In this edition:
- Miles Aircraft Fly-in
- Sun N Fun 2018 from our States-side correspondent Paul Reilly
- Popham Microlight Show
- Minister for Transport Commissions a ‘Study into a Strategic Network of UK Aerodromes’: That’s good right? Opinion piece from the editor, Richard Griffiths
- The Britain from Above Project
- Down on the Farm #3 with a report on a visit to Friedrichshafen by Tony Palmer
- Small Ads
Miles Aircraft Fly-in
Sun N Fun 2018
So with a day off work from my project in South Carolina I took the opportunity to hop in the car for 7 hour drive south to Lakeland Florida for the 2018 Sun N Fun show. I only had time for a day visit so I had to cram a lot in a short trip and given I have been a few times before I knew the layout to save some time. On the whole there was not a lot new to see at the show this year and visitor numbers were about the same as my previous visits, it was a Saturday and this is a tourist day attracting locals to the air show. The number of aircraft in the field seemed light but with weather planned for Sunday it was expected.
So what did I see that was new…
Full Torque Tactical Propulsion – Is a company focused on engine performance enhancements There first product is a ground and in-flight adjustable propeller. This is a prop manufactured in the Ukraine under the name SR-Prop and has a variety of props with different hubs that have a polyurethane leading edge rather than a nickel one. The units look well-made and very light and mostly suitable for a Rotax 912 but do fit other solutions. The props are being used on UAVs and are new to the light sport market. The prices do look on par but suspect they are marked up for the US market, the SR-Prop contact maybe cheaper. https://www.full-torque.com/
Saw an odd plane – No idea what it was and couldn’t get close enough to see the registration but it looks like a radial experimental, probably a little heavy for an LSA
Spectr-Aero SP30 – LSA – This is another aircraft that is a clone of a Zenair 701 from Russia. The fuselage skin has much heavier corrugations but is fitted with a Rotax motor. Didn’t speak to them but details can be found on an Australian site http://www.russian-aircraft.com/
Sterna Prop – Another prop company… This one is a US company although it seemed to be run / sold by a Chinese team (No Picture). The have a good selection of props of different shapes and sizes all of which appear to be good quality. http://sterna-propeller.h931.000pc.net/products/info10.html
Just Aircraft Superlite – from the guys who have been working on the Escapade in the US for years and then the Superstol the have a Part 103 (USA SSDR Equivalent) and looked very similar to the Airbike on sale here in the UK. https://justaircraft.com/just-103/
A scaled Corsair F4U – Pretty looking little thing but suspect there is no wing-fold. It appears to be a few years old and equipped with an O-320 but was good to see something different.
Just before the evening air show the announcer directed us to look east where we could see an Altas V rocket taking-off from Cape Canaveral. While it was some distance away it was a special moment as they played Elton John’s Rocketman.
Popham Microlight Show
Minister for Transport Commissions a ‘Study into a Strategic Network of UK Aerodromes’: That’s good right?
Many fairy-tales have the plot line: be careful of what you wish for as it may not turn out as expected. Well, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation have wished: for airfields to be considered an important part of national infrastructure. They’ve had an initial, apparent, success by getting a letter out of The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government that included the statement:
“it is important to ensure that we balance the economic contribution of the general aviation sector with housing and commercial priorities, and that we identify exactly how this contribution is delivered, and what constitutes the critical infrastructure that is necessary to deliver them”. [APPG-GA website]
So far so good; the parlous state of UK airfields is on the agenda – but who’s agenda? Well, it turns out the buck has been passed to Department for Transport (DFT), who in time-honoured tradition have set up a ‘Study into a Strategic Network of UK Aerodromes’ and appointed consultants (York Aviation) to carry it out. Anyone with experience of the working of bureaucracies, commercial or governmental, will likely experience the sensation of hair-raising on the back of the neck at the mention of consultants. They are the shock troops used to defeat corporate consensus and impose ‘rationalisation’, for good or ill. Essentially they will do what their master bids, as expressed in their terms of reference. In this case to:
- summarise and spilt between private and the various types of commercial users, the main socio-economic benefits to the UK economy and the UK public, from having a strategic network of GA aerodromes;
- following the above, to identify a series of evaluation criteria that could be used to assess the current and future strategic importance of a UK aerodrome in relation to the various types of GA;
- to apply these criteria so as to create a UK wide database from which a network can be generated, and to recommend what the optimal UK strategic network would be and recommend how and by whom the network can be reviewed and kept up to date in line with changes in aerodrome use and capacity in future years. [York Aviation website]
It is interesting to compare these with the ‘terms of reference’ for the 1963 Beeching Report: ‘Reshaping of British Railways’. They are expressed less formally, as a quotation from Harold Macmillan 1960; they wrote things differently then.
- “First, the industry must be of a size and pattern suited to modern conditions and prospects. In particular, the railway system must be modelled to meet current needs, and the modernisation plan must be adapted to this new shape” [ Beeching 1963 p.1]
- “It is, of course the responsibility of the British Railways Board so to shape and operate the railways as to make them pay.” [ Ibid. p.2]
Well, we know how that turned out. A narrow focus on the economics of running the railway produced recommendations with little regard for the wider social impact of massively reducing transport options in whole swathes of the country, and a profound lack of imagination about future transport developments (albeit only so obvious in hindsight).
Despite the different language (and subject) these terms don’t seem so different. In the new study terms there is use of the phrase “socio-economic benefits”. However, the second and third terms make it clear that the intention is to shrink the UK’s aerodromes to an ‘optimal’ network, a similar intent to the second part of the Beeching Report: ‘The Development of the Major Railway Trunk Routes‘; shrink them until they pay!
Of course the analogy between UK airfields and railways is not perfect. Airfields are privately owned and not part of a heavily subsidised nationalised industry (though despite all the changes to ownership of the railways, they’re still heavily subsidised). It has been argued that the motivation to reduce the railways was to support the road construction industry (the Transport Minister at the time, Ernest Marples made his fortune in road construction). So what is driving the airfields review?
Airfields are substantial parcels of easily developed land. They are essentially large, flat, well-drained (for the most part), green-field sites. However since the fateful change to a footnote in the National Planning Policy Framework, they’ve been designated brown-field and hence fair-game for re-development. This is something that corporate developers were not slow to pick up on, with canny ones buying and closing airfields (Manston is an example). Never mind that they often lack transport access and infrastructure to support the hundreds of households who will be encouraged to set up there. Housing is just a numbers game; both in the vast wealth to be made by individuals and corporations exploiting a real need, and politicians bigging up the numbers of houses built on their watch.
So if your favourite aerodrome doesn’t make it on to the ‘UK wide database’, you will eventually say good-bye to it under housing.
Addressing housing need seems very difficult to argue against. As the parent of Millennial generation young adults, I’m in no doubt that the UK has a housing problem. However, building on airfields may be a lazy solution – and not even a solution.
It is difficult to put numbers to the housing crises (well it’s certainly difficult to Google for them). The problems of accommodation vary across the country depending on economic prospects and demographic profiles. Housing is needed where people, for economic and social reasons want to live, and be affordable either for rent or purchase. Gross numbers of houses vs. population does not really characterise the problem. The sort of developments that ex-airfields could support would be for a very specific population demographic. Building ‘executive-home’ estates in essentially rural locations are unlikely to help working 30’somethings wanting to start a family. But politicians deal in gross numbers: “we’re going to build X new homes a year” where X is some significant fraction of a million more than the rival politician. Where building on airfields seems like an easy win, that has to be challenged.
If we don’t want aerodromes to go the way of the stations in Flanders and Swann’s ‘Slow Train’, then we are going to have to come up with some convincing arguments. Else a narrow economically justified transport network consisting of Biggin, Farnbrough and a few other places where a Lear Jet can be parked will be what we are left with.
The only way to change this outcome is for the alphabet-spaghetti organisation that represent GA (including the LAA) to force the wider socio benefits to be taken seriously, and the economic benefits not be related just to transport.
There was a previous Government report relevant to this in 2015: ‘Economic impact of general aviation in the UK ‘ (also produced by York Aviation). This is the one that came up with the widely reported hooray finding that:
“The total economic impact of GA on the UK economy is around £3.0 billion of Gross Value Added (GVA) and supports in excess of 38,000 jobs” [‘General aviation economic research study: summary of key findings‘, 2015, slide 2]
However, remember the words in the first term of the new study: “… spilt between private and the various types of commercial users …”? Breaking down the figures may not favour our corner of GA. The 2015 report did address the ‘socio-economic’ aspects of recreational GA, but came up with rather lukewarm findings:
“There could also be benefits that arise from GA flying in terms of enhancing quality of life and the physical and mental wellbeing of participants as they pursue their GA flying activity. The sporting activities undertaken by some sub-sectors of GA flying also form part of the wider socio-economic benefits of sporting activity generally. However, these impacts cannot sensibly be quantified.” [Ibid. slide 3]
There has got to be more to say than recreational flying might improve pilots mental health! Your suggestions for what this might be will make an interesting future article. Please use the comment box below.
You can support the APPG-GA proposals for changes to the National Planning Policy Framework here:generalaviationappg.uk/nppf/
The Britain from Above Project
As people who like looking down on the scenery of the UK, here is a website that may interest you. Britain from Above was a four-year project that conserved 95,000 of the oldest photographs in the Aerofilms collection, dating from 1919 to 1953. They have been scanned and are now available online at: britainfromabove.org.uk
That’s my house down there!!
Down on the Farm #3
This month 04.18:-
Bristell NG5 G-NGAA progress report.
This is moving on, the fuselage has been painted; the engine has had the oil added and has been purged. The wings have gone for painting. The instrument panel has been installed. The new Kaspar hydraulically controlled inflight propeller has been installed. We have gone for the electrically operated unit on this one whereas G-NGII has the hand Vernier type controller. The LAA are exhibiting on the public days at the Farnborough airshow this year and BristellUK will supporting them by displaying in the tent, do come along on the Saturday or Sunday and support the LAA.
Klemm L25C G-ACXE,
The pistons have gone away to be machined to fit the new set of oversize piston rings. When the parts were Magnafluxed it was found that the small herringbone reduction gear had some small defects on the teeth which was probably due to corrosion, we have located another within the Pobjoy community. One of the halves of the crankshaft also has an issue and might have to be polished or possibly replaced. We will be getting a new set of exhaust valves made as the shanks were worn and we intend machining up a new set of exhaust valve guides.
At 3.30am I woke up and showed, eat breakfast and was out of the house by 4.20am on my way to pick up Dave Scott from his house and then onwards to Farry’s in Crawley. Farry’s good lady Yvonne drove us to the airport where we went through security and met Richard Acton at the gate for our 07.10 Easyjet flight to Zurich. We arrived at Zurich and purchased tickets for the rail trip and boat crossing to Friedrichshafen. We could have got the train right around lake Constance but thought it might be quite pleasant to have a boat ride and it turned out to be a decision. It was the first time that any of us had been on a double-decker train so we rode upstairs for the view and the experience: it was all very clean and easy. Off the train and a 2 minute walk to the boat which we waited about 15 mins for. It was a double fronted ferry in that the vehicles drove off and the vehicles going over with us drove on facing the way we were going and the ferry never turned around.
Once in Germany we jumped on a bus to the airport to pick up our hire car and drove to the show. We brought parking tickets for the three days, parked up and went into the show. That evening we went to one of the parties in the hall and had some free drink before heading off for our Hotel. The Hotel was situated about 45 mins away and we had no idea what it was going to be like: it was great and so was the town and surroundings. We had a fairly expensive meal in the hotel, Farry went to bed as he had a painful foot and the rest of us went exploring. The town had so old walls dating back to about 1484 and the “Sea front” ie Lakeside was very pleasant with lines of cafes and bars all overlooking the lake, during the day you could have boat rides to various destinations.
The next day we turn up at the show and park in a different car park and the attendant dismisses our pre brought tickets and demands that we buy another and that’s when the fun begins. Farry then had to earn his keep with his prowess in the German language and had a verbal discourse with the park attendant and then his boss and they backed down. What fun we have!!
That evening we went back to the hotel and had a lovely meal sitting in a café overlooking the lake and then a stroll along the promenade with an ice cream. Life is not bad!!
More show and then take the car back to the airport and a trouble-free flight from Friedrichshafen to Gatwick.
The following is some exhibits that I found interesting. You can get a bigger image by clicking on the picture:-
Is anyone interested in a share in a microlight? This would be with a fairly basic, cheap to run microlight group, hopefully based on a strip in mid Sussex.
Please get in touch to discuss: Paul Cave 07850 314379.
The General Data Protection Regulation and YOU!
This will affect you – so please read on: There are new European regulations on the holding of personal data coming in to force on 25 May 2018. In the light of the Facebook and other data scandals coming to light, this can only be a good thing. However, it means that the Strut mailing list must be renewed by that date. We have to have positive permission from you to hold your email address.
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