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DfT Issues New Guidance on Leisure Flying

The Dft has issued new guidance that indicates that “flying for non-professional purposes for solo pilots, or individuals flying with a member of their household or bubble” will be permitted from Monday 29th March. Until that time, flying for leisure purposed is not permitted under Government lockdown regulations.

The DfT guidance also states that as Phase 2: “No earlier than 12 April. Flight training for all pilots, and flights with an instructor, can resume. GA businesses will be able to open following COVID-Secure guidance. The rules on social contact will apply in these settings. Outdoor gatherings must still be limited to 6 people or 2 households, and no indoor mixing will be allowed.”

The full guidance is available here.

The LAA welcomes the DfT advice. We have been making the case to DfT in past weeks, pointing out that unlike other sports, there is a genuine safety case for pilots to access continuity flying as early as possible. Therefore, even 29th March represents a delay which has a potential adverse safety implication.

In addition, unlike driving on a road, many already qualified pilots will benefit from currency training from instructors and pilot coaches. This should be available from the resumption of flying, on safety grounds. It is also noteworthy that a significant proportion of this pilot population is older and will almost all have been inoculated.  The pilot population should be treated as having entirely different demographics and risk factors to those seeking driving tuition.

We’ve also made the case that The term 'private flying' does not mean that restrictions damage just the recency of pilots, in itself a safety critical issue. Airfields large and small are losing valuable operational revenue, fuel isn’t being sold (and indeed may need to be discarded due to age) maintenance is delayed , inspections delayed and there are a myriad of other income streams normally enjoyed by all of the organisations that underpin ‘Private Flying’.

It is an inescapable consequence of the above that some of those who have invested in the industry will go out of business/give up and potentially yet more airfields will be sold for housing. In many cases, the demographic of light aircraft maintainers, inspectors and airfield owners preclude any form of government income support. The industry has been outstanding in its restraint so far and hopefully it hasn’t escaped the attention of the SoS that we have not immediately held out the begging bowl for support, unlike some other sectors of the aviation industry.

Light Aircraft Association

2nd March 2021

Photography (mostly) Neil Wilson

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