Europe declares support for GA

May 12, 2009

In an historic acknowledgment of general aviation’s contributions, the European Parliament has adopted a sweeping resolution that sets forth principles to preserve, foster, and promote GA across the continent.

The resolution, Agenda for Sustainable Future in General and Business Aviation, was adopted by a large margin. It stresses the importance of keeping legislation in proportion, recognizing the differences between GA and commercial air carriers to avoid putting unnecessary burdens on GA, and ensuring GA access to European airports and airspace. It is the widest-ranging statement of principles to date for GA in the European Union, where aviation and airspace policies have hurt the GA community.

“In the past, regulations have been implemented in Europe without regard for how they could damage general aviation,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller, who is also president of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA). “The European Parliament’s recognition of the importance of GA and the need to protect it is a significant step forward for GA in Europe—and in the United States, because policies developed by the European community can often make their way here.”

The document lays the groundwork for the European Commission’s approach to GA and calls for the commission and member nations to invest in GA as a growing segment of their economies and transportation infrastructure. The commission, the European Union’s executive arm, is responsible for implementing the decisions of the parliament.

Each clause of the resolution addresses an issue important to GA and asserts the parliament’s commitment to protect the industry. The resolution urges the commission to use better planning and modern technology to address the problem of GA’s shrinking access to airports; emphasizes “the need to take into account the interests and specificities of general and business aviation in the development of future air transport policy initiatives, with a view to strengthening its competitiveness;” and recognizes recreational and sport aviation as an “an important source of professional skills for the entire aviation sector.”

The resolution also asserts that “general and business aviation complements regular air transport performed by commercial airlines and thus provides specific social and economic benefits such as increasing the mobility of citizens, the productivity of businesses and regional cohesion.” It recognizes that EU aviation policy has traditionally focused on commercial air transport and that “one-size-fits-all regulatory approaches and the uniform enforcement of rules across different aviation sectors have proven inappropriate in certain respects.”