EBACE Convention News

As 6th EBACE opens, business aviation fights misconceptions

 - November 28, 2006, 10:13 AM

Environment, access and security are still the three main challenges that business aviation has to address in Europe, EBAA CEO Brian Humphries said yesterday morning at the opening session of EBACE 2006. In spite of some progress, he highlighted that a common theme in these issues is misperception by governments, administrations and other industries.

“Business aviation is often misrepresented in environment discussions,” Humphries stated. He asserted that business aviation accounts for only 2 percent of aviation fuel burn in the world. He was backed by Sir Ralph Robins, the former chairman of engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce. “Aviation represents less than 3 percent of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted throughout the world and this figure will still be under 5 percent in 20 years,” he claimed. He expressed concern that the industry doesn’t appear to be fighting back when attacked about its environmental impact.

Nevertheless, Humphries agreed, “business aviation has to play its part and thus continues to contribute to the emission trading debate in Europe.” He insisted any measure should be proportionate.

Regarding access to airports and airspace, Humphries sees the industry in a much better position than 10 years ago. For example, business aviation has grown in London City Airport traffic “from nothing to 10 percent” over that period of time. However, challenges remain “where misperception prevails–at Madrid Torrejon, for instance.”

Security is still a hot topic and clearly the highest priority for the entire industry. “We have to make people understand that a secure aircraft door on a bizjet is the equivalent of a secure cockpit door in an airliner,” the CEO stated. He substantiated this by pointing out that the crew and FBO personnel know their passengers, making a secure cockpit door unnecessary. Business aviation still needs effective partnerships with governments and others to avoid undergoing one-size-fits-all policies.

Ed Bolen, NBAA’s president and CEO, referred to the ongoing debate over fractional ownership in Europe and access to the U.S. for European executive charter operators. “We want a U.S. fractional-owned plane coming to Europe to be seen as a private airplane, not a commercial flight,” he stated. He insisted he is also working to ease the current restrictions on European charter operators flying to the U.S.; they are allowed only six flights a year.

Bolen, who is also fighting against an airline-proposed air traffic control (ATC) user-fee scheme in the U.S., is gathering information on the existing, rather different European scheme. NBAA wants to have an in-depth and accurate knowledge of it to counter some of the airlines’ arguments.

Bo Redeborn, Eurocontrol’s director of air traffic management, illustrated how successful EBAA’s lobbying can be in gaining ground for business aviation. “We now factor business aviation into our forecasting process,” Redeborn said. He also addressed a question about the anticipated massive influx of very light jets (VLJs) in the European sky. “We are confident that we will have the capacity,” he said, pledging fair and transparent airspace allocation.

Finally, the chairman of the Flight Safety Foundation, Ed Stimpson, urged industry members to get involved in the corporate flight operational quality assurance program. It consists of introducing systematic flight data analysis into business aviation. “Airline experience shows that confidential, nonpunitive incident reporting works,” Stimpson emphasized.