Logging the skill test; see and be seen; fitting exams into EASA’S timetable; AFPEX Lite; and other views
We only have a few foreign flights a year. However, with Manston closing we are already seeing an increase in the numbers who want to stage through here on their way to and from the continent. After all, we are now the UK’S closest GA airfield to France that is permitted by Border Force to be a departure/entry point and only fifteen minutes flying from Calais.
We were always happy to help anyone with the (overly complex) AFPEX system and we would monitor AFPEX if a flight was due in. Some while back, NATS proposed to charge us £3,000 a year for this. We could not afford it. Grant Shapps MP came to our rescue and the small airfield waiver was brought in. We continued with a free service.
Now they want to charge us again. All our resident pilots have their own personal (free) AFPEX accounts or use Skydemon, as do I. However, I cannot use my personal account to monitor the other aircraft coming and going, departures etc. I could double the landing fee for foreign visitors to cover the AFPEX charge but, mostly, they have their own private flight planning systems too. So making such a change seems unreasonable. Moreover, there is no cost for NATS to continue to provide this service. We already have an airfield account and we don’t want any support.
Perhaps you could publish this sorry tale of greed and exploitation to see if we can change some mindsets?
From Mr Haigh’s correspondence with the CAA: AFPEX Lite is designed for small airfields and flight training. It covers:
• Single User account only
• Limit of 200 send and receive messages per month
• Help desk 9-5, 7 days per week
• Annual cost of £500 + VAT (which NATS plans to review at the end of the first year)