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Single engine IFR ops to be shot in the arm for the industry, says BBGA panel
A panel of business aviation personnel at the recent BBGA annual meeting have concluded that single engine IFR operations in Europe would have a galvanising effect on the market.

A panel of business aviation personnel at the recent BBGA annual meeting have concluded that single engine IFR operations in Europe would have a galvanising effect on the market. Chaired by Oriens Aviation CEO Edwin Brenninkmeyer, the discussion revealed that the UK CAA has already held two public meetings with EASA to discuss the matter. Head of the CAA Geoff Parker said that the organisation would use its 'exemptive powers' to allow such flights as early as October this year.

Operators can seize the EASA endorsement to prepare manuals for approval in readiness for public charter flights, and Eurocontrol is already working on developing new low level routes to accommodate these aircraft.

“This is just what this stagnant market needs,” remarked WingX Advance MD Richard Koe. “The market for aircraft like the Cirrus, TBM and PC-12 has seen a 16 per cent compound annual growth rate this last decade. There are around 2,000 aircraft of this type active in Europe, almost all flying privately, with the PC-12 the most popular. The proven appeal of these aircraft, with their great operational versatility and low pricing, is just the sort of opportunity that online brokerage organisations should look to exploit in Europe.”

At London Oxford airport, there has been a marked increase in the use of business turboprop and piston aircraft. Said business development director James Dillon Godfray: “These aircraft are ideal for tedious 200-300 mile journeys where the car journey is too long and the train service is not direct, and typically expensive.

“They would also suit shuttle services for corporates who want to get to their factories a few times a week. The Cessna Caravan is a regular at Oxford, mainly performing cargo flights, and with the Pilatus flying at up to 285 kts and hitting its economical sweet spot on trips from Oxford to Edinburgh or Paris, this could be a real transformation for our industry.”

Neil Harvey, director of Hunt and Palmer, said that the King Air is harder to sell against a small jet, and when charters are booked it is usually for under four passengers, while SaxonAir commercial director Chris Mace expects to see new operators emerge. “It won't work for everyone, but entry level jet charter is faring well and is popular. 

New single engine types for public charter will no doubt bring a few more AOC operators to the scene.”

The final word went to Gama Aviation CEO Marwan Khalek, whose own business started out of Fairoaks airport in 1983 with a Beech Baron. “Our industry has always stood out as entrepreneurial,” he said. “If it brings new entrants in, it can only be a good thing. But what are the restrictions on single engine ops across the sea, GPS and the licensing of small airports to handle such aircraft? If there are a raft of restrictions the proposition becomes less attractive.”

Current proposals are listed on the EASA web site.

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