Irish airspace is becoming a ‘no fly zone’ for Northern Irish pilots, a local flying school has claimed.
Kernan Aviation in Tandragee accused the Irish Aviation Authority of “slamming the door” on local pilots.
They said: “For many years now UK general aviation pilots have flown peacefully and safely in the skies above Ireland. We have visited each other’s fly in barbecues and forged firm friendships. Our licences were granted by the CAA after rigorous training and testing, and maintained under strict conditions.
“We’re probably safer and more closely monitored than the driver passing inches from your wing mirror in the opposite direction on a country road, but suddenly the Irish Aviation Authority has decided we are banned from their skies. And they didn’t even have the sense to inform the relevant bodies such as the Irish and British microlight associations.
“The door had been slammed in our faces for almost a year before someone discovered it on the IAA website hidden under a pile of bureaucracy.
“And the reason? They don’t like our medical. The same medical that’s widely accepted in other EC countries and has been for years.”
However, a spokesperson for The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) said that they require all pilots to meet “internationally accepted safe medical standards”.
In a statement to the Portadown Times they said: “The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is committed to ensuring the highest level of safety for pilots, crews and passengers flying in Irish airspace.
“The IAA continues to welcome all flying visitors to Ireland, provided they meet the technical flight safety and medical ‘fit-to-fly’ standards of the State.
“As part of this commitment to flight safety, all pilots active in Irish airspace must be medically ‘fit-to-fly’.
“Medical safety standards continue to be a key element of licensing standards in Ireland.”
The IAA requires all pilots, including those flying on commercial airlines as well as those flying for pleasure, to meet the internationally accepted safe medical standards.
“Irish licensed pilots have always been required to have as a minimum, a valid ‘ICAO Class 2’ or ‘EU Part MED LAPL’ medical certificate in order to fly in Irish airspace.
“This requires a pilot under the age of 40, to have a medical check-up at least once in every five years. Pilots over 40 years of age must have at least one medical every 2 years.”