Proficiency Scheme

Before being allowed to fly a large model at one of the LMA’s main events, it goes without saying that, members must have demonstrated the ability to control aircraft in a safe and responsible manner. All members wishing to fly large models at an event where the public is admitted will have had to pass the LMA Proficiency Scheme Test.

Examiners are appointed by the Chief Examiner to test the competence of members. The Examiners may test candidates at an LMA fly-in provided they have the permission of the event organiser and the public are not in-attendance or they may elect to be tested on “home ground”. In calling on an Examiner to test a candidate on their home patch, travelling distance will have to be taken into consideration. The candidate will be asked to get in- touch with the Examiner to arrange a mutually convenient time and place. If the Examiner has to travel then it is possible to claim some form of expenses directly from the candidate at a rate to be negotiated for the round journey.

The details of the test are contained on this page. It has been drawn up after consultation with LMA Examiners, the BMFA, and the CAA . It is specifically designed to ensure that those who qualify are competent to fly at LMA events to which the public is admitted.

These test details are applied in conjunction with the LMA Handbook. Examiners are expected to make use of their experience and knowledge of well established practice backed up by these notes, by the Handbook and by liaising where necessary with the Chief Examiner or Proficiency Scheme Secretary. This last point is important to achieve the necessary consistency and in order to provide feedback so that we can bring in any improvements which Examiners may find advisable.

Throughout it should be remembered that the point of the Proficiency Scheme is to ensure that people who fly in public are SAFE to do so. It is also hoped that it will help to raise standards generally. We expect that any competent and experienced member will be able to qualify.

A list of examiners who can carry out this test is given here. Any inspector or examiner in the list can carry out a proficiency test. Feel free to approach one of them. They will be only too willing to help you.

Good luck!

Test Details.

The Examiner will take careful note of the candidate’s general approach and airmanship, including intelligent use of the helper. Although it is important to ensure that pilots have a sound ability to control their models it is just as important to be able to make judgements about positioning and about what is a safe procedure to follow in the event of something unexpected happening.

To begin with, the candidate should produce a current LMA membership card and be advised that the test aircraft needs to be the type of aircraft (or similar) to that proposed to fly at public shows. It should be recognised that the test can be conducted whilst other aircraft are in the air as this helps to give the Examiner a better indication of what sort of performance would be achieved in public displays.

It should also be appreciated that whilst it would not be considered acceptable to do the test in extreme flying conditions, there should be no attempt to postpone a test because the conditions are not perfect on the day – this type of situation may well be applicable to public show days.

Also, the assistance of a helper is an integrated part of the test and the ability of pilot and helper to work as a team will be a measured part of the testing procedure. In other words, the helper duties are not completed after starting, but remain an important of the whole process.

Section A :Structural Integrity of the model – Preparation and Start Up procedures.

The candidate should be observed checking the general integrity of the assembled airframe and particularly including the attachment integrity of the flying surfaces and their correct deflection upon command from the transmitter.

The Examiner should observe the starting procedure employed by the candidate with particular regard to safety. This should include the position of other persons relative to the propeller and appropriate precautions if the motor is petrol fuelled e.g. is an extinguisher present?

The Examiner should observe the candidate making checks at various throttle settings and in-particular be satisfied the idle is sufficiently slow to enable the model to descend and make a safe landing. As most models presented for test will over 7kg the candidate should be asked to perform a “fail safe” check.

The Examiner should observe the candidate checking the general area for safety before taxiing out to the take-off position and confirming with other pilots before doing so that it is safe to join them.

Section B: Standard of take – off in relation to the wind and entering into display demonstration.

The Examiner should ensure that the candidate is capable of taking-off safely in various directions, not standing behind the model, and with regard to the imaginary crowd-line.

After take-off, the climb-out and first turn should be observed as to safety, with the possible need to make the first turn tight to avoid getting too close to the crowd line.

Section C: Quality of display at various heights, adherence to display line distances and simulated wind directions.

The Examiner should test the candidates ability to display the model to the crowd at different heights and speeds without encroaching over the imaginary line 50 metres from the crowd and, as far as possible, without making turns towards the crowd-line. It should be demonstrated that tight turns can be made without losing height and of being able to fly a “figure-eights” in front of the pilot, again without significant loss of altitude.

Section D: Response to two of the following: imaginary emergency, engine out, stall and/or spin.

The candidate should be able to recover control of the model as soon as it gets into difficulties. Nothing should be required by the Examiner which would hazard the candidate’s model, but it is thought reasonable that, as a minimum, ability to recover quickly from a stall situation should be demonstrated.

If the model is appropriate, the Examiner should look for the ability to recover quickly and accurately from a spin and should require simple aerobatics and judge the quality of execution.

The type of model on which the test is taken is important and no candidate should be required to do anything which is not within the reasonable capability of the model or which would put it at risk.

The Examiner should test the candidate’s ability to cope with an unexpected situation without endangering the model, or the crowd. For example: –

  • The Examiner could tell the candidate that the wind had swung through 90 degrees. How, if at all, will the landing approach be changed?
  • The engine has stopped or has lost power. The candidate would be expected to make use of the helper to call a warning to other pilots and to the flight-line director to help find a safe landing approach. Circumstances would dictate where this might be, but it could be said to be unsafe at a particular height to turn the model into wind and that a downwind landing would be necessary. It would be up to the Examiner to use ingenuity to test the candidate’s capacity to sum up the situation and enlist what help was available to ensure that there were no obstructions ahead and to take quick and decisive action which would have the prime object of safety of spectators.

Section E : Quality of approach, overshoot, and landing.

On the landing approach the Examiner might tell the candidate to overshoot. It would be obvious that on setting-up this test the Examiner should not make unfair demands or do anything which might be expected to put any person or model at risk.

Candidates should show that they can judge the distance of a model and its sinking speeds. They should be prepared to enlist their helper to assist with lining up the model, warning others of the landing approach and ensuring the runway is clear and should demonstrate that they are able to ask for and use this help.

The candidate must be able to land from the left or right and show that adverse wind conditions can be handled including, where appropriate, making a safe but sharp turn close to the ground. Again the capabilities of the model being flown need to be taken into account.

After landing the pilot should clear the runway and stop the engine in a safe area. Awareness should be shown of the need to clear the runway for other aircraft as rapidly as possible and to taxi to a safe position and stop the engine in an approved manner e.g. not by throwing a rag into the propeller.

Section F: General impression of airmanship and team work with helper.

The Examiner should comment on the way the candidate reacted with other fliers during the test and how much use he made of the helper in ensuring that a high standard of airmanship was maintained throughout the take off, flying, and landing phases.

Section G: Oral examination.

The candidate will be asked a range of questions which deals with the regulations governing operation of large models. It is not considered that the candidate should fail the whole test simply upon mistakes in his replies to these questions . If however the Examiner feels that the candidate is on the borderline in the flight test, the outcome of this question and answer session should be taken fully into account.

The questions cover all aspects of the ANO , our own LMA Handbook Guidelines and other aspects of flight safety that are particularly relevant to Public Show flying. Examiners are free to word questions in a manner which is considered to be most appropriate. During the course of the question and answer session elements of all four sections below will be covered.

Section 1 – the ANO

Article 64 – this gives emphasis to the fact that any pilot, in any situation, irrespective of the weight of the aircraft is always responsible for the safe conduct of the flight “shall not recklessly or negligently cause danger to person or property”.

Article 87 – this emphasises that models between 7kg and 20kg, whilst not requiring an Exemption to fly, “shall not fly unless the person in charge of the aircraft has satisfied him/her self that the flight can be safely made”.

It also covers several other vital aspects:-

“Shall not fly in Class A,C,D,E airspace without ATC permission”, ”
Shall not fly within an air traffic zone without ATC permission”,

and perhaps most importantly “shall not fly above 400′ unless prior authority is obtained”.

Based on the ANO the following recommendations have been made by the CAA to modelling organisations in the UK. Model aircraft from 7kg to 20kg “should only be flown”:

  • Below 400′ except with permission
  • When the weather is suitable
  • Clear of controlled airspace unless ATC permission
  • Within sight of the operator
  • Well clear of any congested area of a city, town or settlement
  • At least 50m from any person, vessels, vehicles, or structures. This can be reduced to 30m for the purpose of taking off or landing. Seaplanes may have these reduced to 20m for take off and landings.
  • A serviceable “fail safe”

Section 2 – Large Models – 7kg to 150kg.

Questions in this section concern:

  • The suitability of local flying sites
  • The skill of the pilot in relation to the flying projects envisaged
  • The effect of weight on performance
  • The effect of power on performance
  • Type of hinges, linkages, and control rods on surface areas which have high loadings Wing and tail fixings
  • Radio Installation
  • Appropriate servo selection
  • Plugs, sockets, and switches.
  • Engine & Exhaust mountings
  • Spark screening
  • Propeller suitability, care and maintenance

Section 3 – Pre Show scrutiny.

Ensure that the candidate is aware of the following aspects which will be covered by scrutineers:

  • Security of wing, tail, and other dismountable surfaces
  • Suspect hinges, linkages or pushrods
  • Security of clevises
  • Low battery warning systems
  • Engine mounting and propeller security
  • Serviceable fail safe

Section 4 – Show procedures.

Questions will cover aspects of:

  • 20 Khz spacing
  • Purpose of Tx control
  • Flight briefing attendance
  • Involvement of helper
  • Purpose of “ready box”
  • Purpose of ” start-up box”
  • Issues to be aware of in start-up box

A brief explanation of the following duties as set out in CAP 658:-

  • Flying Display Director
  • Flight Line Director
  • Flight Line Marshall
  • Important aspects applicable to Flight Box
  • Statutory distances from spectator barrier of flight box and display line
  • Action to take when an accident involves a Third party

Follow-up Action

The completed Examiners Report for a successful candidate is returned to the Proficiency Scheme Secretary, by the Examiner with the result duly certified in the place provided, ensuring the candidates full name, address and LMA number have been entered.

On receipt of this information the Proficiency Scheme Secretary will issue a new membership card which will certify that the candidate now holds a Proficiency Scheme Certificate and he can produce this for validation purposes to public show organisers.

This text was taken from documents prepared for Examiners in March 2004 by:

Tony Hooper
LMA Chief Examiner & Safety Officer

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