February and March are traditionally the Spring months that we all talk about airshows and dream of the summer.
2012 was no exception with the European Airshow Council (EAC) Convention kicking off the talking season in Brussels. The theme this year was ‘Safety First – Don’t reinvent the wheel’, with legendary key-note speakers such as South African Des Barker who has done a lot of work analyzing airshow accidents, Ian Sheeley and Roger Beazley from UK and Mikael Carlson from Sweden who spoke the lessons learnt following his Tri-plane accident.
Back in UK, the CAA organised Seminars for both Display Pilots and Display Evaluators (DAE). The DAE Seminar, hosted at RNAS Yeovilton was attended by Guy Westgate and concentrated initially on the HM Coroners court’s recommendations following an airshow fatality in 2010. The Coroner focused on both the pilot and the Display Industry’s regulation/supervision processes. Although the recommendations were well meaning, many, if implemented would strangle the existing highly effective regulation process provided by the Nation’s band of volunteer DAEs. The CAA will respond accordingly.
Matthew Hill, Flight Operations Inspectorate, General Aviation (CAA) reported that CAP 403, the airshow bible, will be re-issued in 2 separate parts, (A) Air displays and (B) Special Events – to include guidance on Fly-Ins, Air Rallies. Matthew also stated that SRG 1303, the CAA form to renew and upgrade a pilot’s Display Authorisation will be expanded to elicit more information about evaluation flights.
The Display Pilot meeting was held a week later at RFC Rendcomb, and attended by team members Ian Gallacher and Paul Holdnal. The subjects included an update on the airspace around the London 2012 Olympics, the Weather Consultancy Services and a lecture by the Royal Navy about Ditching and Sea survival.
The best meeting was however saved to last, the inaugural AGM of the British Air Display Association (BADA) and was attended by team members Guy Westgate and Paul Johnson. The AGM concluded with several awards, the most poignant being the ‘Lifetime Recognition Awards’, presented to airshow legends Brian Lewis, Ray Thilthorpe and the late Jock Maitland. We have had the pleasure of flying for all of these airshow giants, who have between them crafted UK’s airshow industry and made it what it is today.
After lunch, Dr David Stevenson from the RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine gave a fascinating lecture on the effects of Fatigue. (the irony of his slot time, immediately after lunch was not lost on the audience). He highlighted the effects of the body’s natural circadian rhythms, with a low point at 14:00 and 03:00 and concluded that individuals are differently susceptible to the effects of Fatigue, and people who were more susceptible and made lots of errors (lapses of attentiveness during skill based tasks) described the same feelings of being tired and needed the same sleep as those who made few errors due fatigue, so just ‘how tired do you feel?’ is not a good test to asses the risks of lack of sleep. Some people cope with fatigue better than others!
He also highlighted the need to manage rest, to ensure that the short and long-term effects of fatigue could be managed to reduce the risks.
Roll on the summer!