Business aviation is now a global business but it is being held back by the lack of a global regulatory structure, according to leading industry lobbyist speaking on the eve of this week’s EBACE show. At a press conference here in Geneva yesterday, industry associations from both sides of the Atlantic praised the new Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA) between the U.S. and Europe, but indicated that it needs strong backing to be meaningful, and should now be extended with similar agreements in key emerging markets for business aviation.
Pete Bunce, chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) in the U.S., expressed concerns about the implementation of BASA. He said that the alliance is vital to the business aviation industry and will have far-reaching influence. “It took three years of political dickering to come to an agreement,” he said. “We are not into the goal area, rather just off the starting blocks.”
BASA is aimed at reducing regulatory duplication and lowering compliance costs, while ensuring effective oversight. Maintenance and certification were the first areas covered. Under BASA, FAA inspectors will conduct EASA audits, instead of EASA inspectors having to travel to the U.S. and charging companies for the expense and time required to receive an EU Part 145 certificate. The same holds true for EU repair stations and FAA certification.
“This is not just for U.S. operators or manufacturers; it has global implications,” Bunce said. “We have to get it right to propagate a regulatory environment to deal with emerging markets, those markets that have buoyed our industry and kept it afloat for the past few years.” He stressed that training is a key issue.
EBAA chief executive and president Brian Humphries agreed. He told AIN that training pilots under one ICAO license is essential. “If people training outside Europe need to go to an operator who possesses an EASA license, that would be ridiculous. We need to treat business aviation as a global entity,” he commented.
The eleventh edition of the EBACE show is the strongest yet, according to its organizers. Attendance looks to be up by 10 percent over last year, and organizer the European Business Aviation Association estimates that this show will beat all previous footfall records. There are 62 aircraft on the static display and more exhibit space has been sold this year than ever before.
Speaking on the eve of the show, Humphries said, “There are still lots of challenges to overcome–for example, changes in laws preventing airport access, and new tax proposals. EBACE plays an important advocacy role where we can get officials together.”
Nicolas Chabbert, senior vice president of Daher-Socata and a founding member of EGAMA (the European branch of the GAMA), also pointed to the importance of collaboration between the U.S. and the EU.
He said, “We need to exist [because] the European business aviation industry is little-known in Brussels, despite the fact we have 45,000 employees and manufacture 1,000 aircraft per year.” Part of EGAMA’s main roadmap for 2011-2012 is to educate members of parliament at both the national and European level so they come to understand the real value of the business aviation sector.