UK Defers Action on Foreign-registered Aircraft

 - December 18, 2006, 5:04 AM

Britain’s Department for Transport (DfT) has decided not to act unilaterally to impose new restrictions on UK-based aircraft that are registered overseas. Aviation minister Gillian Merron told the GA conference in London that the government will wait for a Europe-wide policy on foreign registration.

In October 2005, the DfT completed a consultation on possible changes to the rules governing foreign-registered aircraft in the UK. After 14 months of consideration it has effectively shelved plans to exercise greater control of these aircraft, with many industry observers predicting it will take a long time to reach European consensus on the issue. French officials have also looked at how they might restrict foreign-registered aircraft based in their country but appear to have concluded that changes would be impractical or unacceptable.

The UK government’s position on foreign registration appears to have been influenced by the CAA’s strategic review of general aviation, which helped government officials understand why so many UK-based aircraft are registered overseas. “People are finding it easier and cheaper to register their aircraft overseas, and the government certainly needs to look at this,” concluded Alex Plant of the CAA’s economic regulation group.

Merron also told the London conference that DfT now accepts that GA has difficulties with access to airports. “We understand the value of having a network of general aviation airfields and so we are looking at a possible national policy statement to move this forward,” she said. The policy statement would be intended to make it harder for planning authorities to allow airfields to be closed to make way for commercial and residential developments.

The aviation minister also reported that while the UK government is determined to include aviation in the European Union’s emissions trading plan, it recognizes that GA cannot be expected to implement this environmental measure in the same way as airlines. She urged the GA sector to do more to tackle noise pollution at rural airfields, recommending, for example, that it plant trees to serve as noise screens.