6th February 2021
On 6th February the BMPA held its first Zoom meeting. It proved to be a great success with 45 members attending. We had four excellent speakers who were all highly informative and provoked lively discussion. There was something for everyone; not only did we learn from the main speakers but members of the ‘audience’ provided much new information during the discussion periods from which everyone gained.
Captain Nils Jamieson.
Capt. Jamieson; Regional Safety Officer, GASCo and 737 captain with Jet2.com. “Saving Lives in GA through Education. Flying safely on low hours”. The Covid pandemic has restricted flying for everyone during 2020. He emphasised the need to maintain levels of skill and how this, as well as currency, has been made more difficult during the lockdowns. Increasing one’s capability means, among other things, thorough pre-flight preparation. Reduced capability leads to increasing stress levels, especially when faced with an unusual or emergency situation which can lead to tragic circumstances. The concept of Threat and Error Management (TEM) already current in the aviation industry, is now coming into General Aviation.
Chief Executive AOPA, UK. Martin Robinson spoke eloquently on the problems associated with Covid-19 and EU Brexit as it affects aviation. He referred to possible price increases due to customs charges when buying from the EU. There will be significant changes in our aviation relationship with Europe and not all of these are known yet. For example, there has yet to be a formal agreement concerning EASA licences although there is hope for a bilateral agreement. In connection with the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System (EGNOS), the UK government is currently unwilling to pay for its continuing development. Also, traffic management issues relating to the massive increase in drone aviation by government, commercial organisations and private individuals will have to be resolved.
Head of training at LAC Flying School at Barton Aerodrome, Manchester. During the periods of full lockdown due to the Covid pandemic, all flight training had to cease. Some training was able to proceed during parts of 2020 but only with severe restrictions. Some precautions that were suggested were manifestly impracticable, e.g. the erection of perspex screens between student and flight instructor and full, deep cleaning of the aircraft between flights. In the event, some flight training was able to be maintained with precautions such as the preparation and use of pre-flight videos, controlled access to the school, recording of body temperatures, etc. Facemasks or visors have been introduced for all flights and it has become the instructors’ responsibility to ensure that all seats, door handles, the control column, etc. are wiped down with disinfectant between flights. One of the worst aspects of the current situation has been the disruption of the school’s social environment; the restriction of camaraderie brought about by, for example, not being able to visit the tower, or to celebrate a student’s first flight or gaining their PPL.
Dr. Michael Trudgill
Chief Medical Officer, CAA. Dr. Trudgill gave an overview of the timeline of the Covid pandemic from the first two cases in the UK in January 2020. At that time there were three flights per week from Wuhan in China that brought in around 2,000 passengers in two weeks. By early February 2020 the first death of a UK resident had occurred (from a cruise ship off Japan) and the first case was reported in the UK in a person who had not been abroad. Early March saw the first UK death but before the first full lockdown was imposed on 23rd March, a number of large public events had taken place, e.g. the Cheltenham Festival on 10th-13th. Dr. Trudgill concluded his talk by examining many of the current issues concerning the CAA in connection with aviation medicals, for example the extension of the period of validity of medicals and the fact that this was not acceptable for pilots flying into some countries (e.g. China). The issue of ‘Covid Passports’ for people who had been vaccinated was discussed.
All in all this was a very successful meeting, expertly chaired by the President, Prof. Jonathan Brown. Of course we had to put up with our own home environments and we missed the exquisite surroundings of the RAF Club in Piccadilly as well as the social aspects of its bar and the sumptuous dinner that the Club normally lays on for us – maybe next year (?).