Paris Air Show

Lobbying groups join forces

 - December 13, 2006, 7:26 AM

European industry officials hope that relationships with regulators and other agencies will  improve following recent consolidation of representative trade lobby groups. The AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), formally established earlier this year to promote and support the sector’s competitive development, already has identified several major topics for action.

ASD is a merger of the European Association of Aerospace Industries, the European Defence Industries Group and the Association of the European Space Industry (Eurospace). It aims primarily to provide a single contact point for aerospace and defense partners and stakeholders, generating common policies with emphases on economic, industrial, legal, political, structural and technical aspects.

(Eurospace will continue very much in its present form as a French legal entity, retaining a Paris office to maintain relationships with the European Space Agency, but will adjust its statutes to bring decision-making under the scope of ASD.)

As an aerospace/defense lobby group, ASD will monitor proposed legislation and try to influence the combined industry’s regulation. Finally, it will manage key sector statistics and figures.

Priorities include air traffic services research, air traffic management integration, space policy, defense policy/procurement, global environment and security monitoring, emissions trading and chemicals monitoring. Statutes of the Brussels-based organization have now received Belgian approval, permitting ASD’s legal formation to go ahead.

Mike Turner, chief executive of UK manufacturer BAE Systems, was ASD’s first president. He has since passed the presidency on to Finmeccanica chairman and CEO Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, who in turn will hand it over to Dr. Thomas Enders next October.

The group includes 33 industry members–mainly national aerospace and defense trade associations–in 21 European countries. ASD estimates that Europe hosts more than 800 aerospace/defense companies and 100 times that number of suppliers, employing almost 600,000 people directly and twice as many indirectly. Annual turnover totals €100 billion ($123 billion).

The new organization has a comprehensive structure. ASD statutory bodies will be a council (comprising 15 major members’ chief executives) and a board (involving national association presidents), which will meet as ASD’s general assembly. The board takes its advice from seven sectoral groups, which cover aircraft, rotorcraft, engines, equipment, land systems, space, and small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs).

Civil and defense policy commissions (aiming to reach consensus on priority policy issues, advised by an European Union working group representing major members) support the main bodies, as does the operations commission, which implements major initiatives, including technical matters, and provides services such as establishment of standards. The two main commissions each oversee six discrete standing committees and a technical committee, as well as ad hoc groups.

The organization’s secretariat, which includes directors for space, policy, defense, operations and international programs activities, supports the commissions and committees and helps to enhance ASD relationships with external bodies. Secretariat responsibilities include work on European Commission (EC)-funded research initiatives.

International programs cover a batch of EU civil aviation projects that aim to assist air traffic management and airport infrastructure development, and share European industry practice in airworthiness and safety regulations and standards, maintenance and overhaul, and product support. Four such projects, for China, India and South and Southeast Asia, have been launched since 1998.

During the same period, a joint EC/ASD activity has been supporting aeronautical SMEs in the EU and seven other states that are participating in EU framework programs. Finally, since 2001 the Advisory Council for Aeronautics Research in Europe has been developing a strategy for European air transport systems research through 2020.