This is almost unbelievable!
FlyDOO's vision coming true after 7 years since we started!
What vision are we talking about? Let's put it simple: a deregulated class of balloons up to 2 persons on board, outside EASA regulation. Pretty simply, if general aviation airplanes have their counterpart of lighter 2 place microlights/ultralight airplanes, why shouldn't balloons benefit from the same treatment?
Back in the day when EASA was about to release the new Basic Regulation, we've been fighting (without results) in order to have the Annex 1 limitation starting from a higher volume than 1200m3. Actually, we've tried to convince them to use another unit (max payload or similar), since in fact the volume penalizes southern countries more than northern ones for example. Anyway, this did not happen, and the 1200m3 limitation (42000 cu.ft) has been established: all balloons bigger than that fall under EASA regulations. This means, also, that FlyDOO, who is now a certified manufacturer, cannot get a hopper certified, since this falls outside EASA competence. Well, we don't care, we see actually no point in certifying a hopper if not for export. What we really wanted is a class of small balloons (including hoppers of course), which would allow the entire ballooning sport to get a new boost, become more attractive, and allow older pilots losing their medical to stay active.
This finally happened in France, where we started working for this with the French Ballooning Federation some years ago, and finally we have the result. On the 23rd of December 2023, the official journal published this official new class called "BUL" (Ballons Ultra Légers, link to the official text here), which basically states that there is no need for a CofA, no need for an EASA pilot's licence (and medical), no need of certified balloonsm and no need of registration . In exchange, you can only fly in non controlled airspace: fair enough.
This is great, truly a good way to start the year. But why am I publishing this news in english if actually only France is concerned? Well... In fact all countries are concerned: we did it first, but if you care about the future of the ballooning sport, you should get your ballooning federation working towards the same goal in your country. All EU countries can legally achieve the same result we achieved here in France, so, what are you waiting for? Let's go and do it folks, and let's put hundreds of small lightweight balloons in the air in the next few years!
Yes I know, I've always been told to be a dreamer... But who cares, it's too late to change that anyway ;-)
Happy new year to you all, Leandro