IAOPA-Europe e-newsletter, December 2006

Welcome to the monthly e-news of IAOPA-Europe, which goes out to 23,000 AOPA members across the continent of Europe. This e-news is made possible by our lead sponsor ExxonMobil Aviation Lubricants, whose Elite 20W-50 is the first aviation oil formulation for piston-engine aircraft to appear on the market in more than a decade. (See below)


AOPA Sweden battles for tax breaks

A campaign to prevent increases in tax on avgas across Europe is yielding positive results, with several EU countries applying for extensions to their exemptions.

AOPA Sweden has led a write-in campaign aimed at increasing awareness of the tax exemptions and urging national governments to take action to preserve them. They were due to have run out on December 31st. The result would have been significant increases in fuel costs across Europe.

The EU sets a minimum tax level on aviation fuels in order to try, as far as possible, to harmonise costs across Europe. For instance, the EU rate for unleaded avgas, which is widely sold in Sweden, is 0.359 euros per litre. Taxation is a jealously-guarded national concern, however. The Swedish government levies no tax on unleaded avgas, and some other countries apply a rate to aviation fuels that is lower than the EU stipulation. Tax exemptions were due to have run out at the end of the year unless national governments could be persuaded to apply for extensions.

AOPA Sweden, run by Lars Hjelmberg, has been urging European AOPAs to get their governments to take action, and to date the United Kingdom, France, Malta and Sweden have filed requests for below-minimum taxes with the EU. Finland and Denmark are also applying, although their requests have yet to reach Brussels. Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Poland and Lithuania currently enjoy tax breaks but have not yet applied for extensions.

Lars says: "It was clear that several Ministries of Finance were not aware of the fact that if no action was taken, the tax exemptions would have automatically been cancelled under Directive 2003/96 EC, article 18, item 1. If your country still has not responded to the Commission, take urgent action now! It's late, but not too late."

*Finland's request to the EU is the first success for the recently established AOPA Finland, where Klaus Bremer put together a paper on the vital work of GA in professional pilot training, forest fire monitoring and search and rescue services for Minister of Finance Eero Heinäluoma.



Understanding ADS-B

ADS-B is not yet well understood by regulators, air traffic controllers or pilots, but a workshop set up by Eurocontrol's CASCADE programme in Brussels in November went some way towards starting the education process for everyone. It brought together experts from all sectors of the aviation community to discuss what needs to be done, and how.

ADS-B links with GPS to provide positions for every aircraft in the sky. Through ADS-B, aircraft can 'talk' to each other and a situational picture can be presented to the pilot on a moving map display. Using ground transmitters that are extremely cheap compared to radar, information can be downloaded by ATC and uploaded by pilots, including real-time weather data. ADS-B can help make more efficient use of airspace, while infringements and runway incursions could be significantly reduced.

Klaus-Peter Sternemann of AOPA-Germany outlined some of the opportunities and problems for GA to the workshop. There is a national plan for ADS-B implementation in North America by 2011, but their system is not usable for the rest of the world – Eurocontrol intends once again to establish something that favours commercial air traffic, which, among other problems, will cause equipment costs to become unnecessarily high. But trials in the USA, Australia and Europe have had positive results for GA. Pilots and controllers like ADS-B, and flying schools love it because they can keep track of their aircraft. It is a great safety enhancement, and unlike Mode-S, there's something in it for the person who has to pay for it.

Can GA afford it? If, as regulators want, we are forced at the same time to buy new 8.33 radios, Mode-S transponders and fixed ELTs, it's doubtful – remembering that the GA fleet is ten times the size of the CAT fleet, and thus vastly more costly to equip. Educating the aviation community about ADS-B is a slow process and there's a long way to go, but it could turn out to be one of the best safety tools in the GA armoury if it can be made cost-effective.



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UK CAA talks to industry

The ADS-B conference clashed with an extraordinary gathering of general aviation people in England, where the Civil Aviation Authority organised a conference to discuss GA's woes and their treatment. Relations between regulator and industry have been poisonous ever since the CAA decided, at British Airways' urging, to raise charges to GA and reduce them to airlines. The CAA is already believed to be the most expensive regulator in the world in some areas; not only must it make all its costs back from the industry, but it is required to make six percent profit.

Following the furore caused by his decision to raise charges, CAA chairman Sir Roy McNulty instigated a number of reviews which concluded that GA in the UK was a two billion euro industry employing 11,500 people directly and enriching many more, and that it constituted eight percent of the entire aviation industry. To his credit, McNulty has taken steps to understand general aviation and engage with it in a constructive way. The keynote speaker at the conference, the UK's aviation minister Gillian Merron MP, promised a fairer deal for GA, including the establishment of a national policy on a network of aerodromes which may make it more difficult to build houses on them.

The two main debates were chaired by AOPA chairman George Done and chief executive Martin Robinson and covered a host of topics from Mode-S to EASA. One of the most interesting points to come out of the conference was that CAA charges fall on a relatively small sector of GA. Two thirds of the industry, including permit aircraft, gliders and microlights, pay little or nothing, while the companies that comprise the one third on which the burden falls are generally in serious commercial difficulty.



GA in the Aegean?

The benefits of more general aviation tourism in the Aegean were outlined by AOPA Greece president Yiouli Kalafati at a Greek-Turkish forum on tourism attended by the tourism ministers for both countries in November.

Yiouli told the Second Session of the Joint Turkish-Greek Tourism Committee that there were 44,000 GA planes and 200,000 pilots in Europe, and that with their families they represented a pool of 600,000 high-value tourists who could be coming to Greece and Turkey to benefit their ecomonies.

Both countries have poorly developed GA industries. Youli said that fewer than 100 GA aircraft came to Greece every year (not counting organised air rallies) representing 0.2 percent of the European GA pie. She added: "With just a few minor changes and some simple caretaking this could become 1 % or about 400 planes with some 1,500 persons. With proper organisation, in two to three years we could have 3% to 5%, that is about 1,000 to 2,000 planes and 4,000 to 8,000 people annually. This could become the beginning of high-quality tourism for both our countries, as the next stop is Turkey.

"European pilots want to fly in Greece and Turkey because the Aegean islands and the Aegean coast line present an environment that cannot be found in their own countries, an environment reminiscent of the Bahamas and the Maldives, while the interior of Turkish Anatolia has a mystique for Europeans."

Yiouli outlined the problems that need to be addressed – access to airfields and airspace, availability of high-quality services at reasonable prices, including handling charges, fuel availability, flexible entry and exit points, and a lifting of the requirements for special permissions for VFR flight.

She also called for the support of the tourism ministries for both countries to ifnluence other ministries, and was pleased to see that both tourist ministers were taking notes of her presentation.



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AOPA Norway fights CAA fees hike

The Norwegian national CAA is proposing to raise all its fees by 4% to cover what they say is "the government's demand to increase the agency's income level".

AOPA Norway opposes such a raise as it is "unfair to the smaller segments of aviation", says Frode Berg, AOPA Norway's vice president and international contact.

"A better way of doing this would be to address the larger companies to take more responsibilities in this regard, as they have the means of recouping this added expense through more efficient business routines, rationalising and in the end ticket prices," Frode says. "GA has no means of recouping these added costs, and this segment is pressed to its limits on costs already."

The national CAA further intends to raise the fee for converting older Norwegian pilots licenses into JAR licenses by 100%, starting on January 1st 2007.

Frode Berg says: "AOPA Norway has of course opposed this in its response to the CAA, but considering that most new pilots licences issued in Norway today are in fact JAA licences, we are urging every pilot in the country with the old BSL licence to convert to the JAR licence before the end of the year."


German terror check opposed

AOPA Germany is continuing its long campaign against the "reliability checks" introduced by the German federal government and has recruited Ernst Burgbacher, a senior member of the Bundestag, to speak out against them.

All pilots in Germany must undergo a background investigation before they get their licences, and the check must be repeated every two years. Herr Burgbacher has written to the German Interior Minister asking for pilots to be freed from blanket suspicion of terrorism. If checks must be conducted, a five-year interval would be adequate, he says.

AOPA Germany's Michael Erb says: "We want to eliminate these discriminatory and unnecessary background investigations. We have had some success supporting members opposing this requirement in court. When a Munich pilot refused to undergo the background investigations his licence was revoked by the Aviation Authority of Bavaria, but an Administrative Court decided that the authorities overreacted and that the refusal to undergo a background investigation must not lead to the loss of pilot privileges; the licence was returned to the pilot. AOPA is determined to fight these court cases for the rights of pilots up to the German Supreme Court."



Fly-drive Christmas present

Stuck for something to give yourself as a Christmas present? AOPA Germany has just the thing. They are organising an event at the Porsche factory in Leipzig from June 14th to 16th where you'll get the opportunity to drive a Porsche 911, Carrera or Boxter on a Formula 1 track and a Cayenne on Porsche's off-road course, accompanied by a professional driver. You'll also get a tour of the factory. Better still, you'll get the chance to fly Cirruses, Columbias, Diamonds and Cessnas at Leipzig airport. The package includes two nights in a first class hotel, with food and drink, and will cost 1375 euros. AOPA Germany's Michael Erb says: "Better than the usual ties and socks, eh?"

The number of participants is limited to 40. For details email info@aopa.de or phone +49 (0)6103-42081


Michel Blanc retires

After many years of dedicated service to AOPA France, Michel Blanc is retiring. Formerly a Colonel of the French Air Force, Michel has been a tireless worker for the interests of AOPA France members.

Alain Curoy, private pilot, vintage aircraft restorer and experienced executive in the graphics and photographic industry, has stepped in to fill the slot, with the intention of making sure that AOPA France will be even stronger in the future.

AOPA France wishes to express its gratitude to Michel Blanc for many years of dedication and service.


Loss of Roberto Manzaroli

AOPA Italy's Roberto Manzaroli has been killed in the unexplained crash of his Piper Cheyenne while flying home from Malta.

Roberto, known to his friends as "Hurricane Bob", was president of the 550-member Milan Flying Club and a member of the Italian ATC board of directors. His plane crashed into the Appenines at the 4,000-ft level at 3:30am. AOPA Italy's president Massimo Levy says the aircraft had begun a slow and unexplained descent from FL200 without radio contact from the pilot. The rate of descent increased until the aircraft crashed at an estimated speed of 400kt. Also killed was Roberto's passenger, Luigi Rotti.

Massimo says: "This is an extremely sad news. We have lost a friend, and AOPA has lost a great supporter."

Roberto's funeral was held inside the Milan Aero Club main hangar, with the service conducted by the Italian Air Force chaplain. IAOPA Europe sends its condolences to all of Roberto and Luigi's family and friends.


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