Pilot - - CONTENTS - Andy Haigh, Maypole Air­field, Kent

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)

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