2007 Plenary Meeting – Rules rationalised

After much debate, new rules were agreed on determining PG team size, re-allocation of extra places and pilot qualification criteria. Other key issues included scoring software, WPRS improvements, HG sprog setting checks and competition safety. The 2009 World Championship for paragliding was awarded to Mexico and paragliding accuracy to Croatia. With at least three proposals at the 2007 CIVL Plenary concerning the setting of PG team size and pilot qualification for paragliding Category 1 competitions, it was not surprising that this topic dominated the discussions both before and during the meeting. The PG subcommittee meeting on the day before the Plenary overran by four hours, as team size and related issues were hotly debated. Finally, during the Plenary, agreement was reached. There were two key factors leading to the CIVL Bureau’s decision to revert to the 2005 team size rules for the upcoming World Championships in Manilla. The first was that pilot qualification criteria need to be more stringent, for both men and women, to ensure the number of pilots eligible is below the maximum number allowed for a competition. The second was that a reallocation system for extra places had to be agreed by the Plenary. The base team size agreed in 2007 is 3+1. Not surprisingly, this is the same proposal accepted by the Plenary in 2006, and generally agreed to be fairer for the team competition. Crucially – and this was the root of the problem that led to the decisions taken - a reallocation system was agreed and formally accepted by the Plenary. Extra places will be awarded in strict order from the top ranked nation to the last ranked nation. If any places are still available, the process will start at the top again. Further agreement was made that the three pilots that will score for the team must be nominated before the start of the competition. Pilot qualification criteria will be agreed 1 year in advance by the organiser and the CIVL steward at the test competition. Competition bids Another hot topic in Talloires was the competitive bids for the 2009 FAI World Paragliding Championships. With bids in from the Plenary meeting hosts, France, Italy and Mexico, there was some lobbying, as usual, going on behind the scenes. The presentations were impressive and several delegates remarked that it was difficult to choose between them. The two stage bid process first eliminated France, and finally Italy. Mexico won by just one vote. For paragliding accuracy, there was just one bid from Croatia, which was accepted by the Plenary. No bids were received for the 2009 World Hang Gliding Championship, and the Plenary agreed that the CIVL Bureau would seek an organiser prepared to make a suitable bid. Safety A recurrent theme throughout three days of meetings in subcommittees and the Plenary alike. CIVL president Flip Koetsier introduced the topic in his opening address, deploring the practice of cloud flying. “Cloud flying is unsafe, unfair and must not be allowed,” he said. The issue was highlighted again in the Competition report on the 2006 FAI European Paragliding Championship in Morzine, together with concerns about the high number of incidents and accidents at this event. FAI Secretary General, Max Bishop, pointed out again that safety is paramount and CIVL must be more proactive. It was agreed that the CIVL Safety & Training subcommittee should be revitalised and work closely with the other subcommittees to address critical issues. It was unfortunate that the PG subcommittee meeting overran as this had a negative impact on several other subcommittees whose scheduled meetings were poorly attended. The CIVL Bureau had seen this coming and had already agreed in its earlier meeting, that for next year, an additional half day should be allowed for subcommittee meetings. Meanwhile, Klaus Tanzler, subcommittee chairman, has been tasked with investigating the accident statistics database set up by the Parachuting commission. Plus he is looking for help to assemble data from other readily available sources. Other safety issues emerged from the subcommittee reports, with Hang gliding reporting on the work of the sprog settings working group, and paragliding accuracy trialling a new scoring system whereby pilots flying with well padded harnesses and airbags are not inappropriately penalised if the harness lightly touches the ground when the pilot lands safely on his feet. WPRS updates and scoring software The other major issue of interest was the update on the work that Agust Gudmundsson has been doing in his Scoring and Ranking Software subcommittee. Essentially, version 6.2 of RACE, which will be tested at Manilla this month, will be the last before a new system is introduced. The new system is expected to be available free of charge to pilots and competition organisers. Detailed functionality is unknown at present, and Agust and his team are hoping they will be able to optimise the program for CIVL use, hopefully by mid year. Meanwhile, a number of elements in the new Flight Scoring system are now operational, and pilots who frequent the WPRS on the CIVL website will have seen how the pilot, competition and scoring databases are now integrated. During the coming year, this will be enhanced. Eventually, pilots will be able to register instantly online for competitions on the FAI calendar- a boon both for pilots and organisers. Importantly, organisers will be able to upload results for inclusion in the WPRS and automatic checks will be in place highlighting competitions for which results have not yet been received. Finally, Agust summarised the improvements to the WPRS formula, including determining pilot/competition quality, and normalising the ranking according to actual results rather than final place in the competition. Significantly, the same formula can now be applied across all disciplines. Section 7 The Plenary agreed a number of changes to update and improve all chapters of Section 7, and to ensure consistence between the disciplines. In particular, much work has been done on agreeing specific penalties for pilots who break the rules, especially for serious offences such as cloud flying and airspace infringements. For full details, read the Plenary Minutes, and the related reports in the Appendices, which will be published soon.