Following a year of planning, the African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA) marked its official launch here at EBACE, with the goal of “establishing business aviation as an asset that is recognized, valued and supported by governments, their respective civil aviation authorities and enterprises throughout Africa,” said Tarek Ragheb, chairman of the new organization.
According to AfBAA, 368 business jets are registered in the 56 countries comprising the African continent, the majority of them long-range, large-cabin aircraft “because of the distances and geography” they typically traverse. Concurrently, increasing interest in the continent’s mineral and oil resources are drawing in a growing number of transient business aircraft. Yet the continent’s regulatory and operating environment is not conducive to safe and efficient operation.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know there are challenges to business aviation in Africa,” Ragheb said, listing several of them. “There are over-flight issues, lack of infrastructure, high fees and a lack of consistency in regulations.”
The first step in having the association’s voice heard is creating a “white paper” on the state of African business aviation and a “road map” for its future, said the Egyptian-born chairman, who is also a senior advisor to business-jet manufacturer Gulfstream. “By this time next year we should be well on the way to finalizing that study,” said Ragheb.
Former NBAA president Jack Olcott, senior advisor to AfBAA, noted that two organizations–the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) and the Business Aviation Association of South Africa (BAASA)–represent regional interests on the continent, but that no pan-African umbrella organization exists. “We don’t see the African Business Aviation Association as competition with other groups, but rather as a collaboration,” Olcott said.
Using the acronym “Assist,” AfBAA’s guiding principles are advocacy, safety, security, integrity, service and training. Fourteen “founding members” have joined the group.
“Our roster of founding members managed to balance operators from the continent with leading suppliers and OEMs,” said Rady Fahmy, AfBAA’s program director. The organization is developing its membership and dues structure.
AfBAA will apply for membership to the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), which represents the world’s business aviation associations. “We hope to use that venue to have active communication with the whole [business aviation] community,” said Olcott.
AfBAA is being hosted by Gainjet (Stand 1265) here at EBACE, and is eager to hear from all who share its goals. “The association will represent the business aviation community in its broadest sense,” said Ragheb.