Alphabets form CNS/ATM industry group

 - January 29, 2007, 4:58 AM

After calling on European Union (EU) member states last year to align their operating rules more closely with those of the FAA, the U.S.-based General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has formed a joint industry committee to draft recommendations and submit them to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

GAMA representatives in November participated in a meeting with the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC) and NBAA to establish the committee, whose mission is to define business aviation’s future needs in the areas of communications, navigation and surveillance and air traffic management (CNS/ATM).

The group has started circulating an operator survey, results of which will be incorporated into a report that is scheduled to be submitted to ICAO’s Air Navigation Bureau this spring. Ensuring that the requirements of general aviation are appropriately considered in future CNS/ ATM planning is a major aim of the report, according to committee members, as is providing a unified voice for the industry in the face of global airspace system modernization.

Formation of the committee comes at a time when U.S. business aircraft operators are expressing growing frustration with international aviation regulations. As officials in the U.S. and Europe continue preparing for large-scale ATC system upgrades, these operators have voiced concerns about the perceived lack of attention being paid to their particular segment of aviation, with some complaining Europe has too frequently called the shots when it comes to implementing new operating rules.

As an example, an executive for a large charter operator based in the U.S. told AIN that his company recently drafted a letter to ICAO complaining about the January 1 mandate for emergency locator transmitters (ELT) in Europe and certain other parts of the world, which differs from U.S. regulations and, in this company’s view, is unfair to Part 135 operators because it follows the airline requirement instead of the mandate that applies to general aviation.

GAMA last summer asked the European Union to create a “unified safety oversight and regulatory system” for operations of general aviation aircraft registered in Europe, with a main thrust of the recommendation calling on Europe to start aligning its rules with those of the U.S., and not the other way around.

Speaking at last year’s U.S./Europe International Aviation Safety Conference, GAMA interim president Ron Swanda said that without a uniform set of operating regulations for general aviation the EU could find that international trade is hamstrung.

“Every nation has GA aircraft based within its borders,” Swanda said at the conference. “In many parts of the world, intercity travel via general aviation aircraft
is the only option available. Accordingly, every nation has an interest in keeping general aviation a viable travel alternative.”

The U.S., he said, accounts for approximately 80 percent of the world’s GA aircraft and pilots, implying that FAA regulations should sometimes trump EU rules.

“The FAA’s operating rules for GA have been written to safely accommodate these operating environments,” Swanda said. “In addition, the FAA’s operating rules have been in place for many years and are well understood. Therefore, to promote safety, EU operating rules applicable to GA operations should be closely aligned with U.S. operating rules.”

Swanda outlined five steps GAMA considers essential for the EU to accomplish:
• the creation of a single authority responsible for regulating GA flight activity and pilot certification
• ensuring that GA accident prevention is part of aviation safety activities in Europe
• appointing a single body responsible for investigating and determining the probable cause of GA fatal and serious accidents that occur within the EU
• adopting the U.S. definition of general aviation and its primary-use categories, and
• implementing an annual survey of GA activity, using a methodology similar to the one the FAA uses.