Tuesday, 31 August 2010

In Days Of Olde, When Knights Were Bold.....

Well not quite that long ago, more recently in fact. Just generations ago it was the right of anyone in this country to pursue their own interests and hobbies, whatever they were, reasonably uninterrupted too much by overbearing officialdom. Yes there were certain 'rules', compliance with which was obligatory, but those 'rules' were decided by our own authorities. One of the hobbies some people have is flying, be that by means of a light aircraft, glider or microlight.

Until a few years ago anyone wanting to fly a conventional light aircraft (whether factory or home built) had to have a Private Pilots Licence (PPL) which required a medical examination and ECG and had to be carried out by a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) authorised Aero Medical Examiner (AME). The PPL allows a pilot to fly under Visual Flight Rules  (VFR), or with additional training, at night and under Instrument Flight Rules  (IFR), ie what ever the weather. On the other hand glider and microlight pilots are limited to Visual Flight Rules  (VFR), and only require a medical disclaimer signed by their GP. Many years lobbying persuaded the CAA to introduce the National Private Pilots Licence (NPPL), which allows people to fly, who may not be able to pass the full medical examination, but only by day under Visual Flight Rules  (VFR).

The NPPL can also be used by those who are fully fit, but simply do not want the full privileges of a PPL. Now both new glider and microlight pilots must obtain a NPPL. Currently all kit/home built and some factory built aircraft below certain maximum weights can be flown on the NPPL licence, but are not allowed to operate under IFR or at night, even if suitably equipped. This system has allowed a lot of people to either become pilots, or continue to fly, who would otherwise not have been able to, and is credited with helping to keep many small airfields and clubs operational, and injecting extra money in to their local economies.

Enter the EU. (Yup, 'trouble' ahead!).

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) - who would dearly love to take over from national bodies like the CAA - are proposing to establish a Light Aircraft Pilots Licence (LAPL) modelled on the NPPL and including a medical which was a declaration much like the current UK system that benefits all aficionados of flying. Originally the EASA proposed that the declaration could either be oversigned by either a GP who had access to an applicant's medical records or who has aeromedical training (essentially an AME) in those member states that do not have a GP system like the UK.

Following a 'consultation' process the EASA revised the rules to change the 'or' to 'and', so that throughout the EU the declaration can only be signed by a person who is a GP who has access to your medical records and who has aeromedical training. The new rule can be found here and the changes from the original proposal can be seen by viewing Subpart D GMPs. The inflated requirement for the examination can be seen by scrolling to the bottom of the EASA documents where hidden under 'information' is the LAPL examination form and medical certificate.

A number of points arise:

1. There are not enough AMEs in the UK to examine the 15,000 approx (including 7,000 glider pilots) who could no longer use a GP medical declaration.

2. This change to the rules would appear to be protectionism by and for the AMEs - and protectionism is contrary to EU law. It is also disproportionate, again contrary to EU law.

3. To my knowledge the EASA has not presented any evidence that the declaration by an ordinary GP is unsafe.

4. A system that has worked perfectly well, with no safety issues, is about to be scrapped - by just one word being changed - by a body that is not accountable to us.

Now the idea of strapping myself to what looks like a bastardized bicycle frame with a propeller added - or a plane without an engine - is not my idea of fun, however I believe those that wish to do so, should be so able.

It is also a matter of contention that we are supposed to be a free people and that we have a choice how we live our lives - especially without interference from others over whom we have no control - whether that be at home, work or play!


pop said...

Private medical based monopolies are what gives the US medical system such a poor reputation.

Giving a monopoly like this to a small group will undoubtedly encourage them to support the EU, but at the price of our freedom.

Once the majority have been bribed in this way to support 'the powers that be' - I am not sure I can afford the taxes to pay for them.

Chuckles said...

A constant occurrence in the aviation world, the late eighties and nineties were full of similar idiocies, this time ably assisted by the EU bureaucrats.
Usual result is 'licence tourism' to somewhere with reciprocal agreements.
I'd have to say, I wouldn't wish an aviation medical on anyone, let alone on such flimsy pretext.

john in cheshire said...

WfW, as I have said on your reports of other atrocities being perpetrated by the socialist EU, I despair at what is being done to us. This is more of the ' if we don't authorise it, you are not allowed to do it' syndrome of the European, socialist mentality. Why won't someone from our country come to the fore and defend us. We need another war leader.