Search begins for new IAOPA President
Craig Fuller is to step down as President of the International Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the search has begun for his successor. Craig, who is also President and Chief Executive of AOPA in the United States, committed to five years at IAOPA’s head when he took the job in January 2009, and will stay in office until a successor is found.
Martin Robinson, Senior Vice President of IAOPA, said: “Craig has done a great deal of work to strengthen AOPA’s presence on the international stage, and we have all benefited from his knowledge, experience and vision. He will be sorely missed and difficult to replace.”
In announcing his decision, Fuller said: “I have flown since the age of 17, and flying has been part of my life ever since. It has been a privilege to work with my colleagues on a strong set of initiatives that have built on the decades of hard work by AOPA Trustees and members of the management team. With the end of my five-year commitment approaching, the process of finding a new leader can now go forward as all of us at IAOPA roll up our sleeves to fight the day to day battles that seem to keep coming our way.”
Fuller was a skilled political operator who was assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs between 1981 and 1985, and chief of staff to Vice President George Bush from 1985 to 1989. In business, his positions included service as president or vice chairman of several leading public affairs firms. With the increasing globalisation of aviation regulation, he laid new emphasis on co-operation between the 70 AOPAs worldwide and bolstered IAOPA’s presence in Brussels.
GA strategy – rolling back the EASA burden
IAOPA has responded to European moves towards a general aviation safety strategy with a series of suggestions aimed at improving EASA regulation of GA and reducing unnecessary burdens on the industry. The Association is continuing its push for a redefinition of ‘commercial’ aviation which moves away from the all-encompassing EASA notion that virtually anything where money changes hands is commercial – including cost-sharing by private pilots, business-related flights, and group ownership of aircraft. It also believes that such pursuits as air racing and charity flights should not be considered commercial.
IAOPA also wants EASA to accelerate work on Phase 2 of the reconsideration of the Part M maintenance requirements to relieve some of the cost and bureaucracy burdens that have been improves with no improvement in safety. Some of the mistakes made with Part M are being repeated with EASA’s moves towards creating Approved Training Organisations, which face greatly increased bureaucratic requirements and costs with no apparent safety goal. IAOPA says many small flight training organisations will be unable to cope with the additional administration requirements and wants costly and burdensome changes to be revisited before they are forced on the industry. There are also concerns over instructor and examiner requirements
IAOPA is also seeking to simplify the Agency’s stance on GPS approaches at GA fields, reconsider inflexible laws on oxygen installation, and step back from its determination to kill of the UK’s Instrument Meteorological Conditions rating, allowing it at least to continue in the UK, where it has saved many lives in its 40 years of operation. It seeks an interpretation of the ICAO language proficiency requirements to restrict them to airspace and aerodromes where an air traffic control service is required and a change to medical requirements to exclude fewer private pilots unnecessarily from the industry. Third country registration issues, it says, should be dealt with through a validation system, and STCs from ICAO-contracting states should be acceptable to all. There should be no need for EASA to approve minor modifications
In conclusion, IAOPA says the EASA requirement to achieve “a high, uniform level of safety” is too amorphous, and in suggesting that safety levels for airliners should be identical to those for paragliders or small helicopters it places too great a burden on GA. The Basic Regulation governing EASA’s work should be modified to reflect this.
IAOPA’s full submission will be made available when it is finalised.
IAOPA seeks assurances on SES for GA
IAOPA is concerned that general aviation is being neglected amid faltering progress towards a Single European Sky (SES) and has written to European Commissioner for Air Transport Matthew Baldwin seeking assurance that continued participation in SES projects is a fruitful use of time and resources.
Ambitious plans for the improvement of Europe’s fragmented air traffic systems have slipped down the priority list as airlines’ economic problems have taken precedence, and goals that should already have been achieved are still some way from reality. At a hearing on progress Commissioner Baldwin stressed that GA should remain involved in the Single European Sky effort. But IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson has again expressed frustration with the lack of real consideration being given to general aviation under SES.
In his letter to Matthew Baldwin he says: “IAOPA Europe commits thousands of euros of membership income each year to participate in the debates through the Industry Consultation Body and other forums. IAOPA is also involved formally with SESAR (the SES Research Programme) and we have put enormous resources and effort into commenting on high-level documents such as the Concept of Operations, where we identified deficiencies in relation to GA’s operational needs and constraints. However, it appears that very little if any of the proposed suggestions have been incorporated into SES.”
While IAOPA fully understands the priority which is being given to those SES functions which largely concern commercial air transport, Mr Robinson says it is difficult to see where GA’s contribution is being taken seriously. “By focusing exclusively on airline aircraft, SES is missing the opportunity to improve operational efficiency, reduce emissions, and lower the overall costs for all members of the aviation community,” he writes. “In fact, our counterparts in the States are actually seeing a decrease in the amount of controlled airspace as a result of airspace redesign that not only improves the efficiency of aircraft operating out of main airports but frees up airspace for those operators that utilise the surrounding airfields.”
Mr Robinson seeks a clear lead from the Commission on how general aviation is to be included in the SES process in a meaningful way.
Mr Robinson said yesterday: “I believe Matthew Baldwin genuinely wishes to do more than pay lip service to the idea of involving general aviation in SES debates, but we lack the ability to ensure that GA’s concerns are dealt with in a meaningful way. We want to help, but we cannot afford to deploy our resources in ways that are unproductive.”
AOPA wins ground on seaplanes in Greece
AOPA Hellas is close to winning its fight to legalise the use of seaplanes in Greece, which could revolutionise aviation in the Aegean. A new law now in front of the Greek Parliament aims to allow some seaplane operations for both commercial and private use.
Greece should be seaplane heaven – it has 2,000 islands, only a tiny proportion of which have airstrips. But all seaplane operations are presently illegal. The government has only recently woken up to the potential of general aviation and is liberalising the sector, but civil aviation officials wish to retain tight control over seaplane flights.
Last year, AOPA Hellas appealed to other AOPAs for information on their own seaplane operations, and used the data in a determined campaign to have seaplanes accepted. Anton Koutsoudakis of AOPA Hellas says: “We fought hard to make this happen. We have had hundreds of meetings with Government officials, Mayors and MPs. We have sent countless letters, messages and memos. We made presentations based on technical information provided by other AOPAs, whom we would like to thank. Especially we would like to thank Mr Kevin Psutka of AOPA Canada for his valuable assistance.
“The final draft of the law that is in front of Parliament today is not as good as we had hoped for. But at the same time, it is not as bad as it could be. The important thing is it allows seaplane ops to start. Minor problems will be addressed later on.”
Greece has come further than perhaps any other country in opening up to general aviation in the last ten years, and it is reaping the rewards. New training organisations are setting up, largely attracting foreign students, with Greece positioning itself as “the Florida of Europe”. Despite the recession, one Greek school is now flying more than 2,000 hours a month.
But in Finland, GA staggers
In sharp contrast to Greece, authorities in Finland seem determined to crush the life out of the general aviation industry with excessive regulation, perverse interpretations of EASA rules and challenges to viability. Esa Harju of AOPA Finald says that since his country's accession to the EU in 1995, general aviation has been hit hard. Energy and excise taxes have raised the price of avgas – already burdened with 24% VAT – beyond the ability of the average taxpayer to continue flying. Ruthless taxation authorities and Customs allow no tax deduction for cross-border flights because they consider general aviation to be purely leisure activity. Finland's government has ignored the EU 2003:96 directive which would allow less onerous taxes on unleaded aviation gasoline. As a result 100LL is around €3,05 per litre.
The national airport and air navigation service operator, Finavia, affords GA no mercy. They ignore article 7 of the EU 96/67 directive, which allows self-handling, and charges – already astronomical – are set to rise further. usurious. . Currently there are season cards available only by the end of June from Finavia. No-one knows how high the LD and TN charges shall be from 1st of July. E.g. EFHF season card fee has been double compared to other airports with same service level in Finland. (If you haven't signed the petition to save Malmi aerodrome you can view it here)
The Finnish government has taken the EU directive (RES) 2009/28 very seriously, even doubling the EU requirement for ethanol content in petrol, which means it is now impossible to find mogas with less than 5% ethanol content, required to comply with standards EN228 and EN237. Sports Untility Vehicle sales soared by 30% in 2012 but general aviation statistics are in decline, and this is reflected in safety statistics – the less you fly, the more prone you are to accident.
EASA's Part M maintenance requirements are still a huge mystery to most of the private pilots in Finland. The national interpretations does not make the implementation any easier – for example, it is required to list the expiry dates of medical certificates of all pilot owners in maintenance documentation. To compound the problem, all EASA documents are translated in Finnish with maximum use of bureaucratic and civil service jargon, with caveats and inexplicable additions which render them impossible to understand. AOPA Finland is compiling a response to the EASA GA Safety Strategy mentioning problems of interpretation and application by national authorities.
Sign the petition to save Spa
One of Belgium’s oldest airfields, Spa La Sauveniere, has been closed following a campaign by Greens and a local mineral water company. AOPA members are asked to consider signing a petition which seeks its reopening.
Following an order issued by the Belgian regional Transport Minister Philippe Henry, the historic airfield of Spa (EBSP) was shut down on February 21st after more of 100 years serving as a GA airfield. The decision means the destruction of more than 40 jobs at the airfield, with hundreds of pilots and thousands of skydivers losing their home base. Several meetings with high-ranking politicians have been announced for the coming weeks with the intention of reinstating Spa as a GA airfield.
It is important to show support for the continuation of aviation activities at Spa, so please consider signing the petition here and spreading the word.
Maastricht airspace changes
There are to be changes to controlled airspace on the Netherlands–Belgium border, with the Maastricht CTR being extended to the south west by one nautical mile, effective from April 4th. This area is heavily used by GA, especially by Dutch, Belgian and German pilots, and there have been frequent airproxes involving GA and commercial aircraft heading for the ILS for runway 03 at Maastricht. The straightening of the CTR boundary is an attempt to cure this airprox “hot spot”. The new CTR boundary no longer conforms to the national border, and pushes the VFR corridor between Maastricht and Liege further to the south. See: Link to airspace changes
Elba offers AOPA members discounts
AOPA Italy has renewed its agreement with the Chamber of Commerce on the island of Elba which provides significant inducements to members of AOPAs worldwide to visit the beautiful island. Handling fees at the siland’s airport are significantly reduced, while Elba’s hotels and restaurants offer discounts of between t and 15 percent to pilots with AOPA membership cards.
Discounts are available all members presenting a valid AOPA membership card. In the case of hotel reservations, only if the reservation has been arranged directly with the hotel by phone, email or web can the discount be claimed – travel agencies and web reservation systems are excluded. AOPA Italy’s Massimo Levy is creating an English-language version of the list of participants, which also includes shops and beach operators. This is expected to be available in April, and a link will be provided in a future enews.
Ukraine fly-in on again this year
AOPA Ukraine is once again helping to organise the music, biking and aviation festival in Ushgorod this summer, and all AOPA members are cordially invited. The festival, which was a great success last year, attractive pilots from all over Europe, is jointly run by Gennadi Khasan, President of AOPA Ukraine, and Alexander Suchanov, President of the International Biker Club Padonki. An account of last year’s event, published in the AOPA UK magazine General Aviation, is available in PDF form here – download the file ‘Pages 32-26 East to the Steppes’. More details of this year’s programme will be available from the middle of April on the AOPA Ukraine website (www.aopa.ua). At that time registration for the pilots and crew members will start.
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