Phil Boyer, president of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA), reminded European air traffic control officials March 23 that airliners aren't the only aircraft in the sky.
In the keynote speech to the second annual IAOPA-Eurocontrol Aviation Day in Brussels, Belgium, Boyer said that Eurocontrol must not forget general aviation and aerial work (GA/AW) aircraft.
Eurocontrol, which hosted the event for GA pilots, provides ATC services for 30 European countries and is in the midst of an ambitious plan for improving services for its member countries. Planning so far has largely concentrated on the needs of airlines.
Boyer told the conference that he was representing the 32 European IAOPA affiliates. "In the U.S., my name is pronounced 'BOY-yer,'" he said, "but in Europe it is pronounced 'boy-YEH.' Just as the pronunciation is different, so are the U.S. and European systems.
"European problems will require unique European solutions," he explained, "and the IAOPA affiliates representing the continent's GA/AW operators are prepared to contribute to the process of unifying the skies over Europe."
Boyer said that there are four times as many GA/AW aircraft in Europe as airliners, and that they serve a multitude of purposes. GA/AW operators provide essential services such as agricultural application, air medical evacuation, law enforcement assistance, and executive transport.
General aviation also provides the training ground for new pilots, essential to avoid an airline pilot shortage in coming years.
Boyer decried the high taxes and other costs that have already marginalized many GA/AW operators and asked for consideration of their needs when new avionics and other equipment requirements are imposed.
IAOPA President Boyer and Alex Hendriks, head of Eurocontrol's Airspace Management and Navigation Unit, were the co-chairmen of the conference. More than 150 people attended.
IAOPA affiliates represent the interests of general aviation and aerial work activities in 55 countries around the world. Its members comprise more than 400,000 pilots and aircraft operators.