Dear Members,

Even in difficult times there are occasions for celebration: our European umbrella organisation European Cockpit Association (ECA) has turned 30 this year. ECA has been representing the common interests of European pilots on the Brussels stage for a long time with great commitment and success with a great team. For this, on behalf of the entire VC Executive Board, a heartfelt thank you - keep up the good work!

At the ECA General Assembly at the end of November, we were able to celebrate the anniversary on site in Brussels together with the representatives of other associations. One topic stood out: the challenges related to the EU's climate targets. On the one hand, this is a huge technical task for the industry and the airlines. We need profound innovations in aircraft design and technology and much more efficient processes. Unfortunately, there is still too much room for improvement, especially in Europe. Let me mention the still very fragmented "Single European Sky", to name just one issue.

Maria-Pascaline Murtha
Director International Affairs

On the other hand, in addition to technical innovations, it is of fundamental importance for an effective climate policy that internationally operating airlines are regulated with uniform international regimes. Anything else leads to carbon leakage, the shifting of emissions to less strictly regulated locations. This does not improve our climate's situation at all but at the same time puts our jobs in a strongly regulated Europe at risk. That is why ECA and of course VC as well are advocating a "level playing field" for all airlines, also beyond Europe. This is the only way that competition, climate protection and the preservation of European jobs can go hand in hand.

European Cockpit Association celebrates 30th Anniversay

From left to right: Uwe Harter (IFALPA Executive Vice President Technical & Safety Standards), Arik Zipser (ECA Technical Affairs Director), Tanja Harter (ECA Technical Affairs Director), Vivianne Schumacher (VC Director Flight Safety), Johannes Bade (VC International Affairs Manager), Maria-P. Murtha (VC Director International Affairs), Bastian Roet (Head of VC Capital Representative Office).

Our umbrella organisation of Airline Pilots' Associations and trade unions at the European level has turned 30! Since 1991, ECA has represented pilots' interests vis-à-vis the relevant EU institutions and is now home not only to more than 30 pilots' associations from EU member states, but also to associated ones, for example from Israel and Turkey.

Everyone was enjoying that representatives from ECA member associations were able to meet in person for the first time in two years at the General Assembly on 25 and 26 November to celebrate the 30th anniversary. With improving forecasts on the development of air transport in the coming years, the majority of the participants were optimistic about the future.

"30 years ECA - A look at pilot representation - A vision of the pilot profession" was the title of the panel discussion on the occasion of the anniversary. New forms of employment and business models, increasingly aggressive competition, the push for worldwide liberalisation, the global pandemic, sustainability and artificial intelligence were the buzzwords of the discussion, which included Tanja Harter (ECA Technical Affairs Director), Hannah Schleussner (LAT flight student and VC member) and Dirk Polloczek (former ECA President).

ECA Social Strategy and Environmental Issues

Another important item on the agenda of the meeting was the ECA Social Strategy Campaign in connection with the revision of Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community. In this context, the Deputy Secretary General Ignacio Plaza Sevillano presented first proposals for amendments. In future, among other things, terms such as "operational base", "home base" and "commercial air crew" are to be more clearly defined in the regulation, thus strengthening the rights of pilots throughout Europe. At the same time, the regulation is intended to provide clarity regarding the operational structure of airlines in order to enable national and EU authorities to monitor and supervise them effectively.

Artificial intelligence (AI) was also on the agenda. In a way, the topic of social security was thus taken up once again in a more abstract form, as AI can foreseeably have a major impact on our work in the medium and long term. With his very informative guest lecture "AI in the cockpit - safety first or profit first?" Luuk van Dijk, founder and CEO of Daedalean AG, shed light on the current state of AI and gave an outlook on the foreseeable future.  

In their presentations, ECA President Otjan de Bruijn and Vice-President Juan Carlos Lozano provided information on environmental and climate challenges and emphasised what is at stake in this context for the aviation industry and the pilot profession. They encouraged member associations to get more involved in the ECA Environmental Working Group.

Last but not least, the new Executive Board was elected: Vice President Juan Carlos Lozano from SEPLA was confirmed in office. Patrick Arpino from SNPL and Paul Reuter from ALPL Luxembourg are the two new Professional Affairs Directors. Kris Vansteenkiste from Irish ALPA takes over the office of Admin & Finance Director. We are particularly pleased that VC member Arik Zipser has been re-elected as Technical Affairs Director. We wish all those elected success and all the best in their positions.

Radiation Trick or Treat?! On the 2021 Halloween Sun Eruption

© Andy Luten, Andy's Travel Blog

On this year's Halloween, the atmosphere was a colourful hive of activity. Due to a comparatively strong coronal mass ejection of the sun, northern lights appeared, which danced across the night sky far into southern latitudes.

Ralph Zander and the entire WG Radiation Protection (AG Strahlenschutz) take a closer look at the topic of Northern Lights in their article on the VC Info website and explain details on their origin and strength as well as the effects on flying in an inimitable way that is well worth reading. Hopefully the article will bring some clarity to the night skies! In any case, the AG wishes you always a hand's width of magnetic field above the fuselage.

To the article: Süßes, sonst gibt’s Strahlung?! (in German)

By the way: click here to register for our radiation protection newsletter.

© Andreas Tittelbach

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New ComLoss Bulletin

If there is no reply at all to "How do you read me?" on the radio, it could be a complete loss of communication. This can not only be very impractical, but it can also become a real problem if it persists for a long time. In European airspace, it is increasingly happening that individual aircraft have no ATC contact for a longer period of time, particularly in cruise flight. It often leads to military alert squadrons being activated and possibly even having to ascend, only to find that contact with the aircraft could be re-established.

VC member Felix Gottwald, at the invitation of the Ministry of Transport, has been involved in drafting a new ICAO OPS Bulletin to address the current trend of increasing ComLoss cases. The bulletin is currently still being voted on by committees, and we expect it to be published this winter.
Further information can be found in the article "ICAO OPS Bulletin 'Loss of Communication'" on the VC Info website and in an already published bulletin from NATO and Eurocontrol.

A practical note

Deselecting or turning down the volume of VHF2 and thus the emergency frequency 121.5 has been identified as one of the major problems. It is therefore advisable to maintain a permanent listening watch on the frequency.

One single Phone Number for VC Emergency Hotline

The VC emergency hotline (for emergencies during flight operations, for more details click here) can now only be reached via the phone number +49 (0)69 3487 2932. For a transitional period, the number +49 (0)180 2 7700 82 was also available. The transition period is now over and the number has been deactivated.

IVTV and BG Verkehr: Members Wanted

The "Interessengemeinschaft Versicherter im Transport- und Verkehrswesen (IVTV) e.V." is looking for new members to continue to advocate for health-promoting measures at the workplace in the self-administration of the traffic sector professional association "BG Verkehr".
You can find more information about the work of the IVTV here on the VC Info website (in German).

Covid Effect: Reduction in Taxi-Out Times

© Eurocontrol

Eurocontrol has analysed taxi-out times for single aisle aircraft at Europe's 20 largest airports and concludes that in 2021, average taxiing times from the stand to the runway have decreased compared to 2019 for the period May-September. More information can be found on Eurocontrol's website.

News from Associations, Organisations and Regulators

OPS Group -  My Controls?

  • At which points should you take control in critical situations on the flight deck? One way to make this decision is "ASDT" - Ask, Suggest, Direct, Takeover. The OPS Group put some thoughts on this together here:
    Fighting for Control

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