Ian Seager


With Ian Seager


The good, the bad and the ugly (again)

The world of GA has no shortage of ups and downs. Don’t get me going on CAA and the ‘famous Rule 11’. Nor the disappearing airfields. But, let’s park ‘despair’. The ups are, well, on the up – and FLYER has them sorted aplenty…

General Aviation’s a mixed bag at times, and this past couple of weeks has provided another illustration of the highs, lows and frustrations of this amazing experience we share, one way or another. 

For reasons of sanity, and in the hope of leaving everyone (myself included) with a more positive outlook, I’m going to get the ugly out of the way first…

The CAA has been updating its Safety Sense Leaflets (SSLs) of late. It has made good steady progress, and frankly, for such an oft maligned organisation, the refreshed and renewed SSLs have been pretty bloody good. Free from both convoluted legalese and patronising tone, they’re well worth 20 minutes of anyone’s time, and are freely downloadable here

The latest refresh concerns Radiotelephony, and while it has been put together just as well as the others, the CAA has missed a golden opportunity to add some pragmatism along with a hefty dose of reality to its treatment of the famous Rule 11.

I know I’ve been banging on about this for years now, but the official and written CAA advice is bloody dangerous, does NOTHING whatsoever to add to safety, situational awareness and stubbornly exists for reasons that nobody has managed to explain. 

I don’t have the space to go into it in detail here, but basically, Rule 11 insists that you tell the AFISO you’re talking to when you enter an ATZ giving your height and location, EVEN if you have already established two way comms with the FISO.

Should the frequency be busy (and we all know that can happen when the sun shines, or when there’s an event) the CAA’s written advice is to orbit outside of the ATZ while waiting to get a word in.

That damages everyone’s situational awareness (including the FISO), and potentially results in multiple aircraft orbiting outside of the ATZ. Come on CAA, stop stubbornly digging your heels in, stop trying to defend the indefensible and sort it out. 

Now we move to the bad. And this week the all too familiar story of disappearing airfields gets another chapter.

Rougham, a great little airfield about 30nm north-east of Stansted, served notice to all residents, asking them to leave by the end of May. Similarly, developers are looking at building up to 1,600 new homes on Tollerton (Nottingham) Airport.

There are some great airfield stories around, and thankfully a huge number of private strips, many of which are available for use with the appropriate PPR and etiquette, but it’s hard to ignore yet another cut. 

But it’s not all bad. In fact, there’s really a huge amount that is good. We’ve recently had a cracking couple of interviews on FLYER’s Thursday night Livestream.

We spoke to Kate West MBE who at 26 became the world’s youngest female commercial airline pilot Captain, and a couple of weeks later we spoke to Pilot Bambi, a massively enthusiastic 25-year-old CPL who’s done a huge amount of flying, including a recent ferry flight of the Sling High Wing (see our review and video) from The Netherlands to South Africa. You can catch up with both on FLYER’s YouTube channel. 

For the last couple of years I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to help judge the annual Pooley’s Dawn to Dusk competition. In its 59th year, the Objective of Dawn to Dusk is to ‘encourage the most interesting employment of a Flying Machine within the limits of competent airmanship and to demonstrate the capabilities of pilot and machine in a day’s flying, in the hours between Dawn and Dusk, whilst undertaking an original and praiseworthy objective’. 

The competition generates some really inspirational flights and serves as a great reminder that General Aviation offers almost limitless opportunity for travel, adventure and discovery, with some entries brilliantly demonstrating that you can find all three right on your doorstep (or should that be threshold?) if you look carefully enough. 

With next year being the 60th anniversary of the competition, may I suggest taking a look at the website and having a crack at an entry yourself? 

Right, it looks like the fog is lifting, I think I may pop out for a quick flight…


1 comment

  • Russ says:

    I think you have two different parts of Rule 11 mixed up there Ian.. there’s only a requirement to stay outside the ATZ if you haven’t already established 2 way comms which doesn’t seem entirely unreasonable, not many pilots would think wandering into an ATZ without speaking to the controller was a good idea.

    The second issue about announcing entering and leaving the ATZ is separate (and doesn’t require orbiting if you can’t get the call in).. I disagree about not improving situational awareness – Personally I think it massively increases situational awareness, I want to know where to look for other aircraft as I enter.. once we’ve run into each other in the overhead or both tried to join downwind from different directions at the same time it’s too late.. and leaving tells arriving aircraft where to look..

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