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BHPA statement – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In these times of difficulty, the BHPA acknowledges that our schools and instructors are part of the life blood of the sport. Without new pilots the sport would waste away and die. It is therefore imperative that the BHPA offers the maximum support to the schools and their instructors right now. Some of us were involved during the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001 and I am pleased to say that this time round we believe we are able to offer even more support than we did back then.

Before I set out what we plan to do, one of the difficulties we face, is not knowing how long the shutdown will last.  It could be the 3 months suggested by the Prime Minister, it could be much longer. Just for the purposes of a working hypothesis we have planned for a 6 month shutdown, with provisions to be made in the event that it is shorter. If it turns out to be longer, we will revisit the hypothesis and change our plans.

Exec has agreed that the following measures can be put in with immediate effect.

School Fees

    - Schools that are due to pay their renewal fee of £400 from now on during the shutdown can defer paying anything until the shut down is finished and they start teaching again.

    - For ease of administration, we do not intend to change a school's renewal date, so when a school eventually renews and starts teaching again, it will pay a proportion of the £400 depending on the number of months left in its membership year. So if you were due to renew on 1 April 2020, and the shutdown ends in September and you start teaching again from 1 October 2020, your renewal fee will be £200 for the remaining 6 months. (Assuming a wonderful Autumn !)

    - If you have already renewed we will give you a discount on next year's renewal - equal in cash to the discount allowed to those schools who were due to renew in the next few months. This highlights the problem of not knowing when it will all be over, since we don't know how long this will go on for, at this stage we don't know how much of the value of your last renewal has been lost.

Individual Instructor Renewals

    - All Instructor Supplements will be waived for this calendar year (2020). If you have already renewed your membership and licences in 2020, you can seek a refund of your supplement. You will temporarily lose your Licences and revert to a full flying membership.

    - Licences will be automatically returned if you start teaching again within a 6 month window with no need to show currency or competence, so long as you have retained your full annual membership during the period.

Tandem Licences (Non Instructors)

    - On your next renewal, Tandem Licences will be renewed automatically, whether or not you have achieved the normal currency requirements, again so long as you remain a full annual member in the interim.

Finally, new members joining the BHPA for the first time as annual members before the shutdown, in anticipation of undertaking their first training course, that has now been disrupted by the shutdown, will have their membership extended by 6 months at no cost to allow them to undertake the training next year if necessary. Please contact the office with confirmation of your booking on a course.

We should emphasise that during the shutdown, if your licence has lapsed or been suspended - you are not insured to undertake any of the licensed activities - so if your instructor licence has lapsed - you cannot teach students who would otherwise require an instructor.

We do not intend to make any reductions for normal full flying members. We would emphasise that if we are to survive this period we need everyone to renew as normal and provide the cash flow to support our schools. Once all this has passed, with all the waivers etc, BHPA reserves are going to be seriously reduced. We hope not to have to make any of our staff redundant and plan to use the government schemes to keep them all employed. However, it is inevitable that some of the Tech Staff and Office staff will be furloughed and cease to work for us during the shut down. We hope that we will be able to deploy them as usual once the crisis passes. Members who delay their renewal simply enhance the risk that our staff who have worked for us for so long, face redundancy. We must all pull together at this time. My own membership renews on 1 April 2020 so I feel your pain !

Should you need to contact us during this shutdown, the office phone is diverting to the mobile phones of those office staff who are not furloughed. The BHPA Office email accounts are being monitored and dealt with. For the Tech Staff, Mark Shaw is the first point of contact. Snail mail post is being dealt with.

Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman, March 30th 2020

Posted: 30 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey


BHPA OFFICE CLOSURE

Due to the current coronavirus pandemic the BHPA's Leicester office is closed until further notice.

The BHPA staff team are working from home and can be contacted by e-mail at the usual addresses.

The team can be also contacted by phone at the usual number but e-mail is preferred for routine enquiries.

These changes will remain in place for the foreseeable future; any alteration to these arrangements will be posted here.

Posted: 24 March 2020
By: Joe Schofield


BHPA online shop closed

With the BHPA office now closed, and staff working from home, it will no longer be possible to despatch anything ordered through our online shop.

We have therefore reluctantly decided to close our shop until further notice.

Posted: 24 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey


BHPA statement – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This advice is being written on 24 March 2020. Over the previous week the BHPA has sought to preserve the ability to fly of those pilots who could safely and sensibly do so whilst remaining within the Government guidelines.

The Prime Minister's statement at 20.30 last night has made it clear that we are essentially in lock down. Our efforts to keep the door ajar for a few pilots have therefore come to an end. There is no way that BHPA Exec. can support the concept that any travel in order to go flying is in any way necessary.

Many clubs have closed their sites and we require members to abide by these closures. The BHPA centrally has always maintained that the clubs know what is best in their locality, and this is perhaps the most important time for us to abide by that belief. Please follow the Government guidelines and stay at home.

The BHPA Office is now closed and those staff who can work from home are doing so. The Association itself is like many of our hang gliding and paragliding small enterprises, entirely reliant for its existence on people participating in our sports. There will be difficult times ahead. We will be supporting our staff in the same way as the other SMEs by accessing any Government schemes open to us. Should you wish to contact the office, the phones are being manned remotely and the staff have remote access to our database and emails.

Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman, March 24th 2020

Posted: 24 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey


BHPA statement - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

As I wrote in our statement published just 5 days ago on 18 March 2020, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents us with a fast-moving situation.

I am therefore issuing this update on our previous advice. This should be regarded as being in addition to the previous advice and not in substitution of it.

Unusually, I would comment that the contents of this statement were agreed by a small majority of the BHPA Executive Council.  There was a significant minority in favour of recommending a complete ban on flying, rightly pointing out that travel to any flying site would constitute 'unnecessary travel' in contravention of the government guidelines.

The recommendations of the Government's medical advisors, and those of the Welsh and Scottish Governments, remain that people should stay fit and get out and about whilst maintaining social distancing.
 
Who could ever have expected that, in the face of government advice to avoid unnecessary travel, over the last weekend Snowdonia would experience its busiest day ever! Many other areas such as the Lake District and seaside resorts were also extremely busy.
 
As a result, the National Trust, who have previously closed its indoor properties and allowed free access to its parks, has now closed all access to its parks and gardens. Many of its car parks are also closed.
 
Whilst all the British airsports associations recognise the possible poor public perception of us being seen to have fun flying and possibly having accidents, only British Skydiving ( formerly the British Parachute Association ) has recommended a cessation of activities. The latter is hardly surprising given the 'minibus' nature of many of their jump aircraft and the difficulties of maintaining 2 metres separation from a tandem student.
 
The CAA has not given any advice in relation to General Aviation.
 
The British Mountaineering Council highlights Government advice but does not recommend staying off the mountains or hills. British Cycling has cancelled organised events but advocates individual cycling; the British Horse Society has, overnight, reversed its recommendation that centres should close.
 
At this stage, there is little evidence that the medical services are so overwhelmed that a single unnecessary accident would be untreatable. However, it is clear that many of the Mountain Rescue groups, upon whom we often rely, are not equipped with the necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to deal with a Coronavirus-infected casualty and so their advice is to stay off the hills and mountains.

The problem for the BHPA in issuing a single statement of advice is that we cover such a wide range of sports and locations. These range from paraglider pilots gathering en masse on extremely busy hill sites, to individual or very small groups of paraglider pilots flying on remote coastal hillsides, to tow groups where the pilots lands back at take-off, and on to powered pilots flying from airstrips or private fields over remote and deserted areas such as moorlands and beaches. There are also a significant number of pilots, mostly powered paraglider pilots, who are not BHPA members and who may choose not to follow any BHPA recommendations ad who are statistically more likely to have serious accidents.

Decisions are therefore best made by individual pilots who know their personal circumstances, or, if it involves access to sites under a local agreement, clubs.

We would generally recommend that:
 
• Pilots should only fly when they are fit and well.

• Pilots should maintain social distancing whilst on the ground.

• Pilots may consider that attempting to fly in places where significant numbers of members of the public have gathered is not sensible.

• Pilots may consider that gathering together in large numbers on particular sites may be detrimental to the sport generally, simply due to our visibility.

• Pilots should bear in mind that flying where the local Mountain Rescue team would have to turn out in the event of an accident, it is likely to attract seriously adverse publicity generated by that Mountain Rescue team.

At this stage, the BHPA is not issuing a general recommendation not to fly to all pilots who fall within our remit. We would recommend that pilots bear in mind the above issues when deciding to fly or not. We would also ask pilots to bear in mind that the issues that affect their group of pilots, for instance hill launched HG Pilots, may have a much lesser effect on another group of pilots, such as tow launched parascending pilots.

We anticipate that it may well be necessary to further update this advice in the future.

Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman

23 March 2020.

 

Posted: 23 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey


BHPA statement - Coronavirus (COVID-19)

British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association What does the current Coronavirus pandemic mean for free flying in the UK?

The BHPA takes take the health and wellbeing of its members, clubs and volunteers very seriously and we are following Government and NHS guidance very closely.

Following the latest Government advice we urge everyone to follow best practice to minimise risk. We recommend BHPA clubs to cancel any planned group activities and trips, and advise all BHPA members not to take part in indoor group activities such as repacks and theory sessions until further notice.

We're not saying that all your flying activity needs to stop. Flying itself is a fairly solitary activity and we recommend those who wish to carry on flying to do so, but to minimise your risk and your interactions with other pilots. It might also be wise to avoid using sites where the public presence is high. Staying fit and active is one way to combat ill health generally.

If you do fly, and are planning to fly XC, please pre-plan your retrieve. It might not be wise to use public transport or to jam into a car with 4 other pilots.

Above all, the guiding principle should be common sense. Stay safe, look out for yourself and each other, and keep abreast of developments. This is a fast-moving situation so keep up to date with any updates on the BHPA website and on the BHPA Facebook page.

Marc Asquith, BHPA Chairman, March 18th 2020

Posted: 18 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey


Flying in Greece

The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority advise us that BHPA members wishing to fly in Greece must contact them (d2d@hcaa.gr) in advance, and the Hellenic Aeronautical & Airsports Federation (hrelaoinfo@elao.gr), in order to be updated about the National Regulations and the locations where flying can take place.

Posted: 17 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey


Pandemic reactions

In the light of the coronavirus pandemic the DHV have recommended that their members reduce their flying activities and follow all national and local government advice; German towing and tandem operations have been suspended along with buses to take-off areas.

The FFVL have recommended that French clubs interrupt all activities and cancel or postpone scheduled events or competitions.

The Norwegian CAA have suspended all unnecessary VFR flights in controlled or uncontrolled airspace.

Considered advice would be to abandon plans to travel to these countries or anywhere else until the situation improves. It's almost certain that BHPA pilots have already drawn this conclusion without this information.

Posted: 17 March 2020
By: Paul Dancey


Skywings news last updated: 30 March 2020 at 05:35:20 PM

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