There hasn’t been much flying this winter thanks to almost constant gales and rain, but that doesn’t impede the political and regulatory machine trying complicate gliding for us.
The long anticipated Farnborough Airspace has now come into operation. As well as blocks of Class D near Lasham which put some good thermal hot spots out of bounds and make a final glide back to Parham more difficult, there are also some areas of Class E+TMZ quite close to us. This means that even for some relatively local flights you will need to brush up on the rules for class E, the use of transponders, and how to listen or speak to Farnborough on your radio. We will give some briefings on this at the club to make sure you know what to do. In the mean time here are the highlights as I understand them.
Class E –You can fly VFR as long as you remain 1,000’ below cloud and 1,500m clear horizontally. Visibility should be 5 km. This is the same as class G above 3,000’, but we cannot fly IFR in Class E without ATC approval.
TMZ – you must have a transponder, if you don’t, theoretically you might get approval by contacting ATC. If you have a transponder, either set the squawk to 7000 as a VFR flight, or a listening squawk 4572 if you are monitoring Farnborough’s frequency, 125.250.
Our advice might change a bit if we sign a letter of agreement with Farnborough.
Sailplane Pilot License
The EASA saga continues. EASA has been working on its Flight Crew Licensing regime for a long time. The European Gliding Union first challenged the proposed FCL regime in 2004, pointing out that the differences between gliding and jet airliners were probably greater than the similarities. The deadline for transitioning to EASA glider pilot licenses has been pushed back several times resulting in a total delay of about 9 years so far. However, after a massive effort by the BGA, a new Sailplane Pilots License has been agreed with EASA that fits more closely with the way we actually operate. The new Sailplane Pilot’s License is going to be available from April, and everybody who intends to fly an EASA glider should have converted by April 2021. As recently as a few days ago, that was the clear and definite advice of the BGA, as everything was finally sorted out. Certainty of a sort had finally been achieved.
On 6 March the Minister of Transport announced that it was the government’s intention to leave EASA by December 2020 as they didn’t like the idea of foreigners telling us what to do. They would prefer to reemploy the Whitehall mandarins of yesteryear to do that. This will be a little tricky as there are not many people left at the CAA, but don’t worry, most of the experts at EASA are British so they can come back home.