May 2019

In this month’s edition:

  • New Listening Squawk Card Published
  • Down on the farm 13 – This month April 2019
  • Home-made Human Carrying Drones: Should the LAA Recognise a New Category?
  • Want to build an RV6?
  • Duxford General Aviation Safety Day
  • Airspace4All Publish analysis of Mid-Air Collision Risk

New Listening Squawk Card Published

There are now 24 listening squawks (Frequency Monitoring Transponder Codes) spread around the country.  So if you really don’t want to talk to ATC for a basic service (other services are available), or can’t ’cause the RT is too constant, using the code and monitoring the frequency may give you a sliver of ‘keep out of trouble’ backup.  From the NATS presentation at the GASCo Safety Day, even if you don’t have a transponder, monitoring the frequency when in the area may give the controller a chance of contacting you by reference to location to resolve an airspace bust before things get out of hand.

A new card listing the squawks and a (IMHO more useful) map can be downloaded for printing from:

Down on the farm 13 – This month April 2019

Klemm L25C G-ACXE

We have the valve timing done now and are working on all drives that are connected to the Magneto drives. The engine has 2 separate magnetos which feed 2 distributors. The oil pump and tacho drives also come off of this system. We are fitting lip seals where we can and of course new bearings throughout. Valve springs are still a stumbling block as Francis Donaldson will only loan some springs so we would rather have new ones if possible but at the prices, it might be more sensible to have some in tolerance used ones.

Aeroexpro Friedrichshafen

Amphibian on the lake outside

Richard Acton and myself decide to visit the show and flew down to Zurich from Gatwick, caught the train to Lake Constance and then a ferry to Friedrichshafen.

AutoflightX: Not flown yet, has 9 lift props and 1 horx prop

There were a few new bits and pieces but it did not seem as many as before.  I went to the Bristell stand (BRMAERO) to see Milan Bristella the owner and designer of the Bristell brand (he was a fan of the brand) and he showed us his new 750kg plane. This particular plane was an electric-powered version which has a flight time of 60+20 minutes with a recharge time of 30 minutes, which I think would be very practical as an hour of intensive instruction for a student pilot is enough and then 30 minutes of ground school or tea and toilet break works well. The new 750kg plane has the longer wingspan of the first demo plane we brought across and has uprated wings fuselage longeron’s, undercarriage legs and the tail and horizontal plane have been moved apart. It has the same cabin as the NG5 that we are selling at present.  He is also in the middle of building and testing a new high wing version and this he hopes will be ready next year.

The cockpit of the electric 750kg version of the Bristell

We also visited the Kaspar stand to chat to the designer and owner. I wanted to check if Francis had dropped by on the Wednesday to look at the props and quiz him about the APC unit (automatic Propeller control).  He had a working demo unit on the stand.  I have been trying to get approval to test a new 2 bladed prop and APC unit on G-NGAA since January and thank goodness their conversation was successful as when I spoke to Francis on the Monday after the show he gave me permission to fit it and ground test.  We are now waiting for a test permit.

Richard, your editor asked me to take some pictures of the new Horten, it looked good but there was not much info on it which regards to performance, stability etc.

For those who want to build an 80% Mustang or Spitfire etc there was a very nice V12 from Norway based on the BMW block.

Also from Norway next door was a guy who does beautiful Rotax tuning bits but he had another unit on display which for the motorcyclists among you was based on the R1 Yamaha engine.  I looked into doing something similar many years ago but decided it did not lend itself to this type of conversion as the drive from the crankshaft came off of the centre of the crank to reduce torsional stresses but Yamaha have produced a version for snowmobiles which take the drive off of the end of the crank which makes it very easy (5 valve per cylinder).

Power is from 150 to 300hp from a 1000cc engine

On the last day we visited the Dornier Museum on the airport sight before we took our rental car back and flew back direct to Gatwick.  Museum visit write-up will be in next months letter.

Tony Palmer

Home-made Human Carrying Drones: Should the LAA Recognise a New Category?

The internet seems to be awash with videos of home-made human carrying drones, e.g. the example above (you have to wonder about the choice of location for the first test flight though).  It seems reminiscent of the Flying Flea mania of the 1930’s.  We certainly had an interesting presentation on camera carrying unmanned drones by Paul Cave back in June 2014, however I have yet to see any mention of this phenomena in the LAA magazine.  Is this something we should take an interest in, or should we ignore it and hope it goes away?

Want to build an RV6?

From Don Lord:  There is flying at Swanborough a new RV6, built by Steve who imported the kit which was one of a pair, so if any one is looking for a new untouched RV6 kit email: steve at (replace ‘ at ‘ with @).

Duxford General Aviation Safety Day

The Imperial War Museum Duxford hosted the first National GA Safety Day on Saturday 27 April. Landings and admission to the museum was to be free for attendees flying in. Steve Hutt intended to take advantage of this and invited me to sit in the right-hand seat. However on the day, storm Hannah made her presence felt and prudence dictated driving there instead.  As befits a safety day, entry was still free for previously booked air-travellers weathered off. The airfield was pretty empty, so not many, if any at all flew in, but plenty made it by other means. Hannah also put paid to the lunchtime flying display.

The event was held in the ‘Conservation Hangar’; an enormous toy-box containing a Sunderland flying boat, Avro Vulcan, prototype Concord, DH Comet, TSR2 and many, many more iconic aircraft.  One end is reserved for exhibitions where the Safety Day stands were set out. All of the usual suspects were there, over forty in total. The presentations were given in the mezzanine floor Marshall Room, and that was where I spent most of the day. There were six sessions in all and I managed to catch five.  Here are some very brief notes:

Session 2: Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) and safety technology.  Speaker: James Forbes from Trig Avionic.

A useful overview and discussion of the technology and its issues. Certified ADS-B kit has been mandated for all aircraft in the USA, causing a substantial number of airframes to be retired due to cost. The UK currently is taking a different route, but it looks like ADS-B is the way to go. A particular issue is the safety integrity level (SIL) rating of the GPS source. Uncertificated low SIL rated equipment will be ignored by some surveillance systems, e.g. TACAS. Trig makes it easy to link their transponders to third-party GPS sources; other manufacturers less so.

Session 3: The controllers perspective on infringements.  Speaker: Representative from National Air Traffic Services (NATS).

Being an air traffic controller is not for everyone. According to the presenter, of 5,000 who apply for the job, only 50 make it through selection and training, i.e. 1%!  It obviously needs a very particular mindset. The objective of the presentation was to get us to appreciate just what that is.

A number of radar display scenarios were presented and the audience challenged as to “what would you do?” The rules require known traffic in controlled airspace to be separated by 3 NM horizontally and 1,000 ft vertically.  When an uncontrolled intruder is present, traffic must be kept 3 NM horizontally and 3,000 ft vertically from them, and given that the controller has no idea what the intruder is going to do, this is challenging. Even ‘minor’ altitude busts cause big issues. This is particularly the case in London control zones where multiple arriving and departing traffic is separated by less than a minute. If separation is lost, the controller is suspended pending an investigation. It can impact their career and they have a mortgage to pay.

The takeaway message was: “Take two”. Plan to keep a buffer of 2 NM and 200 ft from controlled airspace.

Session 4: The work of APPG-GA on General Aviation.  Speaker: Grant Shapps MP

You may have noticed that I’ve been putting snippets of news about the activities of the All Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation in the newsletter.  I’ve been impressed by their activity, so it was particularly interesting to see them in the flesh. Whilst Grant Shapps wears the wrong party colour for me, to give the devil his due, he has been very successful in growing the APPG, now the largest such group in Parliament. (perhaps by exercising more pragmatism and compromise than some in his party).

The particular issues he addressed were: VAT on commercial pilot training, protection of airfields, and aviation as a promoter of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). He characterised VAT on training as uniquely unfair, and a bar to inclusivity in the commercial pilot population, where as he put it, the captain’s in-flight announcement always sounds as if it is coming from someone like him. The group is working to change this.

With regard to airfields under pressure from housing, he admitted to failing when he was housing minister. He has now been making representations to the current housing minister, and changes have already been made to national planning policy.  He stressed that simple solutions (e.g. declare all airfields to be green-field) given the complexities of planning regulation, would be counter productive, citing developments at Rochester as an example.  APPG-GA are also pressing for a ‘church-bells’ status for airfields, so that someone moving in next door can’t invoke noise legislation to close them down.

As to promotion of STEM, he celebrated both SkyDemon and PilotAware as innovative and entrepreneurial technology companies rooted in the UK aviation sector.  The Government still has a stated objective of “making the United Kingdom the best country in the world for General Aviation, and to stimulate interest in the sector.”

Session 5: GASCo Safety Breakfast.  Speaker: Representative from General Aviation Safety Council (GASCo).

This presentation was—well—odd. The set-up consisted of laying a table with a chintz tablecloth and one of the presenters donning a cook’s apron. Also little keypads were handed out for feedback during the presentation. They then acted out a scenario of a pre-flight breakfast in an airfield greasy spoon, where the participants discussed the GASCo Safety Evening one of them had been to recently; a dramatic device worthy of Alan Bennett.  Best line was when discussing the biggest cause of death amongst GA pilots and the cook suggested ‘diet’.

Session 6: Distress and Diversion.  Speaker: Two Flight Sargents from the D&D Cell at Swanwick.

Always good to see the face behind the voice on RT, and these two came across as solid, reliable chaps. They showed pictures of the D&D Cell set-up at Swanwick and it looked impressive, if confusing. They worked through some scenarios showing how radio triangulation worked, and how it could be enhanced by radar. Triangulation has some limitations: up to 40 NM from Heathrow you need to be above 2,000 ft, elsewhere above 3,000 ft and Wales and Scotland above 8,500 ft. They mentioned use of 0030 squawk if lost, and to make sure you don’t accidentally put in an extra 7 when selecting general conspicuity as 7700 invites a fly-by from a Tornado.

To retain currency, each D&D controller has to do at least three real or practice pan’s a month, so at least 69 to satisfy all controllers; more if trainees are involved. So they actively invite—and like—practice pans.

Overall, good use of a windy Saturday. I’d certainly go again.

Richard Griffiths

Airspace4All Publish analysis of Mid-Air Collision Risk

Probably not for bedtime reading, Airspace4All has updated the previous (now 4 years old) analysis of mid-air collisions in the UK.  The 8 page report, ‘Mid-Air Collisions: An Evidence-Based Analysis of Risk – 1975 to 2018’ analyses data on the 101 collisions, involving 83 fatalities occurring during that period.

Amongst the conclusions is “Geographically, the highest risk to all aircraft is close to airfields and launch sites towards the south of England.” Perhaps no surprise there, but it certainly makes it particularly pertinent to us.  The potential for risk mitigation through the use of conspicuity devices should be informed by this research.

The report can be downloaded from:


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