The Board of EBF has been quite active in 2022; we will of course give more details during our next General Assembly in spring, but as the year begins, we would like to share our activities with you.
- EASA Season Opener:
In January we started with the EASA’s Season Opener. The preparations started in January with discussions with EASA and the Member States to make sure our presentation would be in line with the other GA presentations. The final presentation was on March 21st and was followed online by more than 200 balloonists from all over the EU. In April we had a debriefing and concluded that in 2023 we should make some improvements and make sure more balloonists participate.
- AERO Friedrichshafen:
In late April we were present at the AERO Friedrichshafen (at no cost to EBF) and were part of several presentations of EASA.
- General Assembly:
On May 10th we presented our work and plans at the EBF Board meeting. The minutes have been sent to all members, and can be found on the Website.
- June 30th EASA meetings:
We participated in an EASA meeting on several topics: Electronic Conspicuity, U-space. Part 66 licencing for balloon engineers, flying in Natura 2000 areas.
- Meeting with drones industry, and U-space issues:
On October 6th we had a meeting with the drone industry representatives to discuss the future. Our position toward drones and U-space is that we welcome newcomers to the airspace but that they need to be aware of us and not limit our freedom to fly. We are a strong supporter of electronic visibility by drones and other air mobile systems, but we should not be confronted with any new requirements for investments in equipment. We have supported solutions such as Safesky, which is an simple App on your phone that makes you electronically visible to other airspace users.
EASA has now published the new Drone rules and regulations (https://www.easa.europa.eu/en/document-library/easy-access-rules/online-publications/easy-access-rules-unmanned-aircraft-systems ), which gives us a good insight of the future of drones and other Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). This legislation is however not for Manned Drones.
The main achievement is that the introduction of U Space (Airspace for drones and where we must be electronically visible (Electronically Conspicuous)) from January 26th 2023 (see SERA 6005c: https://www.easa.europa.eu/en/document-library/easy-access-rules/online-publications/easy-access-rules-standardised-european?page=13 ) will be postponed in most countries for maybe a year and the EASA advice is not to have U Space above 500 feet. We will keep you updated on this topic
- New EASA team, and strategic issues:
In October 16-17-18th we have participated in a meeting with EASA to discuss issues that are problematic to us and get to know the new EASA team. Dominique Roland has retired and Boudewijn Deuss has also retired. Both were very much involved in ballooning and advocates of our interests. The new Team now is Vladimir Foltin (GA Roadmap Champion) and Alain Leroy (Heading up the GA Team) We have had the opportunity to discuss all topics that are now on our agenda with them. We are a member of the EASA GA TeB, (General Aviation advisory member states group) and General Aviation Com group, which are very strategic groups, where a lot of lobbying can be done. We have participated in the meeting of the 5 and 6thof December. Here again we discussed the Part 66 requirements. We were asked to propose a solution that is workable for the ballooning community. This now being prepared.
We also had the opportunity to meet with the legal expert and have reserved time for an update of Part BOP and BFCL if required.
Another topic of interest may be the development of an Electronic Operations Manual based on Web Manuals. This may in future be something for all members to use. This is still work in Progress.
So, as you see, there was a lot of work. It is not easy to communicate very often, as topics run generally for several months, and EASA demands discretion. All this work has been done by a very small number of people in our Board (mainly Karel Abbenes, our Vice President and Paul Spellward, Secretary General), and we would like to be better organised in 2023, so that other members can take responsibilities and be part of the working groups.
Please let us know wether you would like to help and participate in one or several tasks. The whole Board wishes you a very happy 2023, with lots of safe flights!
Karel Abbenes, Jan Andersen, Patricia Lamy, Paul Spellward