Helicopter learner pilots over France

A lady in France complained to the airport about repeated helicopter overflights last Monday night. Of course, the reply was that this is quite permissible, but I found some things strange.

The lady, living in the area near Prévessin, France, on the Jura side of the runway, heard 5 overflights at 5 minute intervals last Monday night, 11 April, at around 9pm. This being very unusual, as well as annoying, she contacted the airport to complain. As I would have expected, she got the reply that this is perfectly normal and permitted by the current rules, which allow general aviation flights until 10pm.

The explanation of these flights was that they were to instruct pilots to fly helicopters under visual flight rules. The helicopter made three circuits on a route normally used for pilots learning to fly light aiircraft, normally of the Aéroclub of Geneva. I guess that she was unlucky enough to have an overflight before and after the circuits.

So far, so good (or bad!), but a closer inspection raises some questions. The airport stated that these circuits were under Visual Flight Rules (VFR). For these rules, Wikipedia states the following :-

VFR require a pilot to be able to see outside the cockpit, to control the aircraft's altitude, navigate, and avoid obstacles and other aircraft. To avoid collisions, the VFR pilot is expected to "see and avoid" obstacles and other aircraft.

However, at 9pm in mid-April it is already dark!

I used the ARAG movement tracking system to identify the helicopter concerned, and am virtually certain that it was an Agusta A-109E with Swiss registration HB-ZLZ (if it was not that one then it must have been operating without a transponder, which would have been highly dangerous!). According to the Swiss Federal database, this helicopter is owned and operated by Luciano Zogbi, whose address is listed as avenue du Léman 18, 1025 St-Sulpice, Vaud. I did not find a phone number for him, but a search revealed that he is an administrator for a Société Immobilière Les Faverges S.A., also at St-Sulpice. I did find their phone number, but have never had anyone respond to my calls.

Mr Zogbi has actually had three aircraft in Geneva in the past year: this Agusta, a Eurocopter AS 350 helicopter registered as HB-ZJV and a Cessna Citation 750 Jet aircraft registered as PR-LUZ (a Brazilian registration: he may actually be from Brazil himself). Clearly, Mr Zogbi is very partial to the letter Z!

So does Mr Zogbi give lessons in helicopters? The airport statistics do show a number of learner flights in helicopters each month, but give no details. Also, if he does then why could he not give these lessons near his own home, rather than around a crowded airport?

The people under the flights, both helicopters and light aircraft, around the training circuit in France would certainly prefer a different Z: Zero overflights.


16:40 Posted in Noise around Geneva airport | Permalink | Comments (0) | Tags: helicopters, noise, zogbi | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

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