Bizcraft use rising despite constraints

 - October 10, 2007, 6:57 AM

Businesses continue to increase the use of their aircraft–even if they are not in great numbers adding to their fleets–despite operational challenges in the name of security and access control. Representatives from U.S. and European aviation organizations discussed these and other issues at a presentation at last month’s European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva.

Speaking about operations in the U.S., NBAA president Jack Olcott said access–to airports, airspace, crew training and other facilities–is being seriously constrained in the name of security. All business aviation wants, he emphasized, is access by “qualified cooperators” on an equal footing with the airlines. Access, he said, is essential to the continued growth of the industry.

Olcott is hoping that a trial program involving a security certificate in the U.S. will result in better access for operators that qualify for the certificate. In addition, he said the business aviation community has to do a better job of documenting for decision makers and regulators the operational and financial lengths to which it is going to improve security measures.

Security and associated access limitations are less of a problem in Europe, according to European Business Aviation Association chairman Brian Humphries, who pointed out that access is more influenced by airline traffic. But operators may yet face a rough ride in the region. George Paulson, director of air traffic management for Eurocontrol, alerted operators to the fact that the single-sky concept of unifying air traffic management will “extend Eurocontrol’s executive powers and widen the agency’s regulatory mandate.” He warned operators to plan for even more new equipment requirements as the single-sky concept develops from now through 2012.

Capacity and delay issues were also addressed by Paulson. He attributed a 45-percent net increase in capacity in Europe last year to the introduction of RVSM and said Eurocontrol is on track to achieve a delay target of no more than one minute per aircraft by 2006. To help make this and other capacity enhancements come to fruition, Paulson said one of many measures Eurocontrol is considering at is lowering the altitude at which use of 8.33-kHz frequency spacing would be required.
Olcott and Humphries are also hoping flight departments that have made the effort and financial commitment to adopt the International Standards for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) will be considered by regulators before they issue rules that could limit operations.

Meanwhile, the progress of Europe’s effort to create the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as a single source for airframe and operational certification requirements was summarized by Michel Ayral, director of air transport for the European Commission. He said that EASA is scheduled to be phased in starting in September. He also pledged “more cooperation with business aviation” by the EC when EASA and the single-sky concept are implemented.