Open letter to the HCAA Governor
Mr. HCAA Governor,
Please allow me to introduce myself: My name is Paris Kokkaliaroglou and I am a resident of the United States where I also have the main focus of my business activities.
However, I have been recently considering investing 10-15 millions in the aviation industry in Greece after introducing Greece to some participants in the HAI expo 2018.
I traveled to Greece and had a closer look at the market there.
My primary areas of interest were flight training and public transportation and so, when I arrived in Greece, I visited some flight schools and AOC operators in order to carry out some audits in the areas of operations, maintenance and sales.
I chose Greece, not only becuse I am familiar with the country but also because of its cadre of highly experienced pilots and instructors (I am a passionate helicopter pilot, holding both the FAA CFI and the EASA PPL – some of the training for which I did in Greece, where I got to interact with a number of people from the aviation).
A further reason for choosing Greece lays in the interesting market opportunities that I believed to be there. But, perhaps most of all, I chose it because of the perfect flying weather that the country offers. The schools here, I also soon came to realize, are very well organized, with excellent facilities and good infrastructure. All of this, I thought boded well for a likely future investment.
Sad to say, although all of this proved very much to be the case, there were also some very significant drawbacks most of which are directly connected to the organization or, perhaps better said, lack of it, at the level of rules and regulations and, oftentimes, the unsystematic, not to say chaotic, application thereof.
Among the major difficulties I encountered were the lack of available facilities in the region of Attica and the fact that some areas such as that of the Venizelos International Airport are almost restricted zones. With regard to the former point, I discovered that Megara Airport, the only GA airport in the Athens area, doesn’t open until 3 hours after sunrise and closes well before sunset. With regard to Venizelos, I found that VFR flights are not permitted to cross overhead – apparently because of ‘heavy traffic.’ Such restrictions do not apply at airports in other countries with similar, or even much heavier, traffic loads. VFR flights crossing at heights of more than 2,500 feet does not affect anyone at all at other international airports, and is common practice, where a VFR corridor is a standard solution.
A further, major, problem lies in the ‘selection’ of VFR points. Points are ‘selected’ seemingly at random, for example there is the VFR point ‘Patroclos’ which is situated at low altitude in the downdraft of a mountain, or the VFR point ‘Maistros’ which is situated in the middle of the Aegean, with no visible reference point to identify it. Again, on one occasion, when I was heading toward Mykonos I was asked to report at an IFR point ‘DIDIS’ ; when I informed the controller that I was not IFR equipped he seemed not to be able to understand what my difficulty was. I was told, later, that this was a common occurrence. Again, a lot of airtime seems to be taken up with needless chatter ; in the States typical practise after take off is simply to ask to have the flight plan opened and, upon landing to close it.
I was also, not to put a fine point upon it, shocked when I discovered that according to your AIP manual helicopter pilots must follow airway routes designed with search and rescue in mind. How, then, does a pilot (as happened in my own case) get from Venizelos Airport to Andros when such an airway does not exist !? In all of this I find myself wondering whether such procedures are vetted at all by authorized HCAA Pilot Inspectors before being published ? One final point I will make before closing : the radio coverage in Greece needs to be significantly improved – a case in point, is Tanagra Airport which has a coverage of less than 40% when flying below 3,000 feet.
All in all, the situation leaves much to be desired when it comes to both safety and convenience when flying. The rules and regulations feel, at times, little more than haphazard and their application also often leaves a lot to be desired. There are, I am convinced, more than enough experienced and conscientious controllers in Greece to make the system work, but the system itself has to be workable and the inexperienced or incompetent controllers need to be weeded out if things are to change for the better. A few bad apples can cause the whole barrel to rot.
To sum up, I think the main points I would like to draw your attention to are the following :
1) In many cases, VFR points are not suitable – and some are even dangerous.
2) Although IFR flights seem to be handled properly, the ATC is far from VFR friendly.
3) The VFR points need to be much more carefully chosen. (REPETITIOUS)
In closing, let me say that my overall conclusion with regard to investing in the Greek market is that there are many points in favor of such a decision, but that an investor could also be easily discouraged by some of the unnecessary obstacles that s/he encounters. I believe that a careful examination of the workforce and the flight control system itself could yield great benefits and positively affect investment in what is a potentially lucrative market opportunity.
Thanks and regards
9900 Barrier Reef Drive
89117 Las Vegas