Thursday, 6 May 2010

EBACE 2010

EBACE 2010 looks like being a huge success, at least in terms of numbers. The second biggest ever in terms of attendance they say.

It's a strange show in what to many is a strange industry. The sector is driven by people who will pay HUGE sums of money to get somewhere on their terms, in stratospheric levels of comfort and in a relatively short time. The halls are filled with people in suits, some of them kindly bringing along their attractive nieces, most of them keeping their hands well and truly on their wallets.

There was a lot of positive talk. Sales people trying their best to talk up their prospects, senior managers searching for the smallest signs of the beginning of a recovery and the organisers talking up the entire industry.

Of course the bears were there too - Richard Aboulafia spoke of a recovery delayed until 2019, and other observers, while being less pessimistic, were talking about stagnant sales for a year or so. We'll see how 2010 kicked off when GAMA releases its first quarter numbers next week.
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Monday, 3 May 2010

Wet, wet, wet

We were all going to fly to the Badminton Horse Trials yesterday. Unusually the TAF matched the METARs and the weather early on could only be described as pants. Rain, drizzle and a cloud base of between 200' and 500' at Lyneham.

The TAF had promised a clearance of sorts, but one of the conditions of landing at Badminton is that you are on the ground by 10.50. If the weather was working to the same timetable as the forecasters we would have just had time to fly - if it was a bit late we would have to set off late in the car.

In the end I decided not to bank on the accuracy of the TAF and we drove, missing the obvious - if it is too wet to fly, then it is too wet to spend the day watching horses jump over things and too cold to be wandering around a muddy outdoor department store.


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Sunday, 2 May 2010

Reading the brief

I decided to fly to the Popham Microlight Trade Fair. The weather was OK and set to improve, and as it's only a few minutes away by air I'd be there early enough to avoid the busiest arrival times.

I read the notes on Popham's website and set off. As far as 'instructions' go they're pretty simple, certainly nothing like the multi-page AICs that you used to get for the PFA/LAA Rally. I've copied one of the key paragraphs here.

When you call up all we want hear is Call-sign, Aircraft type, and where you are, e.g. “G-CCYR, is a C42 microlight, 4 miles north for joining instructions”. Do NOT use “understand we are using blah, blah, blah, QFE blah, blah” because a) you might NOT have understood, or b) the information might have changed. If you have the numbers then don’t ask for further joining instructions! By all means call “G-YR downwind” but do not call “number three”, downwind”, as you might not be able to see everyone in front of you! If you are baulked then go-around and do not argue on the radio – we all make mistakes!

Like the paragraph says, we all make mistakes, and I'm not a fan of criticising other pilots, but I was surprised by how many people flying in hadn't read the above. I reckon only about 10% of the traffic came close to meeting Popham's request. The poor guy on the radio (who I thought was doing an excellent job) was spending a lot of time asking supplementary questions - "what type, where are you, registration etc."

The departure experience was similar with a lot of stuff being repeated several times.

It all worked out in the end. The experience was a good one, the organisation efficient and the show worth visiting, at least for a few hours but I'm still left wondering why a lot of people just don't bother to brief themselves before flying in somewhere like this.