Headline news from the CIVL Plenary in Lausanne

The CIVL Plenary meeting took place last weekend following two days of subcommittee meetings. • John Aldridge takes over as CIVL President as Flip Koetsier steps downThe Cross Country magazine view of the CIVL PlenaryPrototype hang gliders will be banned from Cat 1 competitions from 1 September 2010 • The definitions of a prototype hang glider and uncertified hang glider have been clarified • A paraglider Open Class Technical Working Group has been set up to establish manufacturers’ self-certification procedures for open class paragliders to enter Cat 1 competitions from 2011 • The proposal on qualifying the definition of a paraglider to exclude less flexible components was withdrawn • Instead, the Working Group will consider design limitations for paragliders in Cat 1 competitions from 2012. • The decision to mandate EN966 certified helmets in Cat 1 competitions from 1 January 2010 has been ratified. • From 1 May 2011, PG harnesses and back protectors used in Cat 1 competitions must be certified to EN1651 and LTF09 or equivalent. • The Safety & Training Subcommittee will be completely restructured. More responsibility for safety in the separate discipline subcommittees. • The way is clear for organisers to provide tracking devices with no data delay in Cat 1 competitions, starting with the upcoming European PG Championships, Abtenau in May The 2010 CIVL Plenary took place 20th and 21st February in Lausanne, Switzerland. The meeting was well attended, with voting members from 27 countries present, and four represented by proxy votes, giving 31 votes in total. Delegates came from far and wide, including Australia, China, Chinese Taipei, Guatemala, India, Japan and USA, as well as from many European countries. The two days of subcommittee meetings were also well attended, and included world class pilots and team leaders, as well as delegates, alternate delegates and standing subcommittee members. Clearly, the important debates in both paragliding and hang gliding attracted considerable interest this year. CIVLIndeed, CIVL was delighted to welcome Cross Country magazine to the Plenary Meeting. The key discussions were reported, almost in real time, on the blog on the website (see: www.xcmag.com). Articles covering CIVL debates and decisions are expected in the next issue of the magazine. Although inviting the press was seen by some as a somewhat radical move, we are confident that the objective and informative reports published, will help reinforce CIVL’s willingness to be open and communicative, and help build a more positive image of CIVL among paraglider and hang glider pilots worldwide. Safety Despite the initial enthusiasm for the safety initiatives launched last year, there was disappointment that some working groups and especially the Safety & Training Subcommittee were rather inactive during the year. Outgoing President, Flip Koetsier, and FAI President Pierre Portmann both emphasised the need for good volunteers, with both the will and the competence to take on this important work. A general discussion at the S&T SC meeting resulted in the decision to restructure safety efforts within CIVL. Each discipline (HG, PG, PG Accuracy and Aerobatics) would appoint safety people to work on their discipline-specific issues, while the next S&T SC chair would provide a cross-discipline coordination role, identifying and encouraging synergies, and reporting back to the CIVL Bureau. It was encouraging to see volunteers come forward immediately. A host of new ideas emerged too, including setting up a repository for safety information, such as video seminars and training sessions on sprog measuring. How best to create and maintain an incident database, and whether this should extend beyond Cat 1 sanctioned competitions was discussed. And it was noted that special expertise would be required for meaningful accident investigation and statistical analysis. The Bureau decision to mandate the wearing of EN966 certified helmets in Cat 1 events from 1 January 2010 involved an inordinate amount of discussion, in all the SC meetings and in the Plenary itself. The decision was finally ratified, and a small working group has been established to investigate if other helmet standards should be added to the ruling. Paragliding The big debates in the PG Subcommittee centred on the need to improve safety in Cat 1 events. Ideas discussed ranged from restricting championships to serial class (certified) gliders to banning only out-and-out prototypes. While serial class events were not popular with the majority, the whole group felt that some change was needed to the current situation. The outcome, agreed later in the Plenary, is to establish the PG Open Class Technical Working Group. The WG will address the eligibility of both prototype and open class gliders in Cat 1 events. An interim solution will be a form of self-certification, such that manufacturers will have to demonstrate (probably by video) how their uncertified gliders perform a specified series of manoeuvres. The details are to be determined by the WG. The next stage is to encourage the development of a standard (possibly EN) for currently uncertified competition wings. A third aspect is to consider, together with manufacturers and designers, whether PG design limitations should be set. The aim is to ensure paraglider development is not hindered, and that safety is foremost in the minds of the designers. The second major issue was the so-called ‘carbon debate’, and whether the Section 7b definition of a paraglider requires the term ‘no rigid structure’ to be clarified for CIVL championships. The increasing use of plastic and carbon reinforcements in paragliders has caused the PMA to raise the issue, and put forward recommendations that ‘flexible’ should be more clearly defined with respect to paraglider components. These recommendations were taken up by Switzerland and presented as Plenary proposals. In the SC meeting, members discussed why such clarification was necessary, such as for fairness or safety. There was a view that CIVL should give a clear direction to manufacturers regarding future development. To some extent, it was felt that the setting up of the new WG would address the wider issues, and the Swiss proposal was withdrawn. Hang gliding Arguably, the most controversial issue in this meeting was the Netherlands proposal to ban prototypes in Cat 1 competitions. There were extensive discussions in the subcommittee meeting, with top male and female pilots participating, as well as national team leaders and delegates. Interestingly, in the subcommittee meeting, the proposal was narrowly defeated, but when brought before the Plenary, it passed with a substantial majority. Clearly, the reminder by John Aldridge to voting delegates, that safety should be the first consideration, hit its mark. This proposal will come into effect on 1 September 2010, after this year’s Cat 1 HG championships in Tegelberg and Ager. The proposal was based on the assumption that the new definitions of a prototype and uncertified gliders, as proposed by the Sporting Code Subcommittee, would be agreed. In fact, these changes give pilots greater flexibility to tune their gliders and still fly them in Cat 1 competitions. A major overhaul of S7a chapter 12 and the certified glider statement in the sample Local Regulations was passed, with a number of slight modifications to the original proposals. Another controversial area concerned the Women’s Worlds HG Championships, highlighted by proposals from Germany. A request to increase team size from four to six was initially declined by the Bureau when the Local Regulations for this year’s championship were approved last year. But the Plenary, keen to encourage more women to participate and attract media interest, accepted the proposal. The HG SC called for volunteers to further ongoing safety issues, including sprog setting measurements, and to identify additional matters. Willing hands include Koos de Keijzer (NED) and Raymond Kaiser (AUT). PG Accuracy The Judging Code, originally written a decade ago, has been overhauled. The judging team has been reduced in size, while the chief and event judges for Cat 1 events will now be selected by CIVL, in conjunction with the Steward and the organisers. The judging training programme will continue in 2010, with seminars planned in China and Austria. Aerobatics The cancelled 2010 World Aerobatics Championship in Omegna may be resurrected, if the organisers succeed in securing a sponsorship deal. This could be the start of a much needed revitalisation campaign for aerobatics. The high cost of competitions and lack of sponsorship has meant fewer organisers and competitions in the last year. Better promotion is needed to encourage other nations to lift bans on aerobatics. The rule book has been substantially overhauled and updated. Judging seminars will be organised in Europe and the US in 2010, part funded by CIVL. Software and Scoring There was a lively discussion on the evolution of live tracking of pilots during competitions as the market for new devices is exploding. Live tracking devices can be regarded equally as essential safety equipment, a tactical tool for team leaders and an excellent way of bringing a cross country competition to the media and public eye. Minor rule changes have been agreed to ensure they can be freely used without data delay, in events from this year. There are plans to use them in the European PG Championships, Abtenau, Austria, as well as other forthcoming HG and PG events. Tracking devices may also provide a solution for altitude verification. The WG will monitor the technology. It may also be feasible to use them for scoring remotely. New people, new directions As announced, CIVL President Flip Koetsier, stepped down at the end of this year’s Plenary. John Aldridge, long time vice president and guardian of Section 7, has taken over. See www.fai.org/hang_gliding/president_page for John's first message to delegates. There are new faces in the CIVL Bureau, with Igor Erzen (SLO) joining as vice president, and Koos de Keijzer (NED) as treasurer. Scott Torkesen (DEN) returns as vice president after a gap year. Agust Gudmundsson (ISL) and Fernando Amaral (POR) were re-elected as VPs and Louise Joselyn as secretary. There were big changes in the subcommittees too. Lazslo Szöllösi (HUN) takes on the pivotal role as chair of the Safety & Training SC. Robert Aarts comes in as PG SC chairman as Chris (Calvo) Burns stands aside due to his commitments as part of the organising teams of two upcoming Cat 1 championships. Dennis Pagen (USA), chair of the HG subcommittee since 1995, also stood down, allowing Oyvind Ellefsen (NOR) to take the lead role. Kamil Konecny (CZE) takes over from Jurij Vertacnik (SLO) on the PG Accuracy SC. Scott Torkelsen (DEN) returns to revitalise the Records & Badges SC. No change to the Aerobatics SC (Dennis Pagen and Iris Vogt (AUT)) and the Software WG (Agust Gudmundsson (ISL).