The political uncertainty surrounding the general elections being held today in Britain will undoubtedly have an effect on general aviation in the UK. Several key decisions in the aviation sector have been delayed until after the election. Whatever the outcome of the vote, these issues are unlikely to be resolved for several more weeks or months until a new government is fully operational.
For instance, final agreement over the way the European Union’s (EU) new “common basic standards for aviation security” are implemented in the UK was not reached by the April 29 deadline and could be delayed until late June. The EU is requiring all 27 member states to implement the new security standards through a National Aviation Security Program (NASP). It remains unclear how consistent these will be among members and over what time period the changes will be made in each country.
Steve Marshall-Camm, assistant director for aviation security with the UK Department of Transport’s Transec division, said at the annual meeting of the British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) in March that the consultation process is taking longer than expected. He also indicated that, subject to detailed risk assessment, UK officials will exercise the latitude they have to allow some groups of operators to adhere to more flexible alternate security measures rather than to the full EU NASP requirements.
The European Commission (EC) has relaxed the requirement to comply with the full standards so it will apply only to aircraft with mtows above 15 metric
tons (33,068 pounds). National authorities can allow the security measures to apply to aircraft in appropriate categories up to a weight limit of 45.5 metric tons (100,308 pounds). The threshold for the full new security rules had been set at 10 metric tons (22,045 pounds) and with 19 or more passenger seats. A Cessna Citation X, at approximately 16 metric tons, falls at the lower end of the new weight thresholds, while the Gulfstream GV, at 41 metric tons, is at the top end.
Autonomy for States
Marshall-Camm told BBGA members that the EC has given national governments considerable latitude as to what form the security requirements take and he assured them it will not be a case of “one size fits all.” For different classes of operator, the requirements could range from close to the full NASP standards to minimal detailed requirements. It is these differences that the UK government is trying to clarify, and it seems probable that other EU states are facing similar challenges given the lack of firm guidance from the EC.
One BBGA delegate close to the discussions told AIN that the EC has “pushed the difficult decisions onto the national governments.” However, the EC has indicated that the new security rules need to take into account significant variations in risk levels and operational circumstances between the member states. In fact, national governments are free to impose tougher security requirements than those in the standard NASP template if they see fit.
Until the new rules are finalized, the UK authorities will continue to enforce existing aviation security rules. The final form of the new regulatory framework for the EC requirements will have to be approved at ministerial level and, regardless of the outcome of the UK election, it is likely that the Department of Transport’s political leadership will change in the next few months.
BBGA has been lobbying Transec on behalf of many business aircraft operations that know that the person booking a flight and/or the passengers are on it exempt from the full NASP security requirements. “This looks like it could create a model for applying ASMs for small general aviation operations and airports,” said Marshall-Camm. However, he also said it could trigger complaints from scheduled airlines, which might argue that they know their frequent-flier passengers.
BBGA Searches for New Chief Executive
The British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) is looking for a new chief executive to replace Guy Lachlan, who will be leaving the organization to pursue an opportunity outside aviation. The recruitment process began last month and short-listed candidates are to be called for interviews late this month.
BBGA has more than 160 member companies and represents a business and general aviation industry that generates more than $5.3 billion for the UK economy. It is affiliated with the European Business Aviation Association and works with the Brussels- based group in lobbying efforts.
Lachlan gave three months’ notice of his departure and will remain in office full time until June 25. He also told the BBGA board of directors and chairman David Antrobus that he can continue to assist the association after that date on an ad hoc basis.
BBGA members include general aviation aircraft manufacturers, a variety of aircraft operators, maintenance and training organizations, FBOs, aircraft sales companies, as well as firms offering services such as finance, insurance and legal support. The association is based in Brill, which is almost 60 miles northwest of central London.
The group also serves as the coordinating office for the European Council of General Aviation Support, which brings together GA groups from across the continent. The association lobbies at a national UK level and with institutions such as the European Commission and the European Aviation Safety Agency.
The position of chief executive is full time, but the BBGA board might consider a flexible working arrangement for the right candidate. The ideal candidate has strong communications skills and can present complex cases to government officials and regulatory authorities. It would be an advantage if he or she holds a professional aviation qualification, such as a pilot or engineering license, or a relevant degree or post-graduate qualification. Further details are available at www. bbga.aero. Interested candidates should provide a full curriculum vita to Anne Seckington at email@example.com.