As in diplomatic, military, and economic interests, Brits and Americans have much in common when it comes to aviation and collaboration is key to making general aviation a success on both sides of the pond. To that end, AOPA hosted members of the U.K. Parliament at its Frederick, Maryland, headquarters to share experiences and strategies.
The leaders from the United Kingdom, better known as the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), visited with a simple mission to improve and keep GA thriving and vibrant in their homeland. Similar to the GA Caucuses in Washington, D.C., the APPG has set up working groups to tackle different aspects of GA policy, including airfields, airspace, taxes, and regulations, and to preserve history.
For some time, GA in the United Kingdom and across most of Europe has seen a decline in operations because of burdensome regulations and high operating costs. Those issues relegated GA operations to a backseat behind commercial airlines, but the APPG is working to turn things around. And it’s looking much brighter in the United Kingdom, as the group was recently able to convince the government to appoint a GA champion to the Department of Transport.
APPG hopes to learn from AOPA’s recent accomplishments and long-term goals to get more people flying, and to keep them flying.
AOPA’s You Can Fly initiatives are making a huge impact on the industry and the United Kingdom has taken notice. The Rusty Pilots Program has helped more than 5,000 pilots return to active status and continues to grow. The AOPA High School Aviation STEM Curriculum tested ninth grade courses last school year and will introduce three different pathways to aviation to more than 2,000 students across the country, in grades nine and 10 this fall.
In 2017, AOPA’s Flight Training initiative acknowledged 89 schools and 71 flight instructors for their exceptional work in flight training, and You Can Fly’s Flying Club initiative has also helped start 90 new flying clubs since inception, and 25 just this year.
One of the visiting leaders pilot Grant Shapps, chair of the APPG on General Aviation, and Member of Parliament for Welwyn Hatfield, shared his enthusiasm about working with AOPA amidst growing interest from lawmakers to improve aviation and to promote STEM education in classrooms.
“Without general aviation, you can’t train your pilots,” the Piper Saratoga owner said. “We’re working on that on both sides of the Atlantic and I just feel like it’s going to make a real difference when it comes to lawmaking.”
“AOPA is thrilled to have the opportunity to exchange ideas and learn from our British counterparts,” AOPA President Mark Baker. “We look forward to working together to advance priorities globally that will help protect and grow the pilot population, including third class medical reform and STEM education.”
During their visit, the APPG also met with the AOPA Air Safety Institute staff and other association leaders.