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September 2008 - Welcome to the IAOPA Europe enews which goes to 23,000 aircraft owners and pilots in 27 countries across the continent



IAOPA-Europe e-news, September 2008


Welcome to the bi-monthly e-news of IAOPA-Europe, which goes out to 23,000 AOPA members in 27 countries across Europe.

‘Pivotal times’ for GA


Eurocontrol’s director general David McMillan has warned that general aviation cannot afford to take its eye off the ball at this crucial time for airspace planning and must reinforce its efforts to ensure that its position is plain as far-reaching decisions are being made in Brussels and elsewhere.
“This is not the time to pull back on the resources,” Mr McMillan says. “These are pivotal times, with the Single European Sky second package and SESAR getting under way. This is a time to make sure your voice really is heard.”

In an interview with IAOPA-Europe, Mr McMillan said he believed IAOPA generally did a good job in making its presence felt, and despite the fact that it could not afford to buy a seat at the table during the development phase of SESAR – the 250,000 euros a year it would cost is beyond our budget – we will still take part in negotiations through an airspace users’ “free ticket” to SESAR.
In a wide-ranging interview Mr McMillan addressed some of the concerns IAOPA has about airspace access, and spoke of some of the main changes he has sought to make at Eurocontrol since he took over in January. He has laid stress on improving the organisation’s internal governance and management and sharpening its business sense and its responsiveness to such groups as air navigation service providers. He puts the environment into the top rank of Eurocontrol considerations, and sets great store by strengthening partnerships with outside agencies and interest groups.

Mode-S etc
On requirements for GA to pay large sums for kit it doesn’t necessarily want or need, he says: “I’m conscious that there’s a direct link between the levels of equipment that we regulators impose on people and airspace access issues, and we need to find the right balance between the two. It doesn’t seem to me that it’s in anybody’s interest to regulate a level, either in terms of airspace classification or equipage, that prevents GA doing what seem to me to be a very legitimate set of activities. We need to get that balance right.”

“I think we’re seeing firm orders of about 100 VLJs a year in Europe, and with an average of three flights per day per aircraft, that’s not an insignificant amount of growth. It’s also growth we think will be concentrated in the busiest airspace between England and northern Italy – it’s not happening where there’s a lot of spare airspace. VLJs will fly at roughly the same flight levels and they’re a bit slower typically, so it’s a significant issue. We will be holding a workshop on VLJs, bringing together all the potential operators and the ANSPs to run realistic simulations on how these aircraft will impact on the system. There are issues here that we need to tackle.”

On June 27th this year there were 34,476 movements in European skies, an all-time record. Delays are substantially down on the turn of the century despite the increase, but Eurocontrol’s aim is to handle up to 50,000 movements daily by 2020 at an average of 37,500 per day, with delays kept below one minute per aircraft, and that calls for a 35 percent increase in capacity. Economic conditions may give Eurocontrol a breather as it races to increase capacity, but Mr McMillan does not believe we have come to a brick wall in the sky. “Over the last four months the average rate of growth has been just a squeeze over one percent; last year at the same time was about five percent. It’s hard to say, but we’re getting near to the situation where we might actually see a decline in air traffic levels compared to the previous year, because of the price of fuel, the European economy being less robust, and the aviation market which in some areas I suspect is reaching maturity. Is this a hiccup or a long-term structural change? Since the Second World War the rate of growth has been broadly constant, with hiccups, and at the moment we expect that that is the way we’re going. We need to prepare for the levels of growth we were predicting when the SESAR programme was put together, but we can’t afford to assume that it will go that way, so we’re watching things very closely.”

The full interview with David McMillan will be published in the October issue of the AOPA UK magazine General Aviation, which will be placed on the IAOPA-Europe website.

Avgas Tax

At the insistence of the EC, on July 1st Sweden introduced tax on avgas amounting to about one US dollar per litre for “private pleasure flying”. While pleasure flying is a small percentage of the total – flight schools, company transport flights, fire spotting, parachuting, glider-towing and so forth are exempt – a huge amount of bureaucracy is involved in the new tax because everyone must pay, and those who are eligible must claim the tax back. This can be done every three months if the value of the returned tax is more than 500 Swedish kroner.

Lars Hjemlberg of AOPA-Sweden reports that the EC has refused to consider tax reductions for cleaner lead-free avgas, which now forms the majority of avgas sold in Sweden. This removes any financial incentive to change to lead-free fuel. “The Commission has always been eager to force through taxes on avgas with arguments about pollution and environmental qualities,” Lars says, “but when it comes to the reality of opening up for cleaner fuels with tax concessions they have refused to do anything.”

Lars’s company Hjelmco Oil is the world’s largest provider of unleaded avgas. His website contains much information about future fuels, including unleaded fuels and there are many useful Powerpoint presentations, with most of the data in English.

Part M

There has been very little feedback across Europe from the consultation on Part M, which means the new maintenance system is being imposed without the changes many AOPAs believe are necessary. The requirements are hopelessly complex for general aviation and will add significantly to operating costs without doing anything to improve safety. The negative reaction to the initial consultation led EASA to offer a ‘Part M lite’ for GA, but this has turned out to be a fig-leaf to cover EASA’s nakedness. It will help only gliders and microlights, and serves only to highlight the fact that EASA looks on consultation largely as an irritant, and continues on its nanny-knows-best path.

In the UK, despite misgivings the Civil Aviation Authority has gone ahead with plans to mandate Part M from this month, although at AOPA’s urging it has given engineers six months to comply with the requirements. One of the problems facing the CAA is that it has sold a number of Part M authorisations and doesn’t want the buyers to start complaining that they’re getting nothing for their money.


Ernst Hauff

One of AOPA Belgium’s long-standing board members, delegate to the IAOPA-Europe Regional Meetings and IAOPA World Assemblies, and experienced pilot with home bases in Belgium and Switzerland, Ernst Hauff passed away in July. Ernst, born in 1933, joined Eurocontrol in 1964 and spent his entire career at its Brussels headquarters, retiring in 1996. He was vocal, active and successful in representing general aviation and his technical advice was invaluable. He will be much missed.

Regional Meeting

The 119th IAOPA-Europe Regional Meeting will be held in Zurich on Saturday 18th October, and it is expected that new AOPA US president Craig Fuller will accompany his predecessor Phil Boyer to the event; a welcome/farewell dinner will be held on the evening of Friday 17th to mark the changeover.

Aero Friedrichshafen

An unbreakable date for your diary – Aero-Expo at Friedrichshafen from April 2 to 5, 2009. This is far and away Europe’s biggest general aviation show – last year it attracted 553 exhibitors and 45,000 visitors. From next year it will be held annually. Check out the Aero website at


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