A high quality Europa is a wonderfully capable and stable aircraft.
Comfortable in VMC & Marginal VMC
IMC ( IFR qualified pilots and approved aircraft only)
IMC and Night flying opportunities are described here in a link to a 2017 summary written by Steve Slater, Chief Executive Officer of the LAA:
Make sure you are suitably qualified /current to fly in non VMC conditions! Hold an appropriate Intrument qualification.
Make sure your aircraft meets requirements for flying in IMC. There are special extra conditions to comply with to ensure your aircraft is approved to fly IFR.
Pilot training: Clearly a full Instrument Rating (ICAO EASA/FAA etc.) is the ultimate Commercial or Private qualification. Nevertheless the IR(R) EASA is considered to be a very attractive and less costly yet relevent alternative for Genaeral Aviation pilots. Realisticly fifteen to twenty hours of IMC training is needed for the IR(R). The standard EASA PPL already includes the potential to include IR(R) endorsments. The UK IMC rating is equivalent to the IR (Restricted) which can be put onto an EASA licence. Once you have obtained the UK IMC rating you may apply to the UK CAA to have an IR (Restricted) endorsed on your EASA licence.
A link to the IR(R) flight test detail follows:
Pictures for illustrative purposes only.
Aircraft specification: Instumental Flying approval requirements differ widely between approval authorities in each country.
No approval should be assumed from these pictures.
The EASA Basic Instrument Rating (BIR)
EASA BIR arrives in 2019 to provide easier access to instrument flying for General Aviation and Sport pilots. It should have much the same approach limits as the IR(R). The BIR should be usable throughout all EASA countries and would include airways flying.
The BIR should have simpler theoretical knowledge requirements than either the Competency-Based IR (CB-IR) or IR, and there would be proportionate credit for existing IR(R) holders.
Link to definative information from EASA here on the 2019 introduction of the BIR
Our American cousins have been flying the Europa IFR for longer than elsewhere.
Americas Representative Jim Butcher says the Europa is a stable IFR platform and easy to fly IFR. Like most airplanes, it is easy to find the attitude and power settings needed for cruise, climbs and descents which make instrument flying easy.
Operationally things are very different in the U.S.A.. Here are some more thoughts from Jim Butcher, America Representative of the Europa Club.
The EASA IR(R) is intended to give you the skills to fly IFR in case the weather “catches you out”. It has some limitations as to airspace where it can be used (looks to me like there is a lot of Class B & C in southern UK) and weather minimums. I was surprised to read no mention of GPS, only a lot on VOR and ADF and even DME procedures. The weather portion focuses primarily on reading and understanding TAF. The IR(R) has to be renewed every two years.
The US experimental aircraft qualification requires each individual airframe to be inspected and found in conformance with LAA requirements (which seem a little out of touch requiring backup instruments, com, etc. instead of acknowledging the robustness of solid state electronics).
This is much different than how IFR is treated on the US. Here there is only one instrument rating, no restricted rating. It is a major accomplishment requiring a minimum of 50 hours cross country time and 40 hours instrument time. The instrument rating is an add on to a Private or Commercial pilot license. An Air Transport Pilot (ATP) license includes instrument privileges. Once you earn a instrument rating, you have it for life. To be legal to fly IFR, you must either fly a specified number of approaches and procedures every six months or pass a instrument proficiency check with a flight instructor.
Here our primary means of navigation is GPS. The FAA is decommissioning VORs at an alarming rate. While many airports still have an ILS for low conditions, they are being replaced with GPS LNAV approaches. The ILS equipment is being decommissioned instead of repaired and being replaced with GPS LNAV approaches. The GPS LNAV requires a WAAS GPS navigator but there are still lots of GPS approaches that do not require WAAS (many are overlays of existing VOR and NDB approaches with GPS substituted for the original position source). I have an older Garmin GNS430 without WAAS which has proven sufficient for my needs.
Here in the US, general aviation typically files direct flight plans and does not use airways (Victor airways). There are arrival and departure procedures at major airports (usually Class B) that sometimes require use of airways. Most Class C & D airports do not have these; you are vectored to the initial approach fix from which you fly the approach.
There are multiple sources of weather, many of them without fees. Virtually all use weather products from the US National Weather Service. While METARS and TAFS are routinely a major weather forecast tool, there are many others like SkewT charts, MOS charts and all the various radar and satellite displays and knowledge of these products is part of the testing of an instrument rating applicant.
As far as the aircraft is concerned, for an experimental, the operational limitations issued with the initial airworthiness certificate will state it is valid for VFR flight only. After Phase 1 flight testing is complete (usually 40 hours) the ops limits will state that authorized flight is VFR day only unless the aircraft is equipped for night or instrument flight in accordance with FAR 91.205. That regulation defines the instrument and equipment requirements for VFR, IFR, day and night.
Day are the usual airspeed, altimeter, magnetic direction, engine gauges, fuel quantity, anti-collision lights, seat belts and shoulder harnesses and ELT. Night adds position lights and adequate source of electrical energy (but no landing light required unless being operated for hire!). IFR adds radio communication and navigation equipment, gyro rate of turn, slip-skid, adjustable altimeter, clock, gyroscopic pitch and bank and gyroscopic direction. The IFR navigation equipment is that required for the flight – if you are using VORs and not GPS you do not need a GPS receiver, etc.
There are no requirements in the US to have any of this inspected. Part of the initial airworthiness inspection will verify that day VFR instruments are installed. When you want to fly at night or IFR only a logbook entry is needed to state that the required instruments are installed. Like you, we are required to complete an annual condition inspection. For an experimental that is done by the builder (one Repairman certificate is issued to the builder, Heather in our case). If one purchases an experimental, the condition inspection must still be done by either the builder or a licensed Airframe / Powerplant (A&P) mechanic.
If operating IFR, we are required to have our static/pitot system inspected and tested every 24 months.
Transponders are required in some airspace (mostly Class A, B and C) for both IFR and VFR flight, and must be inspected and tested every 24 months. If you have a Mode S transponder, the test will include ADS-B functions. Both the static/pitot test and transponder test must be done by a certified inspector. We have a non Mode S method of complying with ADS-B out (Mode C transponder is used long with a ADS-B out transmitter)
I hold a Commercial pilot license with Instrument and Glider ratings and have been flying since 1979. I flew a Mooney M20F and later a Mooney 231 for several years flying mostly for business, averaging over 200 hours per year. The Mooney was sold in 1990 and I didn’t fly until 2005 when I started flying our Europa. I now have 850 hours in Europa and 3000 hours total.
My wife Heather and I built our Europa together. It was a great experience and very helpful having two viewpoints to interpret the manual and two sets of eyes inspecting the work. Heather became the expert on fiberglass work and finishing, I did most of the electrical design and fabrication and we did assembly together. Heather holds the Repairman Certificate for our Europa and conducts the annual Condition Inspection. She holds a private pilot license with Glider rating but has chosen to retire from piloting since I enjoy that a lot and she finds it tedious. We plan our trips and outings together. In the air we work as a team and find it very effective and fun.
We live just outside Kalamazoo, MI which is in the southwestern corner of Michigan, about halfway between Detroit and Chicago. Our weather is greatly influenced by Lake Michigan. Our Europa lives in a hangar at Almena Airstrip (near the town of Paw Paw, MI) identifier K2C5, about 10 miles from home. Almena is a grass strip, 3300 ft long but trees at both ends force displaced thresholds so the usable length is closer to 2100 ft.
Aircraft and Current Status
Ours is kit A185. It is a XS mono-wheel with a Rotax 914 turbo and Airmaster prop. We built it per the manual with very few modifications. It is IFR capable with Garmin 430 GPS, Nav, Com and dual screen GRT Sport EFIS. We did not fit an autopilot and we find hand flying easy, even for long trips. We have nearly 900 hours on it. We have a set of glider wings to build but we prefer to fly and travel, so our progress on them has been limited. We have completed Mod 78, the ailerons and air brakes and attached the outboard sections.
Retired 2016. Four decades working for a single company; Vaillant. €3 billion turnover. Manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning products. Major plants in Nantes, Remscheid and Belper. UK Senior manager for Logistics, Credit Management, e-commerce and Business Continuity Management. Divorced. Two children. Europa club member since 2006. Based at Apperknowle airstrip, Coal Aston, Derbyshire.
More than a thousand hours of flying of which the greatest is European touring. IR(R), Night and SLMG ratings. Early training on the usual Cessnas, Pipers and half a dozen other types. Then interests in a Monowheel Falke, followed by a Tri-gear 80HP Europa. Initiated into longer range European touring by the Europa club in 2006 and then never looked back. In 2008 acquired outright and fell in love with Sadie, (G-BYSA) a 100HP Europa XS Monowheel with VP prop. Eight wonderful years of pure flying joy until her tragic destruction in August 2016. Now in a new relationship with Meg, (G-MEGG) another 100HP Europa 912ULS XS Monowheel. Woodcomp 3000N VP propeller. Mode S, 8:33. SmartASS3, Vacuum standard T panel, Garmin and SkyDemon GPS.
Builder of G-BYSA; The late Bryan Allsop.
Builder of G-MEGG; Martin Mavers