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We must all hang together, Boyer tells European GA groupsWe must all hang together, Boyer tells European GA groups

We must all hang together, Boyer tells European GA groups

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Daniel Calleja, director of the
Air Transport Directorate of the
European Commission, and Phil Boyer.
Click for larger image
AOPA President Boyer addresses General
and Business Aviation Day at Eurocontrol.
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Alex Hendriks, Eurocontrol head of ETAM Airspace and General Aviation Day co-chair; Eurocontrol Director General Victor Aguado; Phil Boyer;
and Brian Humphries, executive director of the
European Business Aviation Association.

What starts over there frequently ends up over here. And that's why AOPA takes an active role in world aviation matters. It's why in 1962 the association took the lead to form the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA).

That's also why AOPA President Phil Boyer is the co-chairman of the annual General and Business Aviation Day at Eurocontrol (the air traffic control organization for most European nations) in Brussels, Belgium, held Friday, March 31.

"Within two years, European general aviation pilots will have to buy Mode S transponders to continue flying VFR," said Boyer. "And that's for the convenience of the regulators. There's no particular benefit for the pilot.

"In the United Kingdom, there's very little space left for VFR flying. Most of the airspace has been regulated to exclude our kind of general aviation flying," Boyer said.

And much of this has come about because of the failure of general aviation to speak with a single voice.

As a case in point, the representatives of sport aviation in Europe declined to attend the general aviation day because they don't normally use air traffic control services.

"There can only be one GA, from the micro-lights and gliders to the business jets," Boyer told the European general aviation representatives. "Right in the center of the diverse community called general aviation are the worldwide AOPAs - representing owners and pilots of all types and sizes of aircraft. Without encompassing all of GA we can't speak with a strong voice on our needs concerning airspace, equipment, and regulations. To quote America's former ambassador to France, 'We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.'"

And while there is very strong pressure for the United States to adopt European decisions for the sake of global aviation harmonization, a united front of U.S. aviation interests has frequently convinced the FAA to adopt better solutions.

For example, while Europe is mandating Mode S transponders for everyone, the United States is moving toward a voluntary adoption of ADS-B for general aviation. ADS-B not only provides a better, more cost effective solution for air traffic control needs, it also gives pilots added benefits, including free weather and traffic information in the cockpit.

Prior to the Eurocontrol meeting, Boyer met with the top aviation official in Europe, Daniel Calleja, director of the Air Transport Directorate of the European Commission.

Boyer told Calleja that general aviation forms an integral part of the European transportation system and must be considered as such when developing transportation policy within the region.

But more importantly, Boyer suggested - and Calleja agreed to - conducting an economic impact study of general aviation within the European Union. "That's never been done before," said Boyer, "and they don't have a true picture of the number of pilots, airplanes, and airports on the continent, and no calculation as to the number of jobs and the amount of money generated by general aviation. Once they have that data, I think they'll see GA in a new light."

For Boyer, the trip was also a reminder of the value of general aviation. "As I stood in the interminable security lines at Dulles to board the airliner for Brussels and again for the return flight, I truly longed for and appreciated the freedom I usually enjoy by flying GA," Boyer said.

Eurocontrol is the European organization for the safety of air navigation. It provides integrated air traffic control services for 36 member nations and has as its primary objective the development of a seamless, pan-European Air Traffic Management (ATM) system.

The International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA) was founded in 1962 to facilitate the international movement of general aviation. IAOPA is the official voice of GA before the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Today there are 63 countries and more than 470,000 pilots represented by IAOPA.

IAOPA will hold its 23rd World Assembly June 18-24, 2006, in Toronto, Canada.

April 3, 2006

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