By Thomas A. Horne
But there has been much confusion. The new rules have been understood in many different ways—many of them incorrect—and rumors abound. In an effort to clear the air, so to speak, EASA called a press conference that sounded a conciliatory tone. Entitled “Better Regulations for GA,” EASA’s presentation emphasized that each of the European Union’s 27 participating nations have the opportunity to temporarily opt out of applying the new rules. Turns out that “temporary” has several meanings. Stick with me here, because we’re about to tread—lightly—upon EASA’s massive bureaucratic landscape.
First comes the “20-day rule,” which kicked in the day after April 8. As I understand it, the original April 8 rules don’t really take effect until these magical 20 days pass. Then it’s official—unless a member nation decides to opt out of adopting the rules, in which case it has until April 8, 2013, to fall in line. This time frame gives pilots an extra year to take the tests and otherwise comply with the new rules.
But wait—there’s another opt-out period for those nations wanting to participate. This one applies to what EASA calls LAPLs (light airplane licenses—the kind you and I possess). This opt-out period lasts until April 8, 2015, and gives general aviation pilots two years to comply. Airline pilots both domestic and foreign are not affected by the new rules, by the way; they have their own sets of rules.
Here’s the kicker: EASA admits that it doesn’t know who has already opted out under the 20-day or two-year grace period provisions. “We haven’t had time to assess the situation,” an EASA official said. “It’s too soon.” So yet another deadline applies for declaring an opt-out either by April 8, 2013, or April 8, 2015. This declaration to opt for the opt-outs kicks in on June 8, 2012. “Then we’ll know who has opted out,” EASA said.
Clear as mud? I feel your pain. But the bottom line is that it will be quite some time before the new rules are official, with the exact time depending on which date a member nation has chosen as an opt-out period. You can thank the European AOPAs for all these delays. “If this keeps up,” one official of a European AOPA said, “we’ll be able to keep putting off this rule based on the increasingly negative feedback we’re voicing to EASA. EASA says this is all to improve safety. But we tell them, how do you measure this? And why is there such conviction that simply adding more oppressive rules will translate into a safer flying environment?”
Last but not least, there’s been great concern that those with U.S. pilot certificates will not be able to fly in Europe without going through the hoops and earning the new certificate. Not so, according to those in the know. The prevailing interpretation is that the new rules apply only to those “domiciled” in the European Union. In other words, those holding European citizenship or holding European passports. So if you’re an American planning on flying your airplane to Europe for a vacation, go right ahead. Living in a hotel room or renting a house in Europe doesn’t make you a European citizen.
Besides, EASA hasn’t established a means to enforce the new rules yet—for any type of citizen. Or any type of pilot for that matter. Neither has it published any handbooks, learning standards, or teaching materials that address the new certification rules. So until these new rules gel—and it looks like that will be later rather than sooner—the status quo will prevail. Unless a nation fails to opt out of one of the opt-out grace periods, that is. Stay tuned for news on any future developments and clarifications of what promises to be a monumental saga of rulemaking for rulemaking’s sake.
Suomen Moottorilentäjien Liitto – AOPA Finland, was founded in November 2011 to promote, serve and represent Finnish General Aviation community. General aviation today continues to face complex issues that could impact its activity.
AOPA represents and promotes members interests to the Government, The Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi), European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA), EU Commission, Eurocontrol and Finavia.
IAOPA Europe speaks for all European AOPA’s. Its voice is strong and its views are respected. AOPA transcends sectorial interests to speak for the whole of GA. No other Finland GA Organisation has this level of access.
Effective lobbying is very expensive, and becoming increasingly so. Current membership fees, both Individual and Corporate, go a long way to meeting these costs, but we are fighting against the current rising costs and increasing regulatory change proposals that have to be covered from the earliest proposal to the final implementation and review.
It would be a shame if we had to “ration” our limited resources and fail to effectively consider and respond to change, missing a vital change that is wormed in at a late stage in consultation.
Your membership of AOPA Finland will help us to keep working to:
- Protect your pilot privileges
- Preserve your freedom to fly
- Combat increases in your costs
- Remove unnecessary regulations and restrictions
- Improve aviation safety
- Protect aerodromes
- Fight for your rights
- Improve General Aviation’s image and awareness
- Make our members better pilots
AOPA’s work benefits ALL of GA regardless of whether or not you are a member. There are over 7 900 civil pilot license holders in Finland, yet there is only a core of them as AOPA Finland members. By joining, you will help AOPA support GA. Additionally, AOPA Finland is solely run by volunteers who give their time freely to benefit all of us.
AOPA Finland is neither Goverment subsidised nor dependant organisation, membership fees and donations are our only income, which will be used as efficiently as possible to benefit all members.
Being a member of US AOPA and receiving their magazine “AOPA Pilot” does not make you a member of AOPA Finland. Your AOPA US membership cannot help you with Finnish and European issues or provide you with any of the services.
Facts about General Aviation in Finland
At the end of 2011, there were following resources in Finnish General Aviation;
- 7 900 licensed civil pilots
- 2 100 licensed instrument-rated pilots
- 700 active general aviation/aerial work aircrafts
- 330 microlight or ultralight aircrafts
- 10 very light aircraft or light sport aircrafts
Looking back on 15 years as secretary general of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations, John Sheehan stands in admiration at how much ground its 69 countries’ pilot organizations have covered over time.
“They are coming of age around the world,” he said. Consider Europe. Its 27 aircraft owner and pilot associations “used to be bystanders in the regulatory process. They had no credibility, no representation. They just took what they got.” Not anymore. “They have become a real powerhouse in determining their own destinies,” http://www.aopa.org/advocacy/articles/2012/120410sheehan-world-aopas-coming-of-age.html
Sunny Nights Fly-In 2012 will be held during 28th of June – 1st of July 2012 (Thursday-Sunday) at Pudasjärvi airfield (EFPU).
Our internet pages are currently under construction.
The EASA Management Board members agreed that a different rulemaking approach is required for GA. The members recognised the importance of a vibrant GA activity in the context of economic sustainability, as reflected in the European Parliament Resolution. There was a recognition that this sustainability applies not only to pilots and aircraft owners, but also to the many small enterprises across Europe that rely upon GA for their economic existence.