New BAUA chief looks to boost membership, strengthen ties

 - October 12, 2007, 5:32 AM

John Batty, the newly appointed chief executive of the UK’s Business Aircraft Users Association (BAUA), has set himself a couple of important goals: a successful membership drive to boost the organization’s resources; and a closer and more effective working relationship with both the European Business Aviation Association and Britain’s General Aviation Manufacturers and Traders Association.

On April 1 the former chief pilot of Motorola’s European flight department assumed the leadership role at BAUA from Derek Leggett, who is retiring. As part of the transfer, BAUA’s offices have moved from Leggett’s home in the highlands of Scotland to a more convenient location at TAG Aviation’s new business aviation complex at the London-area Farnborough Airport.

BAUA currently has 40 members, the majority of which are corporate flight departments. But it also has the support of associate members such as Honeywell, Gulfstream, Bombardier and numerous airports, including London Biggin Hill.

Batty plans to get on the road and make direct membership sales pitches to chief pilots. “I will be trying to recruit people who [currently] don’t see the benefits of joining,” he told AIN. “People need to be convinced that we have to be represented on the right committees, and it is unfair that a small minority are paying for this work. The fact is that corporate operators can join BAUA for the price of two landing fees.” BAUA is currently involved in about half a dozen committees with various branches of the UK government and is also active at a European level, such as the aerial work and general aviation subcommittee of the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA).

In Batty’s view, the purpose of joining national business aviation associations is not solely for lobbying. It is also about maintaining standards of professionalism among operators. He suggested that peer pressure can be effective in ensuring that companies do not compromise safety and security at a time when business aviation is under close scrutiny. “Companies that are not in the association and not following our common standards can be out there causing problems for the rest of us,” he warned.

BAUA has been instrumental in helping British corporate operators to adopt the new International Standards-Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO), which will form part of the basis for compliance with the JAA’s new JAR-OPS 2 requirements. Batty himself served as chairman of the International Business Aviation Council’s standards board, which drafted the IS-BAO document and operators manual.

One of BAUA’s biggest current causes for concern is the effort by some ATC service providers to adopt an en route charge formula not based on aircraft weight–a move that would obviously affect business aircraft operators disproportionately. “About 5 percent of the overall traffic in Europe could be faced with very sizable increases in charges ranging from 300 to 1,000 percent,” claimed Batty, adding that the same formula could also be applied to landing fees. The UK’s privatized and near-bankrupt National Air Traffic Services is among those agencies pressing for the abolition of weight-based fees within Eurocontrol.

Still More Work To Do
For much of the 1990s BAUA was largely preoccupied with helping its members cope with a seemingly endless list of expensive and troublesome new technical requirements for aircraft. The implementation dates for these have largely passed now, but there are still some pending issues to face.

For instance, according to Batty, the UK Civil Aviation Authority is determined to press ahead with a requirement for an intermediate version of ACARS despite the fact that this is set to be superseded by a more advanced U.S. requirement in five to seven years. BAUA is arguing that this will expose operators to unjustifiable levels of expenditure at a time when budgets are still reeling from the effects of changes such as reduced vertical separation minimums.

But at a time when responsibility for certification and rulemaking is increasingly shifting to a European level, does it still make sense to have nationally based business aviation lobbying groups? Batty insisted that it does. He maintains that, even with the establishment of the new European Aviation Safety Agency in September, many important operational decisions will still be made by national aviation authorities. “We have to ensure that the national associations remain strong and have an effective interface with their national bodies,” the new BAUA chief executive argued.

Batty’s aviation career started 46 years ago when he joined the UK’s Royal Air Force where he flew Hawker Hunter jets. In 1968 he left the military and entered corporate aviation through a succession of piloting jobs, mainly flying Hawkers.
Over the course of 34 years Batty has flown a succession of aircraft types and has been based in four continents. In fact, he spent three years in Mexico with engineering group Brown & Root, five years in Ireland with entrepreneur Larry Goodman and a couple of years in Kuwait with a VIP flight department.

In 1993 he joined Motorola, and his time with this company included a year at its Chicago headquarters (a move that allowed him to serve as BAUA’s representative with Montreal-based IBAC). At the time he left, Motorola’s fleet included five Falcon 50EXs (one of them based in the UK and another in Austria) and a pair of Falcon 900EXs. He has also held type ratings for Bombardier Challengers.

Batty has served on the BAUA council since 1995 and has chaired its operations committee for the past few years. The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for June 6 at London Biggin Hill Airport.