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Hearing on General and Business Aviation in the European Community

On 18 September 2008 a hearing on "General and Business Aviation in the European Community" took place in the European Parliament. Over sixty participants representing general and business aviation operators and aircraft manufacturers, airports, European Parliament, Commission, EC Member States, Eurocontrol, European Aviation Safety Agency and SESAR Joint Undertaking participated in the event.

The Hearing, triggered by the Commission's Communication of 11th January 2008 "An Agenda for Sustainable Future in General and Business Aviation", and following the Council Conclusions of 7 April 2008, constituted the next important step in the first ever EU-wide debate on the future of general and business aviation in the EU.

The hearing addressed three main topics: 1) regulatory aspects of general and business aviation 2) access of general and business aviation to the airspace and 3) capacity constraints on the ground affecting the sector.

On this occasion the Commission presented its policy approach to general and business aviation, recognising its value for the European economy and reiterating its commitment to ensuring proportionate regulations, properly adapted to the needs and specific characteristics of the sector.

In the area of safety, the priority of the Commission is the development of proportionate implementing rules for the new basic EASA regulation, extending the scope of competences of the Agency to flight operations and pilot licensing. The Commission also intends to adapt the maintenance standards for aircraft not involved in commercial air transport and in particular for aircraft not classified as “complex motor-powered aircraft” and in this respect has presented a set of measures to be adopted as a matter of priority.

The second challenge is the development and implementation of the new generation European air traffic management system (SESAR), which from the perspective of general and business aviation will be of outmost importance, by allowing to make a technological breakthrough and enhance access to airspace and aerodromes. The Commission is undertaking a detailed analysis of the work done by the SESAR Consortium with a view to preparing a proposal for the European ATM Master Plan to be endorsed by the Council – cost benefit analysis of the project for different categories of airspace users, including for general and business aviation will constitute an important element of this assessment. The hearing also discussed the impact of airport capacity constraints on general and especially business aviation.

The Commission underlined its commitment to ensuring sustainable development of general and business aviation and reiterated that every sector of economic activity in the EU should strive to minimise its negative impacts on the environment and contribute to the fight against climate change.

The conclusions of the hearing will be reflected in the report of the European Parliament on general and business aviation to be presented in the coming months.