Nationals 2019

Club Class Safety & Sporting Update


We are currently working with the BGA on a number of changes to ensure a safe, fun and fair competition for all in 2019. Our focus is on three key areas based on feedback received from the 2018 competitions: gaggle safety, glider tracking, and promoting safe flying.

Gaggle Flying

A number of pilots have raised concerns around safety in gaggles during competitions. We want to ensure that all pilots feel safe so that they can enjoy the competition. To achieve this, we are introducing the following changes for this year’s Club Class Nationals:

  • Gaggle Flying Code of Conduct – Pilots at last year’s Club Class were concerned about gaggle behaviour and suggested that we agree a code of conduct. Mike Fox coordinated their ideas via a survey after the competition and the new Gaggle Flying Code of Conduct will be published by the BGA before the competition season. We will ask all competitors to confirm that they will follow the principles of this code, in order to enhance everyone’s safety.
  • Gaggle Flying Frequency – We will publish a gaggle flying frequency in our Local Procedures which we expect all competitors to use when flying in gaggles outside of the start area.

Tracking Technology

We are very conscious of the need to balance the flight safety benefits of Flarm with the potential sporting impact of this technology. We strongly encourage all pilots to fly with Flarm or compatible collision avoidance technology to enhance everyone’s safety.

To minimise the potential for Flarm being used to gain competitive advantage, we are introducing the following measures:

  • Moving Maps – We are going to ask for a local rule to mandate that Flarm privacy mode be used by all competitors. This mode maintains the safety benefits of proximity alerts and local situational awareness, whilst reducing the potential for following and crowded gaggles.
  • Ground Assistance – The BGA competition rules are being changed to forbid pilots from receiving assistance from ground crews or other external sources. We will treat any instances of unauthorised assistance, including ground crews reporting other gliders’ positions, as cheating and appropriate penalties will be applied in accordance with the new rules. We have invested in spectrum monitoring technology that will enable us to detect and review instances of cheating.
  • Spectators – We recognise the benefits that glider tracking offers to spectators and air traffic service units. We also use the tracking system to monitor competition progress and to enhance the safety of our competitors. With the rules now expressly prohibiting the passing of this information to competitors, we ask that pilots do not activate the ‘no tracking’ mode on their Flarm units, to enable legitimate uses of tracking to continue.
  • Calling Start – In order to reduce instances of following at the start, the competition rules allow pilots up to 30 minutes to report their start time after leaving the start sector.

Promoting Safe Flying

We are keen to explore ways to encourage safe behaviour when flying competitions. Following discussions with the BGA, we intend to trial a new flight safety reporting measure this year. This will focus on promoting safe flying practice and highlighting potential areas for improvement.

To achieve this, we will ask every pilot to answer the following questions when submitting their traces each day:

  • Which glider was the friendliest in gaggles today?
  • Which glider was the least friendly in gaggles today?

It is important to note that the aim is not to criticise or single out ‘dangerous’ pilots, so we intend to use only aggregated data in an anonymised manner. We will also use the proximity analysis tools that have been in use with the IGC for some time at international level, to highlight the actual proximity of gliders.

The intention is to enable all pilots to reflect on their flying and enable everyone to learn something, with the aim of ensuring everyone’s safety and enjoyment of the competition. In addition to the direct benefit of enhancing safety, we will also award a prize to the pilot of the friendliest glider.

Feedback & Suggestions

Ensuring that our pilots enjoy a fun, fair and safe competition is our highest priority, and we hope that these changes will help to alleviate any concerns that you may have about flying the Club Class this year.

If you haven’t already entered the Club Class Nationals, you can enter through the BGA website at the following link:

If you have any questions, comments or ideas about the changes discussed above, or about anything else, please get in touch.

Best regards,
– The Competition Team, Aston Down

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