British paragliding and hang gliding under threat

A spring day on classic English paragliding and hang gliding site Combe Gibbet in early March 2010. Under the proposed rules this would be banned. Photograph: Ed Ewing

A spring day on classic English paragliding and hang gliding site Combe Gibbet in early March 2010. Under the proposed rules this would be banned. Photograph: Ed Ewing

British paragliding and hang gliding pilots are being urged to act quickly if they want to save their freedom to fly.

A letter from the chairman of the British Hang and Paragliding Association (BHPA), Martin Heywood, has been sent to every member warning them of European legislation that will have a, “massive detrimental impact on our ability to go and fly”.

It warns that under the proposed legislation, which is aimed at creating a ‘one-sky’ policy across Europe, soaring flight will effectively be banned.

It adds that the deadline to protest is very short – and closes in mid-April. The BHPA has asked all members to act, by first reading the proposal online, and then filing a response, either by mail or email.

Headlined Standardised European Rules of the Air the letter says:

“Hang gliding and paragliding is once again under serious threat. Eurocontrol, the ‘European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation’ has produced for consultation its draft version of its proposed Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA).

Whilst the aim of having one single set of Rules of the Air that applies right across Europe may seem attractive, unfortunately whoever has written the draft has clearly not given a single thought to hang gliders and paragliders.

Some of the proposed rules will have a massive detrimental impact on our ability to go and fly. (E.g. 4.6 bans flight below 500 feet – so ridge soaring will be effectively outlawed!)

Unfortunately, the consultation period is very short, hence this email direct to each member.

The BHPA will submit a response and the EHPU is also submitting a response both directly and through Europe Airsports. But we feel that Eurocontrol should also get a feel for the strength of our feelings on this matter – and therefore ask each of you to make your own response to Eurocontrol.

Depending upon the outcome of this consultation, we always have the alternatives of going down the political (MEP etc) route. But at this stage we just want members to complete and return consultation response sheets.”

The BHPA wants all members to:

1. Go to this Eurocontrol webpage and download a copy of each of the four consultation documents.

2. Refer to the document attached to this email entitled ‘BHPA Comments on SERA Draft – V 1.0

3. Choose some of the points outlined and, in your own words, complete the ‘Consultation Response Sheet – Enclosure 3’ that you downloaded. Ideally you should express dissatisfaction with the SERA proposals along the lines of ‘the current safe, entirely legal activity would be made illegal by this change’. (The BHPA response will suggest alternate wordings – and it may be counter-productive if you try to create ‘in your own words’ alternatives to our proposals.)

4. Please email us any further issues that you identify in the proposal, for possible inclusion in the BHPA’s final submission. Use the subject line SERA.

5. Send your completed comments to Eurocontrol before the closing date of 12 April 2010 to:

SES Mandate Manager SERA
Rue de la Fusée, 96
B-1130 Brussels, Belgium
email to
Fax to +322 729 5190

The deadline for responses is 12 April 2010.

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