TMA charges to hit general aviation
New terminal charges to be introduced at 215 airports across Europe will mean increased costs for general aviation operators who have to use those airfields. An approach charge which will probably be between €20 and €30 for small aircraft is being planned by the European Commission under its Single European Sky initiative, and unlike en route charges which are paid only by airlines, the terminal charge will be paid by all.
The charge has been proposed because airports complain that while they have to do most of the ATC work, they don’t get a fair share of en route charges. En route charging begins 20km from an airport of departure and ends 20km from the destination, and 80 percent of charges are kept by en route control organisations. En route charges vary from state to state – the Spanish charge 83 cents per km, the British and Germans about 68 cents, the Maltese 25 cents. Balancing charges against fuel costs, airlines dog-leg around Europe looking for the cheapest route. Charges bring in over €6 billion a year for ATC, collected by Eurocontrol and distributed to states.
Now a separate charge will be introduced to compensate airports, and every approaching aircraft will pay whether IFR or VFR. The charge will be per kilogram of aircraft weight and will take no account of the operator’s ability to pass it on to passengers. In the case of a regional airport like East Midlands in the United Kingdom, the pilot of a Cessna 172 will pay three separate charges – approach, landing, and mandatory handling – whether he or she needs any service or not.
Plans to charge were set out at a meeting in Brussels on November 26th attended by IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson. The formula will be the weight of the aircraft multiplied by a factor yet to be decided, and there will be no discounts for non-commercial flights. Introduction of the system is scheduled for January 1st, 2010. IAOPA is mapping the 215 airports affected in order to warn members of where they face increased costs.
The new charges will come despite a warning from EC Vice President Antonio Tajani that the aviation industry is in a dreadful state. In a letter to transport ministers he says airlines worldwide face losses of $11 billion this year, with $3.8 billion of that in Europe. In the first seven months of the year there was a nine percent reduction in passengers and a 20 percent reduction in cargo. Business travel by airline has been hardest hit, and there have been several bankruptcies in the sector. He has urged a moratorium on increases in charges during 2010.
What's the future for avgas in Europe?
With avgas sales estimated to have fallen by 40 percent across Europe this year fuel suppliers are looking more closely than ever at the economics of the business, and some are getting out of avgas supply altogether. Amsterdam Schiphol and Göteborg Landwetter are the latest airports to abandon avgas, and the continuing loss of avgas at H24 IFR airports makes it ever more difficult to use a piston-engined aircraft as a serious business tool.
Lars Hjelmberg of AOPA Sweden says Shell Europe looks like revoking its avgas carnets across Europe from December 31st, because its affiliates will be taking MasterCard and Visa instead. Self-service stations will also work on these credit cards, but it’s not clear how operators who have negotiated discounts will fare using credit cards. There may also be tax implications because rudimentary invoices from automatic service stations do not always verify that energy, CO2 taxes and VAT have been paid, and even where they do, the VAT receipts may not satisfy the tax authorities.
Lars, who runs Hjelmco Oil in Sweden, says: “When I flew to Zurich via Budapest in the Navajo I found there was no avgas in Budapest and had to stop at Krakow in Poland. So the only IFR airport within 200 km of Budapest has no avgas. Across Europe, the supply situation is getting very bad.”
Avgas prices 'spiralling out of control'
Dr Ivan Gatt, President of AOPA Malta, reports that the price of avgas on the island has recently been raised by 30 percent, and when excise duty and VAT are added, a litre now costs €2.60. That equates to $14.66 per US gallon. As Dr Gatt points out, avgas is $1.78 a gallon in parts of South America. Even though prices are rising there, too, they’re never going to suffer as much as the Europeans. Has the cost of avgas spiralled out of control elsewhere in Europe, too, Dr Gatt asks?
Lars Hjelmberg, whose company Hjelmco Oil provides more than 70 percent of the avgas used in his country, says the massive drop in volume in this recession is affecting prices. “Decreased volumes make a difference. It makes one wonder how long existing producers will continue to refine avgas.”
Given that volumes in Malta are exceptionally low – only a few thousand gallons a year – Dr Gatt and Lars Hjelmberg are looking into the practicality of Hjelmco providing isocontainers of avgas for an underground storage facility in Malta. There are many difficulties to be overcome.
'Inherently harmless' UAVs?
IAOPA Europe is concerned that promoters of unmanned aerial systems are presenting small aircraft weighing 1.5 kg as “inherently harmless” and want to press ahead with the introduction of such aircraft into European airspace without delay. IAOPA believes that safety rules must apply to all unmanned systems, even those weighing little more than a cannonball. UAV companies in Belgium, France, Norway and Switzerland are putting pressure on EUROCAE, the European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment, to accept that such aircraft pose no threat to existing air traffic and should be allowed very soon, and without “cumbersome rules”.
IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson says: “A small UAV could result in tremendous damage and loss of life when it’s hit at 150mph or more, and it would be especially dangerous because it was so difficult to see. You wouldn’t be mad enough to send it blindly into speeding motorway traffic, so you shouldn’t think about firing it into the path of moving aircraft without proper consideration of risk. IAOPA insists that all unmanned aerial systems be considered in the same light, without short-cuts or concessions.”
Training win for IAOPA in Europe
IAOPA-Europe has scored a major success in negotiations with EASA over training requirements for light aircraft pilots. Jacob Pedersen of AOPA Denmark represented IAOPA at a preliminary meeting to discuss the planned Operational Suitability Certificate, which EASA has proposed every aircraft must have, linked to its type certificate. The OSC should define the training requirements the pilot must go through to fly that particular aircraft. For small aircraft like the C172 and PA-28 EASA proposed a generic Certification Standard (CS) for pilot training which the manufacturer could choose to apply. This would, however, introduce a whole new layer of complexity if a pilot wanted to transfer from one type to another within, for example, the single engine piston class of aircraft.
Jacob argued that if something is sufficiently general to be in a generic CS for a simple aircraft, then it should be covered by the FCL training or the class rating. “A generic CS for flight training does not make any sense on aircraft covered by a class rating and where a type rating is not required,” he said. During the meeting it became clear that the people who wrote the OSC NPA came from the aircraft certification department and had little knowledge of FCL standards and class ratings. Fortunately they admitted this, and accepted the IAOPA proposal to apply OSC only to aircraft where a type-rating is already required. A future working group on this subject will determine the criteria governing when a type rating is required. EASA does not foresee having the resources to form this group before 2011.
AOPA Summit seeks to change public perceptions
A number of IAOPA-Europe representatives travelled to America for AOPA Summit, the renamed AOPA-Expo, including Lennart Persson of Sweden, Michael Erb of Germany, and Martin Robinson and Charles Strasser of AOPA UK. The event was an opportunity to set out exactly how AOPA is fighting the recession and other threats, including public perceptions of general aviation as a luxury which can be dispensed with in hard times – the attitude which forced major companies to shut down their corporate flight departments in order to be eligible to receive taxpayers’ money. Major organisations like AOPA, NBAA, EAA and GAMA have jointly funded the ‘GA Serves America’ programme, using figureheads Morgan Freeman and Harrison Ford to explain how general aviation puts $103 billion per annum into the American economy. The groups also get together to pay for the representation of GA at the highest levels of government. IAOPA had a stand at the show, which accords with new AOPA US President Craig Fuller’s vision of the Association as a global operator representing GA in every part of the world.
UK IMC rating must be saved
An urgent meeting has been arranged between AOPA UK and EASA's Deputy Head of Rulemaking Eric Sivel on December 2 to discuss, inter alia, the UK's IMC Rating, which has been totally misrepresented to the rest of Europe by vested interests pursuing their own imperatives. Some 25,000 UK pilots have taken the IMC Rating in the last 27 years. It is a 15-hour flying course which equips pilots to maintain control if they accidentally enter IMC and to get their aircraft safely back onto the ground. It confers no rights to file IFR, no extra access to airspace, and no additional privileges beyond the PPL apart from absolving the holder from the UK requirement to remain in sight of the ground. The IMC rating has made a major contribution to the UK's excellent GA safety record, despite the country's capricious weather. It has saved countless lives, and in 27 years old one holder has been killed flying into IMC. Much of the rest of Europe, however, has been misinformed that the IMC rating confers "essentally the same privileges as the Instrument Rating with 20 percent of the training" and that its safety record is questionable. These claims have been made by Jim Thorpe, a UK representative of Europe Air Sports at FCL-008, the EASA Working Group that was tasked with studying the IMC Rating. None of this is true. The IMC Rating is supported by IAOPA Europe, the British Airline Pilots Asociation,the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators and many more UK pilots' groups. Nick Wilcock, chairman of the Guild's Training Committee, says: "TheIMC Rating is not just a privilege but an absolute necessity for the saving of life." Martin Robinson adds: "Having other European countries condemn the IMC rating is like having the Dutch condemn the Swiss Mountain Rating because they have no use for it. We will be examining every option for its retention."
Several other topics involving the UK and Denmark are scheduled for discussion on December 2.
GARDA CTR fight moves to Italian Parliament
AOPA Italy continues to hammer away at Italy’s civil aviation authority and the military over the effective closure to general aviation of the Garda CTA, which covers a huge swathe of northern Italy. An opposition MP has put down an urgent formal question to the Ministers of Transport Foreign Affairs on the issue, which has caused discomfiture at the Air Force and the CAA. The government’s answers so far have been vague.
The closure has come about because while the military provide ATC services in Garda, the civil authorities are paid for it by Eurocontrol. The military wants the money, and as part of its campaign has shut GA out of Garda. General aviation is caught in the crossfire. You may see a video of the MP’s intervention on the AOPA Italy website http://www.aopa.it. On the main page it says: Interpellanza urgente alla Camera dei Deputati per il CTR Garda: registrazione video: clicca qui. Click on that to view.
Simplified flight planning on your PDA
AOPA member Ed Oleksy has developed a service that provides direct online access to a database of validated routes, the ability to file flight plans, and the receipt of acknowledgement messages within the EU. Uniquely, Oleksy’s and a colleague have been granted access to Eurocontrol data, and they have worked hard to create a useful web-based tool which you can see at eurofpl.eu. They also provide a portal for PDAs and smartphones at eurofpl.eu/mobilewx. Both area easy to use, adding real-time flight tracking and up-to-the-moment weather information to flight planning features. The intention is to offer this service free to non-commercial users and to cover costs with advertising revenue, which depends on the number of pilots they can encourage to use the service.
In the footsteps of Magellan...
AOPA Germany member Hans-Jürgen Schwerhoff is planning a round-the-world flight in his Cessna P210N, operating single pilot in a single-engined plane and on a single continuous flight, landing in 19 countries. Encouragingly for those of us whose partners do not share our love of flying, his wife Wilma is going along for the ride. The purpose of the flight is to interest young people in aviation and to encourage them to become private or commercial pilots. The trip will start on April 1st 2010 in Germany, and over the next four months Hans-Jürgen and Wilma will visit Italy, Greece, Egypt, UAE, Oman, India, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Canada, USA, Greenland, Iceland, and England. Jürgen, a CPL/IR who holds MEP and aerobatic ratings, is CFI or a large German flight school.
The couple will be the 165th circumnavigators in an SEP aircraft since 1924, according to the website www.earthrounders.com/index.html which is a meeting place for those who have flown around the world in light aircraft, thus qualifying for the FAI’s Circumnavigator Badge.
A few years ago Sabadell Airport in Barcelona was under threat from developers who seemed to have the ear of the City Fathers, but it has been saved largely through the efforts of AOPA-Spain President Carlos Marti, who is also President of Sabadell Aero Club. Carlos and his band of supporters worked tirelessly to bring TV, newspapers and Barcelona’s movers and shakers onside, organising street protests and impressing on the population the fact that 1,000 jobs were at stake, many of them in high-tech GA support industries.
IAOPA was asked for help, and Martin Robinson made a presentation to the Mayor’s office on the economic value of general aviation. Martin says: “Barcelona is very keen to attract and retain jobs in the technology sector, and they were clearly receptive to the argument that GA makes a significant contribution in this area. Of course, Spain also has a great opportunity to develop its GA sector – I pointed out that Spain today matches where the UK was in 1972, in terms of GA activity, so there is enormous room for improvement.”
A decision was made by the Mayor’s office that Sabadell should be saved for general aviation. Earlier this year, IAOPA general secretary John Sheehan accepted an award from the Mayor of Barcelona, Snr Jordi Hereu, for IAOPA’s part in helping save Sabadell.
Martin Robinson says: “Sabadell stands as a monument to the efforts of Carlos Marti and his supporters, who have worked incredibly hard to overcome the obstacles they faced. It was useful for them to have an international dimension to their arguments, but the credit for saving Sabadell belongs to them. If you’re flying in that part of Spain, think of visiting Sabadell – it has great facilities and very welcoming people.”