AOPA President Phil Boyer (right)
with EASA Exec. Dir. Patrick Goudou
Feb. 26, 2004 - AOPA President Phil Boyer is in Brussels, Belgium, this week, attending an annual Eurocontrol meeting. Eurocontrol is Europe's international air traffic control organization. Boyer's key mission is to defend general aviation in the U.S. by defending GA in Europe. In addition to his role as president of AOPA, Boyer serves as president of the International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA), a coalition of 60 independent pilot organizations from around the world.
"Between the powerful new multinational agencies of the European Union and the FAA's efforts to 'harmonize' U.S. regulations with the rest of the world, what happens to GA pilots in Europe could have a profound effect on GA pilots at home," said Boyer. "And because Europe has not traditionally been GA friendly, we need to use the weight and credibility of our 400,000+ members to support other GA pilots worldwide."
On Thursday, Boyer met with Patrick Goudou, the executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) - and arguably the most powerful man in European aviation. EASA is the aviation safety regulator for all European Union countries. Individual countries will no longer set their own aviation standards. Instead, EASA's jurisdiction will include certification of aircraft, parts, and avionics as well as airman certification, licensing, and medicals throughout the EU. Its closest U.S. equivalent is the FAA's Flight Standards Division. And unlike its predecessor, the Joint Airworthiness Agency, EASA has the power and authority to enforce its regulations across the EU.
On Friday, Boyer will chair a meeting on general aviation at Eurocontrol, the multinational equivalent of the FAA's Air Traffic Organization (ATO). A record 170 people from throughout Europe will attend.
Then on Saturday, Boyer will host a day-long meeting aimed at boosting membership in the European AOPAs. "IAOPA was formed to give the world's general aviation population a strong voice at the International Civil Aviation Organization, the world standard-setting body for aviation," said Boyer. "But with the growing power of the European Union's centralized agencies, it's becoming increasingly important that Europe's AOPAs represent as many pilots as possible. Because, as we've learned in the U.S., the more voices you represent at the table, the greater your chances of being heard."
Boyer will be back in Europe in two months for the biennial 22nd IAOPA World Assembly. AOPA France will host this year's meeting in Toulouse, April 20-25. Topics for this year's gathering include air traffic services, airport and airspace access, user fees, security, and the business of running their associations.
"U.S. pilots for the most part are only concerned with what the FAA is doing," said Boyer. "But globalization and the harmonization of world aviation regulations means that what happens in Europe could affect pilots who never fly east of the Mississippi. That's why the U.S. AOPA remains actively involved with our European counterparts - to learn and stay informed - so we can continually increase our advocacy effectiveness in the States.