Representation and Consultation
As the UK governing body of gliding, the BGA has a significant responsibility in representing the interests of gliding clubs and their member glider pilots. Government agencies and departments that the BGA regularly engage with in the course of our work include DfT, DCMS, EASA and UK CAA.
The BGA position taken on any given topic is agreed with the elected Executive Committee and is as discussed and consulted from time to time with member clubs. The BGA Strategy identifies the current priorities. BGA consultation with member club officials takes the form of pre-arranged and ad hoc direct contact , surveys, and written requests for views. Formal votes where required are taken at an AGM or EGM.
To achieve its aims, the BGA works within wider organisations, including;
- In the UK, the Royal Aero Club (RAeC) and the GA Alliance (GAA)
- Outside the UK, Europe Air Sports (EAS), the European Gliding Union (EGU), and the FAI International Gliding Commission (IGC)
The BGA is represented within numerous other organisations and working groups in the UK and wider on a variety of important topics including safety, electronic conspicuity, airspace infringements, gliding operations rules, gliding licencing rules, outdoor sport, airfield protection, etc.
We are always looking for members of BGA clubs who have an interest in helping the BGA with its representation work. If you are interested, please get in touch with a member of the BGA Executive Committee or the BGA CEO for a no obligation chat!
One of the greatest challenges to gliding and other forms of recreational aviation in the next few years is maintaining reasonable access to airspace. The BGA recognises the need to fully protect the public who are travelling in commercial air transport aircraft. The BGA does not automatically oppose all airspace change proposals – each is carefully considered on its merits. Within the UK, the growth of commercial aviation, speculative commercial interests and the way airspace is regulated presents a multitude of issues. As a consequence, BGA airspace work is increasing resulting in a significant load on both BGA and GAA volunteers.
The UK’s lower airspace can be politely described as a highly segregated mess that doesn’t actually work very well for any users and is heavily slanted in favour of commercial aviation. If someone, usually an airport or air traffic control provider (the ‘sponsor’), wants to request a permanent change to UK airspace design, they must submit an airspace change proposal to the CAA. Any such proposal will go through the airspace change process, which requires a series of stages to be completed before it is submitted to CAA for a decision. There is no requirement for the airspace change to be integrated within a wider airspace plan. There is no plan. The CAA chooses not to intervene with airspace design and instead adopts a binary approach, ie to accept or reject proposals submitted to it. Most airspace change proposals are staffed by NATS and other commercial consultants (many of whom are former CAA employees). The proposers assertions are usually accepted by the CAA without challenge. The process is neither transparent nor independently audited.
There are volumes of controlled airspace that are no longer used by commercial air transport and should be returned to uncontrolled status. However, the airports and ANSP’s don’t want to spend the money needed to reclassify the airspace. As noted above, CAA do not want to get involved. Desegregation should be possible as electronic conspicuity opportunities evolve – but only if the commercial operators who currently control airspace can be persuaded to change as the technology matures.
To ensure that the needs of all airspace users are reasonably met and to restore balance, the BGA believes that the way lower airspace is designed and managed needs to change. A strategic approach needs to be adopted in partnership with all users, with a more assertive CAA directing how the UK’s scarce airspace is allocated.
The Future Airspace VFR Implementation Group (FASVIG) is a funded workstream within the Future Airspace Strategy. Whilst the FASVIG does not represent BGA, it works with BGA (and others) in establishing the needs of non-IFR activity within UK airspace within FAS planning. The FASVIG website is available here.
The FASVIG has identified VFR Significant Areas – you can view the FASVIG VSA publication here.
EASA is the European aviation safety agency. EASA is responsible for ensuring standardised aviation safety regulation – including for gliding. Over many years, the BGA and EGU have worked closely to minimise the impact of EASA regulation on gliding. That work continues.
CAA is the UK civil aviation authority responsible for ensuring EASA regulation is standardised in the UK and for regulating non-EASA aviation as well as the UK’s airspace (see Airspace). The CAA has a General Aviation Unit (GAU) which manages the oversight of GA but is not involved in regulating airspace. The BGA engages with the GAU on a regular basis, including through formal meetings of the GA Partnership (GAP).
UK government strategy and regulation is constantly evolving. Aviation regulatory changes are ongoing, and more recently Brexit has become dominant. BGA is engaged with GAA colleagues in responding to the related strategic issues. Domestic issues such as planning and sport-related development are ongoing. Again, the BGA works closely with others, including the Sport and Recreation Alliance (S&RA).
All Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG GA)
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on General Aviation (APPG GA) promotes the objective – as set out by British Government – of making the United Kingdom the best country in the world for General Aviation, and to stimulate interest in the sector. Their goal is to ensure that General Aviation inspires both current and future generations to take up science, technology, engineering and mathematics, thereby creating high-tech jobs and growth in all nations and regions of our economy. In order to achieve this objective, the APPG GA believes that a network of General Aviation airfields must be protected and enhanced by the government. The APPG GA is also turning its attentions to airspace and taxation issues.
Gliding is primarily impacted by European aviation regulation (see EASA). However, occasional consultations outside of the aviation regulation domain are relevant and responsed to either by BGA or through EAS.