During the twenty-fifth International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Association (IAOPA) World Assembly, hosted in Tel Aviv by AOPA-Israel President Yaron Efrat June 6 through 11, leaders of the IAOPA affiliates discussed issues facing general aviation worldwide and what can be done to protect the industry into the future. Representatives from 18 countries across four continents attended the event.
“The work we do here has the potential to set the course for general aviation around the world. And our efforts will have a lasting impact,” IAOPA and AOPA President Craig Fuller stated in opening remarks before the assembly. “The decisions we make and the challenges we address here affect not only us and our IAOPA members, they affect the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who are employed thanks to general aviation.”
IAOPA Secretary General John Sheehan led an effort to draft resolutions that the affiliates will vote on before the end of the assembly. Resolutions focus on protecting aerodromes, promoting flight training, meeting the demand for new commercial air transport pilots and technicians, and improving pilot proficiency.
IAOPA-affiliate leaders also held a panel discussion about numerous issues facing GA.
Fuller participated on a panel, “General Aviation in 2015—How will it evolve?” with IAOPA Europe Vice President Martin Robinson and IAOPA Asia Vice President Geronimo Amurao, saying, “The future for GA is encouraging.” Fuller explained that the new spirit of collaboration among GA associations could help increase their effectiveness. Modernization and unification plans like NextGen in the United States and Single Sky in Europe are gaining momentum and could spur benefits for GA as well.
However, Fuller was quick to note that “there are significant challenges to be overcome in the next five years.” Potential fees and charges, threats to airports, a negative perception of GA, declining pilot population, security and environmental concerns, and regulatory requirements all present hurdles for GA leaders to surmount.
As examples of AOPA’s efforts to combat these challenges, Fuller told his fellow AOPA-affiliate leaders about the GA Serves America campaign, which seeks to educate decision makers and the public about the value of GA. Actor and pilot Harrison Ford, who is the spokesman for GA Serves America, has helped to draw attention to the cause.
“But the most important thing we can do to protect and promote general aviation in the face of future challenges is to continue to stand together and stand up for ourselves!” Fuller concluded.
The World Assembly also focused on the personal side of aviation, such as what pilots can do to reduce the cost of flying, manage risk, and fly safer. AOPA Senior Vice President of Media Tom Haines presented tips pilots can take to fly economically, while AOPA Foundation President Bruce Landsberg and aviation experts John and Martha King focused on safety.
During a side trip to Israel Aerospace Industries where the Gulfstream G250 is produced and to Herzliya Airport, the delegates got a firsthand look at GA in Israel. This was the second time the IAOPA World Assembly took place in Tel Aviv, the first being in 1987.
“IAOPA’s growth, and the strong relationships and credibility we have earned with aviation authorities around the globe, are a testament to the power of standing together and of standing up for GA,” Fuller told the assembly. “I want to thank each of you for your commitment to those ideals and your willingness to work to create a vibrant future for general aviation.”
IAOPA was founded in 1962 to provide a voice for general aviation in international aviation standards and practices. Since then, the organization has grown from five affiliates—South Africa, the Philippines, Canada, Australia, and the United States—to 68 affiliates representing 470,000 members around the world. IAOPA has been an accredited representative to ICAO since 1964.