this point. I seemed to be experiencing life in a parallel universe.
Sivel went on to describe how MDM.032 was about to achieve great things, and that the LAPL (Light Aircraft Pilots Licence) was also a very good thing. He accepted that there was much work still to be done, and that by engaging with EASA we could all help move things in the right direction for GA.
At this point I didn't know what to think, part of me was glad they realised how much still had to be done, and part of me was scared about them doing it.
Eventually the time came for a few questions. In no particular order...
Q. When ELA1 comes about, what will the weight limit be, 1,000kg or 1,200kg?
Q. What the f**k were you thinking when you brought in Part M? Costs have increased, confusion reigns and there are lots of things that are mandated now, but were recommended before.
A. Err, well, err if you use Part M properly it should cost you no more. Not only is LAMS allowed (even though the CAA say it won't be) but many of the things that some authorities claim as mandatory are in fact recommended. Not all owners, maintenance organisations, CAMOs or National Aviation Authorities are the same, or apply the rules in the same way.
Q. Part FCL. Why are there all sorts of dumb things in here like the revalidation rules for example?
A. The revalidation rules are simple for the LAPL
Q. What about the PPL
A. Ah, well, not out fault. We had to adopt a lot of the stuff from the JAA.
In general , the impression I got was...
1. The LAPL is seen as the recreational licence for Europe.
2. There's not a great deal of uniformity in the way in which regulations are interpreted or applied.
3. If you want to save money, understand the system yourself and be prepared for a fight.
4. EASA staff do not fully understand how unpopular they are.
I'm digging into a few things that were said, and will report back...
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