The hang gliding subcommittee met in Taipei last month under the chairmanship of Dennis Pagen, the US Delegate. Although the subcommittee was somewhat small, we had enthusiastic participation from the Australia, Dutch, Turkish, French, Danish, German, Austrian and Guatemalan delegates, most of whom are deeply involved in the hang gliding competition scene.
The underlying themes of the meeting revolved around doing everything possible to encourage and attract more competition organizers while continuing to promote safety as a key agenda item. The encouragement and support of organizers, particularly those of Category 1 competitions is a big concern: there are fewer and fewer bids for Cat 1 events and the belief is that this due, in part, to increasing burdens and costs places on organizers. To date, there are no bids for either the next World championship or the next European continental championship and this should be alarming to both the committee and the competition pilot community in general.
With this objective in mind, some important decisions were made, most notably with respect to the upcoming Hang Gliding World Championships in Forbes, Australia. The organizers asked that the usual three-member CIVL jury be modified to allow just the Jury President’s presence at the event with the remaining two jurors working remotely from their respective locations. Because protests are not terribly common, it was decided that this cost savings to the organizer was well worth allowing an exception, particularly since the cost savings would be passed directly, dollar-for-dollar, on to the pilots in the form of reduced entry fees.
The committee, as a whole, is hopeful that we can continue this trend of reducing burdens on organizers with the aim of encouraging more events.
On the subject of safety, equipment standards were high on the list as well as pilot education. Although most of the committee members weren’t overly satisfied with the EN966 helmet certification standard, it was decided that at this point, there wasn’t a better standard available, so there was little choice other than to stick with the current standard for the time being.
With respect to wire size, the committee intends to contact the testing bodies to get feedback as to whether additional testing or requirements for sidewires should be considered.
On the issue of sprog testing at Category 1 events, the focus is shifting from mandatory testing of all gliders to a more education-oriented approach. For upcoming Category 1 events, the rules will require that team leaders from each participating nation measure the sprog settings of their pilots and provide that information to the organizers. In addition, the CIVL will then conduct random sprog testing of a small number of gliders at goal and other locations to be sure gliders are within manufacturer specifications. The original idea behind sprog testing was to educate pilots on safe settings. The committee feels that we have come quite far in helping provide pilots with this very important safety information and we now hope that we can continue that trend, but on a less sweeping scale in terms of the time burden on both the organizers and the CIVL.
Finally, the committee believes that more can be done in terms of pilot safety education by creating a series of short films, featuring respected pilots, with brief information on safety related issues such as sprog settings, safest use of VG during flight, general pilot health issues related to preparations for flying (hydration, adequate sleep, etc.) and knowing when it is time to stay on the ground, in terms of after an accident, concussion type injury, etc. These short films can be used by organizers and shown at mandatory safety briefings at the start of a competition. If done properly, the thought is that competitors will tend to pay more attention and take to heart the advice of a top pilot in this sort of short film.
With the goals of increased pilot safety and continued work toward encouraging more Category 1 organizers, the committee hopes to have a productive year.