Friday, 12 March 2010

Colibri set-back

The rights of the newly qualified pilot to be awarded a Bronze Colibri are being championed by Paul Dewhurst who argues that the NPPL exceeds the intent of the FAI's award in terms of standards and skills. The award was designed for raising standards, especially in member countries which do not have a legal requirement to be formally trained. He asks whether the FAI should not recognise that British pilots already exceed the requirements by awarding Bronze to all NPPLs and asks whether it is not unfair that they are denied it simply for having been unaware of the specific requirements while training.

Some flying schools here claim that having an NPPL automatically qualifies a pilot for the Bronze, but this is not the case unless a student's landings and QXCs meet not only the CAA's high standards, but also the specifics of the Federation's rules. My cross country flights do not qualify me, for instance, because they were out and back and not triangular.

So, either schools who wish to promote the FAI's goals must incorporate its requirements into their programmes, if their candidates are to qualify, or, as Paul Dewhurst argues, the FAI ought to be asked to recognise that where countries licence pilots who have been trained to a higher standard than the ambitions of the FAI, their students should qualify automatically for the Bronze.

With the international committee not meeting again until November and the likely backlash for other countries if Paul's suggestion is considered, some feel that it would be more straightforward for NPPL qualified pilots simply to use the Bronze as a further challenge to hone their skills.

My own feelings are rather ambivalent. Paul Dewhurst hadn't been aware that there had been a perceived equivalence between the Bronze Colibri and the NPPL until I asked him to sign my application (in his capacity as my CFI). This was despite his being a leading light in the BMAA and microlighting generally, which I think goes some way to highlighting the fact that Colibris have little status in the UK. When I was learning to fly nobody ever mentioned the award, whereas in gliding something similar forms the basis of their training programmes and it is what everyone is striving for.

If our own training exceeds the ambitions of the international body, it really does irk me that I don't automatically qualify for their award, but then again, what value is there in an award that nobody really cares to promote through schools anyway? It would have been nice to have one to show I had made the grade, but having exceeded the grade, I am not sure I can be bothered to be examined again to prove a point.

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