In UK we had our annual indoor show on December 1st-2nd and BMAA also have their AGM.
BMAA now have CAA approval to handle design approval for amateur built aeroplanes in the VLA/ LSA category, in addition to those in the microlight category. First one is nearly through the system – the Best Off Nynja, at 500kg MTOW.
Hitting the headlines recently is our first UK aircraft BRS deployment – albeit in France! (flying back from Blois) – the pilot gives a very frank account of what lead to this, which might make useful educational reading for all EMF pilots: link
With the year coming to an end and accounts being closed for BMAA trading year for the AGM, its a time to reflect on the year. The economic situation is biting quite hard now on microlight sales in UK – a record low for new machines this year. However microlight schools are doing better than GA ones, and still have students coming through, and microlight pilots license issue numbers are holding steady. A change has been a noticeable shift from sole ownership of aircraft to shared ownership – a reflection of the economic situation, and also that microlights have become more capable – but much more expensive over the last decade!
We are negotiating with our CAA for detail changes to our single seater sub115kg category (a category which doesn’t require design or production approval) -extension to empty weight for electric aircraft batteries, and BRS carriage. This has been agreed in principle, but negotiations are ongoing – with CAA wanting to extend the 10kg/square meter empty wing loading to include these items, and us wanting them outside it, so existing designs won’t be excluded from benefitting from the proposed changes (and we won’t be frightened too much if the wind blows a bit!).
Big news is a material issue for P&M aviation Flexwings. There have been problems with Kevlar reinforcing strips suffering from UV degradation (yes we do get sun here sometimes!), with a previous in flight failure leading to a service bulletin, and then another recently in Ireland, which has lead to a reissue with a higher test value. This has lead to a lot of aircraft falling the test and being grounded subject to a fairly costly repair with new material. Bad news for P&M in these tough commercial times, and bad news for owners: link
Its important owners in other countries – maybe those that don’t have a formal system for conveying service bulletins, and maybe where machines have changed hands and owners aren’t known to P&M, get to see this bulletin.
The issue of sailcloth degradation and the real possibilty of in flight failure if machine is stored badly or is getting old, and owner doesn’t take the threat seriously, is maybe a good one to remind all our pilots.