EGAMA lobbies for general aviation

 - May 17, 2008, 5:33 AM

The European General Aviation Manufacturers Association (EGAMA) was launched at EBACE’07 in a bid to more closely coordinate the industry’s interests at a European level. As a new high-level group within the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), EGAMA employs the ASD’s structures and expertise when working with the European Commission (EC) and bodies such as the European Aviation Safety Agency, as well as when engaging with national governments.   
Areas of special interest for EGAMA include airworthiness, safety, environment, air traffic management and security, as well as research and technology. EGAMA is also trying to establish more systematic data gathering among its members to foster a better understanding of general aviation.
With ASD, EGAMA is the point of contact for all European Union institutions and agencies on issues related to general aviation manufacturers. For instance, the group is trying to delineate the differences between general aviation (GA) and commercial aviation, explaining to regulators why GA sometimes needs different rules. Another lobbying point is the fee structure for EASA’s regulatory and licensing services, which some manufacturers feel is too high.
According to industry estimates, there are between 30,000 and 50,000 GA aircraft flying in Europe. Business aviation traffic is also growing twice as fast as the traditional commercial airline sector, according to the latest Eurocontrol statistics.
The unprecedented growth experienced by European GA in recent years has spurred a growing interest in the sector by European authorities. In January, following a broad consultation process, the EC adopted a policy document called the “Agenda for Sustainable Future in General and Business Aviation.”
For the first time since the creation of the European Union internal aviation marketplace in 1992, the EC has studied the industry, quantified its value and identified the challenges that it is facing.
As a result, it now is proposing to integrate general and business aviation into the EU air transport policy. The main elements of this agenda are improving data gathering, screening legislation to ensure that it is proportional, and integrating general and business aviation into the airspace system.
“We fully recognize the value of noncommercial aviation and intend to work with this sector in Europe, as it is a large source of employment, expertise, technology and revenues,” said EC vice president and transport commissioner Jacques Barrot when launching the new agenda. “This is a clear recognition of our sector and a first step in the right direction,” said EGAMA chairman Olivier Villa, who also is Dassault Aviation’s senior vice president for civil aircraft.

The EC also acknowledges that general and business aviation is a very diverse part of the industry, which greatly differs from the airlines. It recognizes that their activities mainly involve small and medium-size enterprises–a point that has been stressed by the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) for decades. These organizations and small firms often have limited resources to enable them to conform to changes in regulatory or technical requirements, and the EC has at last accepted that EU air transport policy should reflect these realities.

At the same time, general and business aviation are a key facet of initiatives for optimizing limited aviation infrastructure and capacity. And, along with airlines, they are now required to reduce their environmental impact.

EGAMA’s vice chairman is Jose Di Mase of Piaggio Aero of Italy. The association’s membership encompasses manufacturers of business jets, helicopters and small private aircraft, as well as representatives of suppliers to these OEMs. Founding members include Airbus, Bombardier, Dassault, Diamond Aircraft, Eurocopter, Evektor, Piaggio, PZL Swidnik, Turbomeca and Socata. To qualify, a company must be a member of a European national manufacturing association, such as France’s GIFAS.