We in EBAA have been very active on a number of fronts in the last few weeks, including: launching a campaign against illegal charters in Europe; holding a highly successful regional forum in Vienna aimed at linking East and West; and of course lobbying in respect of EASA rulemaking where matters are coming to a head on Flight Crew Licensing, which is now nearly through the "opinion" phase, and on EASA Ops and Special Approvals for which the Comment/Response (CRD) processes have just closed.
There is no doubt that illegal charter is becoming an increasing problem for us all in these tough financial times, both by those that do not have an AOC, and therefore expose their customers to significant risk should everything not go according to plan, and those AOC holders outside EU 27, who are just chancing their arm by operating flights for which they have no permit, either intentionally of unintentionally. This is not good for any of us and readers may have seen details of our PR campaign, which is supported by both electronic and hard copy brochures. Clearly our members feel as strongly as we do on this topic as they have requested over 4,000 copies of the hard copy brochures, which clarify the rules and highlight the dangers of illegal operations, aimed at informing business aviation customers of the implications for them if they use such illegal operators. We shall continue to be active here throughout 2011.
Naturally this topic was also high on the agenda at the successful forum we held in Vienna last month. Over 100 delegates attended this event, where we decided to get away from "death by PowerPoint" and, instead, use short presentations by specialists to set the scene and then engage all participants in the debate.
This format proved an out-standing success, with 98% of attendees liking the idea of a two-day, intense working session and over 90 per cent in favour of the "no PowerPoints – just issues and your input concept." As a result of the very lively forum, we have agreed a number of action points, including the definition of private flights, operations into Eastern Europe, and performance rules for business aviation. We will develop these within specialist focus groups, to take them forward into clear EBAA action points. In short, we had a wonderfully productive few days in Vienna, using a concept that works and which we shall certainly be repeating.
Turning next to EASA, we thought we had reached a satisfactory agreement to allow simulator training by non-EU organisations, with suitable approvals from the appropriate national authorities. Certainly, in lobbying with our colleague airline and national business aviation associations, we were pleased at the result we thought we had achieved. However, I have just been advised, as I write, that while the FCL Opinion now reflects the result of our joint lobbying, the Authority Requirements (AR) do not and, if nothing is changed, then instruction and examination outside the EU will effectively have to cease after April 2012, with disastrous consequences for the safety of operations in our sector.
There are just two weeks to get an amendment into AR and OR before the Opinion on this is finalised and goes to the Commission, so we shall continue to work with colleagues, especially those in the BBGA who have been doing a truly wonderful job, to see that the rules being developed are both workable and appropriate for our sector.
On Ops rules we have a little more time, but the CRD period has now closed and we look forward to the next phase of specialist meetings, where we shall be working with EASA to consolidate the comments and continue to develop the rules into the "opinion" phase. Our big concern here is that, while we have been pleased at the high quality of the work delivered by our experts in the drafting groups, we have received virtually no comments from members during the CRD phase. So I have an important message for all readers: If you have not yet read the hundreds of pages of the EASA CAT and SPA drafts, please allow yourself half a day to scan through the headings and identify the sections that most concern you. Then, please review these and let us have your comments. While it is still not too late, it soon will be. April 2012 is not that far away!
Brian Humphries (president and ceo of the European Business Aviation Association)